In the first installment in a two-part series, learn how AAAS serves undergraduates, graduate students and new Ph.D. holders – and how you can take part in AAAS programs to enhance your education or kick-start a career that draws upon your scientific expertise.
EXPLORING THE NEXUS OF SCIENCE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Since 2014, the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition has offered an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students in all fields to explore the connections between human rights and science, engineering and health – and to be recognized for their insights. The AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Essay Competition honors outstanding analytical essays written by students on any topic at the intersection of science or technology and human rights.
The 2020 winners, for instance, addressed such timely and varied topics as a human rights approach to COVID-19 vaccine research, testing and distribution; genetic surveillance of Uighurs in China; and the lack of recognition of environmental refugees in international law. The contest rules, however, encourage students to write and submit essays “that reflect their own ideas, interests, and insights.”
Judges for the competition, drawn from the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition’s member associations and affiliated individual members, will select the winning essays based on originality and creativity in understanding and addressing human rights and scientific challenges, the strength of the writers’ analysis and reasoning, and the quality and clarity of their writing.
Two winning students – one undergraduate and one graduate student – will be recognized at the virtual Science, Technology and Human Rights Conference, to be held virtually in October 2021. The winners will also receive a year of AAAS membership and a one-year subscription to Science, as well as a $1,500 cash prize provided by the AAAS-Andrew M. Sessler Fund for Science, Education, and Human Rights. The winning essays will also be considered for publication by the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program.
Submit your essay for consideration in the 2021 competition between May 1 and June 4.
AN ENTRY POINT INTO YOUR CAREER
AAAS’ newly renamed Inclusive STEM Ecosystems for Equity & Diversity (ISEED) includes a range of programs and initiatives that increase access, engagement and success within STEM, particularly for members of underrepresented groups. Among those programs is Entry Point!, which since 1996 has placed undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities in summer internships in science, engineering, mathematics and computer science.
Entry Point! recruits, screens and refers qualified students to industry and university research programs for consideration of placement in 10-week summer internships. Participants are selected based on academic excellence in their major fields and technical understanding to these opportunities, according to Laureen Summers, project director. The students represent a great opportunity to expand the science and engineering community, she said.
“They bring their unique life experiences and coping skills that contributes to innovation and new perspectives in the research they do,” said Summers.
“Being aware that there were others like me who were passionate about working in a STEM career and who had overcome the unique challenges of being other-abled was very empowering,” said Kelly Gilkey, a biomedical engineer who interned at NASA Glenn Research Center and NASA contractor Wyle Laboratories through Entry Point!
Eighty-five percent of Entry Point! alumni have been or are currently working scientists and engineers. Gilkey is among them – she now works as a manager at NASA Glenn Research Center.
Submit your application beginning in September for the following summer.
SCIENCE POLICY PATHWAYS
Once you’ve earned your Ph.D. or master’s in engineering, where can it take you? The AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows bring their scientific expertise each year to the halls of Congress, the White House, the Federal Judicial Center and federal agencies all around the Washington, D.C., area.
The Science & Technology Policy Fellowships began in 1973 with seven fellows supported by AAAS and several other scientific societies. From that first group, a community that now counts thousands of alumni has emerged. Still run by AAAS in partnership with other partnering organizations, the highly competitive program places more than 250 scientists each year into offices across all three branches of the federal government.
Applicants must hold a Ph.D. or another terminal scientific degree such as a Sc.D., M.D. or D.V.M. (Engineers require a master’s degree in any field of engineering plus a minimum of three years of professional engineering experience.)
“The S&T Policy Fellowship was the single-most valuable career experience I could have had as I looked to pivot away from academia,” said one former fellow in responding to a 2020 survey of the program. “My world opened in ways I could not have imagined.”
Applications are open between June 1 and November 1 for fellowships beginning the following September.
If you haven’t yet completed your Ph.D. but are interested in exploring the world of science policy, look to The Engaging Scientists & Engineers in Policy Coalition. ESEP is an alliance of organizations that have joined together to empower scientists and engineers to take part in all steps of the policymaking process at the local, state, federal and international levels. Among their resources are webinars including “Science Policy Student Groups: How You Can Get Involved and Become Part of the Conversation,” “Impacting Congress Beyond Phone Calls and Emails: Engaging on Policy” and “Talking Science to Non-Scientists.” ESEP also runs monthly virtual science policy happy hours in partnership with the National Science Policy Network.
Another avenue for students in STEM to learn more about science policy is the Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering workshop. The CASE workshop, open to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in science, mathematics and engineering, serves as a bridge between the worlds of science and policymaking by introducing participants to the federal policymaking process. Students who take part learn about subjects ranging from the federal budget process to how best to connect with their own elected representatives.
“Scientists in this generation want to increase our advocacy beyond the bench, and the best start is to get involved in policy,” said one participant in the 2019 workshop.
Look for more information soon about when the next CASE workshop will be held.