Host a Fellow: Legislative Branch

Gain the brainpower of an accomplished scientist or engineer full-time, for a full year – at no cost.

“The AAAS S&T Policy Fellowship program provides Members of Congress with a degree of scientific expertise not found on many congressional staffs, and it presents fellows with an intimate role in the process of decision-making in public policy. Legislative issues with scientific and technological implications are brought before Congress each day, and partnership with the program offers members an abundant reserve of scientific expertise.” - Rush Holt, AAAS CEO, former U.S. Representative (D-NJ), and 1982-83 Congressional Fellow sponsored by APS

Since 1973, more than 1,000 Congressional Science & Engineering Fellows have brought technical expertise and scientific insight to the offices of Members of Congress and to House and Senate committees. Fellows are fully funded by 30+ national scientific and engineering partner societies.

Questions? Email Eddie Gonzalez or reach him at 202-326-8979.

The program

The AAAS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellowship program is a cooperative effort of more than 30 scientific and engineering societies that provides an opportunity for accomplished scientists and engineers to contribute to the policymaking process. It fosters evidence-based policy and practice by engaging the scientific and analytical skills of scientists and engineers, and builds leadership for a policy-savvy science and technology enterprise that benefits society. Fellows serve in one-year assignments that begin each September (a few fellows begin their year in January). The program is coordinated by AAAS and is a component of the Science & Technology Policy Fellowships.

“I’ve been able to participate directly in all aspects of the legislative process starting from the early stages of drafting a bill and then eventually seeing it completed with the President’s signature. And while I’ve been learning, I feel that I’ve been able to return the favor on a daily basis by contributing my scientific expertise to the myriad of topics that come before us.”- Chris Martin, PhD, Computational Physics, 2010-11 AAAS Congressional Fellow

Who are the fellows?

Congressional Science & Engineering Fellows are highly skilled, doctoral-level (with a few exceptions) scientists and engineers. They represent a vast spectrum of scientific disciplines including behavioral/social, biological, health/medical, physical and computational sciences, and all fields of engineering. They range from early- to senior-career professionals and come from academia, industry, nonprofits, government labs, and international organizations.

Fellows are selected through a highly competitive review process. Selection criteria include: educational and professional credentials and references; competence in a specific area of science or engineering; interest in the application of science to policy; excellence in communication; and leadership capacity.

What do fellows do?

Fellows serve as legislative assistants in Congress for a full year, from September through August (a few fellowships run January through December).

Fellows accomplish a wide variety of activities including:

“The AAAS Fellow who served on our staff for a year benefitted our office and our district greatly. Having a health care expert with real life experience as a physician is an invaluable resource.As Congress works to reform our health care system we need to seek out input from those who have dedicated their lives to practicing medicine, and I can think of no better way to do so than by having a qualified, capable AAAS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow® on staff.” - Congressman Wally Herger (R-Calif.)
  • Briefing Members of Congress and staff on scientific and technical topics.
  • Meeting with constituents and special interest groups.
  • Writing issue and policy briefs.
  • Drafting and negotiating text for legislation.
  • Staffing budget authorization bills from preliminary agency reviews to House-Senate conferences.
  • Coordinating oversight investigations.
  • Writing talking points, speeches, and press releases.
  • Planning and implementing events in Washington and in congressional districts.
  • Organizing hearings.
  • Serving as liaisons to and coordinating with committees.

Their expertise and policy interests are also wide-ranging; they include:

  • Healthcare, mental health, child and family concerns.
  • Agriculture, food safety, and animal welfare.
  • Biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.
  • Environment, energy, climate change, air and water quality.
  • Oil and mineral rights and exploration.
  • National and international security.
  • Biotechnology, biomedical research and technology.
  • Education, STEM initiatives, and science communication.
  • Innovation, globalization, and international trade.
  • Public safety, disaster, and humanitarian relief.
“Working in the office of Senator Jeff Bingaman has been a once in a lifetime opportunity. As a researcher and practitioner, I have contributed my skills related to synthesizing literature on particular areas of focus, drafting legislation, briefing and staffing the senator, and meeting with constituents and advocates. In this capacity, I am well-positioned to advance the relationship between science and policy broadly; the AAAS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellowship has made it possible for me and my colleagues to serve our country in such meaningful ways.”- Charlayne Harding, PhD, Counseling Psychology, 2010-11 SRDC Congressional Fellow

How do offices choose fellows?

AAAS surveys congressional offices for their interest in hosting fellows in July and August. Offices submit the host office information form by early September. AAAS provides host offices with fellows’ biographies, policy interests, and contact information. Offices contact fellows directly to set up interviews. Fellows may also contact offices to express their interest. Offices extend hosting offers directly to fellows, who are available to start immediately upon accepting an offer.

Resources for host offices