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Christine Mirzayan Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program
The National Academies
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Winter 2004: Quotes from Fellows about what they did

*Reminder the program’s name changed from internship program to policy fellowship program in September 2004

“I worked on a study looking at ways to Facilitate Interdisciplinary Research. In brief, I prepared supporting material for the committee on areas that are related to the report. I researched interdisciplinary research institutes/organizations and prepared short summaries of the characteristics of these institutes. Additionally I worked with another intern on a survey sent to a wide audience whose purpose was to gauge interdisciplinary research, to identify obstacles to IDR, and to survey for recommendations for fostering IDR. I helped prepare information for the committee meetings (Briefing Books).”

“I worked on science workforce and other issues for my unit. Through looking up references, writing a policy context briefing, and creating short summaries of the proposed project, I supported efforts to acquire funding for a study on how to increase the numbers of domestic students entering the science and engineering workforce. I also wrote "boxes" or short examples of best practices for a study on facilitating interdisciplinary research. In addition to my unit work, I attended nearly a dozen hearings, several receptions, and many symposia and panels.”

“I worked on a background paper on “Injury Control in Resource-constrained Settings” for a meeting of the International Advisory Board and the other was for a meeting with USAID to evaluate the Bureau for Global Health’s programs and research. I met with members of several NGOs and policymakers and read a great deal to gather information for a proposal to initiate a consensus study on Road Traffic Injuries in Developing Countries. I helped generate the content for a National Academies brochure on their international capacity-building activities. I helped organize content for a website on the Academies’ international activities.”

“My responsibilities included providing background research to identify potential experts to serve on a new study and assembling a short biography of each candidate, gathering reports, articles, editorials, and congressional correspondence relevant to the project, preparing a briefing book with pertinent literature for the chairman of the committee, and constructing a website for this project.”

“I did research; identified committee co-chair candidates; identified speakers; meeting development; prepared meeting summaries; corresponded with workshop attendees; created and prepared documents for official publications.”

“Performed background research for upcoming study; responsible for contacting potential committee members and getting committee formed for upcoming study; responsible for writing a section of a report for an on-going study; compiled information for and designed board’s Annual Report that was disseminated to council members and potential sponsors of future studies.”

“My primary responsibility was to help organize the first committee meeting for the project ‘Innovation Models for Aerospace Technologies.’ As this lay outside my formal academic training, a fair bit of time initially was dedicated to background reading. In addition to that charge, I also attended a number of meetings and information sessions on other topics, ranging from biotechnologies to hydrogen cars.”

“I was actively involved in a number of activities: (1) Planned the 2nd Postdoc Convocation (solicited cosponsors, posters, and gratis advertising; organized breakout sessions and crafted facilitator notes; prepared draft meeting program; assisted in meeting logistics). (2) Identified panel members to participate in the COSEPUP committee meeting. And then worked to develop the resulting GBEC proposal, which was recently approved. (3) Researched scientific ethics, participated in funding meeting, and drafted response to funding agency’s requests for modifications to the project proposal. (4) Attended several lectures at agencies throughout D.C. and a Senate hearing.”

“I researched and wrote whitepapers about various topics for my committee. Some topics were: Nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology, DNA Shuffling, Microencapsulation, Disease Surveillance, and RNA interference.”

“For the last three months I have been working on a Spinal Cord Injury Study sponsored by the state of New York. My responsibilities included performing background research and writing a draft chapter for the report. I have also assisted in performing background work for a new study that is being formed.”

“I have been responsible for compiling the background research through interviews and obtaining relevant literature. The types of information I have gathered include private and public funding policies, the needs and working conditions of young investigators, the economics of the basic research enterprise, previous recommendations for the current problem, and international responses to similar issues. A second project with which I was involved was entitled, “Seeking Security: Pathogens, Open Access, and Genomics Databases.” This study had been completed when I arrived, and when I asked to have the opportunity to write, I was assigned to write both the executive summary and a less technical overview of the report intended for wide distribution. I also helped with editing the final version of the report. The third project I worked on was an initiative sponsored jointly by the Society for Neuroscience International Affairs Committee and the National Academies’ U.S. National Committee to the International Brain Research Organization. The IAC/USNC to IBRO sponsors a number of programs intended to give neuroscientists in countries with limited resources educational and collaborative opportunities that they may not otherwise have. The goal of my project was to plan and implement a “Cyber Seminar” in an under-served country which would allow a target audience to view lectures given by prominent American neuroscientists and then interact with the speakers by phone. I hope at least one Cyber Seminar will take place this summer.”

“I researched and wrote the copy for one brochure that advertises information resources at the National Academies which are of interest to an international audience. I also worked with another intern on a brochure to describe how the National Academies contribute to capacity-building in developing countries. After extensive sifting through the Academies’ Web site, I wrote and edited hundreds of lines of copy for an Academies webpage that provides information about the internationally-focused activities at the Academies. I distilled 40 pages of information from the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society into one page of discussion questions about information and communications technology for the International Advisory Board. I did research on and wrote background information for a study on the uses of science and technology by USAID. My areas of concentration were (1) the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation and its relation to USAID, and (2) the Collaborative Research Support Program, through which USAID funds long-term agricultural research projects. I researched and pursued funding opportunities for a series of workshops in Africa on water and sanitation in a joint Peace Corps/National Academies project. As part of a group of interns organizing a panel discussion on cochlear implants in infants, I worked on the process of planning the composition of the panel, identifying potential speakers, and extending invitations.”

“As part of the museum staff, my activities changed on a daily basis, as I was constantly kept in the flow of day-to-day operations. In particular, I focused on helping develop the volunteer and high school intern program. This involved writing documents describing volunteer and intern activities, coordinating briefing materials, and directing the purchases of all materials for the Hands On Science experiments. In addition, I participated in intern and volunteer training. I also participated in helping develop interactive tools on the museum floor, troubleshooting problems with the exhibits, and helping the marketing department. In essence, I was part of the daily fabric of the museum’s activities.”

“In brief, I prepared supporting material for the committee on areas that are related to the report. I researched interdisciplinary research institutes/organizations and prepared short summaries of the characteristics of these institutes. Additionally I worked with another intern on a survey sent to a wide audience whose purpose was to gauge interdisciplinary research, to identify obstacles to IDR, and to survey for recommendations for fostering IDR. I helped prepare information for the committee meetings that became content for the committee’s briefing book. “

“Most of my time was spent in a supportive role for program development, researching how sectors were affected by a particular policy and its implementation. The highlight of my experience was attending the Roundtable meeting in California where I met distinguished members of the scientific and business communities. “

‘I assisted with several tasks related to the antiretroviral therapy scale up project. I assisted with speaker identification for the 2 day workshop. I assisted with obtaining research materials for the Report. I assisted with the editing of the Report. I assisted with writing sections of the Report. I attended hearings and meetings in D.C. to learn more about the U.S. government’s role in funding and preparing for antiretroviral therapy scale up in Africa and the Caribbean.”

“I did background research on internally generated initiatives to take to potential funders and to showcase at our semi-annual board meeting. I drafted background papers on developing projects. I also assisted in identifying key speakers and other stakeholders for the developing initiatives. My mentor invited me to meetings with federal agencies in my areas of interest. I also worked on internal evaluation projects for our Board.”

“For the report by BCYF on evaluating children’s health, I helped with the response to review process. After evaluating comments made by reviewers on the report, I helped research topics to add and edited the final report before it went to press. It was a great opportunity for writing and researching, my two main objectives for the internship.”

“I worked at the National Academy of Science’s scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). One of my ongoing duties was to write “press tips” on newsworthy manuscripts. A press tip is a short lay summary of the manuscript that is distributed to the media. If the press tip peaks the interest of a journalist, the journalist will write an article about the manuscript, citing publication in PNAS. In addition to learning about diverse research topics, including biophysics, geology, and neuroscience, it was great fun to see that a press tip led to an article on CNN.com, BBC News, or Yahoo News. In addition to writing press tips, I worked on several long term projects. I investigated how Federal Trade Sanctions, enforced by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, affect scientific publishing and peer review. In addition, I worked on a report about the pros and cons of open-access publishing models, which make scientific articles free to the public on the Internet, but require publishing costs to be covered by author fees or grant support.”

“I assisted with several tasks related to the antiretroviral therapy scale up project. I assisted with speaker identification for the 2 day workshop. I assisted with obtaining research materials for the Report. I assisted with the editing of the Report. I assisted with writing sections of the Report. I attended hearings and meetings in D.C. to learn more about the U.S. government’s role in funding and preparing for antiretroviral therapy scale up in Africa and the Caribbean.”

“Worked on the Biomedical Engineering Materials and Applications roundtable (BEMA). My projects included:

  • Rewrote the BEMA mission statement
  • Put together presentation on the BEMA (history, function, future)
  • worked on upcoming BEMA publication (specifically getting permissions from publishers for usage of images)
  • updating the BEMA website (content and structure)
  • attending meetings (military medicine conference in new jersey, globalization conference at Keck, BEMAconference at Keck)
  • Organized phone conferences with other BEMA members”