Advice from the Fellowship Workshop

On March 12, the Science Policy Group Professional Development Committee ran a Science Policy Fellowship Workshop with the Graduate College Office of External Fellowships. This workshop was primarily focused on the application process and an overview of the prestigious AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, with two former recipients of the fellowship presenting about their personal experiences during their time in the program. The event began with Dr. Karen Ruhleder from the Office of External Fellowships providing an introduction on some of the major science policy fellowships available, and then discussing the application process, deadlines, and some tips for writing personal statements tailored to science policy instead of scientific research. Then, former AAAS Fellow and current Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Dr. Gay Miller, gave a short presentation regarding her own personal experiences during the program. In particular, Dr. Miller was able to provide insight in to working with the USDA, as that was where she was appointed to work during her fellowship; she also provided insight in to the hurdles that you may face as a scientist first transitioning in to a role in science policy and government, as the pace and expectations are very different. Additionally, she touched on how she has adapted her teaching and career path because of her experiences as a fellow and gave high praise for the program, further encouraging those interested to apply. Following Dr. Miller’s presentation, Dr. Melissa Cragin discussed her experiences as a AAAS Fellow with a placement in the National Science Foundation Directorate for the Biological Sciences. Like Dr. Miller, Dr. Cragin had high praise for the fellowship program and was adamant that those interested should apply (and apply more than once if you are unsuccessful the first time). She also recommended that those are accepted for an interview ask plenty of questions of their potential employer in terms of the structure of the leadership in that particular office, opportunities for travel, and the number and types of projects that the fellow will be asked to work on, as those vary widely and can greatly impact the fellow’s experience. Finally, Dr. Cragin mentioned that some of the agencies hire on their fellows to stay after their term and you are able to network a great deal during the fellowship, so this can easily lead to a job opportunity.

Overall, the two presenters were very enthusiastic and motivating! They had only positive things to say about the fellowship experience, and encouraged anyone interested to reach out to them regarding specific questions. Additionally, they both were very interested in participating in future SPG events and were happy to be able to share their knowledge with us!

Advice from Kacy Redd

Kacy Redd is the Assistant Vice President of STEM Education Policy at Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). Here are some great resources that she has to share about how to make the jump from PhD programs into policy or other nontraditional careers:

  • This posting on ASBMB has good advice for scientists transitioning to policy.
  • This article is for scientists interested in community management.
  • Lou Woodley has lots of blog posts on this topic here and an interview here.
  • There are some case studies are here.

Feel free to reach out to Kacy with any questions at!

New legislation and the purpose of witness slips

Keep reading to see some policy in action that relates to graduate students!

Daniel Biss is introducing legislation tomorrow (SB2546) that would expand the definition of a graduate employee to include RA’s and not just TA’s This means RAs would be legally allowed to unionize. They are having a hearing about it tomorrow morning at 10:30 in Springfield. If you would like to show support for this bill, fill out a witness slip online using this link (representing yourself, not SPG please).

Witness slips show a person or group’s position on a particular bill. They are a vital piece of the legislative process because, before a bill is heard in committee, the chairperson will read who has submitted witness slips and whether they support or oppose the bill. This helps inform legislators as to where people stand, allowing informed decisions when voting. Witness slips are a great and relatively quick way to make your voice heard in state government.

See everyone that has submitted slips here.

Here is a link to the bill if you would like to read more about it (Ctrl-F “research”).