2006-08 AAAS Fellow at the National Science Foundation
Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Division of Astronomical Science
Tammy Bosler’s interest in AAAS Fellowship opportunities was piqued after she heard Jennifer Wiseman, a 2001-02 American Physical Society– sponsored Congressional Fellow and chief of the Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, speak at a 2004 American Astronomical Society meeting about science policy as a career choice for astronomers. Soon after meeting with several politically active scientists during a AAAS-sponsored Congressional Visit Day in 2004, Tammy applied for a fellowship.
She was not awarded a fellowship the first time she applied, but she came to Washington, DC in the fall of 2005 as a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Graduate Policy Fellow at the National Academies. Tammy credits that experience with contributing to her successful application in 2006. She was placed in the Division of Astronomical Sciences, in the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, at the National Science Foundation (NSF).
During her 2006-07 AAAS Fellowship year, Tammy toured all seven of the national observatories in the northern hemisphere, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico, where she met with staff to inventory their education and public outreach programs. Her findings will provide valuable insight into NSF and help strengthen the observatories’ educational outreach efforts.
But Tammy says her most significant accomplishment was developing and managing the first-of-its-kind funding program in the Directorate’s Division of Astronomical Sciences. The Partnerships in Astronomy and Astrophysics Research and Education (PAARE) program awards grants to researchers at minority-serving institutions to help them fund research and education partnerships with larger research institutions, such as universities and observatories.
Tammy renewed her AAAS Fellowship for the 2007-08 year, except this time she is working remotely in Germany, where her husband remained during her time in Washington, DC. “Many AAAS Fellows lived in DC without their families during their fellowship year, but I think I had the longest commute of them all,” she says with a laugh.
In addition to managing the PAARE program, Tammy is running part of NSF’s Galactic Astronomy Research Program and is involved with developing new policies in the U.S. ground-based astronomy program. She returns to the DC area approximately every six weeks. While in Germany, she’s leveraging her location to strengthen NSF relationships
abroad and develop her knowledge on international science-policy through contacts she’s made at European agencies such as the Deutsche-Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), the European Southern Observatory, and the European Research Council.
“This fellowship has rekindled my passion for astronomy while introducing me to different career paths in my field,” says Tammy, who confesses she once suffered from “researcher’s guilt” for not wanting to pursue a career in academic sciences. “It’s inspiring to know there are many directions a scientist can go and find fulfilling work outside of academia.”