As COVID-19 takes the nation and world by storm, fellows and staff of the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships (STPF) program have been facing the pandemic in numerous ways and from multiple directions these past few months.
Fellows on Capitol Hill were already accustomed to a hectic pace and constantly shifting sands, but in a pandemic, the tempo is upped even more. Georgia Lagoudas, a fellow in Sen. Edward Markey’s office and sponsored by AAAS, and Sarah Rovito, in Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office and sponsored by IEEE-USA, are applying their technical backgrounds and championing evidence and data in decision-making. Lagoudas contributed to efforts calling on the Trump administration to use the Defense Production Act to produce coronavirus tests and medical equipment. Rovito is responding to constituent requests and questions, including those around biotechnology, manufacturing and personal protective equipment, and trying to help connect potential partners. They and the STPF program overall were featured in the AAAS Member Update: read more here.
The S&T Policy Fellowships program is a multifaceted organization with complex and moving parts. STPF staff are now working remotely to run a program that recruits, onboards and manages fellows – a 365-day-per-year reality that cannot pause. Prospective fellows are flung across the country, so new ways of connecting with them are required. Many current fellows are transplants living in DC for just a year or two. It was clear from the beginning of the pandemic that neither the current class of fellows, “nor the cohort being finalized this spring for entry this fall, were going to have the experience they expected; this year would look very different,” but being flexible is in the DNA of the program. Read more in the AAAS Member Update here.
And last, fellows themselves have been busy communicating about their coronavirus experiences on the STPF Sci on the Fly blog and podcast. Posts range from “Understanding SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19” to “Serving as an STPF Fellow in the Era of COVID-19” and “Testing for COVID-19: A visit to a pop-up testing center.” See more here.