The Optical Society (OSA), the Materials Research Society (MRS) and SPIE have selected Benjamin Isaacoff and Dylan Rittman as 2018–2019 Congressional Fellows. The Congressional Fellows will each serve a one-year term as special legislative assistants on the staffs of US congressional offices or committees in Washington, DC. Isaacoff will serve as the 2018–2019 Arthur H Guenther Congressional Fellow, which is co-sponsored by OSA and SPIE, while Rittman will serve as the 2018–2019 OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow. The two Fellows will begin their term in September 2018.
As part of their Fellowship, they will attend a comprehensive training and orientation facilitated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Following the orientation, Fellows will interview with staff from Senate offices, House of Representatives offices and Congressional committees on Capitol Hill, then select the office they wish to serve in for the next year.
The Congressional Fellowship 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 will have the opportunity to 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 Congressional Fellows are selected by a committee comprising volunteer members from OSA, MRS and SPIE. For more information on the selection process and fellowship criteria; visit the OSA, MRS or SPIE websites.
OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow
Dylan Rittman will earn his PhD in geological sciences this summer from Stanford University. His current research focuses on investigating the process of ionizing radiation damage over the femtosecond-to-nanosecond timescales on which it occurs. He has also worked on nuclear waste policy through his participation in the Reset of US Nuclear Waste Management Strategy and Policy series, hosted at the Center for International Security and Cooperation. He received a BSE in nuclear engineering and radiological sciences from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2014.
“I am looking forward to using my science background to get involved with policy issues ranging from domestic energy to international non-proliferation,” says Rittman.
Rittman coordinated a contingent of Stanford University students to attend the March for Science and organized sessions to teach graduate students how to effectively perform science outreach to the public. Rittman’s previous involvement includes working at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a research intern, where he was exposed to science with diverse applications, such as alternative energy and national defense.
Arthur H Guenther Congressional Fellow
Benjamin Isaacoff received his PhD in applied physics from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2018, where he also previously earned his Bachelor’s degrees and Master’s degree. His doctoral research in nanophotonics investigated how single fluorescent molecules are modified by a plasmonic optical antenna. Isaacoff was a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow, and additionally received a GROW grant to conduct summer research at Leiden University, The Netherlands.
“I am very excited to spend my year in Congress bringing both my experience as a scientist and my training in public policy to bear on the important science policy challenges that our nation faces,” says Isaacoff.
During graduate school Isaacoff also earned a graduate certificate in science, technology and public policy from University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. In concert with this coursework, Isaacoff has had many opportunities to participate in the science policy community through a number of conferences, workshops and hill days. Ben is also currently an associate editor at the Journal of Science Policy & Governance.