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2011 SPS National Interns
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Name Courtney Lemon
Cal Poly Pomona
Mather Policy Intern:
Representative Rush Holt's office (D-NJ)
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In the fall I'll be a 5th year (graduating 2012!)  at Cal Poly Pomona. While I am a Southern California native, I’m probably one of the few people from here you’ll meet whose favorite place isn’t the beach! I’d much rather be atop a mountain, gazing at the stars and doing some casual astronomy! I'm a physics major and my current research is in the field of optics and physical chemistry, although I have dabbled in quantum optics and science outreach in the past. 

I just finished my first term as SPS Associate Zone Councilor for Zone 18, where I worked closely with the Society of Physics Students and my own university to bring Jill Tarter, the director of SETI, as well as over 60 physics students from the region to Cal Poly Pomona. Last summer I interned at the University of Arizona  Astronomy Camp. In my spare time, I like to volunteer with Girl Scouts, read, and do some amateur photography and graphic design. I hope to take a great deal of photos while in DC, which I will be happy to share with all of you! I’m so excited for this summer! I know it will be a truly memorable experience!


Name Courtney Lemon
Cal Poly Pomona
Mather Policy Intern:
Representative Rush Holt's office (D-NJ)
Follow SPS on: Twitter Facebook YouTube Photobucket The Nucleus Email and Share
Review of the Summer Friday, July 22nd Friday, July 1st Friday, June 10th
Friday, August 5th Friday, July 15th Friday, June 24th Friday, June 3rd
Friday, July 29th Friday, July 8th Friday, June 17th


Review of the Summer

Wow. I can’t believe this whole experience is over.

I began this summer with a moderate interest in politics, but more interested in the interaction of science and politics. Now, as Jen would say, I’ve caught the bug. I almost always have C-SPAN going on in the background of my computer, and I go through news websites twice a day. I think I’ve made some friends for life, and I know we’ll all cross paths again sometime soon.

Having spent the majority of my summer surrounded by the hustle and bustle of political life on Capitol Hill, I have a whole new outlook on the political process. In Representative Rush Holt’s office, constituent services were top priority, but I also made time to get to know the political process. Attending hearings and briefings, discussing science candidly with not just science interns, but policy interns, and being in the middle of what I see to be a defining national moment, the Debt Crisis of 2011 has been a surreal experience.

Over the course of the summer, I have transitioned from having an interest in politics, to being active in pursuing my knowledge of the system and the goings on. I’ve seen first hand that it’s not a bunch of faceless politicians making decisions that I’ll never see in action. Capitol life is about REAL PEOPLE making REAL DECISIONS that affect each and every one of us. And I don’t think I would have been able to make the connection without this summer. Looking back on the summer, probably one of the smallest things that hit me the most was seeing Representative Roscoe Bartlett going into the Longworth Cafeteria and grabbing some barbecue for lunch. It seems so normal, but I see most of the Congressmen and Congresswomen as “elevated status.” They get to use the special elevators, they’re the ones who are running this place. And yet, they still sit down sometimes and munch on Ritz crackers and fruit juice, just like normal people.

I know I’ve said this a lot, but it’s probably the phrase that can sum up this whole summer.

I’m really going to miss this version of normal.

Friday, August 5th

Last journal? OH MY GOODNESS. Well, not REALLY the last...we still have our final write up/overview journal...This internship has gone MUCH too fast. I can’t believe the summer is over! (I’m going to save the reminiscing for the next journal entry though...)

Although Friday was “technically” a day off for me, it really didn’t feel like it! It was more of a ‘Lets get done all the stuff that still hasn’t been done before we leave!!!’ day. I’m going to be touring around grad schools next week (being the week after we’ve all left!!!) so I sent out some last minute e-mails to professors letting them know I’d be at their university, and what day.

Saturday was another Capitol Tour day for Cabot and I...this time with Gary and Susan of AIP and Rachel, an intern Cabot met from the National Academies. The tour was pretty average, except for the fact that we were walking towards the West Terrace, and the security guard decided to let us go walk around there! The fact that we were allowed on the West Terrace, WHERE INAUGURATIONS HAPPEN was probably the coolest thing to happen to me on a tour almost all summer, with the time that I was in the Old Senate Chamber and a Senator giving a tour to his family came in and talked to me, and my group about how closed hearings are still held in there sometimes for a close second!!!

After the tour, Gary and Susan took us out to lunch at the spiffy Tex-Mex place next to the Capitol. It was definitely the closest thing I’ve had to Mexican food all summer, and for a SoCal girl, tacos and burritos are part of my life’s blood. And Chipotle doesn’t count as Mexican food. After lunch, Cabot, Rachel and I headed to the Senate Gallery for a couple hours to watch the Debt Ceiling debate. We got to see an awesome speech by Senator Murray (WA) and we saw Senator Kerry (MA) asking questions of another senator (I don’t remember who...sorry)! We also got to see Senator Paul (KY) and Senator Lee (UT) discuss the debt crisis. Beyond seeing Senator Kerry, the coolest part of this was to see the distinct differences between the House and Senate.

Sunday, we went canoeing/kayaking, like we’d been (kinda sorta) planning all summer! I’m glad I sunscreened up, because even though we were out on the water for about 2 hours, I didn’t get sunburned! It was SO MUCH FUN too! Jyothi, one of the interns from down the hall and I shared a kayak. We got to go around Theodore Roosevelt Island and just had a blast on the Potomac. After everyone showered and napped, we all headed to the Albert Einstein Memorial to do some group pictures. Hopefully they’ll be up on the Website soon! Also, my friend Alec (who is also on the National Council) was in DC for this week, and he came and hung out with us for a bit! We split off from the group and got Thai for dinner, but joined up for fun and socializing after!

Monday was my last day at ACP, definitely a bittersweet day. This summer was incredible, working with Paul and Chas, and I know my work for them isn’t done yet! I spent some solid time working on my SMR piece, but I’m going to have to finish it after the internship has officially ended. Paul and Chas took me to lunch at Pollo Fiesta, or the Party Chicken? The name is a bit silly, but their food was good! I also met with Dick Jones to help brainstorm for some ideas for my second piece for Physics Today, and with Paul’s input, we finally settled on Hubble and JWST, and the differences between them. The day ended with Paul giving me a book about the number phi (one of my favourite numbers) and thanking me for my work. I’m definitely sad to be done working at ACP, and Tuesday at the Capitol was no easier.

Tuesday was my last day at the Capitol, and with the House having voted on the Debt Ceiling bill the day before, the phones weren’t QUITE as crazy, but they were definitely still busy. There were some food trucks coming by the Capitol and the staff decided to go to lunch at the BBQ truck! Unfortunately, I had to give a tour during lunch time! It was a great tour to end on though, with a grandmother and granddaughter combo. And when I got back, the staff had brought me barbecue! It was SO TASTY.

Wednesday was our last official day of the internship. I really don’t want to let this experience come to an end, but alas, all good things must end. I think knowing that I will be back in about 6 weeks, and I’ll be seeing the other interns throughout the year is making this whole leaving thing easier. In the morning, we all reminisced about some of the incredible things we’ve gotten to do this summer and wrote our thank you notes to the appropriate people. I stayed up late on Tuesday going through the pictures that I’d taken this summer and printed one out for each of the interns to have as a memory of this summer. I also gave Tracy a flash drive with all 2000+ pictures on it. For lunch, Jen and David took me out to lunch at Franklin’s, an awesome Brewery (with delicious food) and an attached Toy Shop! It was awesome to just be able to chat super casual with them about Hill life, and about the future. It really helped me realize though how much I’m going to miss this place.

After I got back from lunch, I had to pack! My mom is coming in tonight, and I’m anxious to get to a bed that doesn’t kill my back when I wake up in the morning! This whole summer has ended so quickly! I’m lucky that I’m actually spending one more week here in D.C. to look at some of the local grad schools!

So until the last entry, I’ll see ya around!

Friday, July 29th

Another week, and we're getting terrifyingly close to the end of this internship!

Friday kicked off with us all heading into ACP early because it was presentation day! The AIP staff provided us with an excellent sugar boost (DONUTS!) and we all loaded our individual presentations on the computer and made sure everything worked correctly. I used a program online,, and that made the whole loading and checking process run super smooth for me!

I was the third person to go, after Mahmuda and Heather, and I thought I did a pretty decent job! Knowing me, I probably talked way too fast, but I think overall it went really well. Moriel and the SOCK Monkeys (Amanda and Erin) both had really interactive presentations that got the whole audience engaged. Cabot's presentation garnered many laughs (at least from those who are familiar with Hill life). Definitely an excellent job by all.

I felt bad having to run out early on lunch with the staff, but my friend Robert was in town with his family and had asked me for a Capitol tour! It was great to see another familiar face from home! After some time in the Capitol and the American History Smithsonian, we made our way to Chinatown for some dinner at Potbelly. They still had a 3 hour drive left so we parted ways and I ended up hanging out with the interns at Clyde's for happy hour! (always good!)

Saturday was mostly filled with sleep. Lots and lots of sleep, after which the group headed to Virginia for the BBQ at the White House! Gary and Susan were excellent hosts, with excellent food and fun for all! It was really great to see the staff outside of a work setting, where we could all just relax!

Erin taught us a new game called CONTACT. One person (I suppose they're It) thinks of a word and tells everyone the first letter. I'll use P as an example. The rest of the group would ask things like, "Does it explode in water?" to which, It would answer (if they could think of a word that starts with the letter and answers te question), "No, it isn't Potassium." If another member of the group thinks of a word that answers the question and fits the criteria of beginning with the letters It has given, they shout, "CONTACT" and start counting down from 6. If It thinks of something that answers the question during this time, they can shout it out. If the rest of the group counting down from 6 all answer with the same word, then It would have to give everyone the second letter (we’ll go with h), and so on. As more letters get revealed, people have to ask questions involving all of the letters, such as, “Is this something you talk on?” (a.k.a. a PHone), or “Is this a subject we all study?” When the question is asked, to which the answer is the word It has been thinking of, It can either think fast and pick a new word with those letters they have already given out and tell them it’s not PHYSICS, or if they can’t, they can wait for the group to solve the puzzle with the CONTACT and answer, “Yes, the answer is PHYSICS”

Gary also had a bunch of awesome brain teaser toys, and some that TOTALLY GROSSED PEOPLE OUT. I didn't think they were THAT bad, but I'm still not a big fan of Cockroaches or Worms...

At the end of the night, Gary drove us all back to the metro, reminding us all to start thinking of what conference we want to go to next year to present our internship at! This whole internship is ending much too fast!

As the heat index rose, we kept looking for places to take shelter from the weather. I had missed when everyone went to the Natural History museum, so Cabot and I went on Sunday! It was pretty cool, although I'd seen most of it before. The photography nerd inside me got all giddy in their photo area. We also decided to spend the evening working in the student center next to the dorm because the air conditioning works better there than it does in the dorm!

Monday, I was back at ACP and I was nervous as can be, because I was interviewing Harrison Akins at the Nuclear Infrastructure Council and Dan Ingersoll at Oak Ridge Laboratory for my Physics Today piece. Harrison was really awesome to talk to and had a more policy take on the subject, and Dr. Ingersoll was super informative, and gave me a bunch of information that I will DEFINITELY put to good use! Thank you SO MUCH to Josh Chamot for putting me in contact with these people!

Also, as a pre-empter for the next days of this journal, the President did a press conference Monday night, encouraging everyone to call their Congressman or Congresswoman, and share their opinions. It’s awesome to hear from so many constituents, I’ll definitely say that much, but a piece of advice for anyone who does call their Congressmen or Congresswoman at any time, PLEASE be nice to the people on the other end of the phone line. We really DO care about what you are saying and will take down your concerns to pass on to the representative.

Tuesday in the office was absolutely crazy with phones ringing off the hook! Justice Elena Kagan was speaking in the intern lecture series, and by the time that we left, at 9:11, we had already had all four interns, plus two staffers on the phone at once! The office didn’t even open until 9! It was absolutely INSANE on the phones that day. I only attended 4 intern lectures this summer (David Brooks, Former Attorney General John Aschroft, Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Justice Elena Kagan). All four of the lectures were unique in their own way, and Kagan’s was no different. The questions from the interns seemed to be more focused on her history (someone even asked what she would suggest for getting into law school), but some of the questions concerned her time on the Supreme Court or as the Solicitor General.

But for me, the biggest hoopla was the fact that Dr. Mather, Gary White, and David Kronig were coming to the Capitol to meet Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and Congressman Rush Holt! It was fantastic to get to meet Congresswoman Johnson, and to see her talking so candidly with Dr. Mather about how we need the youth and science youth in particular to get involved in politics. I hope Dr. Mather enjoyed talking to her as much as I did, but I think it was incredible to just see two major role models, sitting in the same room, talking about science policy.

After meeting with Congresswoman Johnson, we made our way back to Longworth to meet with Congressman Holt. The physics link between them was most definitely not lost between them! They discussed briefly their physics backgrounds and the importance of physics and science students in politics, as well as the importance of science funding, when our meeting was cut short by the house calling for a vote! I was a bit disheartened to not be able to spend the full time with Representative Holt, as just getting to sit and talk with him and Dr. Mather was pretty awe inspiring and incredible. Again, two major role models of mine, this time both physicists, but with a definite awareness of the effects of politics. Representative Holt put off voting for as long as possible, even telling one of the LAs to catch him if they could and talk to him as he was running off to vote, and I really appreciated him giving us as much time as he could.

After Cabot and I said adieu to Dr. Mather and the AIP staff, we made our way over to the Capitol to watch some votes going on! It was my first time seeing votes on the floor of the house and boy was it exciting! Cabot and I were playing a bit of I Spy, trying to find all the Congressmen and Congresswomen we knew on the floor of the house! We found Reps R.Holt, E.B.Johnson, S.Jackson Lee, N.Pelosi, and so many more! We had also been asked by Jennifer to start thinking of a Capitol tour that focuses on the physics that happens in the Capitol building, and we began to work on this. During our walk through, we managed to find at least once physics aspect in each room of the Capitol! (While taking heaps of fun pictures along the way!) Walking through the capitol during the day is awesome, but walking through it when there’s no tours in there, is much more incredible. You can really see the size of the Rotunda, National Statuary Hall, etc. when there’s only two people standing in the room!

Dr. Mather had told Cabot and I that he would be back on the Hill on Thursday for a “Lunch and Learn” on James Webb Space Telescope! So of course, we made our way to that to go and see our mentor one last time here. We got to meet an awesome AAAS Fellow who is currently working in a Senate office, and will be returning to his university position next month, and also the Deputy Chief Technologist, Richard Howard. It was a bit surreal, just sitting and talking to people who know so much more than I do about these technologies, and the politics in them, but at the same time, it was not at all intimidating! Everyone was so friendly and genuinely interested in getting science students involved here on the Hill! Unfortunately, I had to run out during the middle of Dr. Mather’s talk to give a tour, and I even missed Representative Holt coming in and speaking about the importance of science funding! I wish I had been able to see the two of them together again!

Tomorrow is my first “day off” in a while! But while it is a day out of work for me, it is not a day off at all! I need to e-mail all the grad schools I’m going to be visiting after my internship here concludes!

See ya real soon!

Friday, July 22nd

The more of these I write, the more I realize how long they truly are! If you’ve read through to here, props to you!

Friday’s NSF tour was absolutely INCREDIBLE. We had Patricia Engel (SPS Intern from 2006!!!) as our guide and we met people from a variety of offices and backgrounds! It was really exciting to get to see science at work in a federal agency, and hear about how the process really works.

We joined some of the Science Assistants at NSF for lunch at a Thai was definitely NOT that good. I won’t be returning there. But the company there was great! One of the science assistants had interned with Rep. Holt previously! He knew some of the staff there and it was pretty cool to be able to discuss some of the mutual coworkers we’ve had! I also had the luck of meeting Josh Chamot, the Science Writer for NSF. I mentioned that I’m not only interning on the hill, but I’m also doing some work with Physics Today and a piece on Small Modular Reactors. He offered to help me find some resources through his ARPA-E contacts! I e-mailed him later that night and he put me in contact with Peder Maarbjerg, who in turn put me in contact with David Blee, Harold McFarlane, and more, who then further put me in contact with Harrison Akins and Dan Ingersoll, who I get to interview next Monday for my SMR Piece! Harrison’s a policy fellow at the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council and Dan is in the SMR office at Oak Ridge National Lab.

Friday night, we returned to Ballston to go see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I won’t post any spoilers, but I felt it completed the series nicely. I will say that I did have tears in my eyes at one point, and I think the last time a movie made me cry was when I was 13, and Lilo was saying to Stitch, “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” I actually had tears in my eyes twice...once when the title came up and I thought to myself, “Oh. My. Goodness. This is the beginning of the end of my childhood,” and once during a scene I won’t name.

Saturday got off to an early start! Jyothi, one of the interns down the hall from us in our dorm had a friend from Iowa in town for the weekend, and Erin had her sister in town! Jyothi had asked if I could give her and Peighton a tour of the Capitol and Erin and Emily joined us! We definitely had a lot of fun looking for Iowa and Ohio statues, and we even managed to find Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Minority Whip’s, door! After exploring the Capitol for an hour or so, Peighton, Jyothi and I decided to go to Clyde’s for lunch, where we met up with Cabot before continuing to the International Spy Museum, where we met up with Moriel. I must say, I was a bit depressed that Operation Spy wasn’t functioning, but looking through the museum was pretty darn cool too. After we finished in the museum, Cabot had been having a hankering for FroYo and it was pretty blazing hot outside, so we went and got some and ate it in front of the White House! As I’ve mentioned on my twitter a few times, I’m really going to miss this version of normal. For dinner, my friend Jacob from home came and joined us at the Froggy Bottom Pub, where we went and got FroYo AGAIN, and ate it in front of the White House, AGAIN! Jacob and I headed back a bit earlier than others and while we were walking back, we saw the Corcoran Gallery of Art! Jacob is also in my research group, not to mention that I’ve known him since he was a freshman, and Dr. Corcoran is our P.I.! It’s exciting to see his name all over here.

Sunday, I really started cracking on my final Presentation, as we present next Friday! I got most of the way done with it (after sleeping in for a great many hours) before we all got our acts together and headed out to go see Oklahoma! with some of the AIP staff at the Arena Theater! The show was really well done, and it was a “theater in the round,” so there were seats all around the stage. I had a total blast!

Monday, I was back at ACP, where, in addition to making all of those phone calls, I also got to assist with the set up of “Operation Mousetrap” which can be found here <>. It was pretty spectacular to see it all go off at once.

Tuesday and Wednesday were big tour days, no big surprise, and for details on one of the tours, please, check the twitter or ask me in person. I don’t feel like re-hashing the somewhat embarrassing moment here for all to see...

Thursday was Anish’s Science Cafe! He did a great job! The demographic was perfect, the location was fantastic, and the speaker (Dr. James Gates!!!) knew just what to say! Dr. Gates was a fantastic speaker, and Anish’s moderating was spot on. Also, I should mention that about a week earlier, the Executive Council had asked the National Council (of which I am a member) to vote on inducting Dr. James Gates as an honorary member into Sigma Pi Sigma.

Thomas Olsen had asked me to help with the induction of Dr. Gates as I am on the National Council. I got to present Dr. Gates with his certificate, his Sigma Pi Sigma Pin, and the green and white cords! I felt very honored to be able to present him with his induction items, as I know it’s an incredible opportunity.

Tomorrow is our final presentations! I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the summer!

See ya real soon!

Friday, July 15th

This internship is going way too fast! I can’t believe we’re already over halfway through and we have under a month left!

Friday of this week was our tour of NIST, where Heather and Binayak are spending their summer! I regret to say that I wasn’t feeling my best as I had a major headache, so the coverage of this day will probably fall a little bit short. Apologies in advance. It was still mad cool (phrase credit to Binayak) to see what Heather and Binayak do on a daily basis. It was also the final launch of Atlantis. While we were supposed to be going on lab tours, luckily, we were able to watch the final space shuttle launch on the projector at NIST. Definitely memorable. It was also pretty spiffy to see the museum of standards that we all go by! But the coolest thing for me was to see the Newton Apple tree! There is a legitimate tree grown from a cutting of an apple tree from the Newton estates!

After my headache finally went away, my dad invited me for dinner with him and my step mom and little sister in Chinatown! My dad took us to the Capitol Grille, where the food was some of the most incredible I’ve had here in D.C. It was really good to get to see my sister again and figure out our plans for Saturday, which mainly included me giving a tour to my dad, stepmom, and little sister. Everything went well with the tour. I had suggested strongly to my family not to bring the stroller and I’m glad they took my suggestion. It definitely made the tour easier and we were able to go more places quicker than we would have with the stroller. Lucy behaved herself pretty well and we kept moving to keep her entertained through the tour (I should probably mention that she’s 20 months old). We also did the abbreviated version (about 30-45 minutes total versus the normal 1 hour+) so that they could make their flight home.

After watching my sister for a bit more so my dad and Deb could finish packing, I walked over to the International Spy Museum and bought a book or two. I’ve been working on reading Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre on my phone e-book reader and it wasn’t working very well due to the format of this book, so I just bought a hard copy. So far, it’s awesome! I walked over to the National Portrait Gallery Smithsonian and read for a bit in one of their exhibits, but found that the ottoman wasn’t too comfortable to be sitting on. I eventually explored their Presidential portraits section and eventually found my personal favorite relaxing location here in D.C., the courtyard inside the Portrait Gallery! I was also waiting for my friend Corey from Cal Poly to call me. He was out here with his dad and brother! It has been really great to see so many familiar faces!

Sunday, we had planned to have our big Sushi Night with our interns, another intern from down the hall, and my friend/fellow intern Michael from work. In preparation, Moriel, Amanda and I all trekked to the Japanese Market on U-Street, where we decided to stop by Ben’s Chili Bowl for lunch on the way! Amanda and I each got the chili cheese fries, and trust me, they were more than enough for one person! The food was delicious and was perfect for keeping us full until our sushi dinner scheduled for that night! I adore going to the Hana Japanese Market because it’s all pretty cheap, and the food is really tasty too. That’s where I get my curry makings and and the majority of the food I eat during the week. We decided to walk to the Dupont Circle metro stop because it’s supposed to be just as close as the U Street metro stop, and somewhere along the way, we decided to walk the rest of the way back! It was definitely a good walking day, but with a heavy bag, my reccomendation is to walk there and take the metro back!

Sushi night however was a definite success! Cabot and Michael handled most of the sushi making, with some assistance from Moriel later on. Amanda and Heather made a sauce and some noodles, and Jyothi and I made the cucumber salad! As far as I know, everyone had a great time. The company was awesome and we all clicked really well. I hope we can do another big group dinner before we have to leave for our respective homes!

I’ve also discovered that no matter where I go, I find a way to keep myself engaged in the political process. Even when we’re not at work, Cabot and I often talk about what is going on regarding the budget situation or other political processes. When I’m at ACP on Mondays, I always have in the background so I can keep an eye on what is going on with our nation’s government! I really am becoming genuinely interested in the legislative process and politics that go with it.

Tuesday’s big todo was focused on the NASA Launch System hearing, with NASA Director Charles Bolden. The Science, Space, and Technology committee didn’t seem very happy with him! They appeared to have requested a design and budget by February 2011, and as of July, they still didn’t have either one. And while the focus of the hearing was on future NASA projects, there was a definite bipartisan effort to urge NASA to move forward with a new space program.

Although I was hesitant, I was encouraged to attend a dinner where Michele Bachmann would be speaking. It was...interesting to say the least. It was located at a major religious house here in D.C. and I felt quite out of place. The food was pretty good though, and I must say, I was eager to hear Rep. Bachmann speak about her policies. Unfortunately, I was quite disheartened by her topic choice at this location. While I was waiting to hear about what her political goals were, she chose to focus on her religion and her path to Salvation.... Although this topic probably fit the venue quite well, I left the reception unsatisfied. I will definitely need to look for her speaking at other venues to hear her policies. If she is intending to run for President based on her religion, I don’t know how well she’ll do. I need to hear some specific political statements before I can make a formal, educated evaluation of her. Right now, she’s seems more fit to be Chaplain, based on the intensity of which she carries Jesus in her heart.

She did have some quotes that I really did appreciate, and I will place them here for future use.

“We’re all in progress, every single one of us” - Bachmann

“Your education cannot be taken away from you” - Bachmann

“I asked the lord to change me and cleanse me. Jesus is not just lord over theology, he is lord over sociology, psychology, biology, political science. He is the creator.” - Bachmann

I don’t necessarily agree with what she is saying in that third quote, but I feel it is important to include her point of view. I’ll let you come to your own decisions on the significance of it.

Thursday’s excitement was definitely the Congressional Baseball Game! After work, the Holt interns, Cabot, and I all made our way over to the National’s stadium where the game was going to be played. We got AWESOME seats...pretty much right on the field on the 3rd base line. The game itself was super awesome, with Rep. Richmond throwing an almost perfect game! In the end the Democrats won 8-2, with the Republicans only having one hit! It was quite entertaining to see that even in the stadium, the political aisle is still there, with the Republicans on the right and the Democrats on the left! I have to call out the favorite players of our group, Rep. Bishop (D-NY) for being all around awesome, Rep. Richmond (D-LA) for pitching like no other congressman/woman can, Rep. Polis (D-CO) for being all around awesome, Senator Paul (R-KY) for giving it his all and nearly tying himself into knots on each swing, and Rep. Sanchez (D-CA) for representing the ladies of Congress!

Thanks to all the congressmen and women for participating and making the baseball game so much fun! Between Rep. Hall (R-TX) announcing, our incredible seats, and being among good friends, we all had a great time!

Tomorrow is our tour of NSF! I’m excited to see a REAL Federal Science agency!

Friday, July 8th

This week kicked off with Cabot and I giving our tours of our places of work. Cabot went in early since he didn’t have the day off really, and I stayed behind to make sure everyone got to where they needed to be! We started off in Ford with a tour of Cabot’s office, and I must say, I am jealous. He’s got a whole desk to himself! We’re a bit crunched for space in my office and we generally share a desk in the back of the office. Not that I don’t like being back there. In fact, quite the opposite! It’s a blast being with all the LAs! The commentaries and insight that everyone provides is entertaining and informative. After we had gotten a group picture in front of the wall with all the agencies that fall under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Cabot brought us all over to the committee room in Rayburn. While we were there, we answered a bunch of questions about hill life and what the differences between committee work and individual representative work are. We started to run out of time so Cabot and I took the interns (+Jennifer, Kendra, Thomas, and Elizabeth) down to lunch at Rayburn before we had to get to the Capitol for our tour time! I actually had to run out of lunch early to make sure that we could get all of the passes and not have to send everyone through security at the Cannon tunnel entrance to the CVC. Both Cabot and I were relatively stunned when everyone passed through security with no hitches! (I don’t even get through security without a hitch EVERY time!) At the Capitol Visitors Center we met up with Gary and Jack, and got our passes so we could get in line for the movie that precedes the tour. Cabot and I had previously decided that it would be easiest to split the group and have us each lead one, that way, we wouldn’t be trying to herd around 20 physicists around the Capitol building. Somehow, I ended up with most of the interns and Cabot ended up with most of the AIP Staff, but I think each of our tours went well. I know we each gave a very different tour, but from the feedback I’ve heard from those who went on our tears, we did a good job! Yay!

After the tour of the Capitol, Cabot and I lead everyone back through the Cannon tunnel to my office, where we managed to fit all 18 of us in Representative Holt’s office, and even squeeze most of us into the back room to introduce all of the Legislative Aides, Legislative Director, interns, and Communications expert. I think a few of them were excited to see a gaggle of Physicists in a congressional office building!

After finishing the tour of the Capitol, we all made our way over to the Botanical Garden just past Rayburn. It’s definitely a gorgeous location and I can definitely see myself going and relaxing there on a day off. I think my favourite room was the Orchids or the catwalks of the Jungle. At one point, Cabot found me and was all excited about one of the gardens...I must say, I was not expecting him to be so jazzed about the desert room of all locations! I think I’m a bit jaded though due to the fact that I live around cacti, and have even had cacti “pets,” small plants you can keep on a desktop. The desert ecosystem is so natural to me, I really preferred the other regions, but seeing his excitement really made me realize how special an ecosystem I live in back in California.

On Saturday, we gathered most of the interns and went to the D.C. United game! I’d never been to a professional soccer game before but it was so much fun! We had pretty darn good seats too! We were right behind the überfans who dress up, bring massive flags, stomp around and make rude gestures to the other team. Moriel kept talking about what would happen if they reached the resononant frequency with their was definitely an experience. So much fun!

Sunday was a pretty chill day, where Cabot, Mahmuda, Moriel and I traveled to Columbia Heights to make a Target run. While we were there, we stopped by the froyo place (I think Cabot is now addicted....hahaha!!!) and we managed to stumble upon the Museum for Unnatural History (Also known as 826DC). Although this is primarily a gift shop of kitschy tchotchkas, the back of the shop offers free after school tutoring, and I can definitely see the location being busy during the academic year. I really like their style and I think I may try to get more information about 826LA, a.k.a. Time Travel Mart, when I get back home! On Saturday night, Cabot and I finally got around to watching The Fall, a movie I’ve been intending to see for about three years, but never got around to it. It really was as beautiful as I pictured it would be...although there were definitely some very odd bits in there...if you’ve seen it, the claymation scene was just flat out STRANGE, yet not out of place. Since that movie finished early, we also watched one of my favourite movies of all time, Clue. Cabot had never seen it and I definitely think it is one of the best movies out there. Campy, funny, and mysterious, it keeps you thinking (and laughing!) the entire time!

For the fourth of July, a large group of us headed down to the Mall to go and grab a seat for the night’s fireworks around 4:00 pm. Cabot and I had made up some guacamole, using my (not so secret) recipe and were able to munch on that during the many hours we had until the fireworks began! We were expecting to end up near the Tidal Basin, as we thought that would have the best view, as well as a small crowd, but once we got in, we managed to get an excellent space next to the south stairs of the Lincoln Memorial! Although the day was filled with lots of waiting, the experience was truly memorable. It even rained a bit! I didn’t get eaten alive by bugs and the fireworks were absolutely gorgeous to watch. I hope to have some of the photos available on the website!

Tuesday was my first day drafting a letter in the office. We had gotten 7 or 8 identical letters regarding the same issue and I was selected to write the letter to respond to them all. However, to do this adequately, I had to spend a couple hours just researching the program and figuring out how much it was cut! I mentioned on the twitter that I was once terrified of 30 page budgets at my university. The budgets that I was going through to work on this letter were 200+ pages! I think I’ve become so used to the process that page counts like that, even in governmental budgets, don’t phase me anymore.

Wednesday was another Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, this time focused on Neural Crest Cells. It’s always comforting for me to go to these because they are so reminiscent of university life to me, except at these, lunch is provided! The lectures are always interesting, and the speakers don’t often get too technical, as they are generally speaking to Legislative Aides and Congressmen with little to no research or biomedical background in their specific field.

Thursday was a definite roller coaster day for me on the science front. One of the first things I did upon getting into work was to head over to the Capitol to try to get into the Appropriations hearing for Commerce, Science, and Justice, where the fate of the James Webb Space Telescope hung in the balance. I got there 20 minutes before the markup was scheduled to begin and even then, I couldn’t get in. I waited outside the door with 5 or 6 other interns to try to get in, but luck was not on our side. We waited another 15-20 minutes after the hearing was due to begin, in hopes that we could get in after some people left, but one by one, we all started to leave. However, lunch was an awesome experience. One of the other interns in my office, Cabot and I all had RSVPed to an ARPA-E Lunch Briefing! ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy) is the DARPA of the energy industry. They basically fund a bunch of concept projects in hopes of finding one or two revolutionary breakthroughs. They focus in particular on projects that need public as well as private support, perhaps because the benefits of success would be spread widely across society rather than concentrated in a specific business. This lunch briefing covered a lot of the concepts that are quickly coming to fruition, and it was fascinating to see where the future of energy may be!

On the floor of the House, defense appropriations talks were going swimmingly...complete with a $17 billion increase for the Department of Defense. Representative Barney Frank (D-MA4) proposed an amendment to H.R. 2219 that would merely slow the increase of our current rate of spending. The representative spoke on the floor in support of this amendment, and I think all discussion in the office ceased because he was on the floor! It was quite exciting to see him speak so passionately about this, and it was definitely inspiring. I guess I’m quickly coming to the realization as I spend more time on the hill that each move made on the floor of the house is reminiscent of an elaborate chess game: deliberate, and pondered for an extended period before any action is taken.

Tonight, my friend/fellow physics lady Sarah from Cal Poly was out here in D.C. for a Noyce Scholars meeting! I met up with her for dinner at RFD, where my friend and fellow intern Michael joined us for a bit, and we ended up walking pretty much all of the monuments that evening! We started in Chinatown, walked (in this order) to the White House, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and finished up at the Einstein Memorial. The entire monument walk took about three hours, and was a grand total of about two and a half miles. Needless to say, my feet were definitely sore, but the sights were gorgeous. Also, Sarah had never had the pleasure of seeing fireflies, and we saw a small group of them by Jefferson! Out in Southern California, we don’t have fireflies, so the magic of having them here is definitely not lost on us! We were giddy with each one we saw!

Tomorrow we’re heading to NIST! I’m excited!

See ya real soon!

Friday, July 1st

Usually Fridays are my favorite day because I get to sleep in, but this Friday, I had to get up early to go into work! I had forgotten my street shoes there and I didn’t want to be living in heels all weekend. Thank goodness I did though! Friday night was a lot of fun too! After everyone got out of work, we all went to the Jazz in the Park festival at the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden. The jazz music was great and we all had a blast dancing! Afterwards, we went to RFD, or Regional Food and Drink in Chinatown. Definitely somewhere I’ll be returning! They have a massive drinks menu that reminded me of my favorite pizza place in Tucson.

Saturday was pretty laid back. I slept in SUPER late before heading to the American History museum with Erin and Cabot! I think we all proved our nerddom when we all got a picture with Anthony Daniel’s C-3PO costume (We also all got our pictures with the Stephen Colbert painting too)! Even though we were there for 3 hours or so, we only saw one floor! We split our time between “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War” and “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden” exhibits. I’m a huge fan of pin-up culture and so getting to see one of the original Betty Grable photos was really exciting for me. That was also the first night we went and got frozen yogurt (henceforth known in Courtney terminology as froyo) and ate it in front of the White House. It feels like such a normal thing to do until I tell someone back home and I realize how unusual it really is. I guess I’m just realizing how hard it will be to leave D.C. at the end of the summer. I’m really going to miss this place.

Sunday’s big trip was to the Smithsonian Zoo! It was cool to get to go to a zoo that doesn’t charge admission! I think the lions were my favorite of the day because they were so playful! There were six or eight cubs with two momma lions. But then again, I got to see an actual basilisk (more like a chameleon looking thing than a snake) and the Harry Potter nerd inside me flipped out a bit. Apparently looking into the eye of a basilisk won’t really kill you. If anything, I should have been petrified as I was looking though glass (Okay, I’ll stop with the Harry Potter nerdiness here, but I’m a proud geek). The tiger was pretty wicked awesome too, it kept pacing (probably cagey from being kept in a not too large enclosure) and growling/roaring.

I switched my schedule around this week so that on Monday I was going into Representative Holt’s office, and Thursday I was going into AIP (Our tour of ACP was set for Thursday). I was asked to attend a briefing for one of the Legislative Assistants in my office on Social Security. The briefing was definitely targeted towards Democrat offices, but there was definite discussion of how Social Security crosses party lines, and really has become a core value of our society. Older generations who are currently receiving Social Security don’t want it to be cut, younger generations are worried that they will be paying into this safety net for years and when it comes time for them to reap the benefits, they won’t receive the benefits they’ve earned.

Even though the Social Security briefing was pretty interesting, the best event of the day was getting to see Former Attorney General Ashcroft on the floor of the House. It was so incredible just to be able to sit where the Representatives sit, walk where they walk, and see it all up close. The whole experience of just being on the floor was truly awe inspiring. They’re super strict about what you can and can’t bring in. No cell phones. Nothing with a battery, basically the same rules as going into the Gallery, but the fact that we were on the floor was so, SO cool. Because we weren’t able to bring in cameras, I sketched a few drawings of where we were. They’re not spectacular by any means, but it’s good enough for me to go back and be able to relive the moment. Former Attorney General Ashcroft’s intern lecture was definitely emotionally charged. I remember him closing his talk with something along the lines of, “Freedom is the secret sauce of America, and we need to protect our Big Mac.”

Tuesday’s intern lecture was definitely a memorable one. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell came and spoke to us on the floor of the House. This time, I wasn’t able to get onto the actual floor, but they decided to fill the gallery as well, so I was able to get in there. Former Secretary Powell’s talk was incredible. He spoke about his path to his position as Secretary of State, why he resigned when he did, and his personal opinions on some topics. He was asked some very loaded questions and he answered them very well. My admiration for former Secretary Powell definitely grew after hearing him speak.

Wednesday was a little crazy with an evacuation drill that occurred right as I was supposed to give a tour! Evacuation drills at the Capitol are very much like fire drills at school. Everyone gets out of the building while USCP checks the offices and makes sure nobody is hiding inside, while all the staff and interns socialize and play games outside. I even learned some new games that seem to be rather specific to the Hill! After we were all allowed back into our office it was time to give the tour, my first that I was kind of leading. Michael (another intern in the office) and I lead them on the first half of their tour and we had barely gotten through the first half of the Rotunda before they realized they had to move their car before it would be ticketed. We offered to pick up the tour where we left off after they moved their car and it all went well. They were so thankful that we were willing to be so accommodating. It felt good to be able to make their trip that much better.

I didn’t take a lunch break on Wednesday so I could leave early to meet my dad and step-mom for dinner. We met up at L’Enfant Plaza at their hotel and had a delicious dinner! (Unfortunately, I had gotten a minor case of food poisoning from my lunch and was nauseous all through dinner...nothing more than bad nausea though!) It was great to get to see my little sister (all of 20 months old) for a bit! I made plans to see them another day and give them a tour of the Capitol.

Thursday was our big day to tour the American Center of Physics (ACP) and see where six out of the ten interns spend their time each day. We either went to each of the offices and met some of their staff, or their staff came to us and it was quite a rush. It was great to get to meet some of the other staff who work at ACP, and see some familiar faces. We also took a side trip to the University of Maryland Physics Department and met Dr. Dick Berg, the head of their stock room, and a friend of Doug’s from the Cal Poly Stockroom back home! They had a neat little demo show that focused on critical thinking.

Thursday night was the big BBQ set for the Dylla’s house. It was great to see Dr. Mather again and meet his wife! There were so many people there too! The food was excellent and the company even more so. I talked with so many great people who work at ACP, I’m sorry for not being able to mention them all by name! Cabot and I talked with Dr. Mather about life as a “hilltern” (term coined by Anish), and whether or not we are considering a life in politics after this experience. I found out that Mrs. Mather is a ballet teacher, and we bonded over my past life as a dancer in elementary and middle school. She is so sweet and awesome, I felt honored to be given a hug by her at the end of the night!

Well, that sums up this week’s entry! Tomorrow Cabot and I give our tours of the Capitol and our work places! I’m nervous!

See ya real soon!

Friday, June 24th

This week was such a Rush (Hahaha! Get it?)! Everything is going so quickly now that we’re all settled in!

Friday’s Noah and the Whale concert was INCREDIBLE. I love violin music and it’s a violin indie ears were in heaven!

Saturday was a big day of errand running before we had sushi night here in DC! Cabot, Amanda and I all went to the Japanese Market and picked up a bunch of groceries and sushi makings, and I finally got a sushi mat! I spent less than I do at Trader Joe’s and got enough food to probably last me another two weeks (or more!). Cabot and I also made a run to the fish market to pick up some fresh tuna and salmon. Also quite cheap and SO WORTH IT. The fish was delicious and so fresh! Many of the photos of us making sushi can be seen <> at that link! And we have enough tuna for another dinner (which Cabot and I had on Monday as seared Ahi and rice), as well as enough salmon for another night or two! We also had started watching This is Spinal Tap on Thursday night and got a chance to finish it this evening.

While most everyone else was sleeping in on Sunday, Cabot and I made a run to LensCrafters in Pentagon City. I just needed to get my glasses tightened while he needed to have his prescription fixed. After that, the rest of the group had decided to go to the Holocaust Museum. Cabot and I chose to use our InternsROCK wrist bands to get into the Newseum for FREE (Normally a $20 dollar entry fee) and it was so beyond worth it. A ticket there gets you in for two days and I think I nearly broke down into tears in a couple exhibits. It awakens a lot of emotions and is very eye opening. If you have the opportunity, go. Definitely go. It is worth it. It is an incredible experience. We all met up afterwards and walked to Sprinkles Cupcake in Georgetown because it was the last day of the InternsROCK promotion and we each got a free cupcake! Sprinkles is a cupcake shop in LA too so it’s nice to know what I can expect when I go back home (and trust me, I will!).

Monday I was back in the Physics Today office with Paul Guinessy. I got some more work done on my article that I’m writing for them and read a TON of witness testimonies to check my facts. Reading witness testimonies can get a bit tedious, but they are very informative! Especially when written by scientists! Monday afternoon, all the AIP interns and I went to the Einstein Educator Fellows reception held in the Kennedy Caucus Room in Russell Senate Office Building. The chance to meet educators who do what I want to is an excellent experience! One of the educators is one of the outreach specialists for NASA (one of my dream jobs), one has been working with the Department of Energy writing up some standards (which will be useful when I take the Energy and Society class this fall!) and another few were working on the hill! The interns and I also got to meet Cora Marrett, the deputy director of the NSF!

It’s always nice to be back on the hill though as I was on Tuesday, and I honestly think that Tuesday was the most incredible day I’ve had as of yet. As soon as I got into the office, I was offered a chance to go to a lunch briefing on the GMT, as in Giant Magellan Telescope. I think I actually squealed when they offered it to me. I spent last summer at the University of Arizona, and I got to tour the Mirror Lab multiple times, and see the GMT mirrors being formed! I’m a huge fan of the GMT and getting to go to an exclusive briefing was so incredible.

When I got to the briefing, I thought it was going to be a simple little bag lunch and lecture style, similar to many other briefings I’ve gone to. OH HOW WRONG WAS I! It was a sit down formal lunch with tables and presenters! I was lucky enough to sit next to some members of the Australian Embassy, a staffer of Representative Henry Waxman, and some of the staffers from the majority Committee on Science, Space, and Technology! I also was lucky enough to meet Dr. Rocky Kolb, 2010 Heinemann Award Winner who I saw accepting the award at AAS in January (with about 500+ other people). I could NOT pass up the chance to meet him, and getting to be in a room with him and maybe 40 others nearly garbled my tongue. I also know for a fact that I got all tongue tied when I met Dr. Robert Angel, creator of spin casting mirrors and one of the original heads of the U of A Mirror Lab. I think it was the first time I was honestly star struck, mostly because I wasn’t expecting it at all!

Wednesday I went on a tour with our most experienced intern and the artist whose piece was chosen by Representative Holt for the Congressional Art Competition! Her piece is beautifully done and speaks volumes. And she’s so sweet too! And after all this, I went to another lunch caucus from the Coalition of Life Sciences(nothing fancy this time) on new Melanoma therapies. That briefing can be found <> there (Note: My question can be seen at around 36:49). Melanoma is a cause that is very close to my heart as my mother had Melanoma and my grandfather died from it. Also, my Representative showed up at 39:36! Definitely cool to see my Representative doing what he does best!

Thursday was pretty relaxed, but I did get to meet some physicists from the American Geological Union who were doing an interview with Representative Holt, thanks to our communications guy who invited me to join them as they waited! Turns out one of them knows my AIP mentor Jennifer, and is also from San Diego! It was pretty spiffy.

I’ll see ya real soon!

Friday, June 17th

So last Friday was awesome. Not only did I get to see the Capitol Steps, a very entertaining and catchy political comedy group, but I got to see Chris Faesi, my AZC Rep/Friend! I also found out a FASCINATING fact...There are GRADUATE DEGREES IN SCIENCE POLICY. Yeah. I'm excited. We also got to go to my favorite brewery here in the Capitol, called Capitol City Brewers. Delicious!

As those of you who follow me on twitter (SPSMatherIntern) know, I got a big, nervewracking task to do last week! But I think I did a good job! I haven't seen anything since, so I'm hoping it's not too dreadful!

Saturday, some of the interns and I got to go to the DC Pride Parade! It was a very colorful and fun experience! I think I took somewhere around 450 pictures...yeah. It's a ton. The good ones featuring us the interns will be up on the SPS Website! I also got to have PINKBERRY! If any of you know me in real life, you know I LOVE my Pinkberry. Delicious. So I was SUPER EXCITED to get Pinkberry before the Pride Parade. And of course, what could be better than finishing off the night with Star Wars, the ORIGINAL MOVIE. Definitely a winning day.

Sunday was just as busy! We made a Target run because I needed to get some cooking supplies, and we got to go to Georgetown. Now let me tell you, if you're going to Georgetown, eat at Clydes. Their food is AMAZING. We also got cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcakes! YUM YUM YUM. And of course, Cabot and I finished off the night working on the Physics Today article on us interviewing Dr. John C. Mather, our sponsor!

Monday was a pretty good day. I was the only intern heading to ACP, and while I got a little turned around on the shuttles (NOTE: If you're taking the shuttle from College Park metro to ACP, take the SHORT SHUTTLE, not the long one!), it was an overall good day! I got to meet with Chas and Paul and got assigned my first piece to write on the Senate hearing from last week! I'm hoping to tie in some of the other hearings I attend and show how combined the whole system is! I also got my first grade back! I got a B in Mechanics! (I seriously did a little happy dance when I saw this). We also went to the second Science Cafe. This one was about the science of what annoys us and it was a PACKED HOUSE. The age group was much better adjusted towards the age of us the interns, and it was a total blast! Again, excellent food, but the speaker was engaging, the audience was enjoyable, and I had a great time.

Tuesday was an EARLY MORNING where I had to be at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for an 8ish AM tour with the rest of my Representative's interns. The tour itself was very interesting and enjoyable! Who knew you could get $150 for around $2, if you don't mind it being shredded...and not worth anything! As soon as we got back from the tour, I went to a DOE hearing on the Yucca Mountain Licensing Application, and if you watch the archived video, YOU CAN SEE ME AT 14:55, 15:12, and 15:35 IN THE BACK RIGHT CORNER. Yes, I'm FAR TOO EXCITED about being in this video. I'm including the link for posterity at the bottom of this entry...I had intended to attend a second hearing on Tuesday, but I waited for 25 minutes for the hearing to begin and didn't get to even see any of the representatives.

Wednesday was another LONG DAY. I had my Capitol Tour Training in the morning, and I am now trained to be able to give tours! VERY EXCITING. My favorite part of the whole tour, without a doubt, is the whispering arch. What is the whispering arch? Well, you'll just have to come and take a tour to find out! But Capitol Tour Training is LONG. FOUR HOURS and three tours of the Capitol later, and I'm good. I took the liberty of wearing my black Chuck Taylors today because I knew I would be walking all over, and of course, as soon as I returned from the training, I immediately ran over to Rayburn to grab some lunch before the Science, Space, and Technology hearing on Clean Energy (linked here -> Definitely my favorite hearing to date! The participants were active, the topic was fascinating, and I got to meet some awesome interns (and support Cabot!) Now after returning from the hearing, I got to spend some time answering the phone, but I was almost immediately asked to deliver something to under the Capitol. I must say, it is TERRIFYING down there. Unlike on Tuesday, where I was delivering something to inside the Capitol, where everything is GORGEOUS and painted and beautiful, underneath the Capitol feels like the catacombs. It's kind of dank and dingy, and there's low ceilings with lots of pipes running the length! It just had kind of a creepy feeling. But after all of this, I was asked to take a guest of ours to the House Gallery. It was my first time going into the Gallery and needless to say, I was speechless. It was INCREDIBLE to see it all and just be there. I could spend HOURS in the Gallery! It's so different from watching it on CSPAN. (Although I must say CSPAN has one can see the names and state/political party of the speaker!) After this whole day of adventure, Cabot and I met up at the NASA reception in Rayburn, where we proceeded to meet an Astronaut! COOL, RIGHT?! We also got to meet up with some of the AGS interns and Jennifer at Happy Hour! An overall fun evening that was extended due to Cabot and I trying to use our InternsROCK wrist bands somewhere...and failing miserably, and visiting Moriel and Amanda's room and their mirror breaking and blocking the doorway!

On Thursday, I attended a hearing on STEM Education. It was probably the most FUN hearing I’ve been to. The archived webcast is linked here (, but if you want to play a little game of where’s waldo, you can look through the photo gallery and try to find me! ( I know for a fact that I’m in it somewhere. Congressman Hall, Chair of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, is usually quite entertaining, and this hearing put that on display. He knows how to keep the gallery laughing! Some representatives really know how to keep someone’s attention.

After the hearing, I dropped by the “science fair” presentations of Toshiba’s ExploraVision Competition Winners. Some of the students who had competed (and won) the competition had just testified at the hearing (yes, there were elementary - high school students as witnesses) were presenting their inventions. These kids are wicked smart and imaginative! It was exciting to see them bring current technology 20 years into the future.

Also, if you follow my twitter (SPSMatherIntern), you may have noticed that I have a slight love of Disneyland. This is not a mistake. Back home, I live super close to Disneyland and used to go once a week. And so for some reason, random things this week kept reminding me of Disneyland, such as shortbread cookies and Metro station managers. Yep. I’m a bit of a Disney geek. But that’s not the point.

My roommate got here this week too! SUPER EXCITING. Mahmuda is really nice and I’m excited to get to know her better!

Tonight we get to go see Noah and the Whale! Finally we get to use our InternsROCK wristbands! I’M EXCITED.

Friday, June 10th

After the long days of week one, week two just FLEW by! The weekend was filled with touring the Tidal Basin (with FDR memorial and Jefferson, and LOTS OF SUNBURN), as well as Air and Space Smithsonian! I also managed to finish my academic school work during the weekend pretty much, because keep in mind, my school is technically still in session until the 10th! It will be AMAZING to be done with EVERYTHING.

Monday was my first day at Physics Today. I spent most of my time with Paul Guinnessy, my Physics Today mentor, and getting adjusted, while also finishing studying for my Optics final! I also met with Jennifer Greenamoyer, my Mather Internship mentor. I think my optics final went well and I was anxious to get my project in! (But the good news was I thought my project was due at 9 pm on Monday...and it turns out its not due until 5 pm on Tuesday!) I also got to hear an awesome talk on "The Power of Stars" by someone from Pomona College! Tastes of home are always good.

Tuesday was my first day on the Hill where the House was in recess. Definitely odd seeing people walking around in jeans and sneakers. I however was dressed in full business attire because I got to go to a Senate hearing! I got to see a FULL committee hearing of the Senate Committee of Energy and Natural Resources that was focused on alternative energy. Very cool and interesting. I would definitely suggest checking out the archived webcast. It was somewhat terrifying just getting in! The line was around the corner and I just BARELY made it in (They only let in one person after me!) I still had to stand for the first hour! And as comfortable as my heels may be, after standing for an hour, any shoes begin to hurt your feet. Tuesday night we got to go to our first Science Cafe at the Front Page. I definitely recognized that we interns were not the target audience, for we are not local, and we are not educators in Arlington. The food was good though! I'm excited to see how Anish takes this and puts his own spin on it to make it more applicable to SPS chapters.

Wednesday, I went to an American Chemical Society hearing in Rayburn on patents. Although I knew a bit about patents, I definitely learned a lot more! It's nice to be educated. I also saw two of my representatives staffers there, as well as Jennifer who had come to the session! Very exciting to see so many familiar faces. After that, the Intern Lecture Series brought in David Brooks, famed New York Times Op-Ed Columnist. He is an EXCELLENT speaker and very engaging! I enjoyed it a lot. The day concluded with attending the Maximizing your Internship workshop, where we learned a lot of tips to make the most out of an internship. I found out that most of what was said I had already picked up from attending APS, AAS, and other professional society meetings, but it's good to have it reinforced.

Thursday was a pretty laid back day. With no hearings in the House to go to, it was a pretty quiet week overall. Thursday, we had our group intern training, where we focused on how to use the office software to log in constituent contact, as well as respond to constituents. That training will be worth it's weight in GOLD soon I'm sure!

I'm very excited for tonight where we get to see the Capitol Steps with the Executive Council! As one of the members of the National Council, it'll be good to see Toni Sauncy (SPS President), Chris Faesi (SPS Associate Zone Councilor Representative), Diane Jacobs (Sigma Pi Sigma President) and everyone else!

Friday, June 3rd

End of week one? Already? Goodness does time fly! It feels like I just got here! This week has been such a rush! From moving out of my residential suite on Saturday, to flying out of San Diego airport at 6:30 am on Sunday, this whole process really flew by. I'm the only intern here whose school hasn't technically finished yet, and so not only am I handling this internship, but I'm finishing off my classes as well!

So, RECAP TIME! Sunday/Monday mostly consisted of relaxing a bit, getting everything we forgot, and connecting with the other interns. Heaps of fun! Tuesday was the first real day of work. We all started our morning at the American Center of Physics (or ACP), where AIP and some of it's organizations are housed. I'm lucky enough to be familiar with many of the AIP and SPS staff from my time as Associate Zone Councilor from Zone 18, as well as the AAS meeting in Seattle and APS meeting in Anaheim. It was awesome to see them again, and see Dr. John Mather, the sponsor of my internship (and NOBEL LAUREATE!!!). It was incredible to just sit next to him and be able to ask any question of a Nobel Laureate. Yeah. It was awesome. (Side note: Cabot and I knew that Dr. Mather was coming to lunch, the other interns didn't! SURPRISE!) After much paperwork and introductions, Cabot, Jennifer G., and myself were able to have some more individual time with Dr. Mather and really get to the meat of what his goals are for us, here in Washington D.C. this summer. I hope I can live up to his expectations! So after all of this happened, I went into Representative Holt's office for a few hours, where I got some basic training and a general tour. I even got to meet him on day one! It was awesome. Wednesday and Thursday mostly included doing some work in the office, but I also got to go and listen to a biotechnology caucus on regenerating heart cells(If you go to 38:42 at, you can see me asking a question!), and a hearing on ANWR and the resources there. Both were really interesting and I got to see why Rep. Holt is so respected on the Hill. I also got to go to my first Congressional Reception! Very exciting.

It looks like the interns and I are going to be hitting up some of the Smithsonians this weekend! I can't wait to explore more! I'm very excited to see what the next week will bring me, and I'll be sure to share as much as I can (remember) with you! Thanks for reading and I'll see ya real soon!

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Name Courtney Lemon
Cal Poly Pomona
Mather Policy Intern:
Representative Rush Holt's office (D-NJ)
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Final Presentation

SPS Mather Internship with Rep. Rush Holt (D), New Jersey

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