I am a Ph.D. student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. I study biomedical engineering, specifically pulmonary mechanobiology and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
I think it is important for scientists to educate non-scientists on the topics that affect the daily lives of citizens. Smaller state and local governments have a much greater and more direct impact on their citizens than the federal government does. Despite this, engaging with and making changes in local government is often overlooked.
I’ve always been interested in both science and politics. My undergraduate education was full of benchtop research, lab coats, and experiments; but also Model UN conferences, international affairs op-eds, and visits to the Tennessee State Capitol. When I went to graduate school for biomedical engineering, I thought my policy days were sadly over. When I learned about the Commonwealth of Virginia Engineering and Science (COVES) Fellowship, I was very excited to jump back into policy and even more excited to learn about Virginia’s state government.
I combined my interest in science policy with one of my personal passions when I was placed with the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities (VBPD) for my summer. Growing up as the daughter of a special education teacher, working with people with disabilities has always been second nature to me. I was excited to spend my summer learning about Virginia’s policies supporting people with disabilities and how those policies directly affect people I care about.
Mental health, substance abuse, developmental disability, and aging services – I learned about the regulations and requirements surrounding these services and created a database listing information about each office and their services. I also looked into Virginia’s plan for broadband expansion and analyzed how the proposed project might better serve Virginians with disabilities. In addition to my work with VBPD, I was connected with many Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine members and had the opportunity to explore numerous career types within science policy, which was invaluable. Through the COVES Fellowship, I was able to hone my science communication skills and also learn about the daily workings of state government. I am greatly looking forward to continuing my education and training in science policy!