2004–06 NIH Fellow at the National Institutes of Health
Penny Burgoon knew she wanted to work at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) before she heard of the AAAS Fellowships. With her PhD in physiology, she had been working as a postdoctoral fellow in cell and structure biology at the University of Illinois, Champaign, and as a visiting physiology scholar at Ohio State University. However, Penny soon noticed that her field was being flooded with scientists all doing similar work. “I just wanted to be part of something a lot bigger than myself and my research,” she recalls. Penny began focusing on employment opportunities at NIH and then came across an advertisement for the fellowships in Science. “When I found out about the program, it was like a breath of fresh air. It was exactly what I wanted to do.”
Penny applied for and was awarded a AAAS Fellowship at NIH. After moving with her husband and five-year-old son to the DC area, she began working in the Roadmap Central Coordination program in the Office of the Director, which instantly gave her exposure to a broad range of activities across the entire agency. The NIH Roadmap initiatives are designed to accelerate the pace of scientific discoveries that will translate into new health care interventions. Penny’s role has included serving as the Roadmap office point of contact for project teams coordination. She also wrote several sections of the Roadmap portion for the 2007 Congressional Justification and analyzed and prepared documents on the demographics of the 2004 and 2005 Roadmap award recipients.
As a renewal Fellow for the 2005–2006 fellowship year, Penny is splitting her time between the Roadmap office and the science policy office of the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (one of NIH’s 27 Institutes and Centers) to gain exposure to science policy at the Institute level. The fellowship experience has confirmed for Penny that she wants to keep working in the field of science policy, perhaps at NIH. In her view, “There is nothing dull about DC!”