Leadership Elections in July - Meet your Candidates!

NSPN Will Elect New Leaders In July - Meet your Regional Hub and Committee Chair Candidates! 

The National Science Policy Network will be holding annual elections this summer from June 30th until July 13th. These elections will allow members the opportunity to vote on who will chair the committees and regional hubs that spearhead NSPN’s organizational goals, programming, and initiatives. 

Members will have the opportunity to talk to candidates and ask them questions at the upcoming Meet the Candidates event on Tuesday, June 15th at 8PM ET. Candidates have also provided written statements on why they want to hold the positions they are running for. Read their statements below and join the Meet the Candidates event to ask them additional questions and learn more about their vision for our existing and new Committees and Hubs! 



Starting this year, Regional Hubs (East, South, Central, and West) will transition to focus on regional projects. Hubs will be led by a single Chair with the recently elected December Co-Chairs remaining as support for these newly elected leaders in the initial transition period. December Co-chairs will complete their terms in December 2021 at which point NSPN will only hold elections annually, in the summer. 


Central Hub Chair Candidates & Statements

Shelby Weaver, Jennifer Brown, Elana Goldenkoff, Kayla Hannon, and Rachel Haake


Shelby Weaver: “I am running for Central Hub Chair because I am hardworking, organized, and passionate about science policy. More than anything, I love working with individuals who are passionate about science policy as well. My research focuses on trauma exposure among individuals in Wisconsin prisons, and I have loved expanding my work to advocate for policy changes related to my research. As Central Hub Chair, my main goal would be to give other members the opportunity to expand their interests and to gain skills in order to work on a range of policy issues. I am especially excited to engage with members from different backgrounds and to learn about the policy issues important to them. Then, I hope to collaboratively design specific projects we can work on as a Central region. I think now is a critical time to be involved with NSPN for scientists and policy advocates, and I am looking forward to the changes the new leadership structure will bring. After the transition, I would hope to engage more closely with members of the Central region to work on issues unique to our area, and to recruit new members of the science and policy communities to work on these issues. I look forward to working closely with other committees to provide valuable resources and experiences for the members of NSPN, and am excited to work NSPN’s passionate community to advocate for science policy.”


Jennifer Brown: "I am excited to be nominated for Central Hub Co-Chair! As someone who joined NSPN as a lone member without a chapter affiliation and who launched a chapter just this year, I have first-hand experience with the challenges facing individual members and with the needs of chapters. My goals as Chair would include: strengthening the collaborations between chapters, brainstorming general recruitment strategies, forming teams to work on discrete projects to help meet member goals (such as writing a policy memo) and maintaining a positive and inclusive hub. 

If elected, I would work with the current Chairs to transition to the new NSPN structure and find ways to engage with the new Advocacy and Professional Development Committees to bring content to Central Hub members. Increased collaboration between chapters can assist newer or smaller chapters in generating content without unnecessary duplication. To accomplish this, one idea is to create Series that many chapters can participate in. For example, a Career Exploration Series where different chapters rotate hosting speakers with different SciPol careers. This way, not every chapter has to host an entire career series (though they are welcome to, of course!).  The burden of hosting events could be shared, but everyone could still benefit from the content. Another thought was to make a repository of shared slide decks and recorded presentations so groups looking to build events could have templates, and past event could be watched on-demand. I hope I have the opportunity to work with you as a new Hub Chair!"


Elana Goldenkoff: "Hello Central Hub! I am a PhD student at the University of Michigan studying how brain networks control movement. I joined NSPN last year because I wanted to improve my communication and advocacy skills and learn how to use my scientific training to advance social justice. I have been an active member of Central Hub this past year and helped organize the 2021 Central Hub Retreat.

I have benefited immensely from belonging to NSPN and participating in our hub’s programs. I am running for this leadership position because I want to ensure that other members, especially those who do not have local chapters, have the opportunity to gain policy knowledge, improve analytical and communication skills, and develop their professional networks with other early career science-policy colleagues. 

Additionally, as NSPN redefines the role that regional hubs and committees will have, our hub will undergo many changes. I am excited to help navigate that transition and develop projects and initiatives that Central Hub members can work on together. These include advocating for clean energy initiatives and environmental protections, fighting obstacles to equity and inclusion, and improving access to mentorship, education, and health resources on our campuses. 

Our diversity in identity and discipline is truly a strength of our hub. I look forward to collaborating with all of you as we address common challenges facing our academic institutions, local communities, and Midwestern states."


Kayla Hannon: "The Central Hub has been a critical resource for my personal science policy growth as well as my institution’s science policy group, ProSPER. I would be honored and excited to serve as chair and nurture even more members and chapters. I am passionate about improving connections between chapters to allow for better dissemination of science policy skills and opportunities.

My time as president of ProSPER has taught me the power of organizing dispersed efforts to create a unified and greater impact which I hope to bring to the Central Hub. For example, ProSPER members were able to write science policy notes for Missouri legislatures after developing science communication skills via NSPN’s and JSPG’s workshops and policy memo competition. ProSPER’s relations with other groups connected us to local issues allowing us to provide direct assistance to advocacy initiatives such as a radioactive landfill, an environmental crisis poisoning residents in North St Louis. 

As chair, I would focus on both member-specific issues as well as regional projects that enact change in our communities. I plan to address issues Central Hub members have raised like supporting non-chapter affiliated members, organizing regional or federal Hill Days for hub members, and meetings focused on local issues such as agriculture. I also plan to continue supporting efforts already in place, like the Central Hub journal club and hosting retreats for our region. I believe my time in the Central Hub and the skills I learned as president of ProSPER would allow me to excel as chair."


Rachel Haake: “I will receive my PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill and transition into a non-academic career path in August 2021. While my degree is from UNC-CH, I have lived in Chicago, IL since March 2020 due to the pandemic and sought opportunities to engage with science policy and advocacy locally in the last year. I currently serve as the Policy Liaison for Chicago Society for Neuroscience which involves educating chapter members on state legislation and opportunities to engage with policy-makers, and I collaborated with US Senator Dick Durbin’s office to create a call-to-action address for Chicago SfN’s 2021 annual meeting. I have demonstrated success in building a network of individuals and groups doing science policy work and collaborating with scientists and elected officials to bridge science and policy. I am committed to NSPN’s mission to foster community, train the next generation of leaders, and empower advocates for the role of science in society, and I have benefitted greatly from my own NSPN membership and participation on NSPN’s Communications Committee. I would be delighted to bring my experience to the Central Hub and provide individuals and chapters with resources to grow their networks, develop new skills, and pursue professional development in science policy.”


Eastern Hub Chair Candidates & Statements

Michael Yang and Tim Steeves 


Michael Yang: “I'm running for Eastern Hub Co-Chair because I benefited immensely from NSPN throughout the tumultuousness of last year, and I would like to pay it forward as a NSPN organizer. Because the pandemic prevented me from joining my home university on campus, I had been in search of a remote community to explore my interests in science and technology policy. Through NPSN, I have been part of many conversations, happy hours, and webinars that enabled me to better understand science policy and how to turn that into a viable career for myself. I see the position of Eastern Hub Co-Chair as a natural way to continue my science policy journey: By serving other Early Career Research fellows through office hours, events, and support, I hope to jointly broaden both my and their horizons.”


Tim Steeves: “Tim is excited to help build out the hubs new role as a coordinator of local and state advocacy efforts. Based in DC and longtime MD resident, he's passionate about connecting science policy to environmental and climate justice, as well as reforming the criminal justice system.”


Southern Hub Chair Candidate & Statement

Megan Damico 


Megan Damico: “My name is Megan Damico, and I’m a 4th-year Ph.D. Candidate at UNC Greensboro, where I study the honeybee gut microbiome. I am running for Southern Hub Chair because I want to continue growing the thriving scipol community in the Southern region and fostering a supportive space where students can highlight their efforts and collaborate with others to expand their network.

As co-founder and president of Spartans for Science and Policy at UNCG, I understand the challenges that new and existing groups face in keeping a group successful over time. As the pandemic increased Zoom fatigue, creating meaningful programming with tangible outcomes and interactive components for participants is a constant challenge. Therefore, if elected as the new Hub Chair, I hope to work with Southern Hub members to craft these events and support membership retention. 

I am a passionate advocate for graduate students and have sat on the Graduate Education committee to help create resources for students interested in scipol and advocacy. Outside of my research, I love being outdoors birding and volunteering with the Audubon Society. With Audubon, I help coordinate state-level advocacy training events and grassroots campaigns for younger generations of birders to engage with their lawmakers on policies that affect birds and people who enjoy them. I am a detailed oriented team player with experience coordinating and executing large programming events. If given the opportunity to serve, I believe I would be a great Southern Hub Chair."


Western Hub Chair Candidates & Statement

Chris Jackson and Jasmine Osei-Enin


Chris Jackson: "I'm running for the NSPN Western Hub Chair position because I want to foster a more active and collaborative coalition of members here in the Western Hub and build upon the great work that NSPN is already doing.

As the outgoing President of the Science Policy Group at Berkeley, the current Workshops Director for Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally, and an editor for the Journal of Science Policy & Governance, I bring a wide breadth of science policy experience to the table. In addition, I've held multiple other leadership roles on the UC Berkeley campus, including as part of the Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative, the Berkeley Science Review, the Graduate Assembly, and the Asian American and Pacific Islander Standing Committee.

I'm excited by the new leadership structure that will allow the Western Hub to focus on regional projects. Some of the most fun and rewarding parts of my NSPN experience have been working with other NSPN members on various projects, from DEI policymaking to immigration to climate change. With the Science Policy Group at Berkeley, we've also previously led advocacy trips to the California State Capitol and I'd like to explore how we can develop similar, cross-chapter advocacy efforts. Given that the annual NSPN Symposium is finally being held in the Western Hub this year, I also think this is the ideal time to broaden our membership umbrella to include more chapter members who aren't plugged into NSPN as well as members without a university chapter."


Jasmine Osei-Enin: "The human experience lies in the cross hairs of science and government. To establish balance between the two, they must innovate in tandem. The government needs deeper roots in technology and science to match the rapid evolution of these innovative fields. NSPN contributes to the balance by creating opportunities for passionate scientists. I would like to be the Western Hub co-chair to assist NSPN in bridging with its mission. To create real change, we must start where we are. I am California born and raised, so I will start here #WestCoastBestCoast."



NSPN Leadership is excited to be expanding our slate of Committees for the 2021-2022 year. Find out more about each of these Committees in this blog post, as well as the candidate's statements of intention below. 


Advocacy Committee Chair Candidates & Statements

Chris Jackson, Kavi Chintam, Yohanna White, and Erin Reagan


Chris Jackson: "I'm excited to run for the NSPN Advocacy Committee Chair position to help shape this new committee and bring together the many passionate science policy advocates that I know are part of NSPN.

As the outgoing President of the Science Policy Group at Berkeley, the current Workshops Director for Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL), and an editor for the Journal of Science Policy & Governance, I bring a wide breadth of science policy experience to the table. In particular, I've developed advocacy materials for and hosted training workshops specifically around advocacy topics for ESAL.

First, it's important that NSPN supports our student members in advocating at their home institutions. For example, at Berkeley, I've led campus advocacy efforts around DEI as part of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Standing Committee and our Graduate Assembly. With the Science Policy Group at Berkeley, I've also been part of advocacy trips to the California State Capitol, at times collaborating with other NSPN groups at UCSF and Stanford, and I'd like to explore how we can develop similar, cross-chapter efforts.

Among other things, I envision this committee developing training for NSPN members beyond op-ed writing and Hill visits, including resources to help guide public comments, local public service, and other advocacy tools. As the past year has shown, I think the Advocacy Committee should also support rapid-response efforts to facilitate coordinated advocacy, peer brainstorming and editing, and logistical guidance around timely science, science policy, DEI, and other issues our members care about."


Kavi Chintam: "Hello! Let me start by saying the creation of the  Advocacy Committee is a necessary and exciting step for NSPN. My advocacy work is what initially led me to science policy. I’ve worked on environmental justice campaigns, written grants for nonprofits, and worked with immigrant and refugee children. Currently, I volunteer as a policy analyst for a Midwestern nonprofit that promotes equitable climate action, advocate for new refugee children in Chicago, and am a vocal part of my department’s DEI committee. My participation in NSPN’s DEI and GradEd committees are also inspired by my external advocacy work. Recently, I led and co-authored an op-ed published in Scientific American with 13 other NSPN members urging for people-centered science policy.

As Advocacy Chair, I would engage members through op-ed workshops to promote spirited communication. I also envision the committee to connect with regional hubs to provide insight into their role and potential impacts at the university, city, state, and national levels. I would love to train chapters to develop Hill Days for their states, but also want to expand these to nationwide campaigns across all regions for ubiquitous issues. I understand the complicated nature of nonpartisan-advocacy work and am ready to take on that challenge. I am attending a Bolder Advocacy workshop in the next month to learn about advocacy in nonprofits, so will conveniently have formal training for this committee.

I would be honored to serve as the first Advocacy Chair and hope to pave this path with our wonderful community!"


Yohanna White: “I am running for the Advocacy Committee Chair because I enjoy so many of the activities run by NSPN. I would love to contribute to these awesome programs that NSPN invests in. The Advocacy Committee interests me because I believe that developing initiatives is an effective way to get other NSPN members gain experience and be involved. I am also part of the SciPol Scholars-In-Residence program this year, and would love to share the knowledge and practice some of the skills that we learned.”


Erin Reagan: "As President of the Penn Science Policy and Diplomacy Group at the University of Pennsylvania since 2018, I helped build the organization from the ground up. I established a tight-knit community of over 50 volunteers who design and administer high-quality workshops, seminars, projects, and other programs to an audience of over 400 early career researchers at UPenn. 

Each year, we recruit and train members in policy memo-writing and facilitate their participation in the NSPN-JSPG Memo Competition, so far resulting in several winning memos. We then train them in power-mapping and legislative meetings before facilitating Hill Days where PSPDG members speak with legislators and their staff about the findings of their memos. Finally, we recruit these members into volunteer positions to design and lead workshops to train the next year’s participants.

My first actions as Chair will be recruiting a group of committed volunteers to create and oversee Committee programs. Then, I will partner with the Chapter Support and Professional Development Committees to design training in relevant advocacy skills and to provide strategic and logistical support to Chapters interested in memo initiatives, legislative meetings, or op-ed campaigns. These initial priorities will ensure the efficacy and scalability of Committee programs.

As PSPDG President, I’ve created an organization delivering science policy training to early career researchers and creating opportunities to apply their skills in the real world. I look forward to using my experiences to build the Advocacy Committee, and to serving all the members of NSPN in a similar way."


Chapter Support Committee Chair Candidates & Statements

Gwen Gallagher and Erin Reagan


Gwen Gallagher: “I am running for Chapter Support Committee Chair because I would love the opportunity to help new and growing chapters stay sustainable using the valuable information I have learned from 3 years of leadership in my own chapter. Within UChicago SPG, I have been an active member and have held various leadership positions since its founding in 2018. Because I have been a part of SPG since its start, I have a firsthand understanding of what support and guidance new chapters need to get programming off the ground and recruit new members. At UChicago, I have personally directed many of the organizational, sustainability aspects of our chapter, including writing a leadership handbook, creating and organizing a shared drive to keep all of our materials available as members graduate, and making a directory of SPG alumni to maintain a network of grad students and young professionals. I would love to continue this work more broadly by helping other NSPN chapters overcome the same challenges that we encountered.”


Erin Reagan: "As President of the Penn Science Policy and Diplomacy Group at the University of Pennsylvania since 2018, I helped build the organization from the ground up. I established a tight-knit community of over 50 volunteers who design and administer high-quality workshops, seminars, projects, and other programs to an audience of over 400 early career researchers at UPenn. 

As the outgoing Eastern Hub Co-Chair, part of my role was to support NSPN Chapters within the region. I pioneered the use of check-in calls with Chapters to build relationships with Chapter leaders and to better understand their needs and how NSPN can support them. I also initiated a recurring program for Chapters to share their approaches to common challenges, such as member recruitment, leadership transitions, starting a Chapter, and more.  

My first action as Chair will be to build a community of dedicated volunteers to help create and oversee programs, then to initiate check-in calls with all NSPN Chapters to evaluate their unique needs and challenges. These first two priorities will help ensure that the programs of the Committee are valuable for all NSPN Chapters, regardless of size, age, or funding status.

As PSPDG President, I’ve built a community that provides high-quality programming, and as Eastern Hub Co-Chair, I’ve established new ways to deliver valuable support to NSPN Chapters. I look forward to using what I’ve learned to build the Chapter Support Committee, and I’m excited to serve all of NSPN’s Chapters."


Professional Development Committee Chair Candidates & Statements

Gwen Gallagher and Rachel Haake


Gwen Gallagher: “I am running for Professional Development Committee Chair because I have been fortunate to have professional development support and would love to share my skills and knowledge with NSPN chapters, committees, and members. My professional development experience has involved both the participation in and designing of science policy-related courses and workshops. I took Deborah Stine’s Public Policy Analysis class and published a policy memo in the Journal of Science Policy & Governance. Within my chapter, I developed workshops on memo writing, science communication on Wikipedia, and a science policy 101 introduction for new members. In order to ensure that the workshops I create are sustainable and can be used long term in my chapter, I design them with two formats in mind: one requires an active presenter (as is traditional) and the other enables participants to work at their own pace. Through opportunities at my university, I have participated in resume and CV building, informational interview, mock National Security Council meetings, and science communication elevator pitch workshops. Between my experiences in developing workshops and the professional opportunities I have taken, I am confident that I have the insight and skills needed for Professional Development Committee Chair.”


Rachel Haake: “I will receive my PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill and transition into a non-academic career path in August 2021. My passion for science policy, advocacy, communication, and education have provided me with a set of skills that make me a strong candidate for the Professional Development Committee Chair position. Throughout the 2020-21 academic year, I served as Secretary for UNC’s Science Policy Advocacy Group where I collaborated with other executive board members to develop professional development seminars and workshops for students. I also served as a mentor for Project SHORT, which offers pro-bono mentorship for graduate school admissions to students with minoritized identities. I currently serve as the Policy Liaison for Chicago Society for Neuroscience which involves educating members on state legislation and opportunities to engage with policy-makers, and I collaborated with US Senator Durbin’s office to create a call-to-action address for Chicago SfN’s 2021 meeting. I have demonstrated success in developing and executing professional development programming, collaborating with scientists and elected officials to bridge science and policy, mentoring young scientists through applications processes, and building a network of individuals and groups doing science policy work. I am committed to NSPN’s mission to foster community, train the next generation of leaders, and empower advocates for the role of science in society, and I have benefitted greatly from my own NSPN membership. I would be delighted to bring my experience to the Professional Development Committee and provide our members with the skills and resources to navigate their own professional development.”


Member Engagement Committee Chair Candidate & Statement

Sindhu Nathan


Sindhu Nathan: "Hey y’all! As a longtime contributor to the Communications Committee, I am excited to continue serving NSPN as the Member Engagement Chair. I’ve been involved with Comms since joining NSPN in 2019 and have been Vice-Chair of the Committee for the past year. I’ve worked on several events  including organizing the monthly virtual science policy happy hours in partnership with ESEP, co-organizing Black History Month Celebrations (specifically leading Afrofuturism Week) and helping organize multiple social media campaigns. I have also regularly contributed to the blog, including chapter and member spotlights, and am excited to maintain all these efforts in the new committee. Outside of NSPN, I’ve served as the Vice-President of Stanford Science Policy Group, been an Associate Editor at JSPG, an author in JSPG, and a served as a mentor for the Science Outside the Lab Program (like AAAS CASE).

Moving forward, I’d like to help members engage with each other and our committees even further. One role I see the committee leading is monthly//quarterly partnerships with one or more other committees to host unique events. For example, partnering with the new Public Engagement and Outreach Committee to host a memo-writing workshop, or with the new Advocacy Committee for an op-ed writing bootcamp targeted at a timely science policy issue. We could partner with topic-specific committees like Graduate Education and Diplomacy to push broader attendance at events tailored to those interests and also work with Hubs and Chapter leaders to facilitate inter-chapter partnerships on other opportunities, like JSPG special calls.

Tl;dr I’m excited for a chance to take on a formal leadership role in NSPN and would love to serve as your Member Engagement Chair!"


Public Engagement Committee Chair Candidates & Statements

Meredith Schmehl and Emily Schafer


Meredith Schmehl: "I've been the Communications Committee Chair for the past year, and I'm excited to run for Public Engagement and Communication Committee Chair to enhance science communication opportunities for NSPN members. I'm passionate about communicating science and would like to use my experiences to boost NSPN's science communication presence. 

I have a wide range of science communication experience, from science writing to podcasting to in-person outreach, and I have held leadership positions in communication-oriented organizations. Additionally, over the past year I've been leading NSPN's Communications Committee, which has involved overseeing the writing of press releases and blog posts, engaging members on social media, and creating opportunities for members to build science communication skills. As I now run to serve as Chair for a new committee, I'm eager to bridge my science communication expertise with my knowledge of NSPN's structure and programs to strengthen NSPN's presence in the science communication space. 

If elected, I would like to elevate existing programs such as the op-ed accelerator and the Wikipedia initiative, as well as develop new programs to enable members to communicate science. Additionally, my NSPN leadership experience makes me well-equipped to facilitate the split of the current Communications Committee into two new committees. This will involve working closely with the new Member Engagement Committee Chair to expand ongoing programs, solidify committee protocols, and share resources more intentionally to onboard new members. I'm excited to put these ideas into action to set up our committee for success this year and into the future."


Emily Schafer: “Hello NSPN! I am passionate about public engagement with science that experientially trains early-career researchers in science communication, and builds science literacy among non-scientists. As an experienced executive board member of Northwestern University’s Science Policy Outreach Taskforce, I lead our ""Science with Seniors"" outreach initiative where graduate students give short, digestible science talks at local senior centers. I also founded and host the science communication podcast ""In the Spotlight,"" where early-career researchers have a platform to discuss their scientific interests and its broader societal and policy implications. Both of these opportunities have taught me valuable skills in how to create mutually-beneficial connections between scientists with the non-scientific public. 

Through a leadership position with NSPN, I am looking for ways to build upon these current projects by reaching more diverse audiences within the NSPN network, and experimenting with a wider variety of mediums for science communication. Improving our society’s science literacy and country’s science-informed policies is truly an all-hands-on-deck effort that I want all NPSN members to be an active participant in. I am most excited about leading partnerships with the new NSPN Advocacy Committee and professional science communicators, and I look forward to being a part of how these new committees are able to grow our organization!"


ROAR (Recruitment, Onboarding, and Early Retention) Committee Chair Candidate & Statement

Erin Saybolt


Erin Saybolt: "Hello! My name is Erin Saybolt and I am running for Committee Chair of the new Recruitment, Onboarding, and Early Retention (ROAR) committee. My goal for this committee is to expand NSPN’s recruitment and outreach to undergraduate STEM students. As someone that struggled to find science policy opportunities at the undergraduate level, I am very passionate about expanding S&T policy opportunities for undergrads. Currently, only 44 out of 1341 members of NSPN are undergraduate members (~3%). This is a hugely underserved community of STEM professionals that would directly benefit from NSPN’s training, workshop, and professional development opportunities. Engaging undergraduate STEM students will not only grow the NSPN community, but the community of scientists who are engaging in policy at the federal, state, and local levels.  

A little more about me- I recently graduated from Georgetown University with a Master of Science in Biomedical Science Policy and Advocacy. Here, I worked heavily on expanding science policy opportunities for undergraduate STEM students of all backgrounds. During undergrad, I worked in admissions for all four years and led my school’s tour guide program as a Head Tour Guide. I also worked as an Admissions Senior Fellow and was directly involved in the recruitment of prospective students. 

I am confident that engaging undergraduate STEM students through recruitment and outreach will help build a stronger National Science Policy Network. Please reach out to me if I can answer any questions about my vision for the new ROAR committee. Thank you!"


DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) Committee Chair Candidates & Statements

Adrienne Samani, Annabelle Lolinco, Jasmine Osei-Enin


Adrienne Samani: "I am running for chair of diversity, equity and inclusion because of my commitment to diversity in education and advancing equality and equity in STEM education and public policy.  When it comes to diversity in STEM, I want students of different cultures, ability, orientation, and neurodiversity to be well represented and supported by the institutions that serve them and the community that surrounds them. 

 I have kept this commitment throughout my academic training as an undergraduate in the nonprofit, 'Students Offering Support' which supported students of multicultural backgrounds through tutoring and mentoring first generation college students while raising funds to build community centers in Latin America. As a post-baccalaureate student at Mayo Clinic, I planned a conference for students of diverse backgrounds to have an opportunity to present their unique ideas and approaches in science. Currently, as a graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, I am president of the Science Policy and Advocacy Initiative (SPAI), where I work with an elected executive board to promote awareness on the graduate and undergraduate campus about legislation concerning science policy and how scientists can get involved. 

These opportunities have afforded me the opportunity to plan efficiently, work effectively, and above all, operate with compassion with my team and co-workers. I believe the skills I learned from these opportunities will allow me to communicate, listen, and lead with members of the committee as we move forward to accomplish major objectives in advancing equity and diversity in STEM, policy, and education. I will aim to work with the committee to create effective strategies in advancing diversity and inclusion objectives by using a social mechanisms as well as public policy to influence change."


Annabelle Lolinco: "I'm Annabelle Lolinco, one of the current chairs of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. I have had the pleasure of being a part of the DEI committee since its inception a couple of years ago. The growth and impact of this committee have been amazing to support and develop alongside the dedicated members of this committee through member-driven projects. I'm proud of what the committee does and continues to do to integrate inclusive and accessible programming, collaborations, and opportunities. This past year has only shown how increasingly clear it is that the work done by this committee is critical for the equitable society we strive for, and I would love to continue my role in helping shape that future.

As the chair for DEI, I hope to continue our trend of making our committee interests and projects transparent, accessible and easy to engage with, and relevant towards membership's interests. The committee has done quite a bit with providing public engagement opportunities through our continuing webinar series (Diversi(tea)) and Black History Month Celebrations. I want to ensure anything we continue to support and execute is sustainable not only for the committee's long-term vision, as needed but also with respect to our active and engaged membership's time and effort. "


Jasmine Osei-Enin: "’It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If you take it from only one place, it will become rigid and stale.’

As an underrepresented early-career scientist, my firsthand experience validates the need for DEI initiatives. Diversity is key to scientific advancement, while equity and inclusion provide and retain diversity. Science impacts the world’s wisdom, we cannot let it become rigid and stale.

On multiple occasions, my contributions have innovated scientific discussion. However, showing up for these moments proves difficult. Personally, social and financial support have been my biggest challenges. Most people do not know how to help me, therefore my problems are often unresolved and disregarded. In the academic space, I often feel unwelcome and endure microaggressions to keep the peace. These obstacles do not mean underrepresented individuals are less deserving of a place in academia. We deserve to be here because we want to be here. 

The success of underrepresented individuals like myself rides on the success of these DEI initiatives. Throughout my scientific career, I intend to participate in discussion that pushes science forward. With this council position, I can take my first steps."


Graduate Education Committee Chair Candidates & Statements

Dilara Kiran, Christina Kling, Naira Abou-Ghali


Dilara Kiran: “Dilara Kiran has an MS in Microbiology and is a DVM candidate at Colorado State University. She would be honored to serve another year as the NSPN Graduate Education Committee Chair. Last year, Dilara launched two committee projects: 1) a graduate student handbook which focuses on how to effectively navigate academic institutions to advocate for and incite policy changes and 2) a survey which aims to highlight the landscape of policies which support graduate student education and understand how these policies meet student needs. She efficiently delegated tasks which allowed projects to flourish and provided ample opportunities for committee members to rise into project leadership. She maintained an open forum for discussion of new ideas, which created opportunities with European groups working on researcher sustainability and mental health. For the 2021-2022 term, Dilara would both continue the momentum created while also finding new opportunities for growth. She would prioritize the finalization of drafts of the handbook and data analysis for the survey and would identify the best ways to disseminate both of those works. Additionally, she would foster partnerships with international and national organizations in order to have more outlets to share project materials and to bolster support to launch larger initiatives. Dilara would be a resource as NSPN develops its own curriculum, helping transition previously developed modules into compatible formats for future courses. Lastly, she would restart a graduate education focused webinar series, highlighting topics such as effective mentorship and creating more diverse, equitable, and just graduate education systems.” 


Christina Kling: "Hi everybody! I am Christina Kling and I am running for Graduate Education Committee Chair because I deeply care about the experiences of graduate trainees. I believe that all trainees should have a supportive training environment that acknowledges their wellbeing as central to their success and recognizes active support for a wide range of career paths as one of many things central to their wellbeing. 

To further these goals, I have been involved in numerous activities. As co-chair of the Tri-Institutional Science and Education Policy Association in NYC, I have sought to empower trainees to work within the existing framework of their programs to further their own personal and career goals by running events on navigating communication and power dynamics. I have been an active member of the GradEd committee involved with several major projects, including the survey on graduate student resources and as a liaison between GradEd and the COST Action on Researcher Mental Health (REMO). 

As chair, my goals would include publication of the GradEd resources survey and completion of a guide for members to advocate for change within their graduate institutions. I believe NSPN also has an important voice in what graduate education should look like going forward and as chair my personal mission would be to nurture connections with other professional organizations of early career researchers who are passionate about this issue and build partnerships with national and international experts working in this space to advocate for the improvement of graduate education practices nationwide."


Naira Abou-Ghali: "As a current project lead for the graduate education committee, I aim to continue supporting the development of the science policy curriculum modules and advance the Graduate Education Handbook. To build on the foundation that committee contributors have built to develop our understanding of mental health policies in graduate education, we are poised to begin generating a resource on mental health, wellness, and resilience inspired by the ""Becoming a Resilient Scientist"" program initiated at the NIH.

It is critical to contextualize this work within the improvement of the research ecosystem nationwide. I propose collaborating with the Advocacy Committee to start a national conversation with graduate program directors, experts from the National Academies of Science (NASEM), the NIH, and the NSF about the current state of graduate education and strategies to evolve it. Mobilizing outreach in the form of virtual ""brainstorming"" events and symposia will give members of the graduate education committee the opportunity to share thier findings and learn from national thought leaders in graduate education. I will utilize my passion for progress  and draw from over four years of project management know-how to effect meaningful change in graduate education at the national level."


Grants & Finance Committee Chair Candidate & Statement

Chris Unterberger


Chris Unterberger: “The past 18 months have exposed me to the plethora of opportunities that NSPN provides. Specifically, through the financial assistance granted through the grants and finance committee, NSPN has given dozens of scientists the ability to attend professional development opportunities that some applicants wouldn’t normally elect to attend due to financial strains. Our G&F committee removed that final hurdle for many and in the process created space for scientists to grow. Seeing individuals grow through these opportunities—as well as the growth of NSPN chapters through chapter development funding and microgrants—inspired me to find a way to be more involved in the process. By first serving on the committee as a vice-chair, I witnessed secondhand the intricacies of grants and finance. A year later, I seek to gain the firsthand perspective of the all-important fiscal side of science policy. By doing so, I hope to continue the good work done by the committee over the past year with a special interest in funding NSPN members’ return to in-person professional development events. Additionally, as chapters return to meeting face-to-face, I’m excited to see what creative initiatives they’ve developed to promote and build science policy across the country. There is set to be a lot of growth in the next year, and I am eager to guide that growth with the responsibilities bestowed upon the grants and finance committee chair!”


Science Diplomacy Committee Chair Candidate & Statement

Lyndsey Gray and Felicia Lim



Lyndsey Gray: "The Science Diplomacy Committee is a deeply meaningful source of solidarity, encouragement, and friendship for me. As such, my committee involvement has been extensive. I’ve worked with the Science at State group to advocate with the Biden-Harris transition team, co-facilitated a partnership with Duke University’s Rethinking Diplomacy Program, and helped organize the 2020 NSPN Symposium. I hope to build off of these experiences and my previous leadership roles (Graduate Women in Science - Chapter President, ESAL Content Team Manager, CSU Graduate Student Council - Health Advisory Board member) and serve as the next NSPN Science Diplomacy Committee Chair. 

Presently, our committee has members still exploring what ‘science diplomacy’ means; others have already started forging a diplomacy career. My vision is to provide greater resources and professional development opportunities for both groups. I want our team to ‘get their hands dirty,’ explore career options firsthand, and find their science diplomacy niche. Collaborating across NSPN committees, I will support and build diplomacy soft skill training opportunities, create resources for navigating USAJOBS.gov and the Foreign Service exam, and map potential science diplomacy career tracks. The intended outcome will be to strengthen the talent pipeline out of NSPN and directly into post-graduate careers. Additionally, I will ensure our members broaden their horizontal support system by networking with early-career policymakers and overseas scientists. Also importantly, our committee should be a place for us to commiserate and have fun! This committee means so much to me, and I want to see it and its members succeed."


Felicia Lim: “I have been very fascinated with the use of science and research in the making and decision of health and science policies, especially in the context of international relations and development. Due to my international background and experience living in different countries, I understandably intend to utilize my own science knowledge in the sphere of international relationships between different countries, i.e. science diplomacy – with the goal of improving the health and science policies and systems within the country.

Since becoming a member of NSPN early last year, I have benefited so much from the various activities and opportunities that this network has given me. I have come across many like-minded people and be inspired by each and every one of their stories and hard work. As such, I view the position of the Science Diplomacy Committee Chair as an opportunity for me to give back to the community that I found here at NSPN. Furthermore, this position will allow me to further challenge myself in my leadership and teamwork skills. I have been involved in various leadership roles throughout the years of my study, and I intend to make use of my experience in this role. However, I am also aware that NSPN, for me, is a whole different level of responsibility and commitment, and I am really excited to be able to take on this challenge should I be given the opportunity to do so."



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