Beth (L) and Liz (R) with advice to future fellows.
Elizabeth “Liz” Burrows
2014-16 Executive Branch Fellow, National Science Foundation (NSF)
Ph.D., Biological and Ecological Engineering
2014-16 Executive Branch Fellow, National Institutes of Health (NIH)
AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows (STPF) come from various backgrounds and career stages. They learn and accomplish a great multitude of things in their fellowships. Beth and Liz are current fellows who applied for fellowships in the Big Data & Analytics (BD&A) program area, each bringing to their offices unique STEM experience and gaining valuable career skills.
What’s a typical day like for a fellow?
Beth: What I love most about the fellowship is that there is no such thing as a typical day. One day I'm organizing an international conference panel, the next collaborating on a project with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. All the while I'm working with STPF affinity groups to provide opportunities for other fellows to learn about data science and policy from leaders in higher education, government, and beyond.”
Liz: My placement in the Division of Mathematical Science at the National Science Foundation (NSF) has given me freedom to delve into many aspects of science policy ranging from grant administration to strategic planning.”
Why did you apply to the BD&A program area?
Beth: I wasn't happy at the bench and I couldn't figure out what was missing. STPF staffer Rick Kempinski came to Argonne National Lab to give a recruitment talk for the fellowship and I found myself excited about the idea of something bigger, more collaborative, and that would use my communications skills. I applied to the BD&A area because I had some data science experience and was fascinated by the policy changes that I could see big data bringing to medicine, scientific practice, and public services. As a geneticist, I was excited by the amazing opportunities that it would bring for our health and our lives and petrified of what might happen if policymakers and the public didn't understand both the risks and rewards.
Liz: I wanted help advance the use of big data to address environmental issues. Prior to my fellowship, my research had a strong quantitative component and focused on two areas: developing biofuels from algae and understanding ecosystem responses to climate change. Both of these issues have policy implications and I wanted the opportunity to work on them from a new perspective, and to gain insight into the downstream application of my research efforts.
What do you count among your policy or personal accomplishments?
Beth: In my first fellowship posting at the NIH Office of the Associate Director for Data Science, I am proud of the work I did to set up science communications operations for the new office and the Big Data to Knowledge program. At NSF, I organized the agenda and speakers for the directorate advisory committee meetings. These meetings drive policy for STEM education research and I get a seat at the table in deciding what gets covered. As a fellow, I've found my confidence again and made friends and colleagues who I will keep for a lifetime.
Liz: There are so many! Here are a few at the top of the list. I helped lead the management team for the new NSF Mathematical Sciences Innovation Incubator. I co-organized the NSF Big Data Brown Bag series. I helped organize and write two chapters in the final report for two workshops on data-intensive research in education. I also enjoy co-chairing the STPF Biofuels Affinity group.