SPI serves more than 375 members across MIT and beyond. Some 50 members are actively involved in our meetings and event organization, and new members are always welcome to get involved. Since Sept. 2010, SPI's active membership has increased by 80% and total membership has more than tripled. Our members are from over 25 departments and centers and across all 5 schools at MIT. We are mostly graduate students, with representation from fellows, post-docs, undergraduates, faculty, and staff.
Samuel is beginning his second year in a double M.S. program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Nuclear Science and Engineering and the Technology and Policy Program. He is a graduate from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, a B.A. in Vocal Music Performance, and a minor in Chinese Language. His research interests are concentrated on nuclear fuel cycle system analysis with subtopics of interest including fuel cycle economics and dry cask storage analysis.
Samuel has had internships at the Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, and Dow Chemical Company in various projects relating to nuclear engineering and systems analysis. He is a strong activist in a variety of civil rights and nonproliferation issues and finds that only with a constant interaction with our legislative representatives can we hope to make true and lasting impacts on policy. In his spare time Samuel enjoys running, singing with choirs and opera companies, and cheering for the K-State Wildcats and MIT Engineers.
As Co-President, Samuel hopes to expand the work of SPI to include deeper conversation on diversity in STEM education and non-proliferation or defense policies and to increase the social atmosphere which makes MIT SPI a great place to find a community.
Kat Saad is a third year PhD student studying Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Her current research is on remote sensing of hydrocarbons in the Earth's atmosphere. Her interests in political science started as purely academic, with a main focus in international relations, especially hard security; however, over the course of her academic career, her physical and social science interests have converged as she learned more about the relationship between science and public policy. Some fields of interest include environmental security and justice, international energy policy, diversity in STEM in the US and science communication for political decision making.
Kat received a BS in Earth Science and a BA in Political Science with a minor in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley in 2008.
As Co-President, Kat's hopes to expand the many offerings of SPI to a larger membership base and reach out to students at other universities to collaborate on shared goals.
Nathaniel is a 3rd year Biology PhD candidate at MIT. His research is on protein stability and folding, with the focus of understanding how proteins in the human eye lens are damaged by ultraviolet light and the aim of preventing cataract. Nathaniel joined the Science Policy Initiative this year through their IAP Boot Camp and went on to travel to Congressional Visits Day as well. He's particularly interested in science education policy, especially with regards to supporting creative science curricula in the K-12 settings. Nathaniel received his B.S. and M.S. in biochemistry from Brandeis University in 2008.
Jenny Rood is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biology at MIT, where she studies the role of an uncharacterized family of enzymes in cancer and cell function. A long-term interest in politics has led her to be involved in educational model congress programs for high school students over a period of seven years. She has also gained international experience in policy and government through an internship in the German parliament (Bundestag). She is particularly interested in science diplomacy, international science cooperation, and science education and outreach with a special focus on improving communication between the scientific community and the general public. She is considering a career in policy or science writing. Jenny previously served as SPIs media director, and as treasurer she looks forward to continuing to help develop and fund SPI's programming. She received an AB in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University in 2007.
Joseph Azzarelli is a second year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry. His current research is focused on exploring the unique properties of nano-graphitic materials (single- and multi-walled carbon nanotubes and graphene) as enablers of developing inexpensive gas-phase sensors. Specifically, he is interested in applying state-of-the-art technology to wirelessly detect key agricultural produce biomarkers wirelessly in order to address efficiency issues from harvest, throughout the food supply-chain, and finally at the retail interface. He also works in the development of molecular electronics with a wide variety of applications.
Joe is interested in how policy affects the interactions of public, private, and academic institutions. Specifically, he has a strong interest in how organizational frameworks and existing incentive structures dictate their intra- and inter-organizational actions, especially in the context of R&D funding and technology transfer. How policies impact innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization are core personal interests.
As SPI's Media and Outreach Director, Joe is responsible for working with SPI's constituents to expand SPI's impact by ensuring that SPI's programs, collaborations, and outreach efforts are visible. He also maintains SPI's website and assists in the co-ordination of the Science Writing Workshop. He has had previous involvement in facilitating Science Policy Bootcamp during IAP 2012.
Patrick is a sixth year PhD candidate in Physical Chemistry at MIT. His research is focused on understanding the fundamental physics of semiconductor nanostructures. He hopes that an understanding of the basic physics behind novel materials will provide guidance in engineering more useful optical devices. His interest in science policy stems from the belief that policies on science and technology should be informed by a strong understanding of the subjects. He is particularly interested in the interdependent relationship betwen science and society and how specialized scientific ideas can be communicated to policy makers.
Dan is a fifth year PhD student in the Program on Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate in the Department of Earth, Atmosphere, and Planetary Sciences. His research focuses on the dynamics of tropical cyclones with a specific focus on the mechanisms that control the size (i.e. diameter) of a given storm. Over the past several years he has become captivated by the science, economics, policy, and politics of climate change. Prior to arriving at MIT, he worked as an intern at the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and as a research associate studying climate change impacts on agriculture in China at the Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, MD. More generally, he is interested in the interplay between the scientific enterprise and the public, the media, and the government on "scientized" issues laden with values conflict, ranging from climate and energy policy to GMOs and beyond. He received his B.S. in atmospheric science and applied mathematics in Spring 2007 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dan has been an active member of SPI since Spring 2010, and served as SPI Vice President from June 2011 - May 2012.
Ross is a second year graduate student in the Technology and Policy Program, in the Engineering Systems Division at MIT. In his current research, he is exploring how public and private entities in Portugal can manage and prevent costly forest fires. Prior to MIT, Ross received his B.S. and M.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia, where his research included pandemic flu modeling, risk analysis of critical infrastructures, and renewable energy policy, among others. His policy interests are wide-ranging, with heavy focus on issues in energy and the environment, but also on STEM education, economic development, and international diplomacy. Ross is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. He is interested in a career devoted to the timely and systematic incorporation of scientific information into the policy making process, whether through academia, the public sector, or consulting. Farther down the line, a career as a U.S. Senator seems appealing.
David Healey is a 2nd year PhD student in the Department of Biology. He currently works in the Department of Physics investigating ways that microbes might use random gene expression to get a fitness advantage over competitors. He also studies biological switches and early warning signs of sudden collapse. David is a member of Addir Fellows, MIT's interfaith dialogue program.
This is David's second year in SPI. He is in charge of this year's Science Policy Bootcamp during IAP. Science policy interests include: government-driven incentives to for industrial innovation, energy policy, and education.
Johanna Wolfson has engaged the MIT community in broad challenges of science in society, advocated for science funding on Capitol Hill, hosted a national symposium on policy challenges in chemistry, participated in the U.S. delegation to UNESCO, and currently advises on the formation of science policy groups elsewhere. As SPI's president from 2011-2012, she developed and launched the Executive Visits program to bring students to the federal science agencies, and also developed a PhD Science Policy certificate program with the SPI exec team. Johanna oversaw significant expansion of SPI's funding portfolio and membership, raised visibility at MIT and elsewhere, and expanded upon SPI's Congressional Visits Program, Science Policy Bootcamp course, and communication workshops. Johanna is finishing her PhD in physical chemistry and materials; her fundamental research explores how energy at high intensities is transferred from light to materials. Her policy interests center on energy, national security, and innovation ecosystems, and the relationship between science and diplomacy.
Scott is a 5th year PhD student in the Department of Biological Engineering. He works at the Koch Institute for Cancer Research studying how signaling networks are disrupted in diseases like cancer and diabetes. Prior to coming to MIT he received a B.S. from Stanford University in chemistry and a Master from the University of Cambridge in computational biology. As a member of SPI he is especially interested in how scientists and engineers can more effectively communicate with the public and with policy makers. He has also worked with the MIT Graduate Student Council on expanding their legislative advocacy efforts. He previously served as the SPI Treasurer (2010-2011).
Amanda Cuellar is a Master's student in the Technology and Policy Program at MIT. She received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Chemical Engineering and Plan II Honors in 2009. Her current research focuses on the energy, greenhouse gas emission and economic consequences of converting biomass to electric power in existing coal plants. As an undergraduate her research focused on the nexus of food and energy. In particular she has done research on the energy potential and environmental effects of converting livestock manure to biogas. Her research has also included a study on the energy embedded in wasted food in the United States. Amanda's policy interests include public outreach and education, how science is integrated into policy making, and how policy can encourage sustainable agriculture.
Amanda is a NSF graduate fellow and hopes to pursue a career in science policy research. In particular she is interested in research that informs policy decisions and in making her work available to the general public to encourage greater engagement in science policy questions.
In her role as Co-President (2010-2011), Bridget worked with Megan Brewster and the rest of the executive committee to cultivate a community of scientists passionate about the relationships among research, policy, society and the media. This included establishing relationships and coordinating events with the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Harvard Law School Ethics, Law and Biotechnology Group, and the MIT Washington Office. In 2010, Bridget organized a panel discussion on space policy for Science Policy Bootcamp, co-hosted (with Dan Chavas) the kickoff event on climate science and policy for MIT's Earth Week, and coordinated a team of 15 MIT students to advocate for increased funding in science R&D during Congressional Visits Day (CVD).
As a PhD student in the laboratory of Susumu Tonegawa, Bridget built on discoveries in basic neuroscience to design, patent and test a novel therapeutic for autism-like symptoms in the mouse model of Fragile X Syndrome. While in graduate school, she also worked to influence U.S. energy policy as a consultant for the Science & Innovation team at the British Consulate-General Boston. She authored a paper, Secure Our Energy Future: CCS, which served as the cornerstone of an energy policy event on Capitol Hill sponsored by the British Embassy and the World Resources Institute (available online). As a Program Analyst at the Department of Energy in the summer of 2011, she contributed to strategic planning in the Office of the CFO. Bridget graduated from Brown University with a B.S. in biology with honors.
Noah has spearheaded recent outreach to the local media. He has wide-ranging science policy interests, but is particularly keen on education policy as well as educating current scientists about policymaking. He served as SPI's Media Director from 2010-2011.
Noah studied mathematics as an undergraduate at Cornell University, and is currently in his fifth year as a PhD student in Biology. His current research uses both experimental and computational techniques to study how genes get turned on and off in different parts of the mammalian body.
Nat Twarog is a PhD student in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, researching computational and mathematical models of human vision. An interest in science policy was sparked at a lecture on science engagement during his second year, and after a week in SPI Bootcamp, his fate as an aspiring science policy wonk was sealed. He has been in SPI ever since, and has, for the last year and a half, been a representative of SPI on the coordinating committee for the Science, Technology and Policy Crossroads.
and many more!