SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and The Optical Society (OSA) are pleased to announce the selection of Brandon McMurtry as the 2021-2022 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow. He will serve a one-year term in Washington, DC, as a special legislative assistant for a member of the US Congress or as a staff member for a congressional committee beginning in September. SPIE and OSA are co-sponsors of the fellowship.
"I am honored to have been selected as this year's Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow," McMurtry said. "I am excited for the opportunity to apply my background in materials chemistry to a range of policy issues, including renewable energy and climate change, while learning about the legislative process first-hand."
As part of his fellowship, McMurtry will attend a comprehensive science policy and communication training and orientation session facilitated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Upon training completion, he will interview with Senate, House of Representatives, and congressional committee staff on Capitol Hill and then select which congressional office or committee he wishes to serve for his fellowship year.
The Congressional Fellowship's program mission is 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. Fellows have the opportunity to participate in a multitude of policymaking functions including, conducting legislative or oversight work, assisting in congressional hearings and debates, preparing policy briefs, and writing speeches.
Each year, following a formal application process, finalists are interviewed and Congressional Fellows are selected by a committee comprised of volunteer members from OSA and SPIE. Complete information on the selection process and fellowship criteria can be found here.
McMurtry is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry at Columbia University, studying solution-phase crystal growth mechanisms in the lab of Professor Jonathan Owen. As a graduate student, his research has focused on improving the synthesis of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals for use in solid-state lighting applications. Prior to graduate school, he received a BS in Chemistry from the University of Hawai‘i at MÄnoa in Honolulu, where he was born and raised.
Outside of his graduate work, McMurtry volunteers with Science for New York (Sci4NY) where he works at the intersection of science and policy to aid lawmakers in New York City. He has written memos on innovative solutions to organics recycling, advised New York City Council candidates on access to STEM education and broadband internet, and researched effective strategies to upkeep the City's green infrastructure. In addition, he is an ACS-AACT Science Coach and a Skype a Scientist program participant.