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AAAS Policy and Media Fellowship Programs to be Led by STPF Director Rashada Alexander

Two longstanding AAAS fellowships that immerse scientists and engineers in the worlds of policy and media are now under the same leadership. 

While the unique missions and functions of the prestigious AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships (STPF) and AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowships (MMF) will remain unchanged, the two programs are now under the leadership of Dr. Rashada Alexander. 

“This move will preserve the immersive professional development experiences that AAAS offers to scientists and engineers while leveraging the insights and expertise that each program has built over decades to further strengthen the fellowships,” said Alexander, who has led STPF since 2021. 

STPF is celebrating its 50th year of providing opportunities to outstanding scientists and engineers to learn first-hand about policymaking and contribute their knowledge and analytical skills in the policy realm. From its beginnings in 1973 when seven fellows served on Capitol Hill, STPF now places more than 250 fellows each year across all three branches of government and counts more than 4,000 alumni who bring their unique expertise to academia, government, nonprofits and industry. 

The Mass Media Fellowship also has a long history at AAAS. Since 1975, MMF has placed scientists and engineers in newsrooms around the country to work as journalists for a summer to strengthen scientists’ ability to communicate complex topics to new audiences and bring well-informed science news to members of the public. 

Both fellowships offer scientists and engineers immersive career experiences, valuable professional development opportunities, and broader career horizons while ensuring that evidence informs policy and media and enriches the STEMM enterprise, Alexander noted. As fellows sharpen their skills communicating complex issues, they build mutually beneficial relationships with policymakers and the press by using their academic training to provide accurate and evidence-informed guidance while learning about policy development and news reporting. 

“One of the best aspects of this shift is that the MMF will continue to be led and managed by Dr. Kristin Lewis, who has successfully navigated the MMF through this transition,” said Alexander. “I’m excited to work with Kristin, a fellow alumna of STPF, to facilitate collaboration between STPF and MMF, and synergize the learnings and benefits of both of these immersive and distinct professional development opportunities.” 

Alexander added, “As an STPF alum, I know firsthand how beneficial it is to participate in STPF professional development programming, and I credit it for setting my own career path. Pairing the insights we’ve gleaned from both immersive fellowship programs will not only broaden the value we can deliver to scientists and engineers, but it will also strengthen the bench of future leaders in the scientific enterprise.”