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Executive Branch Fellowship

With well over 150 fellowship placements in the executive branch each year, fellows are impacting important public policies across a broad range of agencies and issues. While fellows in Congress are steeped in the legislative process and judicial fellows in judicial research and administration, executive branch fellows contribute to policy, administration and implementation in a vast array of federal agencies. 


Placement opportunities are at any federal agency in Washington that partners with AAAS. Examples include the National Science Foundation, the Department of Health & Human Services, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Click here for information on the selection and placement process.


Fellows serve alongside staff in federal agencies and pursue a wide variety of activities that may include:

  • Collecting and analyzing information.
  • Writing talking points, speeches, press releases, reports, websites, etc.
  • Preparing for hearings.
  • Fostering interagency collaborations.
  • Facilitating program development, implementation and evaluation.
  • Planning and implementing events.
  • Supporting improved programs, policies and planning.
  • Performing risk analysis, regulation, monitoring, and evaluation.


The issues fellows engage in are endless and run the full gamut of policy arenas. Some examples include:

Big Data & Analytics
  • Interoperability and integration of data across agencies.
  • Coordination in data requirements and data governance.
  • Data strategies to integrate research.
  • Facilitate discovery and support new knowledge to maximize engagement and solutions.

  • Biotechnology, biomedical research and technology.
  • Public safety, disaster preparedness and humanitarian relief.
  • International aid, capacity building and development assistance. 

  • Foreign policy and international trade, treaty engagement and multilateral cooperation.
  • Tech transfer and research capacity.

  • Science education, research and innovation.
  • STEM diversity

  • Climate change. 
  • Energy innovation.
  • Oil and mineral rights and exploration.

Environment & Agriculture
  • Animal, plant and environmental health protection.
  • Ecosystem degradation, pollution and biological threats.
  • Air, water, land, wildlife and natural resources protection.
  • Food processing and distribution safety. 

Health & Human Services
  • Preventative and community health, disease identification and response and medical research.
  • Individual, family and community social services and support.

  • National and international security.
  • Infrastructure, environmental, cyber and health security, terrorism and warfare prevention and nonproliferation.
  • Biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

Fellow Stories

Fellowship experiences can vary considerably from one branch to another, between agencies, and even among offices within the same agency. Read the stories of some executive branch fellows below. Click here to learn about other fellowships.

Elizabeth Burrows, 2014-16 Executive Branch Fellow

Elizabeth Burrows

2014-16 Executive
Branch Fellow at the
National Science Foundation


Jeff Frithsen

1988-89 Environmental Fellow
at the Environmental
Protection Agency

Jean Richards, 2010-12 Executive Branch Fellow

Jean Richards

2010-12 Executive
Branch Fellow at
the Department of
Health and Human Services

Program Managers

Program Managers liaise with federal host agencies and offices and facilitate day-to-day coordination of fellows. They also conduct the selection and placement processes and report on fellowship activities.