Week 8: Is Science Policy the Answer?

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Friday, July 24, 2015


Max Torke

This weekend several interns made our way down to Georgetown. We walked around in the downtown, checking out the shops, bookstores, and nearby neighborhoods. We ended up wandering around Georgetown until dinner, eating at a restaurant along the main street. It was a pleasant day trip.

This week we had our tour of NIST. The NIST interns, Veronica and Teresa, organized a tour of labs in the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Center for Neutron Research. The tour started in the interns’ lab where we learned about the research they have been doing this summer. Their lab is trying to improve detectors capable of identifying the structures of proteins. Working in biological physics seems like an exciting opportunity!

NIST looks more spectacular than NASA. The buildings all had unique architecture and lots of surrounding greenery. Inside were labs doing vastly varied research. After seeing the interns’ lab, we visited a lab with a 3-dimensional SEM and automated XRD. We also toured several labs responsible for standardizing units of measurement. One lab used resonators to determine the length of a meter by measuring the wavelength of light. Nearing the end of the NIST tour we saw a presentation by a Nobel Prize winner. He discussed how his and other research teams had achieved nanokelvin temperatures. Lastly, we headed to the NIST Center for Neutron Research, a facility containing a nuclear reactor generating neutron beams. We walked around the main building and learned about various experiments, using the magnetic and uncharged properties of neutrons.

I have mentioned my interest in science policy careers. This week I spoke with Peter Rooney, a Sonoma State alumnus and past APS Congressional fellow. He started by telling me about his career: working on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, in a think tank, and at an industry job. He also provided me with career advice and tons of insight about the world of DC politics and policy. I had never considered it before and now I am really excited about the possibility of a career in policy!

Max Torke