Cornell Grad Student Named 2006 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leader

Recipient will travel to Capitol Hill to speak to members of Congress about science policy

Washington, DC—For the second year in a row, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, a Washington-based scientific society, has selected a Cornell University doctoral student as its Emerging Public Policy Leader. Madhura Kulkarni, a PhD candidate in the Department of Natural Resources, is one of this year's winners.

Kulkarni will receive a trip to Washington on March 14-15 to participate in a congressional visits event sponsored by the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) and the Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions (CoFARM). She will meet with members of Congress and their staffs, attend briefings by key government officials, and participate in a reception honoring Representatives Vernon J. Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) for their work on behalf of science. She will also receive a one-year membership to AIBS and a subscription to BioScience.

"This experience will be my most direct exposure to the interface of science and policy," Kulkarni said. "Since I plan to work at this interface in the future, I'm certain that participating in AIBS's EPPLA program will help me develop skills necessary in this field and guide my career path."

Kulkarni expects to complete her doctorate in biogeochemistry and environmental biocomplexity in the fall of 2007. She earned an undergraduate biology degree from Duke University in 1999 and a master of science in marine, estuarine and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland in 2003.

She has received a variety of awards and grants, including a NASA Earth Systems Science Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training Fellowship.

Kulkarni's doctoral research is a study on nitrogen pollution management. She is furthering her work on this topic by collaborating as an intern with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. "Through interactions with the public and policymakers, I hope to draw attention to the problems associated with nitrogen pollution, and with my research, I hope to increase understanding of this growing concern," she says.

Kulkarni has held various teaching assistant, grant review, and workshop-planning positions, and last year she headed her program's Graduate Student Association. In 2000 the City of Cincinnati named her "Volunteer of the Year."

Kulkarni's fellow EPPLA winner is University of Maryland Baltimore County PhD candidate Christopher Hofmann. AIBS also named two honorable mentions this year, Holly Menninger, a PhD candidate in behavior, ecology, evolution and systematics at the University of Maryland, and Mindy Richlen, a PhD candidate in marine science at Boston University.

Says AIBS Executive Director Richard O'Grady, "AIBS created the Emerging Public Policy Leader Award to recognize promising biology graduate students who have demonstrated an interest in science policy. Madhura's outstanding background in research and leadership will serve her well in communicating the importance of science to members of Congress."

About the Award: The AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leader Award is an annual prize granted to one or two graduate students in the biological sciences who have demonstrated an interest in and commitment to biological science policy and/or science education policy. The winner receives a sponsorship from AIBS to participate in a two-day congressional visits event that brings scientists to Washington, DC, to raise visibility and support for scientific research funding. Participants will meet with Congressional leaders and attend briefings by key government officials as well as a reception honoring members of Congress for their work on behalf of science. The Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) and the Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions (CoFARM) are the sponsors of this year's event.

About AIBS: The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society. Founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences, AIBS became an independent, member-governed organization in the 1950s. Today, with headquarters in Washington, DC, and a staff of approximately 50, AIBS is sustained by a robust membership of some 5,000 biologists and 200 professional societies and scientific organizations; the combined individual membership of the latter exceeds 250,000. AIBS advances its mission through coalition activities in research, education, and public policy; publishing the peer-reviewed journal BioScience and the education website; providing scientific peer review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients; convening meetings; and managing scientific programs. Website:


Erin Heath
Public Affairs Representative
202-628-1500 x232

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