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Ryan MacFarlane

Ryan MacFarlane
Science & Technology Policy Fellowships

2008-09 Diplomacy Fellow at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Ryan MacFarlane encountered the AAAS Fellowship in so many places, it would have been surprising had he not applied. “I heard about it at a conference in Oaxaca, Mexico, from a lab mate, and the career center. AAAS staff also came to my campus and talked about the fellowship,” says Ryan, who has a PhD in microbiology and immunology from Stanford University.

Ryan spent his first year as a AAAS Fellow in the Office of International Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. “I chose this office because I believe in its mission, which is to capture lessons learned from disaster events, such as the tsunami in Indonesia, to better understand preparation and response.”

But it was after the H1N1 virus emerged in the spring of 2009 that Ryan’s expertise was directly called upon. Because his office provides information about travel advisories, trade restrictions, and antiviral stockpiles to other agencies such as the U.S. State Department, it handles a lot of information requests. A small team, including Ryan, worked around the clock to address every request that came in. “For example, an email might come in from the Transportation Security Administration asking what to do with gloves when the screeners are done with them,” he explains. “Someone might ask if there’s a biohazard and how they should be disposed?”

In his second fellowship year, Ryan is working in the Office of Economic Policy, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. “It has been an incredible experience,” he says. “The fellowship is preparing me for lots of career options.”