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Spring 2012 Fellowship Focus

Features: Science & Diplomacy

A Forum to Promote Diplomacy through Science

Like many other professional fields today, science goes beyond politically defined geographical boundaries. Scientists and engineers are increasingly viewed as key players in fostering positive connections in a globalized world, and science diplomacy is an emerging area in the scope of international relations. One thing that has hindered a deeper dialogue on the intersection of science and diplomacy is a lack of literature on the subject. To help fill this void, on 9 March, the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy launched the free, online quarterly publication, Science & Diplomacy. The Center's leaders are two alumni AAAS S&T Policy Fellows who served at the State Department, director Vaughan C. Turekian, 2002-2003, and deputy director Tom Wang, 2003-2004.  

Click here for full article.


Improving Health and the Environment - One Cookstove at a Time     

When the majority of people in the United States prepare a meal, they usually don't think in terms of how much energy their cooking requires. They turn a knob on their stove and their pot of water slowly begins to boil. Yet, according to a  special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), approximately 2.7 billion people in the world still depend on biomass such as charcoal or wood to cook their meals, often using traditional three-stone fires that are inefficient, produce dangerous amounts of indoor air pollution, and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Ranyee Chiang, a 2010-12 Fellow at the Department of Energy (DOE) and a contributing author to the IPCC report, has been deeply involved in an international collaborative effort to build and disseminate clean, efficient cookstoves to households in developing countries.

Click here for full article. 


Collaborative Initiatives

Minority Education & Career Exposure Affinity Group Leads Workshop

By Robin S. Broughton and Chi Onyewu, 2010-2012 AAAS S&T Policy Fellows

The S&T Policy Fellowships affinity groups provide opportunities for current and alumni Fellows to organize around science and policy issues, to share ideas and resources, and seek and develop collaborative efforts and programs.  The Minority Education & Career Exposure (MECE) Affinity Group focuses on enhancing the exposure and impact of underrepresented minorities in science along the education continuum. To support these goals, the group participated in the February 2012 Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in STEM in Atlanta, GA, sponsored by the AAAS Education and Human Resources Programs and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Human Resource Development (HRD). 

Click here for full article. 


Exploring America's Energy Future

By Jamie Vernon, 2011-12 Fellow, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)

While the economy struggles to overcome the drag of rising gas prices, a group of AAAS S&T Policy Fellows from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) traveled to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado in March to see how DOE's investments in scientific research and development are easing the country's dependence on foreign sources of energy. According to their website, "NREL is the only federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Backed by 35 years of achievement, NREL leads the way in helping meet the growing demand for clean energy."

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Alumni Spotlight

Learning from the Octopus

Rafe Sagarin, 2002-03 AAAS Congressional Fellow, a marine ecologist at the University of Arizona, credits his fellowship experience for launching the application of his training in evolutionary biology and adaptation methods to societal challenges ranging from security to pandemics and natural disasters. With the support of a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, Sagarin put this experience to paper in two books; the most recent published this month, Learning from the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters, and Disease (Basic Books, April 2, 2012).

On April 5, the AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy (CSTSP), sponsored a book discussion with Sagarin; Fellowship alumnus Alex Dehgan, Science and Technology Adviser to the Administrator of USAID, who was a 2003-2005 Fellow at State Department; and Terence Taylor, president of the International Center for the Life Sciences. They discussed how scientific engagement and cooperative threat reduction strategies can learn from nature and contribute to increased global peace and security.  Sagarin discusses topics from his book in this video.

Alumni Leading National Nuclear Waste Discussions

Two alumni Congressional Fellows led the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. John Kotek, 2001-02 Congressional Fellow sponsored by the American Nuclear Society, served as staff director of the Commission; and Matt Milazzo, 2008-09 Congressional Fellow sponsored by the American Nuclear Society, was deputy staff director. The Commission issued its final report to the Secretary of Energy in late January 2012.  The report presents comprehensive recommendations for creating a safe, long-term solution for managing and disposing of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the United States. It also details a strategy for selecting and managing a permanent repository for nuclear waste, which will require action from both Congress and executive branch agencies.


Communicating Science

Carolyn Shore, 2011-12 Congressional Fellow sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology, selected her placement with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist in Congress, because of the opportunity to help advocate for science and public health issues.  

"Much of the work we do on the Hill is about making very complex scientific ideas accessible, not only to legislators and staffers but also to the general public, "says Shore.

Her PhD training focused on writing for scientific literature, so when she began to write for non-scientific audiences there was a steep learning curve. Shore had to learn how to avoid using technical jargon, by explaining uncommon terms and using alternative phrases.

Following science communication training offered through the S&T Policy Fellowship and the experience working with many non-scientific stakeholders in Congress, she has been busy drafting op-eds, and writing memos and briefings for the public and other staffers. Shore now conveys ideas in a way that emphasizes the bigger issues at stake and connections to constituents. She recently drafted an article on the public health implications of animal antibiotics and food safety that was published in the Huffington Post.

To help build science communication skills, Shore suggests pursuing venues to interact with nonscientists, such as participating in outreach to non-scientific communities. AAAS offers Science Communication tools as a resource for these efforts. More in-depth training is also available via the AAAS Mass Media Fellowships.

Program Updates

Overseas Fellowship Relaunched

The AAAS Overseas Fellowships at USAID missions were relaunched in the 2011-12 fellowship year, with three Fellows placed in Egypt, Indonesia and Mozambique. USAID is eager to grow the program, and many missions around the world are interested in hosting Fellows. AAAS has extended eligibility for the Overseas Fellowship to current and alumni Fellows from any executive branch or congressional placement within the past five years, who completed all reporting requirements and expectations of the full 12 months of an initial assignment, or the full commitment of a renewal assignment. Additional criteria and the evaluation and placement processes are outlined in the AAAS Overseas Fellowship Guidelines. For more information about the Overseas Fellowship, contact Rick Kempinski at

National Engagement Opportunities: Calling All Fellowship Alumni

In the summer and fall of 2012, AAAS S&T Policy Fellowships will hold alumni engagement events in regions where large numbers of Fellows reside, including Boston, New York and San Francisco. These gatherings provide opportunities to reengage with old friends, meet Fellows from across the decades, learn how the Fellowships program has grown, and network for future collaborations. Stay tuned for more information and opportunities to get involved.  

Fellows in the News

Starger Addressing Climate Change

Craig Starger, 2011-12 Fellow at USAID, and a group from the agency traveled to Fiji in January to explore ways to help Pacific nations adapt to climate change. They held discussions with government officials, scientists, environmentalists, donor agencies, academics, and non- government organizations to identify activities that can help Pacific nations develop clean energy sources, conserve ecosystems, especially coastal mangrove forests, and support communities to achieve climate-resilient development. Click here for more information about the trip.


Ostheimer Receives Award at USDA

Gerry Ostheimer, 2010-12 Fellow at USDA, participated on the Global Bioenergy Partnership team that received the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service Excellence in Achieving Strategic Objectives Award for 2011. Click here to read more. 


Bin-Salamon Receives Prestigious Defense Award

Sofi Bin-Salamon, 2010-12 Fellow at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), received the highly competitive 2011 "Civilian of the Year" award from his office. The award is given by the director and senior leadership of AFOSR to an individual who "performed outstanding actions during all of 2011 and exceeded the requirements of their position." 


Fellows Inspire Future Scientists

Exciting science and engineering careers were highlighted for more than 400 young women who took part in the Young Women's Conference on Non-Traditional Careers on 16 March at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. Fellows Sandra J. Laney, 2010-12 Fellow at the State Department; Tracee W. Gilbert and Charlayne C. Hayling, 2011-12 Fellows at the Department of Health and Human Services; and Marcelo D. Vinces, 2010-12 Fellow at the National Science Foundation spoke with young women and helped them imagine themselves as successful professionals in an array of careers involving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Read the AAAS news release. 


White House Honors Davis as a Champion of Change

Jana Davis, 2004-05 Congressional Fellow sponsored by the American Geophysical Union, was honored at the White House in January as a Champion of Change, for her work to promote innovation through the Chesapeake Bay Trust's portfolio of grant programs. Click here to read the full press release.