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2013 Fellows in the News

GEF Council Names Bierbaum Chair of Advisory Panel

The governing Council of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has appointed Rosina Bierbaum, a University of Michigan environmental scientist and advisor on science policy to President Obama, as chair of the GEF’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP). Bierbaum was a 1980-81 Congressional Fellow in the Office of Technology Assessment. The STAP plays a critical role in helping the GEF – which funds environmental projects throughout the developing world – to advance an agenda of innovation and transformation in addressing threats to the global environment.

Donovan Receives Embassy Science Fellowship

Michael Donovan, a 2011-13 Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has been selected to participate in the Embassy Science Fellowship. His work will focus on Majuro Atoll, the largest of the Marshall Islands. Donovan, who holds a doctorate in city and regional planning, currently co-chairs a task force that is developing USAID’s new policy for service delivery and urban assistance. While in Majuro, he will focus on mapping capacity to identify environmental degradation resulting from rapid urbanization and influx in infrastructure development. The emphasis of the assignment is to support environmental sustainability and regulated coastal development, and to establish geographic information systems training programs at local universities.

Engel Campaigns for Maryland House of Delegates

Don Engel, 2006-07 Congressional Fellow in the Office of Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ), sponsored by the American Physical Society, is a candidate for the 11th district seat in the Maryland House of Delegates. Engel is assistant vice president for research at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He says of his plan to run for elected office, "With the background in science and technology that I would bring to the state legislature, my unique perspective will help move Maryland forward." Read more about Engel’s campaign in the Pikesville Patch and in the Baltimore Jewish Times.

Fisher Documents the Value of Behavioral and Social Science

Clinical psychologist and 2011-13 Fellow at the National Science Foundation (NSF), Craig Fisher, helped develop and then spearheaded an analysis of the value of social, behavioral and economic research. The project culminated in a summary report, Bringing People into Focus: How Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research Addresses National Challenges, which demonstrates the critical importance of human-focused research to national needs. The report is available via the NSF website and has been made available to Members of Congress and many other stakeholders around the country. Learn more and view the report.

Gautney Applies Social Science for Social Justice

Heather Gautney, 2012-13 Congressional Fellow, has focused her time in the Office of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on a range of social justice issues. These include raising the minimum wage as part of the 2013 Senate budget, hunger-relief policy in the Farm Bill, worker protections in this year’s landmark immigration bill, and legislation aimed at stemming the student debt crisis. Gauteny holds a doctorate in sociology and is sponsored by the American Sociological Association. She also assisted to bolster Sen. Sanders’ efforts on the American social safety net by conducting research on European social welfare systems, which culminated in a series of op-eds on Nordic social systems and town hall meetings in Vermont.

Hansen Crafts Impact Evaluations

2011-13 Fellow at the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Lexine Hansen, has utilized her social science training to help craft impact evaluations for pilot projects. With a doctorate in international community development, her qualitative research expertise aids in differentiating between anecdotes and data, clarifying the contextual and environmental factors in which projects take place, and determining which key social dynamics inhibit or enhance programs. Through site visits to Thailand, Cambodia and Zambia, she has supported USAID personnel to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate with counterparts in other development agencies on government-wide training initiatives and community-based conservation programs.

Obama Nominates Robinson to Head DOE Office

Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a reorganization of the department's management structure that establishes an Office of the Under Secretary for Management and Performance. Elizabeth (Beth) Robinson, a 1988-89 Congressional Fellow sponsored by the Geological Society of America, and currently the chief financial officer at NASA, has been nominated by President Obama to fill the position.

Stoll Develops Innovation in Graduate Education Challenge

Kate Stoll, 2011-13 Fellow at the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a doctorate in biochemistry, developed the NSF Innovation in Graduate Education Challenge. The initiative, announced at the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting, offered graduate students an opportunity to present solutions to the following questions: "What is needed to prepare STEM graduate students to meet modern day challenges? What is necessary to navigate the career pathways of the future?" More than 500 submissions were received, and eight winners were announced in June. To learn more about the project, see the ScienceCareers  article and visit the NSF project website.

Trusty Supports Technology for International Development

2012-13 Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Teressa Trusty, earned her doctorate in anthropology, which has been a valuable asset to her role as a member of the Mobile Solutions team. Understanding social patterns and practices is important to successfully design human-centered programs. She has drawn upon her disciplinary background and experience in software development to develop a remote monitoring project in Afghanistan that assesses the impact of transitioning salary payments for government teachers from cash to mobile money. The project was structured to collect survey responses via text message. Teressa also conducted ethnographic research to assess how USAID could improve its investments in information and communication technology for development. As a result, she is now collaborating with the World Bank, UNICEF, the Gates Foundation, and other funders to support new technology initiatives.

Whitehead Leads Sustainable Energy Workshop

Peter Whitehead is a 2012-13 Fellow at the National Science Foundation (NSF), utilizing his training in electrical and systems engineering in the Directorate for Engineering, Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems. He organized and managed the NSF Sustainable Energy Pathways (SEP) Grantees Workshop that was held in June 2013. SEP has provided funding of $37 million to 20 programs that bring together scientists, behaviorists, social scientists, engineers, economists and business specialists. The goal is to foster a systems approach to sustainable energy.

Check out more news items. We welcome information about current and alumni fellows’ activities and achievements to note in future editions of Fellowship Focus, our websites, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and via Twitter.