Week One: Setting Goals

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Sunday, June 2, 2019


Giavanna Jadick

This summer, I am one of the AIP Mather Public Policy Interns. The purpose of the internship is to get physics students involved in the policymaking process up on Capitol Hill. I have always been interested in both politics and physics, and I am always thrilled to find ways to combine the two! My placement is in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (or for short, the Science Committee). The main role of a congressional committee is to gather information on specific issues in order to better inform developing legislation. This involves hearings, markups, and a lot of research. During hearings, congressional representatives on the committee gather to hear from witnesses, and during markups, the representatives use their new knowledge to revise standing legislation. The Science Committee investigates issues broadly ranging from space and aeronautics to energy and the environment.

This week, Congress is out of session, which means there is not much work for me to pick up. My tasks have been mostly administrative—answering phone calls, making copies, and formatting letters. Fortunately, this has given me ample time to get to know some of my coworkers and become better acquainted with the office. I attended a lecture on new measures to recover from hurricane season, something both personally interesting to me as a coastal Floridian native and important to the Subcommittee on Environment. I have also started learning how to navigate the underground tunnels linking all the Congressional office buildings. Next week, when Congress is back in session, things will likely ramp up and there will be a lot of work for the interns to do. I’m excited to help out with the hearings and learn more about the policymaking process firsthand!

One of the particularly cool elements of this internship is the potential to develop an independent project. I was chatting with Jen Greenamoyer about the “whispering gallery” found in Statuary Hall of the Capitol Building, a spot where the curvature of the archways causes sound to be carried in a surprising way and allow two people standing on opposite ends of a room to have a conversation without difficulty. She suggested projects could be as technical as even be investigating the physics of this acoustics mystery! If I can figure out how to take some recordings in Statuary Hall (a task which requires clearing out masses of tourists), I will definitely investigate it.

For now, my goals for the summer are twofold. First, I want to watch and learn from the physicists in the Science Committee who are using their technical background to make change in the policy world. From the folks I have talked to, it is not uncommon to have a Masters or PhD in a technical field like chemistry, engineering, or even physics! This seems to be one of the unique elements of the staffers here and renews my hope that real science can influence national policy. Hopefully, I will glean some professional insight and be able to make my technical background useful, too! Secondly, I want to get to know my fellow SPS interns. This summer presents an awesome and unusual chance to live with so many other physics students all in one place.

All in all, I have a lot to learn, and I am excited to get started!

Giavanna Jadick