I decided to become a scientist because I felt that it was a career that enabled me to have a positive impact on the world. I have now dedicated years and years of my life to this aim, culminating in my pursuing a PhD in Applied Physics. Thus I did understand why some eyebrows were raised when I enrolled in U of M’s Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP) program. To many of my colleagues who didn’t fully understand my motivations, studying policy seemed extraneous to my current career—or even worse, deleterious. But, to me, my scientific research and my engagement with policy are deeply interconnected.
While I do love doing science, I was eager to find a means of extending the scope of my impact and engagement beyond the laboratory, and explore forums that my research alone could not reach. Having scientists involved in the policymaking process is crucial. Much of what the government does utilizes scientific knowledge. Concomitantly, as the primary funder of science in the United States, what happens in government hugely influences the scientific enterprise. I see working in science policy as a means of having a direct, and far-reaching impact on the world. Working in science policy is therefore not extraneous to my current career, it is essential.
The springboard for my journey and career in science policy has been the Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP) Graduate Certificate Program at U of M’s Ford School of Public Policy. In this program students explore the politics and policy related to science and technology. The program provides students with tools to analyze complex science and technology policy issues, learn how science and technology are influenced by politics and policy, analyze the role of science and technology in the policymaking process, develop policy writing skills, gain methods and tools for science and technology policy analysis, and explore the political and policy landscape of critical science policy areas.
In addition to the stimulating coursework and events offered by the STPP program, I’ve had a number of amazing opportunities to engage with and even advocate for science policy. I’ve attended a number of professional conferences on science policy topics all over the world, from Columbus Ohio, to Washington DC, all the way to Amsterdam Netherlands. One of the most memorable events was a AAAS workshop in DC, which culminated in lobbying in Congress with U of M’s government affairs office.
I don’t yet know exactly what my future career will be. But I do know that regardless of what path I follow, I will always be involved in science policy striving to make the world a better place.