Wednesday, July 29, 2015By:
Over the weekend, I met up with a couple of friends from Vassar to see a concert over near U Street. It was a cool combo of jazz and electronic music, and it was free! The next day, I went up to Baltimore to see some friends who had graduated a couple years previously. We went to the Baltimore Museum of Art and watched the U.S.A. men’s soccer team destroy Cuba. I made sure to try some of Baltimore’s famed sea food, and was not disappointed.
We began the week with a tour of Capitol Hill. Drew and I were a little nervous because neither of us had received tour training and had signed the group up for a tour through the Capitol Visitor Center. Our guide took us through the crypt and the rotunda, providing some colorful explanations of the historic rooms and statues. We were lucky to be there a week before the rotunda closes for renovation! Afterwards, we made a brief stop through the Library of Congress where I checked out the exhibit on the Civil Rights Movement. I had not seen it before, and it was very striking. After lunch, Drew and I showed the group our respective committee rooms. Even nine weeks in, I am still impressed by their grandeur. Drew’s supervisor Joe talked to the group about his experience in science policy.
The middle of the week went by quickly as I got to attend a number of cool hearings and briefings. I started with a briefing on domestic terrorism in the United States, a topic that I am exploring as part of my senior political science thesis. I also got an introduction to the rapid expanding “internet of things,” the basis for the concept of smart cities. It was interesting to hear about its benefits from both technology experts and from economic efforts who explained its role in revitalizing American cities. For example, Charlotte, NC is initializing a program where garbage cans will relay information to trash collectors when they begin to get full. My final briefing for the week addressed the role of extra-territorial warrants in acquiring data from foreign-based servers.
I continued to assist various staff members with small projects until Thursday, when Drew and I went over to the APS D.C. office to meet with Dr. Michael Lubell and Dr. Francis Slakey. The two of them are more knowledgeable about science policy than anyone I have ever met, and it was a great experience to share what I have learned this summer with them. Though I am set on applying to law school, the two of them have seriously put the thought of physics grad school back into my head. I also met with several AAAS fellows from offices around the Hill, including last year’s AIP/AAAS fellow Mark. He works in Mike Honda’s office and has a wealth of experience. All of my meetings involved coffee, and by the end of the week I could certainly feel the effects!
The highlight of my summer came Friday, as Drew and I ventured over to the Senate dining room to have breakfast with Dr. Mather and Congressman Bill Foster. Congressman Foster covered a wide range of policy issues over the course of the meal; I was especially interested in hearing about his role crafting Dodd-Frank. Our waitress made Dr. Mather put on a jacket, though I doubt she knew she was talking to a Nobel Prize winner!