The John Bahcall Public Policy Fellowship was created in 2006 to provide an opportunity for early career astronomers to gain experience in the world of science policy and serves to augment the policy advocacy programs of the society. The Bahcall Fellowship is currently a one-year postdoctoral level appointment.
The Fellow works in partnership with the Director of Public Policy to coordinate the public policy activities of the AAS. Responsibilities include:
- Direct advocacy for astronomy-related issues
- Maintaining relationships with key policy people related to astronomy (agencies, hill staff, OMB, OSTP, NRC, etc.)
- Visits with Hill offices (all Spring)
- Coordination of Congressional Visits Day Springtime, either March or April
- Coordination of CNSF Hill exhibition participation (sometime May-July)
- Authorship of the Washington News Column in the AAS Newsletter, a chapter in the AAAS annual R&D budget book and Action Alerts and Informational Emails as required
- Coordination with and support of the Committee on Astronomy and Public Policy, strategic planning
- Attendance at policy events: coalitions, colloquia, etc. (mainly spring)
How to Apply
The Bahcall Fellowship is advertised in the Job Register when the position is open and also announced in the AAS Newsletter and Electronic Alert. Interested applicants holding a Ph.D. should send a resume, names and contact information of three professional references, and a one- or two-page summary of why the position is interesting to them. Candidates are typically interviewed in late Spring every other year, or as needed to fill a vacancy.
Application materials or questions about the position should be sent electronically and addressed to
Director of Public Policy
AAS Executive Office
2000 Florida Ave, NW, Suite 300
Washington DC 20009
Additional Science policy fellowships are listed here.
Bethany Johns, 2010-2012
Bethany Johns became the fourth John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow in September 2010. In 2010, Bethany obtained her Ph.D. in Physics, as well as working in policy studies, from Clemson University. During her time at Clemson, Bethany served as the graduate student government senator representing the Physics and Astronomy Department, enhanced a graduate student professional development grant program and was a founding member of the South Caroline Graduate Professional Alliance.
While at the AAS, Bethany managed the public policy activities including, creating and managing a federal and local grassroots advocacy program designed to work with association members to effectively communicate with policy makers and successfully leading a coalition, working with Congressional leaders, and drafting legislation to secure millions of federal dollars appropriated for the restarting domestic production of Plutonium-238 as a fuel source for planetary exploration.
Bethany has since consulted for commercial space companies and continues to work on federal science policy as the Science Policy Manager for the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Sciences Society of America.
Anita Krishnamurthi, 2009-2010
Anita Krishnamurthi became the third John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow in September 2009. She received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State Univeristy in May 1997, subsequently serving in a number of different positions from a postdoctoral researcher at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics from 1997-2000, to a position at the National Academy of Sciences as a program officer with the Office on Public Understanding of Science from 2001-2003 to a Program Planning Specialist position at NASA Headquarters, culminating in a position at Goddard Spaceflight Center as the Education and Public Outreach Lead for the Astrophysics Science Division. During her education and throughout her career, Anita became sensitized to the growing disconnect between the sophistication and importance of modern science and the lack of appreciation and understanding of that science by the general public. This partially motivated her to apply for the Bahcall fellowship.
As the third Bahcall fellow, Anita enhanced the public policy programs of the Society while bringing a renewed focus on education policy.
Anita left the AAS in May 2010 to take up a position with the AfterSchool Alliance as its Director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Policy, a newly created position.
Marcos Huerta, 2008-2009
Marcos Huerta became the second John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow in February 2008. He received his Ph.D. from Rice University in May 2007, and was a Post Doc at the University of Florida Astronomy Department. His research focused on star formation, star formation regions, and young stellar objects. As a graduate student, Marcos worked on policy issues at the university level; serving in the Graduate Student Association and working on improving health insurance and parking permits for students.
As the second Bahcall fellow, and the first to serve for over a year, Marcos started a variety of new policy initiatives at the AAS. Most notably, he launched the AAS Public Policy Blog, as well as integrated its updates into the main AAS site. Also during his tenure, the AAS began its Local Visits Day program - coordinating visits of astronomers to their local congressional offices during the summer recess.
Marcos left the AAS in August 2009 to become the AIP/AVS Congressional science fellow - he spent a year working in the House of Representatives as part of the larger AAAS Science and Technology policy fellow program. Marcos now works at the U.S. Department of Energy.
L. Jeremy Richardson, 2007
As the first John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow, Jeremy Richardson coordinated public policy and government relations activities for the AAS, tracked federal funding for astronomy research, and led grass-roots lobbying efforts. Previously, Jeremy spent over six years at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (three as a graduate student from the University of Colorado and three as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow), where he characterized the atmospheric properties of an extrasolar planet, both theoretically and observationally. His research culminated in the first observed emission spectrum of an extrasolar planet and revealed tantalizing evidence for the composition of the planet's atmosphere. A physicist by training, Jeremy decided to refocus his professional efforts on policy solutions to the climate change problem.
Following his tenure as the Bahcall Fellow, he was selected as the 2007-08 AAAS Roger Revelle Fellow in Global Stewardship. The Revelle Fellowship is focused exclusively on issues related to global stewardship and provides an opportunity to work on the Hill, an Executive Branch agency, or even a nonprofit or NGO. Jeremy also attended The Climate Project's training session to present Al Gore's slide show on climate change and raise public awareness of the issue, and he has given the slide show to a variety of audiences.
Jeremy is now a Senior Energy Analyst in the Climate and Energy Program, conducting analytical work on the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon regulations and other areas of energy research. He is continuing his research on economic diversification in his native West Virginia that he began while in his previous position as the program’s Kendall Science Fellow.