Announced last November, the Eagleton Science and Politics Fellowship Program was launched to bring science to New Jersey state legislative and executive offices. Inspired by the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships program, Eagleton Science and Politics Fellows are also Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers who serve full time for one year following intensive training and are supported by a stipend.
The program is run by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, which focuses on how the American political system works, how it changes, and how it might work better. New fellows are expected to begin training in July.
The Institute began exploring the intersection of science and politics in 2015 through a series of workshops. These helped galvanize groups across campus to support efforts to expand the Institute’s work in bridging the gap between science and politics. In 2016, the Institute was one of the recipients of a $25,000 planning grant awarded by the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST), in partnership with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Simons Foundation, to explore the possibility of starting a science and technology fellowship in New Jersey state government. Encouragement from State Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, a physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and support from Rutgers University-New Brunswick leadership were essential to the creation of the fellowship program.
The timing was right for the fellowship’s premiere, as STEM has come more into focus in recent years. In the New Jersey state legislature, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin established a new Science, Innovation and Technology Committee. And in the executive branch, Governor Phil Murphy has announced plans to make New Brunswick an innovation hub.
“Eagleton has a long history of working to connect academia and government for more than 60 years,” said Eagleton Institute of Politics Associate Director John Weingart. “This project is an exciting extension of that work.”
As part of this initiative, the Institute hired its first neuroscientist to join its staff, Anna Dulencin. “Hiring a strong science and politics coordinator and connector is proving to be key to moving this project forward,” said Weingart.
The Eagleton Science Fellows will be expected to produce regular reports of their activities in their host office as well as a final summary of their experience including impacts.
As with most new initiatives, funding is a challenge. The fellowship is presently funded for the next two years with funding coming from the State of New Jersey FY ’19 budget as well as from Rutgers University-New Brunswick.