JSPG Hosts International Science Policy Memo Writing Workshop on “Trust in Science” with the Global Young Academy
On May 29 & 30, 2021, the Journal of Science Policy & Governance (JSPG) and the Global Young Academy (GYA) held a joint virtual science policy memo writing workshop for early career researchers all across the globe. The goal of the workshop was to equip early career researchers with the essential tools needed to write effective policy memos. During the workshop there were several presentations to introduce JSPG and GYA, followed by a keynote presentation from Dr. Doyin Odubanjo, Executive Secretary at the Nigerian Academy of Science. Over the course of two days, the workshop gave participants the opportunity to draft an outline of a science policy memo and receive feedback from policy experts.
The workshop had a presence from all around the world. There were 70 participants that represented over 20 different countries. The participants came together across different time zones to develop skills for writing science policy memos on topics related to the 2021 GYA Annual Conference theme “Trust in Science.” Day 1 was full of presentations and our first breakout activity. Dr. Nicole Parker, JSPG’s Director of U.S. Outreach, provided participants with an overview of the journal and opportunities to publish. This was followed by a presentation from Dr. Felix Moronta Barrios, member of GYA and former co-lead of the Science Advice Working Group, introducing GYA and the Science Advice Working Group. Both JSPG and GYA are organizations focused on early career engagement, and the participants were provided with many resources to get involved.
The keynote presentation from Dr. Doyin Odubanjo focused on the intersection between science and policy making. He provided several tips on how to write an effective policy memo including but not limited to using simple language, providing evidence, and being succinct. Throughout the presentation he emphasized the importance of knowing your audience and conducting stakeholder analysis prior to writing the memo. The presentation also included several case studies from the Nigerian Academy of Science to emphasize writing skills.
Following presentations, the remainder of day 1 and day 2 were filled with an opportunity for participants to work in groups to develop outlines for their science policy memos on “Transforming Food Systems: Public Trust and Engagement to Reach the UN SDGs” and “Science Policy Advice - Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” These were two of several topics for the 2021 GYA Annual Conference on “Trust in Science.” Both topics resulted in a robust discussion led by our moderators, many of whom were GYA members. The participants were able to draft a memo outline on day 1, which was reviewed on day 2 for expert feedback. The workshop was extremely helpful in building confidence for our participants in writing an effective and impactful science policy memo.
Following the workshop, organizers assessed the impact amongst the participants with a survey. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the workshop and many participants felt it was very useful. Nine out of ten participants rated the presentation by Dr Doyin Odubanjo as excellent or very good. The usefulness of practical exercises, of moderation with experts, and the insights provided by reviewers were also highly appreciated by all participants.
Participants also indicated that the workshop was highly relevant to their work and provided some testimonials.
This was my first time attending a workshop on Policy Memo writing. I was always very confused and irritated by the way the information on the internet is available but this workshop cleared all my doubts and removed the barrier for starting to write a memo about my own research area.
I really appreciated breaking the memo down into key parts to get us thinking and make it easier to tackle.I was worried that the breakout rooms were going to be awkward/hard to engage with but they ended up being great! Small groups with a clear moderator and clear format/goals really helped.
Finally, two thirds of participants expressed an interest in submitting a policy memo to JSPG.
This writing workshop was a very fruitful and exciting collaboration between two organizations dedicated to early career researchers. To watch the full workshop visit JSPG’s YouTube page. If you’re interested in writing a science policy memo, submit your ideas to our next standard issue by November 14, 2021.
Article written by Dr. Nicole Parker, JSPG Director of US Outreach, in collaboration with Dr. Felix Moronta Barrios, former co-lead of the GYA Science Advice Working Group.
It has been a privilege to be a part of JSPG's growth - the journal began as a collection of insightful science policy submissions by early career scientists, and over ten years it has become an impactful journal that is building a community of highly engaged international science policy scholars and advocates.
In the previous post, we spoke with authors who published in the first issue of JSPG.
In this second post, we also talked with our editorial leadership who have had a long tenure with the journal to hear their reflections and ideas for the future.
Past editorial leadership: how did JSPG help advance their careers?
Gary Kerr and Tess Doezema both led the editorial process for a number of years, and discussed how the journal helped them grow professionally:
Gary:“Leading the editorial board at JSPG has helped me develop not only as an editor and leader, but has opened up a huge range of professional opportunities for me. JSPG has helped me understand in detail the policy-making process, and as a result I’ve been able to advise the Scottish Government on COVID-19 policy, and more recently been appointed to a panel of experts on science communication at the European Parliament. Without the direct science policy experience developed at JSPG, these doors would not have opened for me.”
Tess:“My role as JSPG Editor-in-Chief gave me the opportunity to develop and enact my own editorial vision, allowing me to gain invaluable insights into the writing and publishing processes and experience managing a diverse and geographically dispersed team of editors and authors. My time with the journal continues to inform how I approach student mentorship and science communication across communities and disciplines. Beyond these more practical skills, what I learned as part of the JSPG team continues to productively shape the knowledge and experience I bring to conceptualizing the complex interplay between knowledge and policy, between technologies and the worlds their creators imagine to exist and seek to intervene in.”
More recent editorial leadership: how does JSPG help the next generation?
More recent leadership by Christian Ross took the journal to the next level, alongside our expansion in the number of special issues led by Maddy Jennewein. They reflect on the value of the journal for the next generation:
Christian: “The next-generation of science and technology policy researchers and practitioners have an invaluable resource in what JSPG has accomplished. As a journal, JSPG provides an exceptional platform to engage with dynamic and complex topics in science and technology policy that are incredibly consequential. More than that, JSPG gives early-career researchers opportunities and experiences that distinctively equip them for academic and professional careers in which science and technology are increasingly and rightly recognized as being inseparable from the social, cultural, and political realities of the worlds we create and live in. For myself, leading the editorial team at JSPG has enabled me to better understand and navigate policymaking contexts and enhanced my own professional work in ways that would not have been possible without the unique position of JSPG at the intersection of science, technology, and democratic governance.”
Maddy: “JSPG provides a unique resource for developing scientist-researchers. As the journal has grown we’ve been able to expand not only the editorial support we’ve provided but also the outreach and resources to the broader community. Particularly as the special issues side of JSPG has expanded over the past 4 years, we’ve greatly increased the number of submissions that we published, engaging more authors and more importantly widening the pools of authors that we support to a more global and diverse place. Partnering with organizations such as the National Science Policy Network and the UN Major Group for Children has brought us much greater prominence in the space, and attracted a broad pool of authors and editors to join our effort. Working with JSPG over the past several years has been a wonderful experience and I’ve truly enjoyed working closely with Tess and Christian to help grow the journal and solidify new practices and procedures to enable a more successful journal.”
Editorial reflections on the future of the journal
Looking ahead, Rosie Dutt recently became our newest Editor-in-Chief. She shares her hopes for the future:
Rosie: “As the journal has continued to grow from strength to strength, I endeavour to keep the momentum going by fortifying the journal's editorial board through refining our review process to ensure maximum efficiency and the publication of high quality articles that continue to elevate early career work and voices in science policy.”
Brand new Assistant-Editor-in-Chief Ben Wolfson and Junior Assistant-Editor-in-Chief for Special Editions Andy Sanchez, also shared their perspectives:
Ben: “As a long time associate editor it was a privilege to support so many early-career researchers as they’ve entered the policy arena and a pleasure to read their diverse work. It’s been both incredibly interesting and an inspiration for my own science policy journey. JSPG is an incredibly valuable resource and I’m excited to support the journal's future growth as Assistant Editor-in-Chief."
Andy: "JSPG fulfills a key role in the science policy landscape, by providing early career researchers an outlet for policy issues they're passionate about. Through the editorial process, our contributors hone their skills in policy, communication, and critical thinking. Afterwards, they can use the published product to advance their advocacy--spreading awareness about their projects with an accessible, actionable document. I was thrilled when I first published in JSPG, and now, in my new role, I'm honored to support the journal's mission and help our authors realize their goals."
In closing, we are grateful to our authors for their interest in the journal and to the editors for supporting the journal during these 10 years. We’ve also been very fortunate to be surrounded by many wonderful peers and mentors in our editorial board and editorial leadership teams, and guided by an illustrious group of thought leaders in science policy through our governing board and advisory board. We thank them all for their input and dedication in making the journal what it is today, and we are also grateful to our partners who have supported us over the years and helped move our common missions forward. We look forward to taking the journal to new heights in the next decade, based on this solid foundation laid before us.
Post written and compiled by Adriana Bankston.
Looking back and innovating forward: celebrating JSPG’s first published issue and what the next 10 years hold in store
The next 10 years will bring bigger, bolder and more entrepreneurial policy ideas than ever before. We look forward to continuing to elevate published work and early career voices on the international stage, while building upon a solid foundation of innovative writing and publishing laid by those who came before us.
When JSPG was first established, the ecosystem supporting the involvement of early career STEM professionals in policy ideation and implementation was far more limited. I’m deeply humbled by the work we have all accomplished through JSPG worldwide over ten years--the diversity of voices and the ideas we’ve elevated. Now more than ever, we need substantive vehicles like JSPG to continue to empower the new generation to shape the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation policy and governance.
In June 2011, the Journal of Science Policy & Governance published its first volume. To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the first issue, we took a look back in time and reflected on how far we’ve come, in this two-part blog post.
Over these 10 years, we have published 18 volumes and several special issues. We have trained and mentored countless numbers of students, postdocs, early career researchers and policy fellows from all over the world, and grown our impact through the sheer dedication of our staff, editors, governing board and advisory board members.
The welcome statement for this first issue stated the purpose of the journal as: “A publication dedicated toward identifying emerging challenges and exploring novel solutions. All of the articles are authored by students and young scholars, who provide a unique and often undervalued voice in policy debates.”
I would argue we’ve done all that and more. We’ve stayed true to our mission, but grew our impact internationally beyond what we could have dreamed at that time. For 10 years, the journal has given birth to some of the most innovative policy ideas, and we’ve been inspired by the next generation’s views on the future of the field.
First issue published authors: where are they now?
This first issue covered many different topics in science, technology, governance, and policy in several formats, much like we do today. But this date will always mark the beginning of a new era in policy making when a journal focused solely on the next generation of policy leaders was born.
For this post, we caught up with some of the authors from the very first published issue, and learned about where they are now.
Firas Midani published a policy analysis on Advancement of the Multidisciplinary Research Paradigm via Facilities and Administration Costs and Cost Recovery Incentives. Currently he is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
Firas:“When I published in the inaugural issue of JSPG, I was debating whether to fully pursue scientific research or science policy. I recall chatting with Max Bronstein, founder of JSPG, on careers in science policy. He made an incredibly valid point that academic scientists can still engage in science policy at different stages of their career and indeed make an impact doing so.
I eventually earned my PhD in Computational Biology at Duke University and I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. My research investigates how what we eat can influence the gut microbiome, the collection of microbes in our intestinal tracts, and accordingly influence our health. In particular, I am interested in how diet can protect from infectious microbes that cause incredible burden both in the Western world and developing nations.
After a decade in academic science, I now have a different perspective on science policy including additional thoughts for my JSPG publication on the utility of indirect costs for incentivizing multi-disciplinary science. Over the next decade, I hope to incorporate this newer and enhanced perspective as I engage with policy leaders to shape the scientific enterprise and influence global policies.”
Matt Wenham was completing a postdoc at the NIH and volunteering as a Science Policy Fellow with Scientists and Engineers for America when he and one of his policy interns, Trisha Lowe, published an analysis of policy approaches to groundwater in South Florida.
Matt: “I used the opportunity provided by the SEA fellowship and publication in JSPG to springboard my career from the lab into science policy.”
Subsequently he moved to a Washington DC-based think tank, the Institute on Science for Global Policy, as an Associate Director. Returning to his native Australia in 2013, Matt became director of policy at Australia’s national academy for applied science, technology and engineering. He is currently an S&T policy manager for the Australian Department of Defence.
Aaron Ray published an article on Adaptive Policy Approaches to Ocean Acidification in this issue. He later served as Assistant Editor-in-Chief for JSPG.
Aaron: “Publishing in and later editing articles for JSPG was a great opportunity for me to share my research and contribute to the broader community of science policy scholars. It was a great introduction to the academic publishing process.”
Following his contributions to JSPG, Aaron served in the White House Office of Management and Budget with responsibility for Department of the Interior science and natural resources programs. He is currently a Deputy Director for Policy at the Colorado Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting.
Connect with Aaron on LinkedIn.
We are grateful to be able to look back to the first issue and reflect on where we are now and what we’ve published over these 10 years and ways in which we’ve elevated the next generation in policy. This has been made possible through our talented editorial team. In the next post, we will hear perspectives from the JSPG’s editorial board and leadership.
Post written and compiled by Adriana Bankston.
In this post, we discuss Dr. Jennifer Pearl’s career path through which she has made significant impact in both the science and policy landscape and enterprise in the U.S. Through leadership positions with the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowships Program (AAAS STPF), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), and the National Science Foundation (NSF), Jennifer’s career spans multiple types of roles in different sectors of society. Read below for a description of Jennifer’s career path, and a Q&A where she reflects on her professional experiences and provides advice for the next generation of science policy leaders.
Author Bio: Dr. Jennifer Pearl is a mathematician and Science and Technology Advisor for the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation. Prior to this role, she served as the director of the Science & Technology Policy Fellowships program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has also held positions at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and at Rice University. She earned her Ph.D. in mathematics in the field of symplectic geometry from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Duke University.
Photo credit: AAAS / Kat Song.
Leaving academia to become a policy fellow
Following her PhD training in mathematics, Jennifer took the postdoc route continuing with research and teaching. After a few years, she realized that she wanted to work on problems that were broader than the ones she was tackling in her research career. Through volunteering in the tech transfer office at Rice University, she learned about intellectual property and later engaged in consulting. This experience provided her with a way to learn about the combination of business, law and science. She took a position working for the Dean of Natural Sciences at Rice University, where she developed a new professional master's program funded by the Sloan Foundation. During this time, she helped to create a science policy course for masters students, where she worked with former NSF and OSTP Director Dr. Neal Lane. Dr. Lane encouraged her to apply to the AAAS STPF. She was accepted into the program, and completed her fellowship at the NSF. Through the fellowship, she developed relationships with scientists and engineers who remained her colleagues for many years. She would later return to NSF, where she currently works.
From being a AAAS STPF fellow to the NASEM and NSF
After her AAAS policy fellowship, Jennifer took a position as Program Officer with the Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications (now the Board on Mathematical Sciences and Analytics) at the NASEM, where she worked on studies commissioned by different government agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense. These projects taught Jennifer to determine the right people to recruit on committees, as well as the right questions to ask in order to make sure that all relevant voices were represented. At the NASEM, Jennifer also built important professional relationships.
Following her role at the NASEM, Jennifer became a Program Director in the Office of International Science and Engineering at the NSF, where she fostered international collaborations for U.S. researchers and students, and interacted with staff at counterpart foreign funding agencies and embassies in DC. She then transitioned to the NSF’s Division of Mathematical Sciences, where she led programs to support the mathematics and statistics community in the U.S. During this time, she engaged in several professional development experiences, through what is called a “detail,” taking a stint as the Acting Deputy Division Director and leading an effort to understand partnerships for the NSF Office of the Assistant Director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences. These expanded her knowledge and capability, giving her exposure outside her immediate unit.
Following her role as Director of the AAAS STPF Program (in the section below), Jennifer returned to NSF as Science and Technology Advisor for the Directorate for Engineering, which is her current position. In this role, Jennifer is responsible for identifying partners across sectors with similar interests and complementary strengths, and engaging them to advance projects related to engineering research and education. These partners may include other domestic or foreign government agencies, private foundations or industry entities. In addition to developing collaborations with these partners, Jennifer also participates in broader NSF-wide efforts on relevant science and science policy topics.
Leading the AAAS STPF Program
Prior to her current role at NSF, Jennifer was the Director of the AAAS STPF Program, the fellowship program which brought her to DC in the first place. In describing her experience leading the program, Jennifer noted that it was exciting to see this tremendous demand for fellows in federal agencies, and to observe the downstream effects of the fellowship on the careers of alumni over the last 50 years. In this role, Jennifer enhanced the program through building partnerships to support fellows in Congress and led an effort to make the program more data-driven. As part of the latter, she and her team developed a logic model for the program and commissioned the first comprehensive fellowship alumni evaluation to quantify impacts. In terms of challenges for running the program, Jennifer mentioned the need to run a unified initiative while coordinating among the large number of stakeholders, including fellows, government host organizations, partner societies, funders, and the terrific staff that make the whole operation run.
You’ve held several impressive positions throughout your career. What drives you to look for those positions, and do you have a long-term career plan?
I'm a mathematician by training, and I like to look at spaces that are complicated and messy, and put some structure on them. I like to figure out where the opportunities are and where I can have a positive impact. I also look for positive environments where there is a fun problem to solve. And I don't have a career plan - I just look for interesting problems to solve and good people to work on them with. In general, I seek to meet people outside my current work unit or current organization, and try to stay open to professional opportunities.
How has university training been beneficial to your overall career path?
I think an understanding of the research and education process is key to more broadly supporting the science and engineering enterprise. My academic experience has certainly informed my work in all of my positions. And, as they say, a Ph.D. gives you five minutes of credibility in larger discussions. In addition to my background in mathematics, experiences with tech transfer and program development in the university space have provided a broader understanding of how the system functions through exposure to offices outside of traditional academic departments.
Which skills should early career researchers develop if they're interested in a science policy career, or in some of the roles you’ve held in your career?
Both oral and written communication skills are very important. Scientists are usually trained to generate and test hypotheses. However, once you get out of your immediate research space and you're looking to define, implement, or re-envision an initiative, you have to figure out who the main players are, and how to get them on board. So I would suggest that folks seek out that kind of experience even in a volunteer role. In general, when giving career advice, I always advise early career researchers to look for and say yes to new opportunities. Not all jobs will be your dream job, but in any position there will be colleagues you can collaborate with and skills you can learn to help you move to your next role.
Can you recommend resources for early career researchers interested in science policy careers?
I would encourage you to look at the Journal of Science Policy & Governance (JSPG) as a place to publish your policy work, get involved in the science policy section of your disciplinary society, engage with the National Science Policy Network (NSPN), and see what policy resources your university offers. Locally you can also volunteer on policy-related efforts, and get to know your university’s government affairs office for specific connections. More broadly, consider a science policy fellowship like the AAAS STPF or state fellowships, including the California Commission on Science & Technology (CCST) Fellowships Program. I would also read reports such as the Science Policy Career Guide published by CCST, and a blog post by AAAS STPF fellow Steph Guerra, Finding your science policy path is also a helpful resource. Finally, follow science policy social media handles on Twitter, especially @AAAS_STPF, @SciPolJournal, @scipolnetwork, @scipoljobs and others.
Disclaimer: This post represents Jennifer Pearl's personal views and does not reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Post compiled and edited by Adriana Bankston.
With support from The Kavli Foundation, the Journal of Science Policy & Governance (JSPG) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) have launched a call for policy position papers and competition in recognition of the 75-year anniversary of Science: The Endless Frontier. The competition seeks to uplift and empower the next generation of science policy professionals to publish policy position papers that could shape the future of American science.
JSPG interviewed a series of early career researchers and science policy experts, including Sudip Parikh, Marcia McNutt, Neal Lane and Deborah Wince-Smith who shared their hopes for the future of American science and tips for shaping U.S. science policy, respectively.
In addition, JSPG organized a series of six webinars to inspire and help authors with their writing for the call for papers. To close out the competition, JSPG provided the opportunity for one early career individual attending each webinar to be featured in this post and share their overall impressions and takeaways from our six webinars.
Below are summaries of each webinar in the series in order, from an early career participant (graduate student, postdoc or early career faculty).
STRATEGIZING FEDERAL U.S. RESEARCH INVESTMENTS TO MAXIMIZE ECONOMIC AND SOCIETAL IMPACT
Watch the webinar here
What drew you to attend?
With the renewed commitment to the US scientific enterprise and the commemoration of the publication of “Science The Endless Frontier” by Vannevar Bush, I was enthusiastically optimistic to see the webinar series, sponsored and organized by the Kavli Foundation, JSPG, and AAAS, “Science The Endless Frontier: the Shaping the Future of Science Policy.” I was particularly attracted to the first webinar entitled “Strategizing federal U.S. research investments to maximize economic and societal impact.” The panel was moderated by Toby Smith and highlighted four distinguished scientists and science policy experts.
Takeaways from speakers
With his expertise in technology transfer, Marc Sedam approached the questions from that perspective. He stated that the US continues to be impacted by the “Valley of Death” in regards to science and technology transfer. Universities have established innovation centers and startups in an attempt to close the research-development gap, but this has only shifted the gap. Scientists and funding agencies can help this process by finding uses for ideas and ways to commercialize those ideas.
Susan Renoe is an expert in research engagement. She highlighted that structural changes in the scientific enterprise are needed that can be integrated through broader participation and engagement, particularly with STEM education. More impactful activities and better and longer-term assessments of that impact need to be incorporated into the process.
Along the same lines, Mahmud Farooque suggests that science needs to move beyond just inputs and outputs, and focus on outcomes. Science outcomes need to continue to be evidence-based and action-oriented. He highlighted that Science: The Endless Frontier is a guiding document but has not created a transformational shift in societal and equity changes. The scientific enterprise needs to think about “what does society need?.”
Daniel Goroff advocated that science works better when social, behavioral, and economic sciences are engaged earlier in the scientific process. These types of sciences have strong methodologies, which can be used to design experiments that inform and test policy implementation. He concluded that sciences are uniquely equipped to provide broader impact and provide policy makers with evidence-based information.
The overall consensus of the panel is that the scientific enterprise and systems need to be viewed differently at all levels of academia, industry, government, and the public, and updated through broader engagement and accessibility at each level, such as the development of national research excellence framework, and science for and with society through participatory citizen involvement. Social, behavioral, and economic science should be incorporated into all levels of research, such as looking at the societal value of research and the role it plays in leading to qualitative methodologies, and to the commercialization of research ideas. Additionally, scientists need to think about the broader impact of their work. Policies, such as national research excellence frameworks, can be established to promote engagement and accountability with the public through increased funding and awards to scientists that incorporate this into their research activities.
OPTIMIZING U.S. SCIENCE POLICY TO RESPOND TO PUBLIC HEALTH CHALLENGES
Watch the webinar here
What drew you to attend?
In the past year, I saw the impact of COVID-19 not only on our health, economy, and social norms, but also in the great societal divide in how to best address the problem. With limited information available about the virus came the conflicting opinions among the medical and public health communities on the specific guidelines for the public to follow. I was intrigued by the challenge that everyone involved in science policy faces when approaching a public health problem as complex as COVID-19. For this reason, I jumped at the opportunity when I heard about JSPG-AAAS’s special topics call for policy position paper submissions to “The Endless Frontier: Shaping the Future of Science Policy,” to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Vannevar Bush report. In preparation of the submission, I attended the writing workshop hosted by JSPG and AAAS to learn about the structure and style of a policy position paper which I have never written before. Attending the webinar series post-workshop seemed like a next logical step in understanding how insights from scientific research can inform policy making. The panel was moderated by Erin Heath and highlighted four public health policy experts.
Takeaways from speakers
The timeliness and relevance of the webinar topic made it easy to engage in the discussion. We saw COVID-19 vaccines being developed at an unprecedented speed, yet the U.S. population has not taken full advantage of it due to the lack of delivery infrastructure and growing public mistrust in science. What can we do to improve the system moving forward?
The priorities in investment were discussed extensively. I agree with Carrie Wolinetz that the biomedical research enterprise requires conscious investment in promoting workforce diversity and building community relationships in science. We should learn from the consequences of the pandemic, which disproportionately impacted women and people of color. Additionally, Tannaz Rasouli and Jennifer Luray mentioned the importance of a more sustained investment in public health infrastructure for CDC, as well as no more “sugar coating” of this message to the public.
Robert Cook-Deegan also had a good point about the need to move away from research conservatism that tends to prioritize funding studies with immediate benefit. Without decades of fundamental research, the COVID-19 vaccines could not have been developed so rapidly. Understanding that money alone does not solve all problems, I asked the question of, “what are some non-monetary ways to improve the US public health infrastructure to better respond to public health threats?.” The panelists offered helpful insights such as breaking barriers for early career scientists in academia, open data sharing for increased transparency, and monitoring institutional behavior for improved collaboration. I appreciated these answers because they highlight the need for an inclusive and collaborative culture for creating an effective strategy to combat national public health crises.
I think early career scientists would benefit from participating in public health policy discussions by identifying key unanswered questions that require further research. As a neuroscience graduate student, I found this event an excellent opportunity to explore a potential career in science policy and a nontraditional way to extend my expertise and skills to make a tangible societal impact. As we celebrate the scientific achievements and learn from our mistakes, we will have more productive solutions to future public health challenges.
STRENGTHENING AMERICAN UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE STEM EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Watch the webinar here
What drew you to attend?
My passion centers on improving STEM education, and I am also avidly engaged in activities at the intersection of science policy and science communication. Because my day-job centers on broadening participation in STEM higher education and the webinar speakers are prominent leaders in this arena, I knew this event would identify major limitations to current higher education models and yield notable ideas on how to improve the nation’s STEM enterprise. The panel was moderated by Kate Stoll and highlighted three experts in STEM education and policy.
Takeaways from speakers
Vannevar Bush recognized that the greatest scientific resource we have is the intelligence and potential of the nation's citizens. Undergraduate and graduate education and training directly cultivate, accelerate, and maximize this scientific potential.
According to Layne Scherer, graduate education programs must center student needs, focus on translatable skills that are usable in any career, and encourage students to develop a network of mentors. The importance of mental health in STEM education has been on the periphery for too long and needs dedicated attention.
Shirley Malcom noted that the current system of STEM higher education was not designed for the emerging majority, as women and people of color are still excluded because of ethnicity or race. Two-year institutions of higher education, like community colleges, offer significantly more accessible and flexible models of STEM education when compared to four-year ones. Strategies to retain students in higher education programs include active team-based learning, accessible course design, clear expectations for learning and career development, student-organizations that foster belonging, and more.
The main takeaway from Shirley Tilghman was that colleges need to think about how to educate students with varying levels of preparation and focus on the “why” students learn science: to apply scientific principles in order to help humanity. She also pointed out that hands-on and authentic research experiences significantly increase the degree-attainment of STEM undergraduate students.
Education is not a private good or a commodity for consumption. Strong and effective models of healthy student-faculty mentor, student-centered education, and targeted initiatives focused on increasing the inclusion of women and people of color exist across the nation. By identifying and articulating the real-world outcomes of our students and their scientific discoveries, we can craft meaningful solutions to better position the nation’s scientific enterprise to allow all students to grow and thrive. The onus lies on the current system of higher education to change, not the students.
REIMAGINING U.S. SCIENCE POLICY TO FOSTER ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE RESILIENCE
Watch the webinar here
What drew you to attend?
May day job? Astrophysicist. What keeps me up at night? Climate Change. I spend a fair amount of time working with Astronomers for Planet Earth, a climate advocacy group that seeks to provide the climate change movement with an astronomical perspective. When I saw that JSPG, AAAS, and Kavli Foundation were hosting an expert panel discussing how to write about climate change, it seemed as if it was customized tailored for me! This webinar was a great opportunity to get advice on how to write my policy position paper for the JSPG-AAAS competition. The panel was moderated by David Goldston and highlighted four experts in climate policy topics.
Takeaways from speakers
The panel described how making meaningful climate policy changes is complicated, and that we can take many different roads to achieve the same goal. Amanda Staudt suggested that discussions about the future of climate research are driving it to be more community focused, convergent, and interdisciplinary.
David Hart pointed out that, for climate policy, it is important to consider the balances between 1) domestic and international needs and 2) competition and cooperation. These considerations help increase both accountability, to ensure the biggest contributors are being held responsible, and adoptability, to ensure that new climate policy can be easily implemented.
Tim Profeta noted that climate change is at its heart an ethical and equitable issue for society. All communities are not affected equally. In particular, lower income and communities of color tend to face the most negative environmental impacts. We must ensure our climate solutions are inclusive, and don’t leave anyone behind.
Finally, Gabrielle Dreyfus highlighted the importance of not only thinking about CO2 in regards to global warming, but also other greenhouse gases such as methane and fluorocarbons. These pollutants can trap more heat, increasing global temperatures, and can lead to more atmospheric ozone production which impacts respiratory health.
I took away from this panel both a renewed sense of optimism on addressing the climate crisis and some great advice on how best to discuss it. In particular, this webinar helped me get a better sense of how to effectively write about climate policy. The responsibility of addressing the climate crisis lies with all of us. In order to mitigate the negative aspects of climate change, we must incorporate climate policy into all areas of life - including science policy. If science in the US is to continue to thrive in a carbon constrained future, we must take action now and adopt environmental sustainability as a key aspect of future policy initiatives
RE-EVALUATING SCIENTIFIC MERIT AND REASSESSING WHAT SCIENTIFIC EXCELLENCE MEANS
Watch the webinar here
What drew you to attend?
As a scientist studying impacts of climate change on forests, I increasingly feel that a large part of my job should be communicating with communities/policymakers, and ensuring that my research serves society. However, often these roles are relegated to “outreach,” and can be undervalued in traditional scientific settings. When I saw this webinar I thought I could learn a lot about work that is currently being done to re-evaluate what it means to be a scientist, and ways in which we can better value (support) science that serves our society. The panel was moderated by Joanne Carney and highlighted three experts in topics related to scientific merit and excellence.
Takeaways from speakers
Speaking to merit based on how the DORA (San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment) examines it, Anna Hatch pointed out one thing to keep in mind when thinking about redefining research excellence, and that is whether we are doing research *for* communities or *with* communities? And there is a real need to redefine how we assess scientific excellence based to value meaningful collaborations between science and communities. From the DORA findings, Anna gave us an overview of how we can successfully make institutional changes required to redefine scientific excellence. First, institutional changes require a lot of awareness and capacity building, and second, both top-down and bottom-up grassroots efforts are needed for successful institutional changes.
From the perspective of technical education, William Bonvillian offered a different view on the topic by focusing on how scientific innovation needs to also include innovation in manufacturing, and the full life cycle of producing a new technology. Focusing only on R & D limits our innovation, and we need to include the resources to build up a strong technical workforce education system (specifically in technical schools & community colleges).
With her expertise in increasing diversity in the workforce, Kaye Husbands Fealing noted that while it is true that everyone could benefit from science advances, we need to evaluate whether everyone does benefit. And this involves taking intersectionality into account in our research--particularly, thinking about who is represented in the science and engineering workforce, and evaluating how underrepresentation can affect scientific technology design and implementation. For example, COVID-19 vaccines can help us, but does everyone have access to them?
The webinar brought really important discussions about how we can create institutional changes to ensure a focus on ways to value and reward community and society-serving science and technology advances (from the development stage to implementation stage), as well as the need to better integrate communities and science. Overall, my takeaway from this webinar is that we need to make institutional changes in the way we invest in science and technology, and how we evaluate scientific contributions. Specifically, we need changes in funding structures to ensure community stakeholders are included in the development-to-deployment process of research. We need institutional changes to how we evaluate scientific merit, such as changing tenure, promotion, and research proposal assessments to truly value community-based science for society.
CATALYZING EMPOWERED COMMUNITIES AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT IN SCIENCE
Watch the webinar here
What drew you to attend?
In a time of crisis, the divide between science and communities becomes clearer than ever. As an advocate for science and opportunities for engaging with communities, I often ask myself, “how did we get here?” Science is not an island. We know this. How can we improve this relationship and trust in science by the public? Most of these efforts have little value for the standard evaluation of what it is to be a scientist, but that doesn't remove this work's importance. If anything, it shows the need to update the views that science and the public need to work together. And this was what drew me to attend the webinar. I wanted to hear expert experiences, obstacles faced, and what immediate actions scientists can take to improve the interaction between science and communities. The panel was moderated by Erica Kimmerling and highlighted three experts in topics related to community engagement.
Takeaways from speakers
These panelists highlighted critical gaps in the current system, how they worked closely with their communities, and essential updates in the current scientific infrastructure.
As an academic with community outreach experience, Jeremy Scott Hoffman pointed out that a true community-engaged collaboration takes so much longer than the usual grant cycle that we're expected as academics to achieve significant findings. The current grants system does not account for the interactive and trust-building process for creating real and meaningful ties with the community, which can take years to solidify and be jeopardized if the following grant fails.
Mónica Feliú-Mójer has extensive expertise in science communication training and indicated that the ideal relationship between science and society is a dialogue, and there need to be multilateral conversations. Mónica gave us an overview of how these conversations can occur and how Ciencia Puerto Rico connects science with specific audiences' culture and context. While important for scientists to promote their knowledge, we need to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and ideas between scientists and communities rather than promoting the unilateral transfer of knowledge. Science communication, K12 science education, professional development, and advocacy are just a few initiatives that promote this dialogue.
Shannon Dosemagen’s expertise lends itself well to a discussion on data collection in science. Shannon suggested that the current scientific system focuses on the goals where we rush to the end of the research question and get something for publication rather than focus on the findability, accessibility, and usability of collected data. Focusing on these three key points would allow us to use the collected data for the public good. An alternative use of the collected data could include creating databases that share scientific data for anyone to use to ensure communities access to new technologies and reduce the complex and lengthy delay between science and its application in the community.
Encouraging and valuing the *dialogue* between scientists and communities felt like the crucial step in catalyzing these interactions. Communities should have the opportunity to feel heard and actively participate in conversations with the scientific community. Scientists' efforts in creating ties with communities should be accepted and *valued* as part of their research activities. Funding agencies should encourage engagement of scientists with their communities and value it as part of the research. After all, only by working together can we advance and solve the challenges that affect us all as a society.
Early career perspectives expressed in this post reveal what the future of American science policy could look like in each of these areas. Submit your ideas to this issue of JSPG by April 4, 2021!
Post compiled and edited by Adriana Bankston.
By Adriana Bankston and Cindy Achat-Mendes
For 10-years, the Journal of Science Policy and Governance (JSPG) has served as a non-profit organization and international, open-access, peer-reviewed publication dedicated to empowering students and early career researchers to contribute to science, technology, and innovation policy debates. JSPG publishes research-based op-eds, technology assessments, policy memos, and analyses, white papers, book reviews, workshop proceedings, and other research articles. JSPG staff take part in significant outreach and engagement initiatives in order to increase the impact and visibility of published work, and encourage readership and contributions to science policy. In this manner, JSPG seeks to elevate the visibility and enhance the skills of early career scholars in science policy and governance.
Training undergraduate students to debate societal issues
In fall 2020, JSPG publications were an integral part of the Interdisciplinary Applications of Biology (BIOL 4700) course at Georgia Gwinnett College, taught by Dr. Achat-Mendes, Associate Professor of Biology. This is a biology capstone problem-solving course with the goal of analyzing real world issues from a scientific, political, economic and social perspective, as well as effectively and clearly communicating scientific information in written and oral form. ”Cultivating the policymaker within,” and training undergraduate students to become well-spoken citizens on a variety of societal issues fall under course objectives.
Graphic by Dr. Achat-Mendes on “Cultivating the Policymaker Within” in a biology majors senior course at Georgia Gwinnett College
Publications as a resource for science policy writing and research
As high quality articles in science policy, JSPG publications were utilized in the journal club section of the course in two ways:
JSPG publications presented and discussed in the course focused on consumer knowledge of genetically engineered organisms; animal experimentation; use of genetic data in medicine; regulation of new and existing PFAS by EPA; the harm education and reduction for opioid users (HERO) initiative; US robotics and artificial intelligence policy; renewable energy in the US and its incentivization; charging of electric vehicles; and meeting STEM workforce demands by diversifying STEM.
The journal club using JSPG publications provided a wide scope and depths of discussion for the course, and constituted useful teaching tools in educating students about different types of policy writing. The utility of JSPG publications for the course was further exemplified by presentations given to the students by Adriana Bankston, JSPG’s Chief Outreach Officer, discussing principles of policy writing, as well as elements of a policy analysis (Scientific Integrity in Federal Policymaking Under Past and Present Administrations) and a policy memo (Meeting STEM workforce demands by diversifying STEM) using example publications in JSPG. Recordings of Dr. Bankston’s presentations on policy analysis and policy memo writing and analysis can be found on JSPG’s YouTube channel.
Knowing that these publications were written by young scientists resonated with the students in the class. In this manner, JSPG was a useful resource in teaching students how to become more comfortable with policy research and writing. Through JSPG publications, students also became more knowledgeable about local policy issues. For example, reading the policy memo Lowering Preventable Maternal Deaths in Rural Georgia was particularly helpful for students to learn about issues going on in their own backyard, as written about from local students, thereby increasing the relevance of these publications for their community.
Career advancement in science policy
Students reflected on the utility of the course for their own professional development, in teaching them to evaluate real-world issues in a broader context, and raising awareness of how science is viewed in society. The course also helped them realize their own voice in the policymaking process, gave them tools to advocate for issues of interest, and helped hone their skills in policy research and writing through course assignments and JSPG publications as a resource.
To learn more about the Journal of Science Policy & Governance (JSPG), visit sciencepolicyjournal.org. Follow @SciPolJournal on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with our latest issues and initiatives. If you are interested in conducting a JSPG journal club at your institution, or having JSPG staff speak to your students, please contact email@example.com.
Note: Inspired by the numerous resources provided by AAAS, the call to action on “Cultivating the Policymaker Within” was used as the focal point of the course.
About the authors:
Dr. Adriana Bankston is JSPG’s Chief Outreach Officer. Adriana promotes JSPG as a publication outlet and professional development opportunity for early career researchers in science policy. She organizes outreach events, and seeks out opportunities to highlight the organization, authors, and published work. Learn more, get in touch, and connect with Adriana here.
Dr. Cindy Achat-Mendes is an Associate Professor of Biology in the School of Science and Technology at Georgia Gwinnett College. Through evidence-based teaching and mentoring, her work is focused on providing inclusive STEM education for all students, regardless of their academic background. She mentors undergraduate students in neuroscience research and has helped to implement a campus-wide initiative that enhances student success through peer learning. Contact her to collaborate on STEM education initiatives: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the deadline for submissions for the Second International Policy Memo Competition, held by the Journal of Science Policy and Governance (JSPG) and the National Science Policy Network (NSPN), fast approaches we took some time to chat with Erin Reagan and Shannon Wolfman from the Penn Science Policy and Diplomacy Group (PSPDG) from the University of Pennsylvania, on their first-place memo and what they have done since then.