Many of our members, especially graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, have expressed interest in pursuing careers in science policy and advocacy, helping represent the collective interests of the scientific community to policymakers and government officials.
There are several science policy fellowships geared toward science PhDs that members may find of interest in helping get started in policy:
AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships
First established in 1973, the Science & Technology Policy Fellowships program from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) offers more than 130 individuals with a background in science and engineering the opportunity to spend a year or two supporting science policy in Congress or with Executive Branch agencies:
- Congressional Fellows spend a year on Capitol Hill helping to research, develop, and draft legilation and provide input to policy review and overview. Fellows are placed in the offices of Members of Congress or Congressional committees. Offered by AAAS and approximately 30 scientific society partners.
- The Diplomacy, Security & Development Program places 30-40 fellows each year to infuse scientific and technical expertise into policy development and program planning, implementation, and evaluation related to foreign policy and international trade; disaster preparedness and response; infrastructure, security, and nonproliferation; and international aid and capacity building. Placements include the Agency for International Development and the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State.
- The Energy, Environment, Agriculture Program places 30-40 fellows each year to engage in projects, policies, risk assessment, evaluation, and outreach initiatives to protect animal and plant healt; address ecosystem degradation, pollution, and biological threats; tackle challenges and opportunities in agriculture, climate change, and energy; and safeguard air, water, land, and natural resoruces. Placements include EPA, NASA, NOAA, NSF, USGS, and the Departments of Agriculture and Energy.
- The Health, Education, & Human Services Program places 30-fellows each year to support improved programs, policies, planning, risk analysis, regulation, monitoring and evaluation for broad range of initiatives including medical research, disease identification, and community health; individual and community social services; food safety; and science education, research, and innovation. Placements include NIH, NSF, FSIS, and the Departments of Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs.
Applications for all AAAS programs are due on December 5 each year, and applicants in the biological sciences must have earned their PhD at the time of application.
National Academies Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program
The Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program provides early career individuals (grad students, postdocs, and professional school students) with the opportunity to spend 12 weeks at the National Academies inWashington, DC, learning about science and technology policy and the role that scientists and engineers play in advising the nation. Mirzayan Fellows are placed in one of the operating units of the National Academies: National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council. An immersive experience, the program is designed to broaden fellows’ appreciation of employment opportunities outside academia and leave them with both a firm grasp of the important and dynamic role of science and technology in decision-making and a better understanding of the role that they can play in strengthening the science and technology enterprise for the betterment of mankind. The many alumni of the program hold positions in Congressional offices and committees, key federal science agencies, foreign governments, non-profit and international organizations, universities, and the private sector. Application dates vary but are generally in the fall.
Science Policy Fellowship Program
The Science Policy Fellowship established by our colleagues at The American Society For Biochemstry & Molecular Biology (ASBMB) offers recently graduated PhDs exposure to a range of activities regarding science policy and Congressional and government relations. Fellows work in ASBMB's public affairs office supporting a range of activities related to communications and advocacy. Fellowships begin on July 1 of each year and extend for 12-24 months. Applications are due each spring.
Genetics & Public Policy Fellowship
The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) co-sponsor the Genetics and Public Policy Fellowship to give genetics professionals an opportunity to contribute to the policymaking process. The fellowship, designed as a bridge for genetics professionals wishing to transition to a policy career provides three separate types of experiences: time spent in the National Institutes of Health within the Executive Branch; a staff position on Capitol Hill serving elected officials in the Legislative Branch; and experience working with ASHG in the non-profit science advocacy sector. This variety of assignments provides experience for the fellow from multiple critical viewpoints and challenging perspectives of the scientific policy-making process. The 16-month fellowship is open to those with an advanced degree in human genetics or a related field. Applications open in the spring for the following academic year.
California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships
Offered by the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST), the California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships place professional scientists and engineers in the California State Legislature for one-year appointments. These professional development opportunities will enable fellows to work hands on with policy-makers to develop solutions to complex scientific and technical issues facing California through their interaction with the legislative process. The fellowships are ideal for qualified applicants who are interested in improving the interface between science and legislative decision-making and who want to learn the public policy decision-making process. Fellows will be placed, for one year beginning on November 1, in various offices of the California State Legislature. Applicants must have earned their PhD by September 1 of the fellowship year and do not have to be a California resident.
Hellman Fellowship in Science and Technology Policy
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has established the Hellman Fellowship in Science and Technology Policy for an early career professional with training in science or engineering who is interested in transitioning to a career in public policy and administration. While in residence, the Hellman Fellow will work with senior scientists and policy experts on critical national and international policy issues related to science, engineering, and technology through one of the projects of the Academy's Initiative for Science, Engineering, and Technology. Fellows are for one year, to begin in the fall, and based at the Academy in Cambridge, MA. Applications are due early in the calendar year.
Jefferson Science Fellowship
The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development have established a model for engaging the American academic science, technology, engineering, and medical communities in the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy through the Jefferson Science Fellowship. Administered by the National Academies, the program brings tenured or similarly ranking faculty from U.S. institutions of higher learning for a one year assigment at the State Department or USAID as science advisors on foreign policy issues. As part of their assignment, Jefferson Fellows also have the opportunity to travel to U.S. embassies and missions overseas. At the conclusion of the fellowship year, and upon return to their home institution, Fellows continue to serve as a resource to the State Department and USAID for an additional five years. Applications open in the fall for the following academic year.
Presidential Management Fellows Program
The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)is a flagship leadership development program at the entry level for advanced degree candidates. It was created more than three decades ago by a Presidential Executive Order and has gone through many changes over the years. The Program attracts and selects the best candidates possible, but is really designed with a more narrow focus: developing a cadre of potential government leaders. PMFs are placed at federal agencies and often have the potential to transition to a permanent or term position in the federal government. Applications must generally be completed in November for a fellowship to begin the next fall.
Research!America Science Policy Fellowship
Research!America, a non-profit organization working to make health research a higher national priority, offers a three-month Science Policy Fellowship for PhDs familiar with a strong science background and interest in federal policy. Fellows will track relevant policy issues, conduct background research, support the development of fact sheets and articles, support Research!America activities, attend relevant briefings and hearings, and complete and present a self-directed project on a science policy topic. Applications are due early in the calendar year. GSA is a member of Research!America.