Congressional Science Fellowships Task Force

Jim Evans, Bowling Green State University

Alex Apotsos, USAID
David Applegate, USGS
Jana Davis, Chesapeake Bay Trust
Rebecca French, Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation
Josh Trapani, Association of American Universities
Maggie Walser, National Academies of Science
Aaron Goldner, Office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Erica Bickford, Department of Energy

Staff Liaisons
Elizabeth Landau, Assistant Director, Public Affairs
Timia Crisp, Analyst, Public Affairs


Congress constantly works to establish sound public policy on scientific issues, however not all congressional offices have scientific expertise on staff. In response to these congressional needs, AGU is pleased to have sponsored a Congressional Science Fellowship (CSF) for over thirty years. The fellowship program enables effective use of scientific knowledge in policymaking and provides a unique experience to scientists seeking careers involving public use of technical information.

The CSF program places highly qualified, accomplished scientists, engineers, and other professionals in the offices of either an individual Member of Congress or on a congressional committee for a one-year fellowship.

The AGU Fellows will have the opportunity to make significant contributions to public policy during their time working with Congress. Past fellows have been directly involved water policy, climate research, energy conservation, and a range of other issues that are of high priority to society.

The Need for a Task Force

A task force is needed to select which CSF applicants to interview, conduct interviews, and choose which interviewees will be offered fellowship positions. The expertise of past fellows is especially helpful in making these selections, as past fellows know the demands of the fellowships and the abilities required for a successful candidate.

Responsibilities of the CSF Task Force

The task force will both conduct the selection process of the AGU Congressional Science Fellowship and focus on how to improve and advance the CSF program.

The process for the selection of AGU Congressional Science Fellows will be coordinated by the task force and the appropriate AGU staff.

Prior to the end of October, the CSF task force will review the format and wording of various print and/or electronic recruiting advertisements for the fellowship with AGU staff, and make revisions as appropriate. The CSF task force and AGU staff will also review the media outlets or other forms of dissemination for fellowship recruiting advertisements and implement changes as appropriate. The CSF task force is responsible for assisting with recruitment efforts, which might include efforts at the AGU Fall Meeting or other professional meetings and events.

Prior to January, the lead AGU staff member and chair of the CSF task force are tasked with selecting the Review Panel. The Review Panel will consist of approximately 10 AGU members who meet the criteria of being former Congressional Science Fellows or of having similar professional experience.

The members of the Review Panel will receive the electronic dossiers of the fellowship applicants and a copy of Instructions for Completing the Review. Each reviewer will be asked to assess the entire applicant pool and then rank the applicants.

The Interview Panel will consist of approximately 4-6 individuals including available members of the CSF task force supplemented with AGU members that meet the criteria of: (1) being former Congressional Science Fellows or having similar professional experience, and (2) living in the Washington D.C. area (to minimize travel expenses). Members of the Interview Panel shall be selected from the same pool of reviewers described below, and shall be selected by the lead AGU staff member and chair of the CSF task force.

The CSF task force and attending AGU staff will be tasked with developing the set of questions to be used during the interviews, and are responsible for ensuring that all interviews are conducted equally and fairly.

At the conclusion of the interviews, the Interview Panel and attending AGU staff shall rank all of the candidates. The ranking will be used by the AGU staff to make the Congressional Science Fellowship offer or offers (contingent upon the number of available fellowships and candidate acceptances).

Task Force members will meet the following criteria and willing to perform the duties outlined:

1. Be a former Congressional Science Fellow or have similar professional experience

2. Interest in recruitment of scientists to apply for the fellowship programs

3. Serve on CSF Interview Panel, if in the D.C. area (to minimize travel expenses)

4. Review and provide input to interview questions, marketing material, and other communications, as needed

5. Serve as a spokesperson and help support communication and outreach for the program

CSF Task Force Charge

Building off the work of the Outreach Committee, the task force will continue to explore ideas for potential new fellowships as well as how to better utilize fellows to meet goals in the Strategic Plan. Discussions will include funding of a new State Department Fellow and other career opportunities for members to become involved in policy and communication, such as an Outreach Fellow. The task force will develop and implement ideas for engaging current and past fellows.