SciPol Awards recipients share their thoughts on recognition and future plans

 

The inaugural SciPol Awards highlights individual and chapter members of the National Science Policy Network for their contributions to science policy, advocacy, communication, and diplomacy. From local to national efforts, each of the individuals and chapters who were selected share some insight on their awarded efforts, their ongoing and future projects, and a fun tidbit about them.


Impactful Writing

Kavi Chitnam, Individual Runner-Up

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    Our "Science Policy Can't Be Simply about Science" op-ed published in Scientific American was born in the #organizing channel [on the NSPN Slack]. The motivation came at a time when folks were especially fired up and restless about mounting racism in the U.S. and the clear lack of support from the scientific community. I may have led the effort, but the end product was a result of incredible NSPN members collaborating to produce an impactful product that included all of our voices. I'm still so grateful that we were able to write and publish this in such a short amount of time to maximize impact. Similarly, working with NSPN groups on memos and pieces related to environmental justice, immigration, and climate change has been invaluable to exchange and organize thoughts collaboratively. I've learned so much from all my co-authors.
     

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    In NSPN, the creation of the Advocacy committee is exactly the kind of movement for which our op-ed calls. I'm excited to join the committee and be a part of framing it from the very beginning with other impassioned people! Outside of NSPN, I plan to continue my work with local nonprofits to advocate for equity in environmental policies and keep pushing my department to engage in meaningful anti-racism efforts. I'm also optimistic that other organizations, both academic and not, will start rethinking their structures and methods (as mentioned in our op-ed), as people like us keep demanding change.
     

  3. What is an interest you have outside of NSPN?

    I love trail running! It’s a bit less dramatic in Chicago than what I ran out West but still enjoyable and challenging. I’ve also been fostering cats for about 3 years and will always love them all. :)

Jennifer Brown, Individual Winner

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    The overarching point of our work on tear gas is that past science, economics and social structures shaped how tear gas is used and portrayed today. We used this historical lens to try and point out knowledge and regulatory gaps related to tear gas usage. I’m so grateful to the team of other graduate students who investigated this issue with me. For most of them, it was their first foray into science policy, and not only am I proud of what we accomplished together, but I know we all learned a lot. How to conduct yourself in a TV interview isn’t part of the normal graduate school curriculum! Reporters ask questions that are almost the opposite of what we learn to expect at conferences (ie. very broad vs. very specific). I think this experience of having to condense our answers into short soundbites will help us all be more effective at communicating our individual research to non-experts.
     

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    This project was mostly about raising awareness. I hope to collaborate with others to turn our efforts [in]to enacting possible solutions.
     

  3. What is an interest you have outside of NSPN?

    I love playing board games. Now that COVID restrictions are being lifted as more people are vaccinated, I am excited to get together with friends to play.

UC Riverside Science to Policy, Chapter Runner-Up

In the last year, UCR S2P has completed two online Science Policy Certificate courses for graduate students at UC Riverside with ~30 graduates, had three members complete remote science policy fellowships, a virtual candidate forum for the 2020 November election, a wildfire symposium with CA legislative and executive agency staff, ran a how to get involved in science policy workshop at the University of California Chemical Symposium, hosted a Picture a Scientist screening and reflection panel, a virtual science policy reading group, and virtual Science Policy slam (3-minute thesis but on science policy topics), had two students selected as UC Center Sacramento STEM Solutions in Public Policy Award Finalists, published a policy memo and op-ed on Gun Control, and hosted a how to run for office event. These events engaged students at UC Riverside, members of the Riverside community, stakeholders and residents of the Coachella Valley, CA legislators and their staff, and other members of the NSPN community. 

UC Riverside Science to Policy was recognized as the runner-up for “Impactful Writing” for their policy memo and op-ed on gun control. They were also recognized as the winning chapter for their contribution to the Western Hub. They engaged their local community and NSPN members in virtual symposia and workshops.

Science Policy at UCLA, Chapter Winner

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    One of the most rewarding experiences has been learning about and practicing different types of writing. We hold policy memo writing workshops and form teams to write memos and have had an incredible publication rate so far. We encourage our members to follow up their memo with a popular science piece about the same topic so they can practice another type of writing, and then we set up meetings with legislators or relevant decision-makers so they can present their recommendations and/or advocate for their policies. So far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve also found that training in policy and popular science writing has made our scientific writing for articles and grants more refined, in addition to getting to delve deep into a topic we’re interested in and honing a crucial skill.

    For more about their memos, you can follow these links:

    1. https://www.sciencepolicyjournal.org/article_1038126_jspg180114.html

    2. https://www.sciencepolicyjournal.org/article_1038126_jspg180112.html

    3. https://www.sciencepolicyjournal.org/article_1038126_jspg170107.html

    4. https://www.sciencepolicyjournal.org/article_1038126_jspg170202.html

    5. https://www.sciencepolicyjournal.org/article_1038126_jspg180115.html 

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    Our group is currently establishing brand-new leadership roles dedicated to Science Diplomacy and Science Policy training for the coming academic year! The Science Diplomacy arm will focus on increasing awareness of this relatively new field, as well as providing training opportunities for relevant skills such as negotiation and sociopolitical awareness. We will also continue to regularly organize policy memo writing teams, with the new addition of formal writing workshops and structured campaigns and committees to advocate for the policies that we propose. These new activities will empower our members by providing concrete opportunities for training in policy writing, advocacy, and diplomacy. We’re very excited to continue the push for evidence-based policy in the LA area and beyond!
     

  3. What is an interest you have outside of NSPN?

    Who doesn’t love movies? Outside of NSPN (and outside of the lab) many of our members and officers enjoy getting together to watch documentaries relating to science policy! We hope to begin holding more science policy movie nights over the summer, as pandemic restrictions continue to lift!


Institutional or Community Advocacy

Gwen Gallagher, Individual Runner-Up

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    I organized two events this past year. Our biggest virtual event was a screening of Picture a Scientist that I organized in collaboration with Northwestern SPOT, UChicago Women and Gender Minorities in Physics, and UChicago’s Graduate Recruitment Initiative Team. That screening reached over 200 people and was subsequently replicated by divisions within the University of Chicago. I also coordinated a collaboration with the law school’s Defenders Club to help soon-to-be lawyers understand the algorithms behind Pretrial Risk Assessment Tools. These tools are used by judges to decide if a defendant should be released before trial and are advertised as evidence-based, but are typically non-transparent and reinforce racism in the criminal justice system.
     

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    I am graduating this summer and excited to apply science policy event planning and organizing beyond my science policy group.
     

  3. What is an interest you have outside of NSPN?

    I like climbing and knitting!

Sindhu Nathan, Individual Winner

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    I’m really appreciative of the NSPN community for being a place where I can do all sorts of interesting work both on my own and in collaboration with others. In particular, hosting Afrofuturism week during Black History Month was a lot of fun and really informative, and getting to apply my passion for energy and environmental justice to host a really exciting panel during the National Science Policy Symposium was very exciting. I hope that everyone who got to attend those events felt empowered to take action and learned a lot too!
     

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    Oh geez…I’m always looking for new energy policy advocacy work I can engage with. I’m following energy-related legislation in California so I can advocate for strategies to make clean energy accessible and affordable for everyone and, in my academic space, I’m focused on developing more opportunities for students to engage meaningfully with local advocacy groups in the climate and energy space. I hope to stay on the leadership of SSPG and get new people at Stanford excited about science policy work too!
     

  3. What is an interest you have outside of NSPN?

    I am an avid baker and I’ve also started cake decorating, which is a fun new challenge - I usually don’t have the patience for it. Mostly, I’m baking chocolate-based things (I did have a sourdough bread phase a few months ago, like a lot of people), but I’m currently trying to bake my way through Claire Saffitz’s Desert Person! Recently, I baked a chocolate cheesecake, and before that a plum galette. Looking forward to being able to bring baked goods to meetings again so I’m not sitting at home eating entire batches of cookies by myself…

SciPolPack (NC State) & ASPIRE (Iowa State), Chapter Runner-Ups

SciPolPack, North Carolina State University

Alongside Iowa State University’s ASPIRE, SciPolPack was recognized for its part in implementing their Science Debate efforts in North Carolina and voting education alongside other members of their coalition, which include graduate students from North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, and University of North Carolina - Greensboro.

ASPIRE, Iowa State University

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    We would love to recognize our partners through our Science Debate efforts, the Science Iowa chapter of March for Science, and the University of Iowa’s Connecting Science to Society team! We wouldn’t have been able to create and roll out our survey without them.
     

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    Our chapter has been dispersed after our efforts with Science Debate and everyone’s own priorities, but a few of us have met up to discuss new plans to re-energize here, and so we’re excited to see what’s next.

Stanford Science Policy Group, Chapter Winner

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    The organizing team had a great time putting together the workshop series and ultimate hill day event. It was quite rewarding to get to know each other and work together on a shared passion project like this. We are incredibly grateful for the engagement and support we got from all the members of our sci pol group that participated in the event itself and really made it happen - as well as the support we got from NSPN and Research!America. It was quite something to see everyone come together leading up to the event, in the meetings with representatives’ offices, and then afterward when we all shared our experiences.
     

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    We laid a nice framework for holding a hill day event like this again and now have several people in our sci pol group with the experience of this one, excited for the next. The next one can only be bigger and better.

    Over the past year, we've found a few creative ways to get together virtually. Debate watching parties & virtual game nights have been a fun way to get to know each other.


NSPN Service

Bailey McCarthy Riley, Individual Runner-Up

Bailey was a member of the Inaugural SciPol Scholars Cohort and went on to hold a residency with Annual Reviews creating policy covers for review articles so that the research can be more easily conveyed to policy makers. Her project was so successful Annual Reviews has requested another SciPol Scholar and is working with partners to expand this project across multiple organizations. Bailey has also served as the Instructor of the Spring 2021 SciPol Scholars-in-Residence in Bootcamp. In this role, she designed course materials, led bootcamp sessions, designed activities, and provided feedback on SciPol Scholar Residency Application materials to thirteen early-career scientist and engineer members of NSPN. She has done an amazing job of preparing the next generation of SciPol Scholars to begin their residencies. That is why she was recognized for her service in NSPN.

Jasmine George & Raechel McKinley, Individual Winners

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    Raechel and I were honored with the NSPN service award for our efforts [in] creating the HBCU Science Policy College Tour. Bringing science policy to the HBCU space has been a long-time passion project of ours, and we are eternally grateful to our amazing team with the DEI and NSPN for all of the work and planning it took to make this meaningful project take off.
     

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    We are excited to expand the HBCU Tour to reach out to more of the 107 HBCUs in the nation and evolving one of the days on the tour to culminate in a Capitol Hill Day. We are also extremely excited to see more African American students reach their professional goals within the science policy space. In fact, we would like to shout out Kelsey Yarborough, one of our students from Norfolk State University who used the information from the tour to land the COVES Policy Fellowship for Virginia! We are so immensely proud of her.
     

  3. What is an interest you have outside of NSPN?

    Jasmine- I am an avid gamer, and when I am not doing academic work you can find me playing DnD with my friends and hosting gatherings. I also enjoy cooking and all things nerd!

    Raechel- I enjoy gardening, spending time with my cats, reading, and dancing. I also enjoy moderating a discussion group for women-identified individuals for the DC Center for the LGBTQ+ Community and playing board games with my queer women’s gaming group. 

Science Policy at UCLA, Chapter Runner-Up

Check out their responses in Impactful Writing and Contribution to NSPN Committee. Thank you Science Policy at UCLA for all the hard work they’ve done with NSPN as a whole!

University of Cincinnati Science Policy Group, Chapter Winner

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    Our chapter organized a Science Policy Memo Writing Workshop with NSPN to allow trainees across the country to learn about policy memo writing from experts, including Cristin Dorgelo and Dr. Adriana Bankston. Our previous Co-Chair, Paige Greenwood, was instrumental in making this happen. It resulted in over 80 participants and the development of multiple policy memos that were scored by esteemed science policymakers. It was an excellent opportunity to develop a strong skill set to convey scientific information in a policy memo for legislators.
     

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    Moving forward, our chapter is very excited to continue our efforts in advocating for graduate student mental health through the Mental Health Ambassadors program we established this year at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Plus, we have a unique opportunity to contribute to our local community this fall, when Cincinnati will vote in a new mayor, so we are excited to advocate for issues that should be a priority for the mayoral candidates.
     

  3. What is an interest you have outside of NSPN?

    Outside of NSPN, I (Allie Greene, new Chair of University of Cincinnati’s Science Policy Group) am passionate about mental health awareness and advocacy. I volunteer regularly with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to educate high school students and other community members on the warning signs of mental health conditions and how to get help for yourself or a friend.


Contribution to NSPN Committee

Lyndsey Gray & Sindhu Nathan, Individual Runner-Ups

Lyndsey Gray, Science Diplomacy

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    I am incredibly grateful to have been recognized, but the credit has to be shared with all of my NSPN collaborators as well. The perspective piece we've written about disrupting colonial science practices would not be possible without all the hard work, creativity, and advice from my fantastic peers Ans Irfan, Aliya Hoff, Kathy Shield, Karthik Yarlagadda, Eric Lee, and Zoe Guttman. Likewise, the pieces we wrote about promoting science in the US diplomatic corps was thanks to great teamwork with Amrita Banerjee, Kathy Shield, Shubham Tripathi, Laura Borth, Khang Huynh, Sam Anderson, and Eric Lee. I really can't stress enough how wonderful it was to work with such driven, supportive, and enthusiastic peers. They really pushed me to be a better writer, challenged my own preconceptions, and exposed me to new ideas and areas within science policy.
     

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    NSPN has provided me with the resources needed to pursue my ideas and convert my personal interests into projects. Moving forward, I'm interested most in helping others do the same. We have such a passionate and talented community in NSPN.  I'm really excited to see how people can combine their diverse life experiences, professional interests, and curiosities to create new projects and promote science policy and diplomacy.
     

  3. What is an interest you have outside of NSPN?

    I am perhaps one of the biggest Shakespeare nerds you will ever meet and have been ever since I was a teenager. Way back when in high school, I had a fantastic English professor who got me absolutely hooked on the plays. But, I think even she was a bit shocked when I started and chaired a Shakespeare club after school. Once I got into college, I took every Shakespeare class offered [at] my university. Even now I am still such a huge fan. My pet ball python is named Lysander after Midsummer Night's Dream. I will go on cross-country road trips just to attend as many Shakespeare summer festivals as possible. I think I own almost every Shakespearian film adaptation. Seriously, send me a Slack message if you want to compare and contrast 10 Things I Hate About You and The Taming of the Shrew.

Sindhu Nathan, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Check out her responses above in her win for Institutional or Community Advocacy, above! Thank you Sindhu for all your hard work in NSPN!

Jonathan (Sky) Klonowski, Individual Winner

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    I would like to thank NSPN for giving me the opportunity to pursue my interests to create and execute both the Diversity, Inclusion and Collaboration Expansion (DICE) and the Lifting Underrepresented Voices (LUV) grants. The freedom allotted to me in crafting these grants was great, and the people who supported this effort - especially Annabelle Lolinco and Albert Hinman - even more amazing. The LUV grant was an especially challenging initiative, as it was NSPN's first grant that funded external activities.
     

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    I am looking forward to continuing to offer both DICE and LUV grants for our NSPN members and community partners, respectively. It is wonderful seeing all the newest members of DEI’s committee hopping on board. I am excited to see what innovative ideas they’ll have and develop with our committee.
     

  3. What is an interest you have outside of NSPN?

    Road cycling is an interest that I have been engaged in; I shoot for at least 100 miles a week. Not only is cycling a great fitness activity for mental health and longevity, but it is a great way to explore your region, appreciating both the neighborhoods and the nature of your region.

Science Policy at UCLA, Chapter Winner

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    Collaborating with the NSPN Diplomacy Committee on our panel event Cooperation and Competition: The Future of Space Diplomacy was such a rewarding experience for our group. Through organizing the event, we forged valuable connections with the Diplomacy Committee and with several eminent experts in the field of space policy and diplomacy. Positive feedback for this event was nearly unanimous, and many attendees noted that our event was their very first exposure to the topic. We’re very pleased to have helped bring a new topic of interest to the table for both NSPN and for the Science Policy Group at UCLA. Space diplomacy will continue to gain relevance as commercial and international space ventures continue to ramp up throughout the 21st century, and it’s time to normalize discussions of ethics, policy, and science relating to space activities.

    Leading the California Science Debate team pushed us to connect with local policymakers across California. While it was a huge amount of work, it was gratifying to see legislators answer questions that we and other California science policy groups thought were the most pressing issues facing California today. We definitely encourage anyone interested to participate in Science Debate!

    See their additional responses in Impactful Writing.

Contribution to NSPN Regional Hub

Chris Jackson, Individual Runner-Up

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    Shout out to my fellow leadership team at the Science Policy Group at Berkeley for all their work organizing both our SciPol Slam and science policy fellowship panel events, as well as the NSPN members who participated! These events were instrumental in bringing new members to our group this year, especially amid the virtual pandemic setting, and NSPN’s support was a big help.
     

  2. What are you excited about moving forward?

    I’m excited for the opportunity of getting the Berkeley community to engage with NSPN more directly through a couple of cool projects to come!

    I’m also very excited about the new NSPN Advocacy Committee - having been lucky to work with several groups of NSPN members on related op-eds over the past year, I know there is both a critical need and interest for science policy at the intersection of issues of equity, justice, civic engagement, and community organizing. It’ll be great to have more institutional support for these efforts and empower more NSPN members to become science policy advocates!
     

  3. What is an interest you have outside of NSPN?

    I’m always looking for a good taco spot!

Gwen Gallagher, Individual Winner

  1. Anything you would like to say about the project(s) / piece(s) you were recognized for?

    I, along with Daniel Puentes, Emilee Kotnik, Mark DiTusa, and Marie Fiori, started the Central Hub Journal Club series, which has been a great success and really fun!

Catch the rest of Gwen’s responses up in Institutional or Community Advocacy.

UC Riverside Science to Policy, Chapter Winner

See their entry in Impactful Writing.


Let’s give all of these wonderful people and chapters a big congratulations for all the work they have done and continue to do in science policy, advocacy, communication, and diplomacy!

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