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Quotes: Members of Congress & Fellows

“The AAAS Fellow who served on our staff for a year benefitted our office and our district greatly. Having a health care expert with real life experience as a physician is an invaluable resource. As Congress works to reform our health care system we need to seek out input from those who have dedicated their lives to practicing medicine, and I can think of no better way to do so than by having a qualified, capable AAAS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow® on staff.”

- Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA)


“The AAAS Fellowship Program provides members of Congress with a degree of scientific expertise not found on many Congressional staffs, and it presents AAAS Fellows with an intimate role in the process of decision-making in public policy. Legislative issues with scientific and technological implications are brought before Congress each day, and partnership with the AAAS Fellowship Program offers members an abundant reserve of scientific expertise.”

- AAAS CEO Rush Holt; Former Rep. (D- NJ) and 1982-83 Congressional Fellow sponsored by APS

“For many years, I have hosted AAAS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellows® in my Washington, DC office and believe that a Member of Congress and all constituents benefit from the Fellows’ high-quality work and science-based perspective. A greater understanding of science is greatly needed in Congress and year after year AAAS Congressional Fellows bring a scientific perspective to Capitol Hill for the benefit of the nation as a whole.”

- Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA)


“The AAAS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellows® Program is the best fellowship program on Capitol Hill and I have been consistently impressed with the high quality of the Fellows who have come to my office under the program. It has been incredibly valuable to me and my staff to get the benefit of the scientific and technical expertise that the Fellows bring with them. Our Fellows, in turn, have had a hands-on opportunity to participate in the legislative process, which many of them have told me later marked a turning point in their professional careers.”

- Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA)


“I really do not know how we would have gotten through this past year without my AAAS Fellow’s help. At the start of this year our senior staffer who was responsible for energy, defense and nuclear power issues transferred to the House Appropriations Committee. I was very fortunate that my Fellow, with his background in engineering, science and the military, was available and able to pick up her issues without missing a beat. His knowledge and guidance on issues is invaluable to me as I make decisions here in Congress.”

- Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID)


“The AAAS Fellowship Program provides Members of Congress the unique opportunity to augment their legislative staff with skilled and talented people to assist in critical legislative and policy endeavors. I could not be more pleased with the quality and professionalism of the AAAS Fellows who have added significant value to our legislative efforts on myriad issues.”


- Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME)

“My office has benefitted greatly over the years from participating in the AAAS Fellows Program. We’ve had Fellows with advanced degrees ranging from mental health to bio-technology. The ability to work with Fellows who have this level of scientific expertise has not only helped inform my policy decisions, it’s brought an essential perspective to the work that my staff does. The AAAS Fellows, in turn, gain insight and experiences that are only available here on Capitol Hill. I think the program has exponential value as all of us who participate — Fellows, Members of Congress, Congressional staff — bringing the lessons learned into future endeavors.”

- Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA)


“AAAS Fellows bring outside expertise and a fresh perspective to addressing a whole host of important and complex issues. The unique professional experience of these individuals contributes significantly to our task of developing meaningful legislation, effectively representing our constituents and providing relevant congressional oversight.”


- Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)


“Becoming a AAAS Congressional Fellow, contributing to the legislative process firsthand, and earning the trust of my Senator and Hill colleagues has fostered the confidence and credibility that will be the foundation stones of my career in public policy.”

- Ben Brown, PhD, Optics, University of Rochester, 2007-08 Fellow in the Office of Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO)
Current Position: Department of Energy: Senior Science and Technology Advisor, Office of the Deputy Director for Science Programs


“A key factor in my experience as a legislative fellow was finding the “best fit” for my medical background and personal philosophy.  My background and philosophy were graciously and respectfully welcomed in Congressman Herger’s office.  The office found it advantageous to utilize my hands-on medical expertise including patient care, graduate medical education, and training experiences and incorporates it in decisions for “real world” applications of health care policy and legislation.  My portfolio included working on Medicare reform, physician payment reform, helping to ensure appropriate congressional awareness for the comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for veterans with traumatic brain injury, and assisting Representative Herger on other health policy initiatives within his office and the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.”

- Larry Charleston IV, MD, Medicine, Wayne State University, 2010-11 Fellow sponsored by AAN/ANA/CNS, Office of Representative Wally Herger (R-CA)


“Working for the Committee on Energy & Natural Resources gave me the opportunity to take on longer term projects on my own, while also collaborating with permanent staff on a wide range of projects throughout the year. I have used my research and industry experience to organize committee hearings and briefings, draft legislation, and write speeches for the Committee Chairman. Fully integrated into the committee staff, I have also had leeway to work with staffers from Committee Members’ offices on their legislative agendas, and to interface with the wide range of stakeholder groups who meet with Committee staff on a daily basis.”

- Marcius Extavour, PhD, Physics, University of Toronto, 2010-11 Fellow sponsored by OSA/SPIE, Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources


“The Congressional Fellowship exceeded my already high expectations. I was given considerable responsibility for legislative policy initiatives related to aging that built on my professional experience as a geropsychologist in a way that I feel I’ve made a difference.”

- Greg Hinrichsen, PhD, Community Psychology, Harvard University; 2007-08 Fellow sponsored by APA in the Office of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Current Position: Mental Health and Aging Policy Liaison, Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Mental Health Services, Community Mental Health Consultant


“I was very quickly assimilated onto the Senator’s staff with assignments that reflected the complexity of the legislative process. As a “mid-career” Fellow with a diverse healthcare background, I was relied upon for my expertise and experience to assist in legislation and policy development, address health provider issues, and staff committee hearings and constituent meetings.”


- Paul Larrat, PhD, Epidemiology, Brown University, 2010-11 Fellow sponsored by ACCP, Office of Senator Paul Wyden (D-OR)
Current Position: Associate Dean and Professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Rhode Island


“Scientists arrive on Capitol Hill well versed in skills that are highly valued by Congressional offices.  My years of designing and conducting neuroscience research allowed me to develop strong capabilities in independent thought, problem solving, strategic thinking, fast-paced research and analysis, and written and oral communication.  This skill set, combined with my scientific expertise in brain and cognitive development enabled me to contribute to Rep. Holt’s legislative objectives in a variety of issue areas, including education policy, disability policy, and science education.”

Elizabeth O’Hare, PhD, Neuroscience, University of California, 2010-11 Fellow sponsored by SRCD, Office of Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ)
Current Positon: Legistlative Assistant, Office of Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ)


“The Congressional Fellowship was an amazing experience. I used existing skills in new ways, learned important new skills, and made numerous life-long friendships. I have returned to my university with a renewed focus, excitement, and ability to incorporate the importance of policy in my teaching, research, and service activities.”

- Johné Parker, PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Techology, 2005-06 Fellow sponsored by ASME, Office of Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Current Position: Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Kentucky



“Through the fellowship experience, I had the great privilege of working with extremely smart, hard-working people. Though I had little policy experience, they included me as a full member of the team, and seemed to appreciate the technical and analytical skill set that I brought to the table.”

- Melanie Roberts, PhD, Neurobiology & Behavior, University of Washington; 2006-07 Fellow in the Office of Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Current Position: Assistant Director at Colorado Initiative for Molecular Biotechnology


“The Congressional Fellowship allows health care professionals and scientists to be involved in the legislative process on Capitol Hill. Every year, many of the upcoming bills are within our professional and personal areas of interest. This fellowship provides the opportunity to be involved in shaping those bills.”

- Sarah Samuel, DDS Baylor College of Dentistry; 2006-07 Fellow sponsored by ADA, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (Sen. Enzi, R-WY)
Current Position: Dentist, Community Dental Care at deHaro Health Center


“Competitively selected from a variety of scientific disciplines, AAAS Fellows bring a unique perspective and a specialized skill set to their job as legislative staff for Congressional Members and Committees. As a veterinary health care professional, I spent my fellowship year serving as a health policy fellow in a busy Senate office. During my fellowship, I received the opportunity to contribute to an assortment of tasks within the office including:

  • Coordinated the development of a New England Hospital Wage Rate Index Map with the professional staff at Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.
  • Conducted meetings with constituents, health care professionals and disease groups.
  • Supported the Senator at meetings and Senate Committee Hearings on health-related topics.
  • Introduced a bill for the Senator relating to the preservation of the Medicare reimbursement rate for osteoporosis testing to include writing bill drafts, bill summary, “Dear Colleague letter” and floor statement for the Congressional Record as well as coordinating the joint introduction of a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Composed and circulated among the Senate offices a Member Request letter for funding support for the Ovarian Cancer Research Program at the Dept. of Defense.

My fellowship experience utilized my technical writing skills and problem solving abilities developed through years of scientific-based training and experience in clinical veterinary medicine. The AAAS Congressional Fellowship Program offers a mutually beneficial approach to the introduction of scientific thinking into the development of public policy.”

- Kathy Simmons, DVM, Veterinary Medicine, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, 2010-11 Fellow sponsored by AVMA, Office of Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME)

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