Ariel Marshall, of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), will serve as the 2014-2015 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow co-sponsored by OSA and SPIE, and James O’Dea, of Cornell University, will serve as the OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow. Each will serve one-year terms working as special legislative assistants on the staffs of US congressional offices or committees in Washington, D.C.
Ariel Marshall expects to receive her Ph.D. from Georgia Tech this summer. Marshall studied chemistry as an undergraduate at the University of Central Arkansas, where she worked on the synthesis and characterization of nickel-cysteine complexes that have potential applications in hydrogen formation. She then joined Georgia Tech to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry, where her research focuses on the structural, electronic and optical properties of organic conjugated small molecule and polymer systems with promising applications in electronics, photonics and photovoltaics.
Marshall was awarded the 2012-2013 Sam Nunn Security Policy Fellowship, a MacArthur-funded program in which scientists and engineers are prepared to render policy advice on issues at the nexus of science, technology and international affairs. In 2013, she received her Graduate Certificate of Public Policy from the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech, during which she examined policies pertaining to renewable energy and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education issues.
As a Guenther Congressional Fellow, Marshall hopes to work on issues pertaining to renewable energy and education.
James O'Dea earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he directly imaged proton conducting pathways in polymer membranes under device-relevant conditions for the first time. Following his Ph.D., O'Dea was a postdoctoral fellow at the Energy Materials Center at Cornell University.
At Cornell, O'Dea investigated metal-nitride films to replace the corrosion-prone carbon layer used in fuel cells to support the catalyst. O'Dea played leading roles in efforts for Cornell to divest its endowment from holdings in fossil fuel companies and to adopt an open-access publishing policy. He also served on the editorial board of a research newsletter published by the Department of Energy and organized an energy-related seminar series for graduate students and post-doctorates.
During the OSA/MRS Congressional Fellowship, O'Dea hopes to work on issues at the intersection of energy and health.
Marshall and O’Dea will formally begin the program in early September, starting with a comprehensive training and orientation process facilitated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS Congressional and Executive Branch Fellows are sponsored by more than two dozen scientific societies. The new Fellows will then go through an interview and selection process with offices of senators, representatives or committees on Capitol Hill before choosing the offices in which they will serve.
The Congressional Fellows program aims to bring technical and scientific backgrounds and perspectives to the decision-making process in Congress, and provide scientists with insight into the inner workings of the federal government. Typically, fellows conduct legislative or oversight work, assist in congressional hearings and debates, prepare policy briefs and write speeches as part of their daily responsibilities.
Each year, following a formal application process, finalists are interviewed and Fellows are selected by a committee comprised of volunteer members from OSA, SPIE and MRS.