University of Alaska-Fairbanks
AIP Mather Policy Intern
American Institute of Physics
Experience Science and 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.
Riley and fellow SPS intern Eleanor 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, Riley and Eleanor 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.
Physicist and policy-maker are two titles that rarely get used together. However, the skills that an undergraduate physics student gains, especially one who joins the Society of Physics Students (SPS), are directly applicable to a congressional office. In this talk I will comment on my experience as an intern for the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and how it has shaped my thoughts on physics and politics. I believe that the field of physics can be enhanced with more undergraduate physics students in policy. Fellowships for graduate students and Ph.Ds. certainly have a role, but I believe investing in undergraduate policy internships could provide bigger gains. Getting into policy earlier has allowed me to develop knowledge and skills I wouldn't otherwise have gotten. In addition, I never once felt that my scientific knowledge was inadequate for the work I was doing. I am presenting this talk as a call to action as I believe that increasing undergraduate opportunities will help to strengthen the relationship between physics and politics.
I am a fourth-year physics undergraduate studying at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. This summer I will be working as an intern for the majority side of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. I chose to study physics because I found it fascinating and because the problem-solving skills I gained by doing physics were incredibly powerful. A few years ago I started learning more about politics and realized that I could use my physics skillset to help solve problems through policy. I am incredibly honored to have the opportunity to experience policy making first hand as an AIP Mather Intern.
I was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, so I’m excited to see what living in a big city is like. Currently I live in a dry cabin (no running water). When I am not studying physics, I am an avid cyclist and outdoors person and I work at a local bike shop. I have also gotten very involved with the local SPS chapter, serving as the vice-president and as the incoming president. Last year our group was able to attend the 2016 PhysCon event, which was the first time an Alaskan chapter had traveled out of state together.