2008-09 Diplomacy Fellow at he U.S. Department of State
Federico “Ico” San Martini had already lived on three continents by the time he was in his early twenties. He was born in Italy, raised in both the United States and Germany, did post-doctoral work in the United Kingdom, and spent some time in Ecuador, so he knew that international issues were in his future.
After finishing his PhD in chemical engineering at MIT, Ico took a job as a program officer at the National Academy of Sciences for the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology. Because of his interest in international policy, he decided to apply for the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship.
“At the core, many of the challenges are the same in international policy as in domestic policy,” he says. “Explaining clearly the science and the uncertainties without undermining the argument is important.”
Ico’s placement at the Office of Environmental Policy at the U.S. Department of State provided the opportunity to work on one of the world’s most pressing issues: water. He put together a working group and wrote about U.S. policy on climate and water for the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 Report to Congress, released in June 2009.
“One of the emerging challenges is climate,” he says. “The nexus between water and climate will pose challenges because of the severity and frequency of extreme events such as floods and droughts. We will need to determine what risk reduction strategies the U.S. should support in developing countries to help make them more aware of those risks.”
Ico is serving a second year in his office, and then hopes to continue to work in international environmental science policy. “The Diplomacy Fellowship is a great entrée into government and international organizations,” he says.