American Geophysical Union Congressional Science Fellows – With a scientific focus on earth and space sciences, the organization is actually truly devoted to science outreach and communication. Fellows can have any scientific background.
Sea Grant Knauss Science Policy Fellowship – fisheries/marine focus but anyone with a conservation-focus is welcome (I have a herpetology background). I was a Fellow and I wrote about my own experiences here and here.
Presidential Management Fellowship – with less of a science focus, PMF offers a great introduction to government inter-workings.
AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowships – perhaps the most well-known of this option, brings in a wider variety of scientists. Some societies coordinate with AAAS for their own fellowships such as:
- American Physical Society/American Institute of Physics Congressional Fellowship
- American Chemical Society Public Policy Fellowship.
- Geological Society of America Congressional Science Fellowship
- American Meteorological Society Congressional Science Fellowship
These are great options for a transition out of academia to see what else is out there, specifically in relation to the government. But what if you don’t know if you want to permanently leave and don’t want to dedicate at least a year to finding out? Well, there are options:
Congressional Visit Days – A number of scientific organizations sponsor congressional visits, or opportunities to take a day or two to visit with congressional members to see how science is translated into policy or legislation. This is the best option to “get your feet wet” and to get a taste of what happens here in D.C. Some options include:
- American Geophysical Union
- Science, Engineering, and Technology
- Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition
So what about that sweet spot? A couple days may not be enough, a year or two may be too long. You may ask, “Is there anything in the middle?” Why yes, yes there is.
AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellows Program – This 10-week summer program places science, engineering, and mathematics students at media organizations nationwide. Fellows use their academic training as they research, write, and report today’s headlines, sharpening their abilities to communicate complex scientific issues to the public.
Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellowship provided by the National Academies (Mirzayan Fellowship for short) – The fellowship is 12 weeks, basically a spring semester, and for anyone on their way to (or in my case, having recently completed) their Ph.D. in some STEM field. You pick a few boards within the National Academies in which you’d be interested in working,** apply for the program, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. If selected, you make your way to D.C. for the spring and have the time of your life. The program is great and incredibly flexible