ABOUT THE PROGRAM
The Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program, now in its 16th year, provides early career individuals with the opportunity to spend 12 weeks at the National Academies in Washington, DC learning about science and technology policy and the role that scientists and engineers play in advising the nation.
Each year, applicants from around the world become part of a National Academies committee, board, or unit where they are assigned to a mentor and learn about the world of science and technology policy. 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.
Alumni of the program hold positions in Congressional committees such as the House Science and Technology Committee and at federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of State, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, United States Agency for International Development, Department of Defense, and Department of Energy. They also work in foreign governments, in international institutions such as the European Union and World Bank, in universities, and in the private sector.
Purpose of the Program
The fellowship program, which operates under the auspices of the Policy and Global Affairs Division of the National Academies, is designed to engage early career professionals in the analytical processes that inform U.S. science and technology policy. Fellows obtain the essential skills and knowledge needed to work in science policy at the federal, state, or local levels.
What to Expect
During the program, fellows engage in studies and activities throughout the National Academies. Examples of former fellows' projects include:
- Outlining themes related to leading research in remote sensing applications;
- A workshop on how scientists in developing countries might take better advantage of new wireless communication networks to gain access to the Internet;
- A workshop on the ethical, legal, and societal issues associated with the emerging field of synthetic biology;
- A background paper on the state of knowledge of the demography of street-children and the cost and effectiveness of existing programs that help street-children and orphans in the U.S. and abroad;
- A concept paper exploring the status of the global research university.
Each fellow is assigned to a senior staff member who acts as his or her mentor. The mentor provides guidance and ensures that the fellow’s time is focused on substantive projects and activities within the fellow’s assigned unit.
During the first week of the fellowship program, fellows spend their mornings learning about how the National Academies operate and gaining an understanding of the fundamentals of science and technology policy. Fellows receive briefings from representatives of other organizations in Washington, DC that influence, make, or report on science and technology policy.
Throughout the fellowship program, fellows are assigned to small groups that research specific science and technology policy topics. Each group presents their findings to the full fellowship class at the end of the fellowship term. Through this exercise, fellows to gain a better understanding of committee dynamics in an environment that is similar to that of National Academies’ committees. In the process, fellows gain insights into the challenges inherent in arranging presentations of the type that would be made before a congressional or Academies’ committee.
During the fellowship period, fellows have lunch with each of the three Academies presidents. They may attend additional briefings both within and outside the Academies. Fellows are also encouraged to independently seek other activities outside the National Academies. Such activities might include congressional hearings, seminars at think tanks and relevant non-governmental organizations, and briefings at federal agencies. In addition, fellows attend a reception for current and former fellows. This event provides a unique opportunity to network and learn about potential career options in science and technology policy.