UMBC 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—The American Institute of Biological Sciences, a Washington-based scientific society, has selected a University of Maryland Baltimore County student as one of two Emerging Public Policy Leaders. Winner Christopher Hofmann is a PhD candidate in biology.

Hofmann 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). He 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. He will also receive a one-year membership to AIBS and a subscription to BioScience.

The AIBS award will, Hofmann says, "improve my ability to communicate the importance of science to legislators, their staff, and the general public, and to develop a better understanding of how science policy is formulated. It will also provide valuable experiences and interactions, which will help me to continue my involvement in science policy."

Hofmann expects to complete his doctorate next year. He earned an undergraduate biology degree in 2000 from Towson University, where he graduated summa cum laude.

He has received a variety of awards and grants, including two National Science Foundation Fellowships. Through these fellowships Hofmann gained experience in both science education and international collaboration among scientists.

Hofmann says his doctoral research "attempts to understand the diversity of colors found in many birds, as well as the use of color to define species limits—which in many cases will have conservation implications." Furthermore, his research methods, he says, "can provide a better understanding of everything from avian influenza to invasive species."

Hofmann is coauthor of a review chapter in a forthcoming Harvard University Press volume entitled Bird Coloration. In his spare time, Hofmann serves as the student member of the American Ornithologists' Union Committee on Public Responsibility.

Hofmann's fellow EPPLA winner is Cornell University PhD candidate Madhura Kulkarni. 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 the ability and desire to make an impact in science policy. Chris has certainly demonstrated both a keen interest in science policy and the skills to succeed. He is poised to make positive contributions to the field."

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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