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Change from Within: Three LPSLI alumni awarded AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships

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SACNAS members and alumni of the 2014 and 2016 Linton-Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute (LPSLI), Dr. Amanda Pierce, Dr. Mateo Munoz, and Dr. Stephen Jett, have recently been accepted into the prestigious AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship program.

Dr. Pierce earned her doctorate in ecology and evolution from Emory University where she examined the genetics underlying migratory behavior and range expansion in monarch butterflies. She then conducted postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill as an IRACDA research/teaching fellow. There, Dr. Pierce designed and taught an undergraduate course focused on applying ecological and evolutionary principles to human health and disease.

This leadership opportunity, in addition to her LPSLI training, positioned Dr. Pierce well for her current role as a AAAS S&T Policy Fellow. “I hope to combine my previous experiences to focus on regulation and policy related to gene editing and mosquito/invasive species population control in the Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division at the Environmental Protection Agency,” says Dr. Pierce. “I look forward to helping “write the rules” for new biotechnologies.”

Dr. Munoz is a chemist and Historian of Science who received his doctorate from Harvard in 2014. He researches how the relationship among the private sector, the state, and academic science have impacted the development of America’s scientific infrastructure and workforce. As a postdoctoral researcher in environmental engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, he conducts research on broadening participation in engineering. Dr. Munoz put his research into action when he served as the inaugural Director of Engineering Partnerships at Boulder’s College of Engineering. During this time, he worked with engineering firms, community colleges, and other diverse groups to create new pathways into engineering for underrepresented students.

Through his experiences in both industry and higher education, Dr. Munoz has been able to engage broad audiences on the relationship between science and society – leadership opportunities that, along with LPSLI, have prepared him well for this highly-coveted position. “As a AAAS S&T Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation’s National Science Board Office, I will help to develop national policies that will promote scientific research and education in science and engineering,” says Dr. Munoz.

From L to R: Mentor Dr. Robert Barnhill, SACNAS Executive Director Dr. Antonia Franco, Dr. Stephen Jett, and facilitator Dr. Joe Garcia

Dr. Jett received his PhD in Biophysical Sciences at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, where he studied the structure of bacterial transcription regulation complexes. He then became a postdoctoral research associate and Ford Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. There, Dr. Jett worked to develop new methods for single molecule enzymology studies of nucleoprotein complexes. Currently, he is a research professor and facility director at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

Dr. Jett’s fellowship appointment is in the Center for Bioinformatics and Information Technology at the National Cancer Institute. At the Center, he’ll be using his interdisciplinary background and experience in public engagement with science to help develop new policies for the use of imaging in the fight against cancer. “LPSLI helped me to formulate a development plan,” says Dr. Jett, “that combined my professional goals to participate in the science policy development process with my engagement goals to use science outreach to broaden STEM participation.”

Dr. Robert Barnhill, SACNAS Vice President for Science Policy and Strategic Initiatives, says of the fellowships and science policy, “one of my aspirational goals for SACNAS’ science policy is that, in due course, all significant Washington, D.C. science policy discussions include at least one underrepresented minority STEM PhD. I have seen first-hand the difference [URM scientists participating in science policy] can make. You have to be ‘in the room’ to make a difference from the inside.”

Join us in congratulating Dr. Pierce, Dr. Munoz and Dr. Jett as they work to create positive change from the inside!

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