Fellows Help Move Ideas into Innovation

Each year, AAAS convenes thousands of scientists, engineers, educators, policymakers and journalists at its annual meeting...

Each year, AAAS convenes thousands of scientists, engineers, educators, policymakers and journalists at its annual meeting. This year’s meeting was held in February in Austin, TX around the theme “Advancing Science: Discovery to Application” to highlight the critical roles of academia, government and industry in moving ideas into innovations.

STPF fellows Chaevia Clendinen and Alan Arnold lead a workshop on networking. | AAAS/Olivia Payne

The AAAS Annual Meeting is the largest and most widely recognized global science gathering where learning, networking and crosspollination take place. STPF hosted an exhibit booth, a networking reception, and a session about the fellowship program that featured Kevin Foster, 2009-10 Executive Branch Fellow, and Leslie Martinich, 2011-12 Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Other alumni and current fellows participated in roles ranging from conference presenters to STPF booth talkers.

Among other exercises, Alan Arnold and Chaevia Clendinen, both 2016-18 Executive Branch Fellows at the National Science Foundation (NSF), asked workshop participants to write down three character attributes of three people who have influenced them in a positive way. Their session aimed to provide attendees with strategies to effectively establish and sustain meaningful relationships and networks.

How do you talk with public and policy audiences about data and be sure you’re conveying the meaning and having the impact you intend? Karen Akerlof, 2016-17 Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow sponsored by the American Geophysical Union, and Renata Rawlings-Goss, 2014-15 Executive Branch Fellow at NSF, provided tips at “Developing a Narrative About Your Data” on how to put scientific information into the context of a narrative with which people can relate.

Making a case for the notion that science is political, Adam Shapiro, 2017-18 Executive Branch Fellow at the State Department, did a flash talk on “Advocating for Science - What the March for Science Tells Us About Science.”

Gerald Epstein, 1983-84 Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow sponsored by the Office of Technology Assessment, led discussants through a conversation, When Regulation Drives Innovation, that placed on its head the notion that government regulations are a damper on companies’ efforts to innovate.

Mahlet Mesfin, 2012-14 Executive Branch Fellow at the Defense Department, led a discussion about how engaging in science diplomacy with respect to migration issues furthers the interest of science since migration policies can either foster a free flow of ideas or hamper scientific exchange.

Katharine Himes, 2012-15 Executive Branch Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development, led a poster session that highlights how economic data can be accepted as nonpartisan, allowing conversations to form around socially-charged topics.

Looking ahead to the next AAAS Annual Meeting? Put it on your calendar: February 14-18, 2019 in Washington – “Science Transcending Boundaries.”