Final Reflections: First-hand science policy experience

Share This:

Friday, August 9, 2013


Christine O'Donnell

This summer was a good experience for me. I knew there was a lot to the field of science policy, and I knew that my public policy master coursework would be useful. However, nothing beats first-hand experience working on science policy. While my policy program does a good job teaching communication and policy skills, the program doesn’t have a huge amount of science policy background. Thus, investigating that aspect of a policy education was useful to me.

In terms of my project, I was happy with the results. While I’m currently a bit too busy to put a lot of time into finishing up the loose ends, I’m looking forward to next semester when I will have the chance to work with AAPT on my master’s capstone project (which, coincidentally, will give me the time I need to finish up my summer project). I liked that at the end of the summer, I felt that the project was “my” work and have ownership over my accomplishments. The only downside to the project was time constraints – I can’t do everything that could ever be done in one summer. I’ve faced time constraints a lot in my academic and research careers, and so I did expect it to come up during my internship. But that didn’t make it any easier to deal with.

For my future plans, this internship contributed to my understanding of policy and other things I can do with my science background. As much as I love doing research, I’ve always enjoyed studying the humanities, communicating science with the public, and engaging with people outside of pure science. I made my academic career more interdisciplinary than almost all of the physics majors in my year, and I like to have balance between different subject areas. Policy was an outlet for my other interests that I’m interested in pursuing, and while I’ll continue exploring other outlets, I’ll keep this internship in mind when deciding what I eventually want to do with my life.

Christine O'Donnell