This summer, interns at AAAS are hard at work on a range of projects that further the organization’s mission of advancing science and serving society: creating science journalism resources for SciLine, facilitating connections through the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion, supporting science policy through the Local Science Engagement Network, and more. Learn more about the most interesting projects they have worked on so far, what has surprised them about their internships, and their science role models.
What are you studying and where?
Zahra Hassan, Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Intern: Economics at Duke University.
Bebe Holloway, Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Intern: Computer science and engineering business at the University of Virginia.
Elizabeth Kiel, Research & Data Analytics Intern: Data science and psychology at Wellesley College.
Fiona Kniaz, Science Policy Intern, Office of Government Relations: I recently graduated from Rutgers University with degrees in political science and economics. This fall, I will begin pursuing an MPhil in politics and international studies at the University of Cambridge.
Rosalind Lucier, Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion Intern: I am a December 2021 graduate of Wellesley College where I double-majored in chemistry and history.
Ari Navetta, Experts on Camera Intern for SciLine: Cognitive and brain science at Tufts University.
Taylor Seitz, Science Intern at SciLine: I graduated in 2021 with my M.S. in biological sciences from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Before I moved to D.C., I was studying environmental microbiology and scientific teaching, and my next steps after SciLine involve doing some field work and writing about wildfires up in Alaska.
Why did you want to intern at AAAS?
Zahra Hassan: I wanted to participate in an organization that speaks at the forefront of emerging scientific issues, like AI development and racial inclusion in science.
Rosalind Lucier: I was interested in AAAS because I wanted to apply my scientific background to engage the public through dialogue and science communication. I was particularly drawn to the work of the DoSER program because of my interest in religion and the interactions between religion, history and culture. In my personal experience, I have noted that a line is often drawn between the sciences and the humanities, and I was fascinated by the work the DoSER program is doing to help blur that line and to foster curiosity for science.
Elizabeth Kiel: When I first read the description for this intern position, I felt it aligned perfectly with my technical skills as well as my passions — namely, it would give me the opportunity to sharpen my data analysis skills while also supporting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Additionally, I was excited by the unique opportunity to be a part of AAAS and further its mission. The Research & Data Analytics team has also been kind and supportive from the beginning!
Ari Navetta: So few organizations have such an extensive history of being an advocate for science and a changemaker. AAAS casts a wide net and does great work in so many areas that almost anyone passionate about science can find a project that speaks to them.
What does a typical day at AAAS look like for you?
Fiona Kniaz: It varies! I typically comb through newsworthy state and local stories for the weekly Policy Alert, work on some projects related to the next phase of the Local Science Engagement Network, track congressional earmarks, and attend the occasional meeting, webinar, or hearing.
Ari Navetta: My internship involves a lot of communicating with reporters, to help them use our resources and get the information they need, and with scientists to help them share their expertise. At SciLine we have a lot of thoughtful conversations about the roles of science and get to hear experts share their knowledge on a broad variety of topics.
Zahra Hassan: Usually I am answering emails and meeting with people from other scientific organizations and corporations to put together initiatives, like scientific conferences and the DEI committee.
Elizabeth Kiel: Each day is different! The RDA team meets each week to discuss our current projects and goals, and I have many opportunities throughout the week to meet with team members, ask questions, and discuss my progress. Otherwise, I primarily focus on the tasks and projects I am working on. For instance, right now, I am working on translating our SPSS data analysis programs into R. I have also attended some fun and informative intern activities organized by the Human Resources department!
What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on so far?
Bebe Holloway: Currently, I am working on a NIST-funded project evaluating AI in the court system. This has been very interesting because although I study computer science and its applications in school, I have never looked at AI from a law perspective.
Elizabeth Kiel: The first major project I worked on involved creating a dashboard for another department in AAAS using data from a recent survey they had conducted. I really enjoyed the experience of creating the dashboard, transforming the data, getting feedback from the stakeholders and RDA team members, and arriving at a final product. It was a great learning experience!
Taylor Seitz: One of the most interesting projects I’ve worked on so far is to help develop a media briefing, which is a live, on-the-record briefing featuring scientific experts that provide scientific information to journalists.
Zahra Hassan: I’m currently working on a memo to help scientists write their NSF grant proposals to get more funding. Researching legislation and hypothesizing what works has been interesting so far.
What's something you’ve learned already?
Taylor Seitz: I’ve learned so many things! I spend most of my days researching and identifying scientific experts on any topic you can think of, so it’s pretty impossible to narrow it down.
Fiona Kniaz: I’ve learned a lot about building out grassroots campaigns and forming strategic organizational partnerships.
Ari Navetta: I've gotten exposure to so many different fields of research and learned about some fascinating and unique areas that people study!
Rosalind Lucier: I think the biggest takeaway I have had so far from this experience is a renewed sense of curiosity in the natural world. The conversations I have had in just that last few weeks have left me feeling inspired to continually ask questions.
Has anything surprised you about your AAAS internship so far?
Fiona Kniaz: Although I knew AAAS is one of the largest scientific organizations in the world before my internship, I was surprised to learn just how expansive its programmatic reach is. There’s truly a program for everything!
Rosalind Lucier: I have been surprised and impressed by how open and willing people are to have difficult conversations and to confront differences through dialogue.
Bebe Holloway: I have been pleasantly surprised with the responsibility and freedom my superiors have given me. I am constantly being asked what projects interest me and what I would prefer to work on, which provides me with a healthy work environment where I am excited to come into the office every day and get to work!
Taylor Seitz: I am constantly surprised at how small a team SciLine is! They do so much amazing work, it’s hard to imagine it is done by so few people.
What are your career goals?
Taylor Seitz: Ultimately, I’d like to be involved in the field of science education and outreach. Interning at SciLine has been such an interesting experience in science communications after spending so much time focusing on research!
Fiona Kniaz: After I return to the United States from Cambridge, I hope to get a Ph.D. in political science, studying economic populism and inequality, and eventually work for a think tank or policy advocacy organization.
Rosalind Lucier: I plan on attending graduate school and then I hope to become a professor in chemistry or an adjacent field.
Elizabeth Kiel: I aspire to apply my data science skills in a position that allows me to support underserved communities. I am not exactly sure what that will look like yet.
Do you have a favorite scientist or a STEM role model?
Ari Navetta: Siddhartha Mukherjee, a cancer physician and author of “The Gene” and “The Emperor of All Maladies,” among others, writes with a thoughtfulness and care you don't often see in science writing. He manages to break down very complex ideas in a digestible and narrative way, and I respect his commitment to bridging the gap between scientific experts and the general public.
Elizabeth Kiel Nergis Mavalvala!
Bebe Holloway: Marie Curie is one of my favorite scientists and STEM role models. It is inspiring how she bridged the gender gap within science, and she will always be an inspiration to me.
Fiona Kniaz: Alan Turing and Sara Josephine Baker.
Rosalind Lucier: I look up to the female STEM professors I had at Wellesley because they were so enthusiastic about their research and about sharing and teaching science. They made science seem approachable and a scientific career possible for other aspiring women.