Science Professional Societies Announce 2021-22 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows

The Optical Society, Materials Research Society and SPIE select Congressional Fellows poised to learn and contribute to U.S. science policymaking

WASHINGTON – The Optical Society (OSA), the Materials Research Society (MRS) and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, are pleased to announce the selection of Brandon McMurtry and Rachel Starr as 2021-2022 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows. Each will serve a one-year term in Washington, D.C., USA, as a special legislative assistant for a member of the U.S. Congress or as a staff member for a congressional committee.

Starr will serve as the 2021-2022 OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow, while McMurtry has been named the 2021-2022 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow, which is co-sponsored by OSA and SPIE. The two Fellows will begin their terms in September 2021.

Caption: Rachel Starr, 2021-2022 OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow

“I am absolutely thrilled and humbled to have been offered this opportunity to experience policymaking up close,” Starr said. “I hope to apply my background towards creating science-driven climate and energy policy, and I am so excited to learn from everyone on the Hill.”

“I am honored to have been selected as this year’s Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow,” McMurtry said. “I am excited for the opportunity to apply my background in materials chemistry to a range of policy issues, including renewable energy and climate change while learning about the legislative process first-hand.”

As part of their Fellowship, Starr and McMurtry will attend a science policy and communication training and orientation session facilitated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Upon training completion, the Fellows will interview with Senate, House of Representatives and congressional committee staff on Capitol Hill and then select which congressional office or committee they wish to serve for their fellowship year.

Fellows have the unique opportunity to utilize their technical and scientific backgrounds and perspectives to contribute to federal policymaking while also gaining the firsthand experience in the process. They participate in a multitude of policymaking functions including, conducting legislative or oversight work, assist in congressional hearings and debates, prepare policy briefs and write speeches.

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