Week 4: Meeting John Mather and Gaining Confidence with Bill Analysis

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Sunday, June 27, 2021


Julia Bauer

The highlight (or acme, for my fellow GRE preppers) of this week was meeting Dr. John Mather at last Friday’s round table discussion. I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Mather about his involvement with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), as well as his opinion about project naming conventions at NASA. It was especially meaningful to speak with Dr. Mather after having written my first piece about the JWST several weeks ago for an FYI newsletter.

I explored several smaller tasks this week, unlike in week three, where I spent the majority of my time drafting a bulletin about the Ocean-Shot hearing. My mentor sent me a list of bills, which I then read and summarized for FYI’s bill tracker. The tracker allows FYI’s readership to understand relevant science policy developments without poring through bills that often exceed five pages. I have become much more efficient at narrowing in on the important parts of the bills and adhering to FYI’s stylistic guidelines while summarizing them.

I continued with my bill-related work on Tuesday in support of my mentor’s upcoming bulletin about the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). I compared sections of the USICA that are based on standalone bills with those in the full USICA text and noted any major differences. This was an important task in that it allows my mentor to note any significant changes between the two versions of the bills in his bulletin. Most often, the changes were related to the dollar amounts appropriated to various USICA educational and workforce programs. I later extracted figures from the Senate energy infrastructure bill into a spreadsheet so that my other mentor can access them more readily when she begins writing her DOE bulletin. I gained a lot appreciation for those who regularly extract data from bills, as it is an activity that requires significant focus and attention to detail.

The "Oh, Canada! How Outdated U.S. Immigration Policies Push Top Talent to Other Countries" hearing was postponed to this week, so I will likely have the opportunity to attend the session and take notes. Depending on the importance of the hearing's content, I may write a bulletin or a blurb about it. I am very excited to publish my first full-length piece for FYI and hope I will get the chance to do so soon. 

Until next week,


Julia Bauer