With 4,000+ alumni and half a century of bringing science to policy in the nation’s capital, the storied AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship (STPF) program is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the induction of the current STPF class of 2022-23. STPF has also been busy for months planning the launch of a formal alumni network to serve its accomplished body of alumni fellows throughout the world.
“Scientists and engineers who have served as policy fellows in the US federal government (like me!) are uniquely primed to confront societal issues with deep technical know-how, policy savvy, and valuable professional networks,” said STPF Director Rashada Alexander, a 2009-2011 fellow at the National Institutes of Health.
Leading the charge is the new alumni engagement director Jessica Soule, who is no stranger to STPF. An avid runner, hiker and camper, she is the outgoing director of recruitment and well-known in the science policy world. Featuring a new website to be unveiled next year, the STPF alumni network will initially support alumni career development by providing information, events and opportunities for professional development, and finding and developing opportunities for alumni to engage and collaborate with a broad range of AAAS programs and initiatives.
“STPF alumni are committed to supporting the nation as well as each other,” she said. “I’m excited and honored to help usher in a new era for STPF alumni to continue bringing their expertise to bear in helping improve life for all. It’s a natural move for me – from figuring out how to build a successful class of fellows to creating lifelong opportunities for them to continue shining as science policy leaders.”
“So many fellows know and love working with Jessica,” said Alexander. “We’re really pleased that she decided to make a strategic move from finding fellows to partnering with alumni.”
To help shape the future of the alumni network, STPF has gathered data from alumni and also met with groups of alumni in Washington and Boston, and are planning more meetings in the future. The program will also take advantage of in-person discussions at the AAAS Annual Meeting in March 2023 in Washington. This will include an “STPF@50” set of sessions on science policy, an alumni lounge, and a culminating 50th anniversary celebration mixer.
“STPF alumni fellows do many things really well: one is connecting with each other and leveraging the power of those connections,” said Soule. “I can’t wait to see where they want to go next – and how STPF can help them get there!”