News: News Archives
House Honors Contributions of
AAAS Congressional Science Fellows
On October 28, the House passed a resolution honoring the hundreds of science Fellows who have served in Congress. This fall marks the 30th anniversary of the AAAS Congressional Science and Engineering Fellowship Program.
Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), chairman of the House Science Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and Standards, introduced H.Con.Res.279 to recognize the significance of the anniversary. "This is a truly valuable educational program from the perspective of both Members of Congress and the fellows that serve in it. It gives Ph.D.-level scientists a wonderful opportunity to step out of the lab and into the political process. These individuals have contributed not only their scientific expertise but also a fresh perspective to policymaking. Thank you and congratulations to the AAAS for organizing this program and to all the sponsoring societies that provide financial support."
House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) added, "The AAAS has made literally incalculable contributions to this institution and the nation. It has enabled scientists to have a better understanding of the governing processboth the fellows themselves and scientists with whom they interactand it has improved the governing process by enabling Congressional offices to better understand scientific information and scientists."
Boehlert noted, "The Fellows program has also been an entry point for many of the best staff we have on Capitol Hill. We recognize the value of the AAAS program daily on the Science Committee, where ten of our staff members began their careers on the Hill as fellows."
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) added, "bringing technical backgrounds that range from astrophysics to veterinary radiology, AAAS Fellows have made important contributions to all areas of government policy." Markey's office has welcomed more than 20 AAAS Fellows since 1979.
Over the past 30 years this program has provided more than 800 scientists the opportunity to work in a Congressional office for a year and has been a valuable way to bring more people with strong technical and scientific skills to Congress. Nine related programs offer policy fellowships in federal agencies and other Washington policy organizations. AAAS Fellows are selected through a competitive process by one of nearly 30 sponsoring professional societies.
"These programs represent a fruitful long-term partnership between AAAS and the many other scientific and engineering societies that sponsor Fellows," said Al Teich, AAAS director for Science and Policy Programs. "Our investment and that of our partner societies continues to pay dividends in improved policymaking capabilities in the legislative and executive branches as well as a better understanding of the policy process among scientists and engineers."
Throughout the year, Fellows are involved in supporting the Congressional offices they work in by writing speeches and press releases, developing legislation, meeting with constituents and outside groups, acting as a liaison to committees to which a Member is assigned, and organizing hearings on legislative issues of concern to their Members.
A symposium celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Fellows program, originally scheduled for September 2003 in Washington, D.C., was postponed due to Hurricane Isabel. It has been rescheduled for May 13 and 14, 2004.
Mary Jane Williamson
29 October 2003