First AIP State Department Science Fellow Starts; Selection Begins for 2002

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Publication date: 
27 September 2001

At the beginning of this year, the American Institute of Physics and the U.S. Department of State signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a new Fellowship program. Now, nine months later, the first AIP State Department Science Fellow, George Atkinson, is beginning his term at the Department. As Atkinson paves the way for future Fellows, AIP is now beginning to accept applications for the 2002-3 Fellowship term.

Atkinson comes to the Fellowship on a leave of absence from his professorship in chemistry and optical sciences at the University of Arizona. Working closely with Secretary of State Colin Powell's Science and Technology Adviser, Norman Neureiter, Atkinson met with staff from many State Department bureaus before deciding where to serve his entire Fellowship term. "I've been exceptionally pleased by the open, enthusiastic way in which the State Department welcomed me," he commented.

Atkinson has chosen an assignment in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The I&R Bureau serves as a resource for the Department of State, he explained, enabling him to provide assistance on projects reaching into essentially all bureaus. Currently, he is working with the European Bureau, bringing S&T considerations to discussions of global warming, genetically modified organisms, and sustainable growth. As the very first AIP State Department Science Fellow, Atkinson hopes to raise the program's visibility within the science community as well as in the Department, and "leave the largest positive imprint" during his Fellowship.

In recent years, the State Department has acknowledged its great need for scientific and technological advice as it analyzes world situations, formulates foreign policy, and seeks to anticipate future issues of concern. In speeches earlier this year, S&T Adviser Neureiter cited more than 25 current foreign policy issues that his office is involved with, including chemical and biological weapons threats, satellite export controls, cybersecurity, geopolitics of energy, nanotechnology, and many more. Atkinson concurs on "both the depth and breadth of need" for S&T capability in the Department, and suggests that "many more scientists should be interested in participating" in the Fellowship program.

It is AIP's goal that the Science Fellows, in addition to providing their own expertise to the Department, help increase awareness of the need for scientific input to the foreign policy process, and serve as a conduit between the broader scientific community and the makers of foreign policy. In addition, Fellows will continue to be a resource for the Department long after their terms are over. Neureiter has spoken of creating a "zero- impedance circuit" for the transmission of advice and expertise from the science community into the Department.


As Atkinson begins his term, AIP is preparing for its upcoming competition to select next year's State Department Science Fellow. The program is run under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Fellows are selected by a joint AIP-State Department committee.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS: Requirements include membership in one or more of AIP's ten Member Societies, and a PhD in physics or a closely related field. In exceptional cases, the PhD requirement may be waived for applicants with equivalent research experience. Fellows are required to be U.S. citizens, and the Fellowship is contingent upon receipt of a security clearance before starting term. In addition to outstanding scientific credentials, excellent communications skills, and sound judgment, applicants should possess familiarity with, or interest or experience in, scientific or technical issues relevant to foreign policy.

TO APPLY: Application materials should be on standard 8.5 x 11 stationery, single-sided, unstapled. Incomplete applications will not be considered. The materials needed are:

- Cover sheet, indicating name, address, phone, email, names of references, U.S. citizenship, PhD status, and society membership(s);

- Letter of Intent, limited to two pages, discussing your reason for applying, scientific training and professional background, foreign policy interest or experience, and qualities or experience that would make you effective in this position;

- Resume (please limit to two pages and include no more than 3- 5 major publications);

- Three Letters of Reference from those having direct knowledge of your character, professional competence, and particular education, attributes, or experience that would enhance your suitability for this position. Please arrange to have the letters of reference sent directly to the address below.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: For the Fellowship commencing in the fall of 2002, all application materials MUST BE POSTMARKED BY NOVEMBER 1, 2001 and sent to:

AIP State Department Science Fellowship
American Institute of Physics
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740-3843
ATTN: Audrey T. Leath

For additional information on the program, applications, stipend and benefits, please see our State Department Fellowship web site or contact Audrey T. Leath at aleath [at]

Neureiter has noted in his speeches that the three pillars of U.S. national security are intelligence, diplomacy, and warfighting capability. "Diplomacy," he stated, is "the last stop before war."

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