The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) has selected two graduate students to receive the 2013 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award. Jennifer Rood is a Ph.D. candidate in Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Paul Tanger is a Ph.D. candidate in Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management at Colorado State University.

“AIBS is proud to award Jennifer and Paul the 2013 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award,” said AIBS Executive Director Dr. Richard O’Grady. “Their involvement in the upcoming Congressional Visits Day is an important part of our ongoing commitment to fostering a productive dialogue between policymakers and scientists.”

Since 2003, AIBS has recognized the achievements of biology graduate students who have demonstrated an interest and aptitude for contributing to science and public policy. Rood and Tanger will travel to Washington, DC in April to meet with their congressional delegations. The winners will also participate in a training program on communicating with policymakers and will be briefed on the federal budget for scientific research. These events are in conjunction with the annual Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) Congressional Visits Day. The winners also receive a certificate and one-year membership in AIBS, which includes a subscription to the scientific journal BioScience.

“I applaud Jennifer and Paul for their leadership and accomplishments in science policy,” said AIBS President Dr. Joseph Travis. “Their enthusiastic involvement at the interface of science and policy is a model for other scientists.”

“I look forward to speaking with my members of Congress about why federal support of fundamental biological research is critical to the well-being of their constituents,” said Rood. “I hope that my experience at Congressional Visits Day will give me the opportunity to meet people working at the interface of science and policy and interact further with them in the future.”

Rood is pursuing a Ph.D. in biology at MIT, where she studies the functions of human enzymes. She previously interacted with congressional and federal agency policymakers in Washington, DC through her involvement with the MIT Science Policy Initiative. She has served as media director and treasurer for the program. In addition, she co-organized a workshop on communicating science and helped to organize a symposium on the intersection of science and public policy. As an undergraduate, she was an active participate in the Harvard Model Congress. Rood was awarded an International Parliament Scholarship, which allowed her to serve as a research fellow in the office of a member of the German parliament. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemical sciences from Harvard University.

“With the challenges that Congress faces, this is an invaluable opportunity to speak directly with our representatives and share our insights as young scientists concerned about the future,” said Tanger. “I’m looking forward to discussing how we can balance the short term budget and debt dilemma with the need for viable science programs in the U.S.”

Tanger is a student in the National Science Foundation’s Multidisciplinary Approaches to Sustainable Biofuels IGERT training program at Colorado State University. His doctoral thesis focuses on genetic control of plant composition to develop better bioenergy crops. He was selected as a 2012-2013 Global Sustainability Leadership Fellow, which provided Tanger with leadership and communications training. He has a strong interest in the transfer of promising research findings and technology from academia to private industry; he currently interns with Colorado State University Ventures - the university’s technology transfer office. He also serves as a representative on two university advisory boards on technology fees. Tanger has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

This year, AIBS will also recognize three Honorable Mentions. Julia Bradley-Cook is a Ph.D. candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Dartmouth College. Stephanie DeLuca is pursuing a Ph.D. in structural biology at Vanderbilt University. Pacifica Sommers is a Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona.


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