Application Process for Leshner Leadership Institute

Ina Park, a 2017-2018 AAAS Leshner Leadership Fellow, participates in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) during the training week. | Marcia Castro

The AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology manages the Leshner Leadership Institute. Each year, 15 Public Engagement Fellows are selected from disciplines at the nexus of important science-society issues. They convene for a week of intensive public engagement and science communication training and public engagement plan development. Fellows return to their institutions with a renewed commitment to developing and implementing public engagement activities, providing a forum for training other scientists in their communities, increasing capacity for public engagement leadership and catalyzing institutional change.

For the purposes of the Institute, public engagement activities are defined as the individual’s active participation in efforts to engage with the public on science- and technology-related issues and promote meaningful dialogue between science and society.

Food and water security is the topic for the 2018-2019 cohort. Beyond 2018, AAAS and the Leshner Leadership Institute advisors will select other areas of science, with an eye toward topics that have a strong science-society component and sufficient scholarship in related communication research. Add your name to our mailing list to receive updates and information.

Check back soon for 2017 application information.


Eligibility information for 2016 applications:

  • Applicant must be an individual scientist or engineer. Groups or institutions will not be considered for this program. AAAS employees are ineligible. Fifteen scientists or engineers will be chosen to participate in the program on an annual basis.
  • Applicant must be an active researcher who investigates infectious disease or an aspect of infectious disease. Researchers may be in academia, government, non-governmental organizations, or industry.
  • Applicant must be mid-career, defined as at least seven years past receipt of their terminal degree, and have demonstrated significant professional accomplishment in their field of study.
  • Applicant will have demonstrated an interest or excellence in contributing to public engagement with science activities, with a focus on interactive dialogue with a non-scientific, public audience(s).
    • Types of public engagement activities might include: public outreach, public policy, informal science education, or science communication activities such as mass media, public dialogue, science cafés, stakeholder dialogues, and social media.
  • Applicant must be available to attend the week of orientation and training at the AAAS headquarters in Washington, DC, in June.
  • Applicant must be a member of AAAS or become a member upon acceptance.


2016 application entries:

A committee of experts from the natural, physical, and social sciences and the field of public engagement, with AAAS staff, will review applications and select the cohort. Decisions of the committee are final.

During the fellowship year, the Institute will expect the recipient to participate in public engagement as outlined in the plan developed during the training week at AAAS.

Application Procedures

The following are requested to complete the 2016 application:

  • Name, position, institution, email, phone number, and state (or country if not U.S.) of residence during the fellowship year of the applicant;
  • Name, position, institution, email, and phone number of the author of the letter of support;
  • Personal statement of no more than 500 words by the applicant demonstrating commitment to or interest in public engagement and what they hope to gain by participating in the Leshner Leadership Institute, including discussion of the following:
    • Previous experience with public engagement or reason for interest;
    • Goals and target audiences for engagement if selected to participate in the Institute;
    • How the candidate plans to influence and support public engagement among his/her colleagues (institution/organization/profession); and
    • Challenges overcome in the course of conducting public engagement with science, or consideration of potential challenges and solutions.
  • Letter of no more than 500 words written in support of the applicant by an individual within their institution or professional network who can approve and facilitate the candidate’s participation in the Institute. Statement should include discussion of the applicant’s leadership, public engagement experience or interest (including audiences and goals), and the way(s) in which the applicant may be transformative in their community, institution, organization, or profession;
  • Two representative material samples of public engagement which illustrate or describe their activities that focus on dialogue with public audiences;
    • This can include video, sound clips, online or social media posts, written articles, event announcements, or statements written by colleagues knowledgeable about the activity, etc.
  • An optional second letter of support
  • The applicant’s curriculum vitae (5-page maximum)

All submitted materials become the property of AAAS.