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AAAS Immersive Fellowships – a Changing Landscape

2024 is off to a big start with several new staffers joining the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships (STPF) and Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship (MMF) team and an opening for a Project Director of Communications & Digital Strategy that we hope to also bring fresh talent to.

STPF and MMF continue to grow, and I am so appreciative of the folks joining us in these roles. That includes a new Director of Operations & Coordination, Shonda Gilliland, who will bring a strong set of skills to the ongoing optimization and strengthening of these immersive fellowships. We are growing and evolving, and it is so very exciting to be a part of it!
~ S&T Policy Fellowships Director Rashada Alexander

Shonda Gilliland, stepping into a new position as Director of Operations & Coordination, most recently joined the team in January 2024. From studying policy as an undergraduate and holding her first job in the office of former U.S. senator Carl Levin to a master’s in science and leading a fellowship program at the Society for Conservation Biology, she finds herself “firmly planted in both science and policy at the same time.” A long-time admirer of the AAAS fellowships, Shonda is “very much looking forward to getting to know the STPF program better and the talented team supporting it, engaging with…the fellows…and helping make [the] fellowship experience transformative and meaningful.” 

From selection through fellowship completion, STPF program managers work with federal host agencies and offices to facilitate daily coordination of fellows. Joining the program managers is Lena Rothfarb, who will manage fellows placed at U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and U.S. Department of Transportation. Prior to STPF, she managed a fellowship for K-12 educators and is “a big believer that experts with deep content knowledge play a valuable role in crafting public policy.” When asked what she’s excited about in her new role, Lena shared that she’s “looking forward to getting to know the fellows and learning more about their goals in working at the intersection of policy and scientific understanding.” 

Formally stepping into the role of MMF Director is Olivia Monahan, who has been a part of AAAS since 2016. “I’ve had the privilege of working with the program in an interim capacity since June of 2023, and am delighted to move into the role permanently,” Olivia said in her LinkedIn post. “The 2023 fellowship cohort blew me away with their intelligence and drive – and we are now working to select and place the 2024 cohort. It is an exciting time!” And to those who were a part of both STPF and MMF, please keep in touch with Olivia as the 50th anniversary of MMF approaches. “I am forever grateful for my time working with STPF...One of the best parts about this new role is continuing to collaborate with the stellar STPF staff to support both of AAAS' flagship fellowship programs!” 

Temporarily joining the STPF team is Erin Graham. As a program associate, she has been integral in assisting the Alumni Engagement team and supporting professional development planning for current STPF fellows.  

In December, we bid farewell to Kat Song, who served as STPF communications director for the past decade. Her time with STPF “was a deeply meaningful (and fun!) way to witness how science and society can work together for good.” Launching into her next chapter as a part of the AAAS Membership department, which is in the process of redefining what it means to be a AAAS Member, Kat is “really excited about being a part of the efforts to modernize the member base and to enable active members to get more involved in science, society, and civic engagement.” Her guidance and support to STPF, as well as her never-ending cheer, will be dearly missed. 

From just celebrating STPF’s 50th anniversary to MMF’s anniversary right around the corner to growing the team, we look forward to the journey ahead!  

Author

Katherine Yau

Interim Project Director, Communications

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