Week 9: Final Week on the Hill, Presentations, and Farewells

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Friday, August 2, 2013


Nikki Sanford

As I finish up my final day with the Science Committee, I can definitely say that this has been one of my most memorable summers yet. I also could not have imagined a more exciting and eventful final week. We kicked off the week by holding the very first Science Intern Google Hangout session! Katherine and I were broadcast live on Google+ and YouTube to talk about our experience in the Committee, the Hearings, Markups, and projects we’ve worked on, and how our science background has been beneficial for working in a science policy environment. The Hangout can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_kzEWwM9Us

July 31 marked a significant moment in the science community: the First Anniversary of the ‎NASA Mars ‎Curiosity Rover Landing. A reception was held in the Senate Hart building that evening to celebrate, and the other science hill interns and I got to attend. As soon as we got there, I noticed that Bill Nye the Science Guy was in the room! Since we were a little early, there weren’t many people around him yet, so Katherine and I introduced ourselves, and chatted briefly about working in the Science Committee. Then, he offered to take pictures with us, and used my cell phone to take selfies!

As we walked across the room afterwards, we ran into NASA Administrator and former Discovery Astronaut Charlie Bolden! He took a picture with the two us and then asked us about working in the Science Committee, school, and our science backgrounds. He was genuinely interested in hearing about our experiences and sharing his passion for NASA and science, and I’m thrilled that I had the chance to meet him.

Thursday was the Committee’s last markup and hearing before recess, and my last opportunity to work at them. The morning’s markup was full of passionate debate about whether to authorize a subpoena for EPA research data. Then the Bristol Bay Assessment Hearing discussed potential issues arising from proposed mining plans. Throughout this summer, I had helped on several research projects dealing with Bristol Bay, so I was extremely interested in hearing all the witness testimonies, especially our witness Mr. Wayne Nastri, whom I was also able to speak to after the hearing.

And last, but most certainly not least, today, all four of us Science Interns got to meet the Ranking Member Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson! She graciously held a small soiree to thank us all for our work this summer. I’m still amazed how quickly these past two months have gone by. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had this summer, and all the time, effort, and support the Committee Staff have put into making sure my internship has been stimulating, educational, and successful. Interning in the Science Committee has been an experience unlike any other, and I’m sure that the skills, knowledge, and perspectives I’ve gained here will stay, and benefit me throughout all my future endeavors.

The past nine weeks have gone by so quickly, and I never could have imagined that I would have met so many talented and intelligent people, or learned as much as I did.

On Tuesday, I was finally able to share my incredible experience working on the Hill and living in DC. It was great to reflect on the Hill environment, the various projects I worked on, influential people I’ve met (Dr. Mather, Rep. Bill Foster, Committee Staff, etc.), places I’ve toured and explored, and events and receptions. I enjoyed being able to share what I’ve done, and especially, how a physics degree and science background can be immensely beneficial and applicable to a range of other (and not necessarily technical) fields and career paths.

I enjoyed watching all the other SPS interns’ presentations as well. Although I had learned a bit about each of their projects this summer, it was very informative and interesting to hear about them in greater detail. It was also rewarding to see how all of our hard work and dedication this summer finally came to fruition, and that there were so many people, both inside and outside the science community, who were interested in and proud of what we had done.

We finished out our final day with reflections, an ice cream social, a tour of ACP, and all the people at AIP who made this experience possible for each and every one of us. This summer was definitely one of my most memorable. I’d like to thank everyone at AIP, Dr. Mather, the House Science Committee, and the 2013 SPS Interns, for making this summer fun, successful, and unforgettable.

Nikki Sanford