At the intersection of research and science policy

Participants in the myCHOICE and UChicagoGRAD sponsored career exploration trek in science policy to Washington, D.C. met with science policy experts at the National Institutes of Health. Left to right: Cara Froyd, Dana Gilmore, Yasaman Ghadar, and Chris Quintanilla. Photo by H. Darr Beiser for myCHOICE.

University of Chicago graduate students and postdocs met with leading scientific policy agencies recently in Washington D.C. as part of career development programming orchestrated by myCHOICE and UChicagoGRAD.

"The myCHOICE team was delighted to collaborate with our colleagues in UChicagoGRAD, the UChicago Office of Federal Relations, and several UChicago alumni in generating this science policy-themed trek," explained myCHOICE Program Manager, Abby Stayart, PhD.

The trek participants met with many heavy hitters of the science policy realm, including non-profits, governmental agencies and scientific societies. Participants were exposed to every aspect of science policy from the regulatory arm of the Environmental Projection Agency to the legislative arm from the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. The trip included a visit to the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, the major funding agencies for scientific research in the U.S. The group was also met with policy leaders from the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the White House and the Environmental Defense Fund.

"This type of programming is one of the most intense, networking-heavy opportunities that myCHOICE offers and we're so excited that the participants felt that the trip was both informative and relevant to their career exploration process," said Stayart. "We're currently designing treks with other themes, including the pharmaceutical industry in Boston, and biotech in San Francisco." 

Graduate Student Lauren Blake
Graduate student Lauren Blake talks with Carrie Wolinetz, PhD, the Associate Director for Science Policy and Director of the Office of Science Policy at the National Institutes of Health. Photo by H. Darr Beiser for myCHOICE.

Through this experience participants met with science policy experts to understand the current state of science policy in the U.S., and the most recent achievements, as well as current projects and goals. The group had the opportunity to interact with PhDs from diverse scientific backgrounds willing to share their personal stories of moving from the world of scientific research to the world science policy.

"The time spent in D.C. was invaluable," said Andrei Anghel a graduate student in the Cell and Molecular Biology Program. "Not only did I learn a lot about the environment in the different federal agencies and nonprofits, but I met many PhDs who were happy to help a fellow scientist make the transition to working in public policy."

myCHOICE, (Chicago Options In Career Empowerment), is a program created from the Broadening Experiences in Science and Technology Grant to increase professional development opportunities for graduate students and postdocs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The University of Chicago is 1 of 17 institutions across the country to receive this award from the National Institutes of Health. myCHOICE provides seminars, mini-courses and workshops, and internship opportunities to STEM trainees.

UChicagoGRAD is the career center for graduate student and postdoc professional development on campus and provides a range of services including career counseling, resume help, practice interviews, and more.