AIP Mather Public Policy Intern Program Announced

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Publication date: 
11 November 2009
Number: 
135

The American Institute  of Physics (AIP) and the John and Jane Mather Foundation for Science and the  Arts today announced the creation of the AIP Mather Public Policy Intern  Program.

President Obama’s  historic commitment to double the research budgets of key science agencies,  invest three percent of the nation’s GDP in R&D, and focus on economic  recovery through “green jobs” has thrust science into the national policy  debate (see FYI #122).  Coupled with the prospect of sweeping climate  change legislation that would transform the way the U.S. powers itself, there  is growing recognition that scientists must take a hands-on role in the policy  process.            “The aim of the program is to promote awareness of the policy process among  young scientists by directly engaging them in the work that goes on in the  federal government -- work that is today as exciting as in any time in the  past,” explained AIP Executive Director and CEO Fred Dylla.

John Mather, who shared  the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for his precise measurements of the primordial  heat radiation of the Big Bang, and who is now a senior astrophysicist at  NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, reached out to AIP to  explore the development of this new initiative to expand hands-on policy opportunities  for physics undergraduates. The program is funded through the John and Jane  Mather Foundation for Science and the Arts, itself funded by Dr. Mather’s Nobel  award.

Dr. Mather hopes that  this internship program will "get students interested when they still have  an opportunity to learn about government process in their formal education;  grad schools tend to expect their technical students to concentrate on  technical things."

AIP is a not-for-profit  corporation representing over 127,000 scientists, engineers, and educators  through its 10 Member Societies.  AIP administers the Society of Physics  Students (SPS), a professional association designed for college students  interested in physics with over 700 chapters across the country. 

The AIP Mather Public  Policy Intern Program will expand on the already successful SPS internship  program which places physics undergraduates at federal agencies in and around  Washington, DC.  Since 2001, 67 SPS interns have had this experience. The  program will draw on AIP’s policy expertise in the Media and Government  Relations Division responsible for administering the Congressional Science  Fellowship Program for over 20 years, and a more recent State Department  Science Fellowship Program—the first of its kind.
  AIP Mather Public Policy Interns will contribute science expertise to  congressional offices, or other locations where public policy is  developed.  Like other SPS interns, each AIP Mather Public Policy Intern  will receive advice and guidance from practitioners in their offices, AIP  mentors, and the accomplished network of present and former AIP Congressional  Fellows.

Applicants for the AIP  Mather Public Policy Intern Program must have an exceptional scholastic physics  background and potential for future success, be active in SPS activities, have  experience or demonstrable interest in public policy, and be able communicate  clearly and effectively, orally and in writing.

Further information for applicants will be  available this winter, and will be publicized by FYI.

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