Graduate Student Science Policy Leadership Award

Former ASM-AIBS Graduate Student Public Policy Internship Committee (ad hoc)


N.  Dawson (


  • J. A. Cook
  • R. Gropp
  • A. V. Linzey
  • E. S. McCulloch
  • S. A. Smiley

History and Mission

The American Society of Mammalogists has a long-standing commitment to providing legislators and public policy officials with the best available science. We are committed to communicating the results of our research to a broad audience and engaging the public in the process of scientific inquiry through increased understanding.  In the spirit of creating a scientifically informed society, we offer this award to graduate students as an opportunity to further their professional development and increase their skills in communicating science.

Recipients of this award are provided an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in an American Institute of Biological Sciences public policy training and Congressional Visits Day.  During the first day, recipients will meet with federal agency scientists to discuss research and budget priorities, with opportunities to discuss the role of science in the public policy process within federal agencies.  The second day will focus on meetings with congressional policy makers to discuss the importance of federal investment in the biological sciences. The event will be held in Spring 2014.

Recipients of this award also will receive a one-year membership in AIBS, including a subscription to the journal BioScience and a copy of “Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media.”  They also will receive an award certificate upon completion of the public policy leadership training.

Statements from former ASM-AIBS Washington Interns

"Spending time at AIBS really opened my eyes to Washington's need for scientists to be involved in federal decision making.  The ability of the scientific community to thrive depends on continued funding for science, a favorable public perception of science, and accurate understanding of issue-related science by our policy makers.  Because of this, I will continue to pay attention to and be involved with ongoing issues on the Hill, educate my students to be more scientific-literate citizens regardless of their career path, support science outreach programs, and encourage my peers in science to do the same.  I am forever grateful to ASM for the opportunity to learn about science policy in our nation's capitol."
-Sarah Smiley

"I am passionate about effectively engaging the many people who will shape the future of research, policy and society -- from students to lawmakers. Basic research in the biological sciences plays such a vital yet often unappreciated role in technical innovation, economic and national security, health, ecosystem services, and more areas than I could easily name. My experiences with the American Institute of Biological Sciences helped shape my perspective on science communication. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with many dedicated scientists and science advocates while on Capitol Hill, and my time there reinforced my own commitment to effectively communicating science."
-Eve McCulloch

“Few opportunities in my graduate career provided the valuable networking and professional development that I received while I was an ASM fellow with AIBS.  From federal agencies to our nation’s lawmakers, I met and worked with people who I have maintained lasting connections with since my time in Washington, D.C.  Most importantly, this opportunity gave me direction for my career path, which has since focused on science communication, research and education.  I encourage my students to be engaged, passionate, educated, and critical thinking citizens because I know how valuable those skills are to see real change happen in this country.”
-Natalie Dawson

Application Process and Requirements

All graduate students who are members of the American Society of Mammalogists are encouraged to apply.  You must obtain membership prior to submission of your application to be considered.  Successful applicants will have demonstrated an interest in the science/policy interface (i.e. student government, 4H, experience within federal agencies, etc.) and have an interest in further developing their understanding of the public policy process.  Successful applicants must be able to commit to a three-day trip to Washington, D.C. in Spring 2014.

To apply: Send a cover letter, one-page policy statement (see below), resume, and one letter of reference to no later than 5:00 PM Mountain Standard Time on Monday, 15 January 2014.  The subject line of the email must include “ASM Graduate Student Science Policy Leadership Award” and the applicant’s name.  All documents should be included in a single PDF document with the format Applicantfirstname_Lastname_Application.pdf.

  • Cover Letter: Describe your interest in science policy and how this experience will further your career goals.  Confirm your ability to commit to travel to Washington D.C. in Spring 2014 to participate in the event.
  • One-page Statement: In 500 words or less, articulate the importance of federal support of research in the biological sciences and mammalogy.  A successful statement will communicate the significance of such research to a non-scientist audience, drawing upon the applicant’s experiences and research.  The statement can also reference local issues that may be of interest to your Congressional delegation.
  • Resume (2 page limit): The resume should emphasize leadership, as well as policy experience, and communication experience.  This may include graduate, undergraduate, or non-academic activities, relevant education, work experience, honors and awards, and membership in scientific societies.  Conference presentations and scientific manuscripts will not be considered in the evaluation of the application.
  • Letter of Reference: A reference letter should be provided by an individual who can attest to your leadership, interpersonal, and communication skills. The writer should be who is familiar with your interest in or experience with science policy.

Applicants will be notified in February 2014 of the decision of the selection committee.  Please direct questions to