FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

AIP Mather Public Policy Intern Program Announced

Rob Boisseau
Number 135 - November 11, 2009  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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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.

Rob Boisseau
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics