Search form

John Bahcall Public Policy Fellowship

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, renewable for a second year.

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)

Apply Now!

Applications for the 2015 Bahcall Fellowship are no longer being accepted.

Questions about the position should be sent electronically and addressed to

Joel Parriott
Director of Public Policy

Additional Science policy fellowships are listed here.

Bahcall Fellows

Heather Bloemhard, 2015-2016

Photo of Heather Bloemhard 

Heather Bloemhard joined the AAS as the sixth John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow in September 2015, shortly after completing her PhD in Physics at the New Mexico Institute for Mining and Technology, Socorro, New Mexico. For her dissertation, she worked with Professor Michelle Creech-Eakman on the characterization of transiting exoplanets. While at New Mexico Tech Heather was involved with the graduate student government, which, as described in her first post on the AAS Policy Blog, served as her introduction to policy. As a member and officer of the graduate student government, Heather worked to enhance the travel grant program, advocated for improvements to the graduate student experience, and represented the interests of graduate students with the administration.

Heather is excited to broaden her scope to AAS members. Heather will maintain the level of activity that AAS members have come to expect from the Public Policy Office, including interacting with policy makers and stakeholders and discussing current events in science policy on the AAS Policy Blog. One of Heather's goals as Bahcall Fellow is to expand the available tools for AAS members to learn about advocating for their science, including resources for all levels of interest. In support of this goal, Heather encourages you to get in touch with topics that you'd like to know more about or resources that you'd find useful. You can also follow her on Twitter, where she will continue to tweet as @AAS_Policy.

Joshua H. Shiode, 2013-2015

Photo of Josh Shiode 

Joshua (Josh) joined the AAS in late August 2013 by way of Boston University, for his undergraduate studies, and the University of California, Berkeley, where he completed his PhD studying the unstable evolution of massive stars with Prof. Eliot Quataert. As he detailed in his initial blog post at the AAS Policy Blog, Josh began his journey toward a career beyond academia over the last few years of his graduate work. At Berkeley he explored his interests in teaching and communicating science to a broad audience through his work with the Berkeley Compass Project and writing and editing for The Berkeley Science Review.

As the fifth John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow, Josh focused his energies on building bridges between the astronomical science and policy communities through writing, speaking, and member-focused programs. During his tenure, Josh was a leader in elevating the participation of students and early career scientists in AAS’s annual Congressional Visits Day and organized the Society’s first congressional briefings on the astronomical sciences in over a decade. Josh also joined with colleagues at the American Geophysical Union and the Aerospace Industries Association to spearhead the formation of a broad-based NASA advocacy coalition, now known as the Coalition for Aerospace and Science, and he was a community-wide leader in advocating for reforms to burdensome government travel and conference policies which have significantly impacted the AAS community’s ability to collaborate effectively.

Upon leaving the AAS in March 2015, Josh joined the American Association for the Advancement of Science as Senior Government Relations Officer, where he is a leader of the Golden Goose Award and continues to pursue proactive science policy work on an even broader range of science and technology policy issues.

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.