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Ashley FingerAshley Finger
Davidson College
AIP Mather Policy Internship: US House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

As of May 2014 I am an alumna from Davidson College with a major in Physics and a minor in Mathematics. My research specialization is semiconductor spectroscopy which has particular relevance to the advancement of solar energy. Beginning in the fall of 2014, I will be pursuing a Juris Doctor degree, tentatively from the University of Virginia School of Law. My three passions: law, the environment, and physics are all coming together through the Mather Policy Internship with the United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

While Davidson, North Carolina quickly became my home away from home over the course of my short time there, I am originally from Cutchogue, New York, located on Eastern Long Island. On campus, I am an active member of the Environmental Action Coalition, Food Club, and Society of Physics Students. I also work as a Peer Research Advisor at the Davidson College Library. In my free time I love to run, cook, read, and play tennis and softball.

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  • Week 1
  • Week 2
  • Week 3
  • Week 4
  • Week 5
  • Week 6
  • Week 7
  • Week 8
  • Week 9
  • Final Reflections
Week 1, May 26-June 1, 2014

Kelby, Ashley, Kearns, Jake, and Mark at the Memorial Day parade.My first week as an SPS intern in Washington, D.C. got off to an incredibly exciting start. My roommate, Kelby, and I both arrived on Sunday afternoon and moved into our cozy and antique apartment that very quickly became homey and filled with life, especially as the other interns began to arrive. We all got along well right away and begin to take on D.C. with enthusiasm. In the first two days alone, we toured monuments (including going to the top of the Washington Monument), attended the Memorial Day parade, and learned our way around the area.

On Wednesday, my time with the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in the House of Representatives began mid-way through the day while the other interns continued with the AIP orientation. Within an hour of arriving, I was immediately thrown into an exciting markup: a vote on the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act of 2014, or FIRST. Then, the next morning I was able to work at a hearing focusing on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Both the markup and the hearing were really fascinating—I learned a lot about the legislative process and my way around Capitol Hill. The staff for the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is a group of really intelligent, friendly, enthusiastic, and helpful people—I’ve loved every minute of my job so far! Starting my internship at such a busy and exciting time has allowed me to truly jump right into the job. I have already looked up statistics, learned how to set-up the dais for the congressmen and women, photographed the hearing, and recorded quotations from the video records. My position is fast-paced, detail-orientated, and always changing—I’m looking forward to being challenged throughout the summer.

This Friday will be my formal orientation with the Committee since nearly all of my time until now has been focused on the excitement of FIRST and IPCC. I am hoping to get to know the staff members a little bit better and learn the ins and outs of my own office and building.

~Ashley

Week 2, June 2-8, 2014

Recess Week in Congress

Interns at the White HouseAs I write this, I am nearing the end of my first full week as an intern for the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. This week, Congress was in recess, which made for a slower pace in the office, but, I found, hardly any reduction in my excitement. I spent the majority of my time reading articles and background information on both upcoming and past topics covered by the committee, and also simply adjusting to the workings of the office. I also had the opportunity to attend an EPA briefing on their Clean Energy Plan proposal, as well as watch a NASA briefing on human spaceflight. In both cases, I enjoyed hearing the questions and concerns of the attendees in person, as well as watching interpretations unfold both within the audience and in the news. It also struck me how expansive the range of issues the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology cover.

I also had the opportunity to attend a science fair on Thursday morning for the national finalists of the ExploraVision competition who presented their projects ranging from a synthetic kidney to futuristic sunglasses, for which SPS interns Caleb, Kearns, and Mark all came over to Capitol Hill to see.

World War II Memorial in Washington, DCThe end of my week became a lot more eventful. On Thursday, I began preparation for the hearing “A Review of the P5: The U.S. Vision for Particle Physics After Discovery of the Higgs Boson,” which will occur on Tuesday of next week, and which I am extremely excited about. For the hearing I prepared binders and read witness testimony to prepare potential questions for the witnesses. On the weekend, we had a lot of AIP events: on Friday we had dinner together along with AIP staff and SPS executive committee, after which we went stargazing on the national mall and toured the monuments—including a very special stop at the World War II memorial which was incredibly moving on the evening of the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Then, on Sunday, we had an outreach event at Howard County Community College, for which the S.O.C.K. interns selected demos including a spandex model of spacetime curvature.

Finally, our twelfth intern Ben, the other Mather intern, arrived and we were able to get to know him. After only two weeks, all twelve of us have become really close—we have a great group!

Photo 1: Mark, Jake, Kirsten, Me, Kelby, Nick, Caleb, Simon, and Kearns in front of the White House.

Photo 2: The World War II Memorial on the evening of the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

~Ashley

Week 3, June 9-15, 2014

A Lot of Physics

Last weekend really set the pace for this week. As I wrote about in my last journal entry, we had a dinner with AIP staff, stargazing, and a community outreach event. In continuation of the overarching theme (physics), I spent Monday reading the P5 (Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel) report and witness testimony in order to prepare questions for congressional representatives to ask in a hearing titled "A Review of the P5: The U.S. Vision for Particle Physics After Discovery of the Higgs Boson," for which I was the lead intern. In addition to preparing questions I also prepared binders for the staff, set up the dais, and took pictures during the hearing. It was extremely refreshing and exciting to see all of the congressmen fascinated and enthused by the discoveries and advances in the field of particle physics. That afternoon, I shifted gears to a small project for the Subcommittee on the Environment—a chart involving monetary costs and benefits that could potentially be published.

Description of copper nanowires made at NUFOOnce I finished my work for the day, I headed over to the National User Facility Organization Exposition, held in the Rayburn building on Capitol Hill. Here, scientists from NIST, BNL, CERN, Los Alamos, and many more presented their research to congressional representatives and staff members—including me! Not only did I learn a lot, and meet incredible scientists, but I also became the 433rd person to make nanowires utilizing a new technique and received an invitation to tour CERN. I stayed until the end of the event, at which point the other interns and I helped disassemble the displays after which we were treated to an incredible dinner (food came out from the kitchen constantly for over an hour) with some of the scientists who presented at the NUFO Exposition.

The next morning didn't wind down as the committee prepared for a "contentious" subcommittee markup at noon on the Department of Energy Research and Development Act of 2014. While our legislative branch is often mocked for manipulating the subtleties of the law, I found it fascinating how congressional representatives utilized legal nuances in order to demonstrate a strong position.

The end of my week slowed down a bit, but I learned how to record and edit videos of hearings for our YouTube channel and learned the ins and outs of sitting at the front desk. I'm looking forward to this weekend as we meet new people, discover new places, and learn about ourselves and each other. Three weeks have gone by far too quickly.

Photo: The copper nanowires I made at NUFO.

~Ashley

Week 4, June 16-22, 2014

Week Four Already?

This week in the House Science Committee was filled with hearings, markups, and additional side projects. I took the lead on a hearing titled "The Future of Surface Transportation," through which I learned about the advancement of vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure communication technology which seems to be the near future of highway transportation. Until this hearing, I had not realized how close we are, as a society, to a highly automated multi-modal transportation system. I was impressed with the descriptions of the technology and the vision for the future of transportation in our country from both a technological and environmental perspective. This week I was also responsible for video recording for a hearing titled "NASA Security: Assessing the Agency's Efforts to Protect Sensitive Information," a task at which I am quickly becoming much more proficient. Me, Kirsten, Mark, Kelby, and Stephen in the orchid room at the United States Botanic GardenIn addition to hearing and markup related tasks (which include videos, pictures, and binders) I also engaged in several small research projects for the subcommittee on the environment related to my interest in environmental issues as well as editing hearing transcripts and transcribing quotations from hearing recordings. Every single day here is still proving to be different and full of learning opportunities.

Outside of work, my week was filled with people! Last weekend, several Davidson alumni moved into the area and so I met up with a large group of them at Trukeroo—a food truck festival near the Nationals' stadium. Then on Wednesday, there was a Davidson in D.C. alumni event attended by everyone from current students to alumni who have been in the area for over 30 years. It never fails to strike me how close-knit and boundless the Davidson community is, even so far away from the college.

Kirsten, Kelby, Mark, and I embracing our inner childhood on the National Mall carouselAlso over the weekend, some of the other interns and I enjoyed the beautiful weather at the botanic garden (which I hadn’t been to in spite of its proximity to my office) and the sculpture garden, as well as embraced our inner childhood with frozen yogurt and a carousel ride on the National Mall.

Photo 1: Me, Kirsten, Mark, Kelby, and Stephen in the orchid room at the United States Botanic Garden.

Photo 2: Kirsten, Kelby, Mark, and I embracing our inner childhood on the National Mall carousel.

~Ashley

Week 5, June 23-29, 2014

Half Way Point

A view of the barbeque festival with the Capitol Building in the backgroundI came into this internship with an affinity for a busy schedule and I'm happy to say that as my fifth week in Washington, D.C. comes to a close, my "to do" list is becoming longer rather than shorter as I learn about more opportunities this city has to offer. Last weekend included my first attendance of Jazz in the Garden (a weekly event that features a live band in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden), a visit to the National Archives Museum (to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights) and a barbeque festival (which featured impressive chefs from around the country).

In terms of work this week, I worked on longer term research project for a staff member in addition to the now familiar routine of preparing for, and keeping records of, hearings and markups. This week I worked on a hearing titled, "Pathways to Exploration: A Review of the Future of Human Space Exploration" in which the members of the committee consulted experts on the pros and cons of pursuing a human excursion to the surface of Mars. The tunnel to the Library of CongressI also attended my first true bill markup (at the first, I was only present for the votes) in which the members of the committee propose and discuss amendments to a potential bill. This particular markup was for H.R. 4012, "The Secret Science Reform Act of 2014," a controversial piece of legislation that would affect the E.P.A.'s use and presentation of research. I would also like to note here, in light of that markup, that the nature of hearings and markups in committee at this point in time are quite different than they have been in the past, and the press has begun to take notice. It has, until now, been unusual for hearings and markups to be described as "contentious" or "controversial," terms that are popping up fairly consistently in my journal. This makes now a very interesting time to be working for the committee.

Additionally, this week I experienced several days with a change in pace. Early in the week, I received CRS (Congressional Research Service) training at the Library of Congress which prompted me and one other committee intern to learn our way around the tunnels between congressional office buildings. Then, on Tuesday, eight of us went to a restaurant called The Argonaut for "Science Night" as team "Let Us Atom" to compete in a series of scientific events—all three of which we won. Then, on Wednesday, I Ben and I left straight from Capitol Hill for the annual congressional baseball game in which both the representative from my home district and a member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology played.

The congressional baseball gameMy work week finished with Friday being the last day for two of the interns who worked for the committee. We said farewell with lunch, ice cream cake, and endless thanks and words of appreciation. Without a doubt, next week the office will feel a little empty without their upbeat personalities and constant smiles.

With such a busy week, I took some time to relax this weekend, spending Saturday afternoon enjoying the sun on the National Mall and exploring the Georgetown waterfront at sunset. Finally, as if to catch up on activity, on Sunday I went to the National Air and Space Museum followed by the Folk Life Festival—a cultural festival featuring food, art, craftsmanship, and music from China and Kenya.

Photo 1: A view of the barbeque festival with the Capitol Building in the background.

Photo 2: The tunnel to the Library of Congress

Photo 3: The congressional baseball game

~Ashley

Week 6, June 30-July 6, 2014

Fourth of July Weekend

The week leading up to Independence Day was a recess week for Congress. As a result, I had expected the week to go slowly with no hearings, markups, or briefings to speak of. What I found to be true, however, was quite the opposite—the days flew by as I received projects from staff members related to potential future hearings. My research projects generally included writing memorandums to brief staff members on old hearings, recent hearings in other congressional committees, and past speeches made by congressional representatives. I also took the time to increase my background knowledge of upcoming hearing topics: fusion energy and the Clean Water Act.

Wednesday afternoon was the highlight of my week—I met with the physicist who sparked my interest in science policy and encouraged me to apply for the Mather Internship. She was as inspiring as ever as we talked about the network of physicist in Washington, D.C. and engaging young scientists in policy.

My work week came to a close early as everyone in the office readied themselves for a patriotic long weekend.

The interns (and friends) who arrived early to the National MallI was the first person awake on the Fourth of July, starting off my day with a run past the monuments and grocery shopping for an all day picnic on the National Mall. Kirsten and I, along with a fellow Davidson physicist who came to visit, arrived at the mall at 11:30 a.m. to claim an ideal spot next to the Washington Monument. Our day on the mall included a parade, frisbee, a trip to the National Portrait Gallery, and enough food to feed all of us (and more) for the entire day. As it grew dark, Stephen, Mark, and Kirsten started to hand out Society of Physics Students diffraction glasses to families there to see the fireworks—explaining the physics and the enhanced viewing experience they would provide. The already stunning fireworks were made infinitely better with some very basic physics—the oohs and ahs from those with diffraction glasses were frequent and audible

With such a busy Friday, it seemed as though my weekend should be over. However, I still had two full days which I filled with the National Building Museum (and its giant, indoor maze), catching up with some fellow Davidson alumni, and shopping with Kirsten.

Photo: The interns (and friends) who arrived early to the National Mall. As fireworks approached, the National Mall filled with people.

~Ashley

Week 7, July 7-13, 2014

A Water Themed Week

This week, my office had only two interns (compared to the usual four), which made for a busy week. We had two hearings this week: the first was on the EPA's proposed rule on Clean Water Act jurisdiction and the second on fusion energy and the state of ITER—the international experimental fusion reactor project. I was the sole intern working on the fusion energy hearing, and so I got to do the full range of hearing preparation work myself, as well as all of the social media outreach afterwards. The majority of my time, however, was spent doing background research for the Clean Water Act hearing and an upcoming hearing on reforming the EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). I read articles, made charts, wrote memorandums, and transcribed old videos to assist the staff in their hearing preparation. Usually, I have some down time to fill with personal research and attending briefings or other Capitol Hill events, but this week, one research project bled into the next and my 9:00-6:00 work day passed in the blink of an eye.

After work on Wednesday, I got to know the other interns working for the committee better when we went out to dinner on Capitol Hill. Our backgrounds ranged from political science, to engineering, to space policy and we called everywhere from D.C. to North Dakota home. I unfortunately was unable to make the NIST tour on Friday due to the ITER hearing, but I ended my week on a positive note with an office birthday party, jazz in the garden, and dinner at the SPS intern-famous Hill Country BBQ. On Saturday Ben Perez, Caleb, Jake, Stephen, Kelby, and I spent all day kayaking on the Potomac River with beautiful views of the monuments and the Georgetown waterfront. The weather on Saturday was absolutely perfect for a full day outside and being on the water was a nice break from the city environment. Then on Sunday, Kelby, Kearns, and I took a trip to Eastern Market which hosts a flea market, farmer's market, and art fair every weekend.

This past week was fairly relaxed, but next week picks up quite a bit—the events I have on my calendar are extremely exciting!

~Ashley

Week 8, July 14-20, 2014

Whirlwind

I mentioned last week that the events on my calendar looking forward were extremely exciting, but even so, I was not aware of the whirlwind in which I was about to be swept up. Throughout the week, I was assigned a series of research projects (including a very interesting investigation of a constituent concern and background information for the EPA’s chemical regulation system IRIS) and event summaries. These projects filled my time extremely quickly, leaving me wondering where the day went each time I was reminded that it was time to leave.

My nose-to-the-grindstone week was punctuated with incredible opportunities both on the hill and off. First thing Monday morning, I attended a briefing on algae fuels where I learned about the facilities, collaborations, and range of algae research. A new intern also arrived in our office that day, so I spent the afternoon showing him around Capitol Hill and taking him to get a badge—it seems too soon after my own arrival for me to be already mentoring someone else! Then, on Tuesday, I had the privilege of meeting my congressman, Representative Tim Bishop, with whom I talked about my experience on Capitol Hill, my future plans, family, and even a little bit of environmental policy related to issues with which we had both been involved over the past few weeks. It was also nice to see photographs representing a little bit of home decorating his office. Absolutely thrilled, but knowing my day was only going to get better, I returned to the office for only a little over an hour before I headed to a panel on the research potential of Jupiter’s moon Europa, that included Dr. Ellen Stofan, the Chief Scientist of NASA, Dr. Robert Pappalardo, who studies Europa at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, several congressmen, and Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Not only was watching Bill Nye, one of my childhood heroes, speak in person an incredible experience, but I had the opportunity to take a picture with him after the lecture! That evening, my busy day continued as I rushed to the College Park Aviation Museum straight from work for dinner with the other interns, AIP staff, and the mentors and sponsors of each internship. Notable guests included Fred Dylla, the CEO of AIP, Dr. Mather, the Nobel laureate who supports my internship, and Ted Gull, an astrophysicist at NASA, among many, many others.

me with a model of Eta CarinaeBill Nye the Science GuyThe Space Environment Simulator (SES) at NASA GoddardWednesday slowed down a little bit relative to the start of my week, but the committee still had a lot going on! Not only did I still have extended projects to work on, but I was responsible for summarizing a Senate hearing on space access assurance in the morning, and my committee had a hearing on EPA’s IRIS in the afternoon that proved to be extremely partisan. Right from work, I went to a concert at Wolf Trap National Park in Virginia, with several friends from Davidson.

Thursday was my birthday, for which I got up early to head to NASA Goddard! Kirsten and Nick did an incredible job organizing tours from the Conceptual Image Lab, to the building where the James Webb Space Telescope will be assembled. Our tour also coincided with a research fair, where scientists across Goddard presented their research, which gave us an excellent overview of everything that happens there. Even after an entire day at NASA, when we returned to Foggy Bottom, everyone still managed to gather up enough energy to celebrate my birthday by making it to the Georgetown Waterfront just in time for the sunset.

Friday was a relatively slow day at the office, although I still had enough projects to keep me busy. I have a lot to check off my D.C. bucket list this weekend, with only two weeks left!

Photo 1: Me with a model of Eta Carinae, the stellar nebulae that Nick is studying at NASA Goddard.

Photo 2: One of my childhood heroes, Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Photo 3: The Space Environment Simulator (SES) at NASA Goddard, one of my favorite parts of the tour.

~Ashley

Week 9, July 21-27, 2014

Not Wasting Time

The end of Week 8 was just as busy as the start. On Friday, right from work, I went to dinner with a group of former AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Fellows in the Woodley Park area where I learned about their experiences, both personal and professional as scientists in Washington, D.C. I was awake before everyone else on Saturday morning and used a good part of the day to walk through the Holocaust Memorial Museum slowly and reflectively. The museum was as well thought out and reverent as I had remembered from my last visit to D.C., but experiencing the exhibits in solitude made for a much more powerful and emotional visit.

After a solemn Saturday, and an early Sunday morning run, I spent most of Sunday cooking an extravagant brunch of French toast, breakfast potatoes, sausage, bacon, and omelets to order for the entire hall. After cooking and eating for hours, we spent the remainder of the day watching movies and ensuring we were well rested for the busy week ahead.

View from the West side of the Capitol BuildingOur week started off with a trip to the Pentagon bright and early on Monday morning. Our group had our own tour guide who taught us about the building, showed us hallways dedicated to branches of the Department of Defense, quizzed us on our U.S. history, and shared his experiences working as a liaison to the public. As we left the Pentagon, Ben Preis and I took over as tour guides as we showed the other interns around Capitol Hill. We started with a quick trip up to the office of Congressman Bill Foster (who is a physicist!) where Ben works, then headed over to the Capitol Building for a tour led by Ben. Until this point, I had only ever been through the lower levels of the Capitol for work and had yet to find myself in the stunning hallways and famed locations of the upper levels. We saw the west portico where presidents are inaugurated, the compass rose that marks the center of D.C., the interior of the Capitol dome, and so much more. After the tour, I returned to my office briefly to finish up some lingering projects before meeting up with the interns again to give them a taste of my life as a committee intern. I was able to show them the Committee hearing room, as well as the staff and member lounges, explaining my day-to-day activities along the way. Finally, we made the trek over to the Ford House Office Building where the minority office for the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is housed. There, several staff members for the committee took time to speak to the interns about their backgrounds (two of which are in physics) and their experiences on Capitol Hill.

Subway system in the tunnels under the Capitol BuildingTuesday was a relatively slow day in the office with not much in the way of events until Thursday. I spent a lot of my time preparing for the upcoming intern symposium at the American Center for Physics on Friday. Finishing my presentation early turned out to be time well spent when the pace of my week picked up rapidly first thing Wednesday morning. On Wednesday morning, I attended a lecture by the Democratic Whip, Representative Steny Hoyer from Maryland, in the Capitol Building. He spoke to us (the congressional interns) about his motivations, inspirations, and frustrations throughout his tenure as a congressman and was a thoroughly engaging speaker. After the lecture, I had over an hour to kill before the next event on my schedule—a Senate briefing on the automotive industry. I spent that hour exploring the Senate side of the Capitol building that included a ride on the Capitol Building subway system in addition to wandering the halls of the beautiful buildings themselves.

On Thursday our Committee had a scheduled downlink with the International Space Station where representatives asked the two American astronauts currently on board about life in space and the ongoing research. The downlink was followed by an exposition through which scientists at NASA explained some of the recent research and technological developments in the ISS. After a long afternoon of processing the videos from the downlink event, which were in high demand, I raced home to practice my presentation for the next morning.

Friday morning I woke up earlier than I usually do for work to travel to ACP with the other interns for our closing symposium where I had the opportunity to learn in more detail what the other interns had been doing all summer. We were joined by AIP and SPS staff, mentors, sponsors, family members, and friends who quickly turned the morning symposium into an all-day event. We celebrated our successful presentations that evening with a dinner of "endless appetizers."

On Saturday, Ben, his girlfriend Hannah, Kelby, and I woke up early to meet Courtney over at the Capitol building for pictures and an additional, less formal exploration of the building. Afterwards, Kelby and I headed over for lunch in Old Town Alexandria where we met up with one of my friends from Davidson to tour the waterfront, the art galleries, and the historic buildings.

I finished off my weekend with an early alarm, since I had heard that the best time to explore the National Zoo is before most of the exhibits open. Sure enough, Kelby, Stephen, and I were treated to a nearly empty zoo to watch the animals’ morning routines. We returned just in time for me to catch up with a friend for brunch, feeling good about having had a full day before anyone else got out of bed.

Photo 1: View from the West side of the Capitol Building out over the site of the presidential inauguration ceremony.

Photo 2: Subway system in the tunnels under the Capitol Building.

~Ashley

Final Reflections, August 2014

Final Reflections

I am writing this final blog post from a lounge chair in my backyard at my home in Cutchogue, New York. For the next month I will be enjoying the beautiful weather, the salt water, and relaxation before I pack up everything and head to Luxembourg on a Fulbright grant in September.

My last week in Washington, D.C. was as incredible as I could have imagined. On Monday, the other Committee interns, as well as some interns from personal offices, went out to dinner at Bullfeathers on Capitol Hill for a goodbye meal. Then, on Tuesday, I had a luncheon Ben Preis and I planned with Congressman Bill Foster (for whom Ben works) and Dr. John Mather (the namesake of our policy internship). It was an incredible experience to have lunch in the members’ dining room with two accomplished physicists who have delved into the realm of policy. Ben and I also took the time during the last week we would both have badges to explore the Capitol Building more thoroughly where we saw the place where George Washington would have been buried (below the crypt that can be seen on guest tours), the area surrounding the House Floor, the Speaker’s Lounge, and many other beautiful hallways and gardens.

In the office this week, I was involved in the preparation for a contentious, partisan hearing on the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, as well as a hearing on research and technology relevant to border security. In a perfect culmination of my summer, I was in charge of making sure everything went smoothly for the Clean Power Plan hearing and got to sit behind the dais (I even make an appearance on some of our YouTube videos). Then, for the border security hearing I was the only intern working and our staff assistant was the main staffer and so I was responsible for the full range of intern tasks—a perfect summary of my experience. To top it off, that hearing, my last hearing with the Committee, was also on CSPAN, on which I made a brief appearance!

On Wednesday evening, Kirsten, Kelby, Jake, and I returned to the Argonaut for Trivia Night (not Science Night this time) to use the gift card we had won on our previous visit and return to a favorite spot for one last time. We were not nearly as good at trivia as we were at the science competition, but we managed to hold our own. Then, on Thursday night, all of the interns and some current and former congressional fellows met up at Tonic in Foggy Bottom for an informal happy hour I had organized to talk about our experiences as physicists in Washington, D.C.

Subway system in the tunnels under the Capitol BuildingFriday was our last day and I started off my morning with a member-organized tour of the White House with Ben and the other interns from Congressman Foster’s office. It was a perfect final tour in Washington, D.C. as I had run by and marveled at the exterior almost every day for the entire summer. I learned a lot about the history of each room from the Secret Service, stood on the spot where President Obama announced the death of Osama Bin Laden, and saw my favorite presidential portrait in person—Aaron Shikler’s depiction of President John F. Kennedy. After the tour, Ben and I ran over to the American Center for Physics for one last time to reflect on our summer experiences with the other interns and say goodbye to the incredible staff there. While the other interns returned to JBKO to pack up all of their things for move-out the next morning, I returned to my office one last time for our intern going away party, where the staff spent the afternoon reminiscing, telling stories, and laughing.

As I left my office for the final time, I could not believe that this summer was coming to an end. I had accomplished so much, and grown as a person in such a short period of time. When you enter college, career services tells you to not waste your summers, but I hadn’t had a summer until this one where I hadn’t wasted a moment. Congratulations to all the interns on a job well done, thank you to all the staff members at AIP and SPS who made this possible, and thank you everyone who had even the smallest part to play in my incredible summer.

~Ashley

 

Experience Science Policy Firsthand

The primary purpose of the AIP Mather policy internship program (supported by the John and Jane Mather Foundation for Science and the Arts) is to promote awareness of, and interaction with, the policy process in Washington, D.C. for undergraduate physics students.

NASAAshley and fellow SPS intern Benjamin are working in Congressional offices on Capitol Hill, directly engaging in science policy issues and efforts in the nation's capital. As part of their service, Ashley and Benjamin are introducing the other SPS interns to the public policy process by arranging field trips to appropriate science policy events or locales–Congressional hearings, governmental agencies and/or facilities, for example.

 
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