Week 4: When worlds clash

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Monday, June 26, 2023


Gizem Dogan

Although the work week felt short, it was full of opportunities to come together with incredible physicists and physics lovers. 

 The most iconic piece of news from this week is our SPS intern lunch with THE John Mather, the incredible mind behind the COBE telescope that detected the cosmic microwave background. Last year around, when I worked for Physics Today, he had talked about James Webb telescope's launch in December and they were excited to release the photos to the public. This year I made sure to ask over lunch what his favorite JWebb photo is so far. He said it’s got to be the first photo with all the distant galleries because it was with that photo that they discovered many more planets existed out in space than previously thought. It felt like I was able to have a more meaningful conversation with him as the Mather NIST Policy intern as his ideals for creating my current position capture my belief in the notion that we need more scientists somewhat involved in the policy-making and implementation processes in areas pertaining to national security to better inform our policymakers. Having said that, I can’t move on without conveying my gratitude to the AIP Foundation for hosting us and providing GREEK FOOD for lunch! As a Turkish person who grew up in the Mediterranean, gyro is sometimes the closest thing that reminds me of the exquisite Turkish cuisine so I was more than happy to munch on some gyro! 

On another note, we received our special design SPS t-shirts this week! I love mine in light pink but apparently there was one extra, which our SPS Director Brad so very generously sent to me. (See photo below for reference) Perks of coming back as an SPS intern for a second year!

At work one of my supervisors had asked me to build a framework for Manufacturing USA membership analyses. Manufacturing USA is an initiative that aims to form manufacturing ecosystems all around the country through their growing number of institutes that all focus on a different strategic technology area. Some other goals of this initiative are to build a skilled American workforce and to foster private-public partnerships while overcoming small-business concerns. Currently it has sixteen institutes with a membership profile of industry, academia, government stakeholders, and NGOs; and member ranges of 70-250. We currently don’t have enough knowledge about the membership profile and would like to investigate certain trends so I submitted a framework for an analysis that would lay out our priorities and a method for data acquisition. The admin team gave me important feedback during the our staff mentoring meeting on Tuesday. 

 On Wednesday right after our lunch with John Mather, I got assigned a TDA, which I later learnt stands for technical drafting assistance. It is basically an opportunity for federal agencies whose operations are to be affected by a bill that will be introduced on the House or the Senate floor, to give feedback and comments to the Executive Office before the bill is signed into law. I was excited to review it and meet one of my coworkers on Friday to go over potential suggestions on the language of the bill and additions and/or clarifications we might ask for at NIST. Our meeting was quite stimulating and I could tell he appreciated my ideas and the suggestions I came up with so I closed the work week feeling proud of my accomplishments in our fourth week. 

On Thursday evening I met Cece, one of my study abroad friends who also happens to have an internship in DC, to cook dinner at my place. It was good to catch up and talk about our time in Berlin. I miss being able to travel from one European city to the other over the weekend. I understand how lucky I was to have the privilege to explore all around Europe as a part of my undergraduate experience. Nevertheless, DC also provided us with many opportunities to immerse ourselves into the pace of the city this week. We had the Astronomy on the Mall event! Thanks to the SOCK Intern Emily, we had many physics demos we could demonstrate to the greater public. It never seizes to amaze me the number of people who are genuinely interested in physics and other sciences. In particular I was moved by all the parents who came up to us to talk about their kids’ interest in sciences and the fact that this event helps them introduce kids to “their people” whereas back home the they don’t have many adults that they can talk about physical concepts with. It is for them that we have to strive to democratize sciences and make it accessible for all demographics. This year Astronomy on the Mall was moved indoors due to weather forecasts indicating heavy rains over the weekend. Although it never rained on Saturday, the Smithsonian Building for Arts and Industries made for a great spot to host all institutions and even a small scale “science rave” as well as a summer solstice party outdoors later at night. We were all amazed by the colorful lighting that surrounded the building as well as the garden and the number of people who turned up for this incredible event. 

On Friday evening I had the chance to hang out with two friends who I hadn’t seen in a long while. It had been a while since we went out together and I loved having their presence! Although my roommate Brynn was gone over the weekend so I couldn’t introduce them, I am looking forward to the future weekends when we can all have fun together. (Brynn! looking forward to having you back here, the room is too lonely without you :/)

 As we move onto our fifth week in DC I am glad I had a chance to go to a Chinese Buffet at last! Literally my favorite food to stuf myself with! 

 See you next week!

 P.S. I still haven’t gotten my DC CityBike membership. I think it might be too late at this point :()

Gizem Dogan