OSA and Capitol Hill

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Friday, July 13, 2018


Brigette Smith

Work has been pretty intense lately. I have been taking on new tasks every week and I’m always so worried I’ll let one of the smaller projects slip through the cracks. At the same time it feels pretty great that my supervisors feel that I’m doing well enough to be able to handle new and more difficult tasks. Recently I’ve taken on the responsibility of collecting the funding request forms and information from chapters, bundling them with the award letters and preparing them for the financial department on top of checking the follow-up reports daily. I produced another blog post for the OSA Discover blog this week on Creating an Inclusive Environment in Science. (Shout out to Krystina Williamson, Michael Welter, and Stephanie Williams for helping me revise it.) I also have recently been assisting with the Deutsch Fellowship. I was in charge of collecting and bundling all the materials from the applicants, building a fillable PDF for responses and calculating the average scores for each candidate. I’m currently working to get all of the past Student Leadership Conference attendees in the NetForum database and check that all of the OSA Foundation awards were logged properly or log them in NetForum. Sometimes the work can be a little tedious but I love working here so much still. It’s such a wonderful atmosphere and I feel like I’m doing pretty well at the things I’ve been doing. I still have a lot I want to accomplish this summer and I am excited to see what I can do.


This week we had the tour of OSA which was nice. We had a resume and CV workshop with Danielle Weiland which was really great for her to come do for us and then met with Greg Quarles and Mike Duncan who are the science advisors for OSA. We heard a little about their lives and their advice for us as science students going forward. Afterwords Elizabeth Rogan, the CEO of OSA, came to talk to us a little bit before we walked around some of the floors of the building. We ended with pizza on the 6th floor. OSA has a wonderful staff lounge/kitchen with a balcony that was a really lovely place to have everyone hang out afterwards. I also got to take a tour on capitol hill which was amazing. We got to sit in on the Energy and Research subcommittee hearing on  “Big Data Challenges and Advanced Computing Solutions.” It was a really interesting to hear the discussion between the representatives and the experts. They asked them questions about the future of big data analysis and the logistics of the research but the most interesting question came from representative Etsy who asked about what was being do to diversify the scientists programming AIs. She brought up the fact that if all the scientists programming AIs were too similar then the AI would learn in a way that resembled only one type of ideals and that we need a diverse population of scientists training the AIs to avoid this. It was a really interesting thing to think about. We also got to meet Dr. Foster which was really awesome. After this we went to the capitol building. It was breathtaking honestly. My favorite part was seeing the rotunda. The artwork was simply amazing. Sam came prepared too and told us all about the paintings and what was represented in each one. It was an amazing experience. We ended up saving the Library of Congress for another day since we were all pretty tired after everything. I’m really excited for visiting that and I want to have plenty of time and energy for it.



 I'm still loving my time in DC. I feel as if I've made a lot of great connections in the area. The senior director of OSA has been introducing me to some of his colleagues which has been really cool. I also feel like I have built some strong relationships with the other interns. It's really great to be around so many intelligent and wonderful people. There's always an interesting conversation happening. My favorite of the week has been debating the packing efficiency of the capitol buildings elevators with Collin. Are we talking about the packing fraction or the packing efficiency? How should we approximate a persons measurements and should we account for personal space? Do we take into acount the empty space above someones head or should we calculate the possible efficiency if all space is used? How comfortable are the people on this elavator? It's questions like this that make living with physics students so entertaining. I wish this summer would never end. 

Brigette Smith