Read about our Congressional Visits Day 2013 team and goals here!
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the creation of the Secretary's Honors Program (SHP), a new initiative to recruit exceptional recent graduates for careers at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This premier program includes six different career tracks, and individuals who possess relevant graduate or undergraduate degrees may apply for fellowships related to information technology, cybersecurity, policy, management, emergency management, and law. Those selected for the program will be offered a variety of incentives and enhanced career opportunities including Department rotations, mentorships, focused on-the-job training and inclusion in various professional development programs. Each fellowship lasts one or two years, and participants may have the opportunity to convert to permanent federal positions at DHS. Learn more about the SHP here.
SPI is proud to support ScienceWonks (http://www.sciencewonks.com), a blog run by a group of students who are passionate about the intersection of technology and society! They present new perspectives on scientific issues, comment on current events, and most importantly, inspire readers to join in on the conversation. Check it out!
Congratulations to SPI President Johanna Wolfson, recipient of a 2012 Golden Beaver Award!
Progress on Stand With Science has been covered by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
SPI, together with Research!America, urges the Romney campaign to take a stand on research and health issues. Read the letter here.
Stand With Science initiative by SPI generates a lot of attention! We were covered by:
We were featured on the Boston nature network blog!
Read about us here.
Over 200 MIT Graduate Students Urge Senator Brown to Support Science Research
Science Writing Workshop: IAP 2012
January 10 and 12, 20120
The Science Writing Workshop provides a fantastic opportunity for young scientists and engineers at MIT to learn tips and tricks for translating their research and academic passions into forms that will engage and educate the public. Participants were asked to read a variety of articles geared towards a diverse set of audiences on topics ranging from vaccines and autism to the science of the age of stars. They were then expected to reflect on the science, message, and medium in order to analyze existing journalistic pieces on these topics as well as to craft their own best efforts at translating these topics to the layperson. The class was led by Prof. Tom Levenson and Seth Mnookin of the MIT Science Writing Program. Members of a wide range of technical communities attended, including nuclear engineering, neurobiology, oceanography, and chemistry, which helped to emphasize the role that different perspectives can have in interpreting the language chosen to convey scientific information to the general public.
Lunch: Charles Caldart
September 27, 2011
Professor Caldart discussed his career track into the area of environmental law and then engaged in discussion with students. The discussion ranged from the difficulty of evaluating and admitting scientific testimony into the courtroom given that many judges have a very basic understanding of science to the pros and cons of life as an environmental lawyer.
Lunch: Robert Paarlberg
September 16, 2011
Paarlberg gave an engaging talk on why GMO crops have not received approval for testing in Africa even though there are many potential benefits of this technology on the continent. Paarlberg tells us that influence from European countries that reject GMO crops outright have kept countries that could benefit from the technology from legalizing it.
SPI Orientation Event: Reaching Beyond the Ivory Tower
September 12, 2011
On Sept. 12 2011, SPI hosted incoming graduate students for our 'Reaching Beyond the Ivory Tower' Orientation Event. Our goal was to reach incoming students with policy interests and to provide them with career development, policy education, and a support network throughout their time at MIT.
Three faculty speakers led off the event. VP for Research Claude Canizares spoke on the importance of students engaging in policy, TPP Director Dava Newman discussed ways students can get involved academically, and Dean of Engineering Ian Waitz stressed the joint power of pushing research boundaries while influencing policy decisions. Representatives from SPI, Engineers Without Borders, GSC Legislative Action Committee, STP Crossroads, TPSS, and the MIT Energy Club then gave brief remarks describing how students could get involved in their groups.
65 students attended the talks portion of the event, with additional students arriving mid-way for the reception and to speak directly with SPI and other student groups. This year marks the first time SPI has made a concerted effort to reach incoming students. Through our orientation event, advertising, and other publicity, we have seen a 50% increase in our broad membership in 5 short months. SPI is growing in membership and scope, and we were thrilled to have new students join the group to help reach our goals and develop new ones. During the reception, many students expressed their interest and desire to engage in SPI's activities. The community-building, reinforcement, and involvement we saw at this event made clear that SPI should continue outreach to new students in coming years.
Lunch: U.S. DEFENSE R&D POLICY
May 10, 2011
Subrata Ghoshroy, a research associate of MIT's Science, Technology and Society (STS) program, leads the Promoting Nuclear Stability in South Asia Project. He has extensive experience in both engineering and policy and served as an AAAS Congressional Fellow. Mr. Ghoshroy presented a study of the dependence of US university research on military funding and suggested complications of this relationship as well as future perspectives. Thirteen graduate students participated with Mr. Ghoshroy in a discussion of how to reshape government and university approaches to research funding.
Lunch: BELFER CENTER'S SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND PUBLIC POLICY PROGRAM
April 26, 2011
Professor Venkatesh Narayanamurti is the Director of the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program at the Belfer Center in the Harvard Kennedy School. 20 graduate students gathered to hear our guest's perspectives on science and policy. Professor Narayanamurti spoke about his path from graduate research to Bell Labs to Harvard, and about his work at Harvard's Belfer Center and the School of Engineering getting engineers, scientists, and policy-makers to work together. Professor Narayanamurti gave a brief and dynamic talk about the convergence of research fields and the research ecosystem necessary for healthy innovative growth. Attendees were interested to hear about these topics, asking many questions about his experience in industry and on government panels. Additionally, students engaged Professor Narayanamurti on the role scientists play as public communicators and within the policy sphere.
Lunch: SWEDISH EMBASSY'S OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND INNOVATION
March 22, 2011
Lars Friberg, the climate and energy attaché with the office of science and innovation at the Swedish Embassy in Washington D.C., has been engaged in climate and sustainable development issues on the international level for more than a decade. He discussed with students the differences between the US and Sweden in the areas of energy, climate, and politics, as well as the implications of these differences on diplomacy between the two countries. Lars also learned more about the MIT innovation system from his discussions with the students. 17 graduate students and two community members were present.
Lunch: CYBERSECURITY AND THE U.S. GOVERNMENT
March 11, 2011
Brown University computer science professor John Savage was the 2009-2010 Jefferson Science Fellow and advised the State Department, the National Security Council, and other government entities on cyber affairs. Professor Savage talked about the inevitability of cyberattack attempts, and highlighted the need for secure systems and resilience. He spoke about the history of cybersecurity issues, described a class he is teaching this semester (half computer scientists and half political science majors), and outlined the organizational chart and people in the U.S. government handling cybersecurity issues. The 15 MIT students and 2 Harvard post-docs in attendance had many questions, and a significant number stayed beyond the hour to speak further with Professor Savage.
Lunch: BEHIND THE SCENES: A SCIENCE POLICY CAREER AT THE U.S. AIR FORCE
February 25, 2011
About 16 students gathered to discuss science policy issues with Dr. Daniel Hastings, the MIT Dean for Undergraduate Education and a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems. Dean Hastings delighted everyone with his stories about his time as the U.S. Air Force's chief scientist. In that role, he was chief scientific adviser to the chief of staff and the secretary and provided assessments on a wide range of scientific and technical issues. The dean focused on the importance of expressing scientific ideas using "the language of capabilities" to get people in the political realm to see how science can be applied to benefit our nation. Dean Hastings also stressed the value of establishing trust with colleagues and networking with fellow professionals, including politicians and the Washington "science mafia." Finally, he regaled us with stories of how he had a chance to visit U.S. Air Force bases around the world where he met true American patriots and even got to fly a fighter plane and drive a tank! We are very grateful to Dean Hastings for sharing his experiences with SPI.
Panel: Life After MIT — A panel discussion on careers in science policy
January 28th, 2011
Co-hosted by the Department of Biology and the Science Policy Initiative; reception to follow sponsored by the MIT Science Policy Initiative
Lunch: PCAST AND SCIENCE WRITING
November 5, 2010
Bina Venkataraman, the Senior Science Policy Advisor at the Broad Institute joined 15 MIT graduate students, 2 Harvard Science Technology and Society students, and 1 MIT research scientist for lunch. Bina described her current work with Professor Eric Lander, co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), as well as how her background in science journalism led her to her current position and general career advice.
Lunch: PARTICIPATORY TECHNOLOGY ASSESMENT
September 16, 2010
David Sittenfeld, manager of the Forum program at the Museum of Science, joined 14 MIT graduate students, 1 Harvard graduate student and 1 community member for lunch. David presented an overview of efforts to develop new models for 'participatory' technology assessment (pTA), which seek to supplement expert opinion on governance of emerging technologies with early input from the public and other stakeholders. Participants were given background materials on pTA prior to the lunch and asked to reflect on a few open questions about how these models might be implemented and which topics might be (in)appropriate, which greatly facilitated the subsequent discussion. There was much enthusiasm to continue discussing pTA efforts and exploring a potential role for students to participate in pTA pilot projects. There are plans to organize a follow-up discussion and/or workshop late in the fall semester, as well as explore pTA as a discussion topic for the spring semester Science Policy Crossroads event.
Lunch: GLOBAL SECURITY
June 25, 2010
Dr. Lisabeth Gronlund, Senior Scientist and Co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, discussed the current state of nuclear nonproliferation in the world and in the US, including the actions of various US administrations; reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel in the US and the current research and development on this front; and the history and current status of missile defense systems in the US and around the world. 9 graduate students, 4 post-docs, 1 undergrad, and 2 community members joined the discussion.
Lunch: FUTURE OF THE ELECTRICITY GRID
May 17, 2010
Visiting Professor Ignacio Perez-Arriaga discussed his involvement in the Future of the Electricity Grid study, giving the audience a sneak-peak into the professors involved and the foundational questions of the study, including why the calculation of an optimum grid layout is futile and how the grid might evolve with increasing electricity demands from clean-energy technology. 28 attendees from 14 departments attended.
Outreach: Cambridge Science and Technology Policy Crossroads
May 1, 2010
The inaugural event of the Science, Technology and Policy Crossroads, a new student-led initiative between Harvard University and MIT. Our panelists included New York Times best-selling author and accomplished science journalist Chris Mooney, the Union of Concerned Scientists? Climate and Energy Program Outreach Coordinator Jean Sideris, and biological engineer and MIT Science Policy Initiative co-founder Gerard Ostheimer. (A fourth panelist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute coastal researcher Christopher Reddy, was unfortunately but understandably called away to assist with the coastal crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.) The panel was moderated brilliantly by Professor Sheila Jasanoff, the Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Harvard University?s John F. Kennedy School of Government. After a 45 minute discussion among the panelists regarding their personal relationships with science, technology and policy, the floor was opened to questions, and the audience members probed the panelists for another three-quarters of an hour with questions ranging from practical advice for young citizen scientists to solutions to deep cultural and institutional limitations in the relationship between the science, technology and policy communities.
Lunch: FUTURE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
April 12, 2010
Approximately 20 people attended a lunch with Professor John Deutch in which the future of nuclear power was discussed. John Deutch spoke for ~25 minutes on the important considerations that need to be addressed in order for nuclear energy to be a viable electricity generating technology that does not emit CO2 or other greenhouse gases. The focus was on the near term steps necessary for nuclear energy to be a viable marketplace option. He broke down the considerations into four parts: (1) cost, (2) safety, (3) waste management, and (4) proliferation risk. In terms of cost, nuclear power is not cost competitive with coal and natural gas. However, plausible industry reductions in cost and carbon emission credits can give nuclear power an advantage. In terms of waste management, he argues funding for DOE to broaden its waste program beyond its focus on Yucca Mountain to include a range of waste management alternatives in tandem with improved understanding of the fuel cycle. In terms of proliferation risk, he suggests that the G-8 countries should offer fuel cycle services at a reasonable cost to new user states to slow the building of enrichment and reprocessing facilities. The floor was then open for questions from the attendees for ~25 minutes.
March 12-13, 2013
Congressional Visits Day
March 18, 2013
SPI Monthly meeting
SPI business at 5:30 PM, discussion at 6 PM
March 22, 2013
Lunch with Dr. Bina Venkataraman
Director of Global Policy Initiatives, Broad Institute
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for room location
April 8, 2013
SPI Monthly meeting
SPI business at 5:30 PM, discussion at 6 PM
May 13, 2013
SPI Monthly meeting
SPI business at 5:30 PM, discussion at 6 PM