Week 4: Research, receptions, and political satire

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Friday, July 5, 2013


Christine O'Donnell

Last weekend was pretty quiet – I spent most of my time catching up on sleep and Doctor Who, and I also did some astronomy research (I’m still involved in quite a few projects from my undergraduate work).

For this week, my goal was to complete a detailed example of how to approach an issue and advocate. The example will serve two purposes: (1) it will serve as a guide for AAPT members to follow when pursuing advocacy on their own, and (2) it will become talking points on the issue for AAPT to use. I chose to make an example about increasing funding for NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. NSF provides grants to institutions (universities, national labs, etc.) to provide summer research opportunities for students. I actually completed an REU last summer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and I can vouch for the program’s effectiveness. But my anecdotal evidence won’t be enough – I had to find actual data to back up why REUs are a good thing. I spent a couple days trying to aggregate data on REUs and research experiences in general, and then I wrote up a summary of how to create an advocacy strategy to support increased REU funding.

Besides work, I also attended a reception on Thursday with the AIP Development Board. Everyone was interested in learning more about the interns since their funding provided for the internship program. The food was really good, and the conversations were nice as well. I mentioned my work on developing a strategy for advocating for REUs with a few of the people at the reception, and I got some good feedback and comments on the REU program in general.

Finally, there will be a reception this Friday night with the SPS Executive Committee followed by going to see the Capitol Steps, a music and political satire group. I’ve heard a lot about the Capitol Steps (I grew up in the DC area), and I’m really excited to finally get to see them perform!

Christine O'Donnell