Week One: Learning my roots

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Thursday, June 1, 2017


Lisa McDonald

While Friday still needs to occur before calling the first week of my internship finished, I already learned so much in just the first few days. As an intern for the American Institute of Physics' online science policy coverage publication FYI, my mentor is Mitch Ambrose, science policy analyst. The task he gave me for these past few days centered on becoming familiar with the Department of Energy Office of Science, specifically their Nuclear Physics division, in preparation for the federal advisory committee meeting I will attend Friday. Yet at the end of today I found myself with an extra hour to myself, and Mitch agreed I could walk down the hall to the Niels Bohr Library to look for old FYI in the archives.

FYI began in 1989 as a physical newsletter and moved to a digital platform in 1993 with the rise of the Internet. While the Niels Bohr Library website contains the digital versions of all the FYI past 1993, the library staff is still working to scan in the physical issues prior to that point. Thus, in order to see FYI at its roots, I needed to take a trip to the archives.

It took four library staff to track down where the FYI boxes were being held, but at last I achieved my objective. The folder I looked through today contained issues from the original year of publication, 1989. I felt excited as I read through the newsletters and discovered names and events come to life under my fingers, events that up to this point in my experience resided solely in history books. The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, debates over federal- versus state-regulated education, "communication highways": the challenges and topics being debated and discussed almost 30 years ago parallel the debates raging in politics today. Seeing this history tracked in the newsletter I will be contributing to, a newsletter that will go into these archives along with its brethren, inspires me to write to the best of my capabilities as I report on all the meetings I will attend in the coming months.

Lisa McDonald