Programs: Science and Policy
About the Fellowship Programs: Staff
The Science & Technology Policy Fellowships operate within the AAAS Center of Science, Policy & Society Programs (CoSPSP). The Fellowships staff consist of 20 full-time professionals. Additional part-time advisory input is provided by two senior CoSPSP staff members. All staff and advisors participate to support AAAS Fellows across partner federal agencies and congressional host offices, and contribute to the effective and efficient operation and administration of the AAAS Fellowships. The staff positions and responsibilities are listed below by function areas.
Management & Administration
- Sage Russell – Associate Director, Congressional and Executive Branch Fellowships
- Rick Kempinski – Project Director, Congressional & Partner Society Fellowships, and Diplomacy, Security & Development (DSD) Fellowships
- Kira E. Mock – Program Manager, Energy, Environment & Agriculture (EEA) Fellowships
- Robert Harper - Program Manager, Health, Education & Human Services (HEHS) Fellowships
- Chitra Kalyandurg – Program Manager, Diplomacy, Security & Development (DSD) Fellowships
- Kristin Barnes - Program Manager, Diplomacy, Security & Development (DSD) Fellowships
- Tamisha Marsh - Senior Program Coordinator
- David Young - Program Coordinator
Finance & Security
- Chris McPhaul - Project Director, Facility Security Officer
- David Payne – Finance & Security Associate
Outreach & Engagement
- Olga Francois – Senior Project Director
- Salaeha Shariff – Project Director, Recruitment & Outreach
- Alison Fesler – Online Strategies Manager
- Barry Williams – Senior Marketing Coordinator
- Stephanie Byng - Marketing, Online and Network Technology Associate
- Ed Derrick, PhD - Chief Program Director, Center for Science, Policy & Society Programs
- Stephen D. Nelson, PhD – Senior Advisor, Science & Technology Policy
Management & Administration
Cynthia Robinson directs the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships, administering programs and activities for more than 250 Congressional and Executive Branch Fellows annually, with the aim to foster evidence-based federal policy. This is accomplished by engaging scientists and engineers from a broad range of disciplines, backgrounds and career stages to directly contribute knowledge and analytical skills to support well-informed federal policies, regulations and programs; to learn first-hand about policymaking and implementation in the federal government; and to build their leadership capacity for a strong S&T enterprise that benefits society. With a team of 20 full-time staff and an annual budget of more than $16 million, Cynthia oversees strategic planning and policy; program development and evaluation; professional education activities; and communications, marketing, and stakeholder relations.
Prior to joining AAAS in 2004, Cynthia worked for seven years directing fellowships for scientists and engineers focusing on the environment and conservation, with the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation, and the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program. She has more than 20 years of experience in program management, communications, and non-profit administration. Her early career was in public relations and marketing in the fields of community development, financial services, and healthcare. She also has worked in the education for sustainability realm, and spent three years in international development with the Peace Corps in Thailand and The Gambia, focusing on environmental education and youth enrichment programs.
Cynthia holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Boston University, and a master's degree in urban and environmental policy from Tufts University, with a concentration in international environmental policy and sustainable development. She is a recipient of a UNEP Fellowship in International Environmental Management, and a Switzer Foundation Environmental Fellowship. Cynthia has held numerous volunteer leadership positions. She was a trustee of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation from 1999 to 2007, including three years as board chair; and from 1994 to 2005 she served in various governance positions with the Sea Education Association, including six years as a trustee. Currently she is on the Green Plan Steering Committee for the town of Cheverly, MD, serving as chair of the Education & Outreach Working Group. Cynthia is a member of the Association of Women in Science, and the International Leadership Association.
Administration & Operations Associate
As administrative coordinator, Kristina Lawrence provides broad administrative support to the Science & Technology Policy Fellowships Department. She coordinates office activities and schedules; plans and organizes special projects and events; provides budget support; and serves as liaison to the Fellowships Advisory Committee and other AAAS departments.
Kristina brings five years of experience in building partnerships, marketing, administration and operations, and alumni relations. She has worked in the corporate sector on consumer brand awareness with an emphasis on event management, and with a national mental health medical practice in admin, patient education, and outreach. Kristina is also VP of the DC-area UVA alumni association. Her background is in science. Kristina holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in biology. She has conducted social science research and understands the lab environment, which are assets to our activities.
Associate Director, Fellowship Programs
As associate director for the S&T Policy Fellowships, Sage Russell oversees outreach to and partnerships with federal agencies, congressional offices, and partner sponsoring societies. She directs the selection and placement processes for the five fellowships areas, with annual cohorts of more than 200 Fellows, and supervises day-to-day programmatic operations. Sage counsels Fellows, supervisors and mentors, and oversees fellowship monitoring, quality assessment and implementation of enhancements. She reviews proposals, actively participates in recruitment and outreach activities, and contributes to the yearlong professional development program. Sage supervises the program staff of six and assists the director with strategic planning, developing and launching new initiatives, and formulating program policy.
Prior to joining the Fellowships staff in 2003, Sage spent six years as a senior program associate in the AAAS Science and Human Rights Program, where she edited and contributed to several books on economic, social and cultural human rights. Before joining AAAS she served as government grants manager at PLAN International, an international development NGO, and as associate director of Alumni Relations at Middlebury College. Sage spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo. She received her undergraduate degree from Middlebury College, a master's degree in adult education from the University of Rhode Island, and a JD from Emory University School of Law.
Project Director, Congressional & Partner Society Fellowships; and Diplomacy, Security & Development (DSD) Fellowships
As project director on the program team, Rick Kempinski focuses primarily on two fellowship program areas, managing partnerships with host agencies and offices and day-to-day coordination of Fellows. He supervises selection and placement processes; monitors and assesses fellowship activities; and serves as the liaison and guide to Fellows and their mentors and supervisors. Rick also contributes to planning and conducting orientation sessions, and he participates in outreach and recruitment efforts and represents the S&T Policy Fellowships at government meetings,
professional conferences and at academic institutions across the country.
Rick received a bachelor's degree in international business and human resources from American University. He joined the Fellowships team in 2008, with more than eight years of experience, including four years as senior project manager at the American Society for Engineering Education, where he directed federally funded fellowship programs including the NASA Aeronautics Scholarship Program, the Naval Research Laboratory Postdoctoral Fellowships, and the Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowships. Rick also has experience in marketing and communications in the private sector.
Kira E. Mock
Program Manager, Energy, Environment & Agriculture (EEA) Fellowships
Kira Mock manages partnerships with host agencies and offices facilitating day-to-day coordination of Fellows; conducts the selection and placement processes; monitors and assesses fellowship activities; and serves as liaisons and guides to Fellows and their mentors and supervisors. Kira also contributes to planning and conducting orientation sessions, and she participates in outreach and recruitment efforts and represents the S&T Policy Fellowships at government meetings, professional conferences and at academic institutions across the country.
She holds a BBA in international business finance from the George Washington University, and a master's degree in liberal arts from St. John's College, Annapolis, MD. Kira has completed graduate course work at the University of Maryland in environmental management and plant sciences toward a master of science degree in environmental management, expected in 2012. She joined the S&T Policy Fellowships staff at the end of 2009, with 14 years of experience in international development and innovative applied scientific research programs. Prior to coming to AAAS, she was in the Policy and Global Affairs Division at The National Academies, where she served as program officer for the Research Support Program funded by USAID. There she managed selection, funding, program development and monitoring for USAID's research programs in the Middle East.
Program Manager, Health, Education & Human Services (HEHS) Fellowships
Robert Harper manages partnerships with host agencies and offices facilitating day-to-day coordination of Fellows; conducts the selection and placement processes; monitors and assesses fellowship activities; and serves as liaisons and guides to Fellows and their mentors and supervisors. Robert also contributes to planning and conducting orientation sessions, and she participates in outreach and recruitment efforts and represents the S&T Policy Fellowships at government meetings, professional conferences and at academic institutions across the country.
Robert completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Central Florida in Foreign Languages and undertook course work toward an M.Ed in Higher Education Leadership at the University of West Florida. He began his career in professional development and international higher education by teaching English and training ESL instructors in Kurume, Japan. After relocating to Washington, DC, Robert worked as member of Georgetown University's MBA Admissions and Student Services team. For three years Robert worked for the Institute of International Education as a program officer for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Scholarship Program. In this capacity, he recruited and mentored graduate students and doctoral candidates. Prior to joining the AAAS Fellowships team in September 2012, Robert held the position of Senior Business Processes Manager for the Fulbright Scholar Program, which is managed by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES). He worked closely with State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to facilitate the program's goals of internationalizing university campuses and promoting international academic exchange.
Program Manager, Diplomacy, Security & Development (DSD) Fellowships
Chitra Kalyandurg manages partnerships with host agencies and offices facilitating day-to-day coordination of Fellows; conducts the selection and placement processes; monitors and assesses fellowship activities; and serves as liaisons and guides to Fellows and their mentors and supervisors. Chitra also contributes to planning and conducting orientation sessions, and she participates in outreach and recruitment efforts and represents the S&T Policy Fellowships at government meetings, professional conferences and at academic institutions across the country.
She holds a bachelor's degree in communications studies from New York University. Chitra joined the Fellowships staff in November 2010, with more than six years of non-profit communications, marketing, outreach and grant writing experience. Her previous positions included working in K-12 engineering outreach at the American Society for Engineering Education, and managing education programs at Arena Stage. She also worked as a free-lance marketing and fundraising consultant at a performing arts organization. Chitra is a teaching artist in the fields of dance, theater and creative movement, and choreographs and performs in the south Indian dance style of Kuchipudi.
Program Manager, Diplomacy, Security & Development (DSD) Fellowships
Kristin Barnes manages partnerships with host agencies and offices facilitating day-to-day coordination of Fellows; conducts the selection and placement processes; monitors and assesses fellowship activities; and serves as liaisons and guides to Fellows and their mentors and supervisors. Kristin also contributes to planning and conducting orientation sessions, and she participates in outreach and recruitment efforts and represents the S&T Policy Fellowships at government meetings, professional conferences and at academic institutions across the country.
Senior Program Coordinator
Tamisha Marsh provides administrative support to the annual operations of the Executive Branch Fellowships, focusing primarily on the EEA and HEHS Fellowship programs. Tamisha coordinates logistics for the selection and placement processes and program events, manage Fellow and stakeholder data, and draft and edit program materials and summary documents for reporting to funders. She also contributes to planning and conducting evaluations, and participates in outreach and recruitment efforts.
Tamisha joined AAAS in October 2012, having most recently coordinated a federal internship program at the National Association for the Equal Opportunity of Higher Education (NAFEO), and she also conducted research concerning internationalization in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Predominately Black Institution (PBI) campuses. At NAFEO, she also made the selections for the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS)/NAFEO undergraduate study abroad scholarship. In addition, Tamisha has several years of non-profit experience at the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign (USGLC) and InterAction, which promote U.S. diplomacy and international development. Tamisha holds a bachelor's degree in political science from San Jose State University, where she did research on terrorist cells in eastern Africa. Tamisha also holds a master's degree in public policy from Pepperdine University, where she wrote her master's thesis on U.S. policy towards Cuba.
David Young provides administrative support to the annual operations of the Congressional and Executive Branch Fellowships, focusing primarily on the Congressional and DSD Fellowship programs. He coordinates logistics for the selection and placement processes and program events, manages Fellow and stakeholder data, and drafts and edits program materials and summary documents for reporting to funders. David also contributes to planning and conducting evaluations, and participates in outreach and recruitment efforts.
David holds a bachelor's degree in ecology and environmental biology from Appalachian State University, where he did research on mutualisms. David joined the Fellowships team in August 2011, having most recently interned at the Ecological Society of America, where he supported education and diversity programs and helped manage the EcoEd Digital Library. He has several years of non-profit experience, facilitating community collaborations for both the Agape Center at Messiah College and for Appalachian and the Community Together, an academic-community partnership initiative at Appalachian State University.
Finance & Security
Project Director, Facility Security Officer
Chris McPhaul is the project director for the Finance & Security team for the AAAS S&T Policy Fellowships. Chris directs and implements security-related activities including processing clearances, providing training, conducting reviews, and ensuring compliance. In addition, he provides support in preparing and reviewing funding requests for host agencies and offices, as well as, managing payments and reimbursements for Fellows.
Chris holds a bachelor's degree in geography and political science from Auburn University, and a master's degree in education from George Mason University. Chris has worked at AAAS for more than 20 years in a wide variety of roles. As an associate director and a project director, Chris has managed programs, professional development, and finance.
Finance & Security Associate
As the program associate for Finance & Security David Payne manages the S&T Policy Fellowships' accounts payable process, prepares and reviews expenditures and expense reports and coordinates payments and reimbursements for Fellows. He monitors budgets and accounts, produces quarterly financial reports, and prepares annual narrative reports to funders. David supports event implementation and inquiry responses and assists with directory and database updates. In addition, he participates in outreach and recruitment activities.
David holds bachelor degrees in psychology and sociology from Bowling Green State University. He joined the Fellowships team in October 2010, with five years of prior experience in education, retail and administrative positions, most recently at the Koch Foundation.
Outreach & Engagement
Senior Project Director, Communications, Marketing, Professional Development & Alumni Engagement
Olga Francois plans and directs communications activities to promote the S&T Policy Fellowships nationally; oversees the recruitment and marketing efforts to attract eligible applications from diverse, highly qualified scientists and engineers; and supervises development and implementation of the year-long professional development program. Additionally, Olga supervises cross-cohort and alumni engagement activities to maintain former Fellows participation in Fellowship operations and initiatives. Olga oversees four staff and assists the director with strategic planning, developing and launching new initiatives, and formulating policy for communications, marketing and recruitment.
She joined AAAS in July 2011, following ten years at the Center for Intellectual Property at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC), the last six of those serving as associate director. There she conceptualized and implemented membership programs and professional development courses, and managed marketing and outreach activities. Olga also is an adjunct professor in the UMUC School of Undergraduate Studies and the Graduate School. She holds a master's degree in library information science from the University of Pittsburg, and has ten years of experience as a research librarian in academic institutions in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington state. Olga's undergraduate degree is in fine arts from Smith College; she continues her art from her Maryland studio, specializing in print making and painting.
Project Director, Recruitment & Outreach
Salaeha Shariff directs recruitment cultivation, national outreach activities, and diversity enhancement for the S&T Policy Fellowships. She plans and manages Fellowship orientation, professional development activities and interest/affinity groups. She is also responsible for furthering alumni engagement activities and initiatives to cultivate and maintain alumni participation in ongoing Fellowship initiatives.
She joined AAAS in September 2011, following over five years with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Illinois Chapter, where she directed and managed public health grants focusing primarily on immunization education and policy for Illinois pediatricians. Salaeha's responsibilities included overseeing development of educational programming for healthcare providers, recruitment and engagement of Illinois pediatricians and allied healthcare providers on varied educational and policy initiatives, managing committees/interest groups related to school health and infectious diseases, and policy work related to financing/reimbursement for pediatric practices and public health engagement. She has prior experience directing and managing operations for a small nonprofit educational organization. Salaeha holds a master's degree in public service from DePaul University and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Loyola University Chicago.
Online Strategies Manager
Alison Fesler is responsible for the daily operation of the S&T Policy Fellowships online presence. She plans, implements and manages development and execution of websites; social media marketing; and production and dissemination of e-communications. Alison serves as technical lead on Fellowships department online systems, including the application, selection and placement portals, and the online directory and database. She supervises data quality control and trains and monitors fellowships staff with responsibility for data entry and back end administration of the online application/selection/placement system.
Alison received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Delaware. She joined AAAS in August 2010, and previously was senior web content manager at the Health Industries Distributors' Association. She has prior experience in the science and health fields as project coordinator for the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, where she was responsible for writing, production and dissemination of a monthly e-newsletter and all electronic member communications as well as website content management. In addition, Alison has worked in communications and event management with the Delaware Academy of Medicine and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Senior Marketing Coordinator
Barry Williams is responsible for coordinating administration, process and event logistics for communications, recruitment, professional development, and alumni outreach. He responds to inquiries, monitors media coverage, inputs marketing data and maintains records and archives.
Barry received a bachelor's degree in international political economy from Fordham University and is currently pursuing a master's in business administration from American University's Kogod School of Business. Prior to joining the Fellowships staff in September 2011, Barry was a staff member of the Investigative Reporting Workshop providing operations support, and he worked with the Center for the Study of Responsive Law as an office manager.
Marketing, Online and Network Technology Associate
Stephanie Byng is responsible for providing professional technical and administrative support for the management of the S&T Policy Fellowships online presence, databases and network systems. She ensures our database and online network functionality by researching, developing, implementing and evaluating site upgrades. Stephanie troubleshoots technical issues and maintains documentation for our online systems. She also lends a creative hand to our marketing, outreach and engagement efforts by designing collateral, writing online content and implementing marketing campaigns.
Stephanie joined AAAS in April 2012, fresh from a 12-month term of service with AmeriCorps VISTA, where she was the IT Administrator for The Advancement Foundation. She worked with multiple nonprofit clients building custom websites/graphics, managing social media profiles, developing documentation and training materials, overseeing donor database integration into Salesforce, and evaluating new technology for integration. She has seven years of experience as a web/graphics designer, specializing in the needs of non-profits and women-owned businesses. Stephanie holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Northern Arizona University. In 2009, she wrote and published An Eco-Babe's Guide to Greening It. In her spare time, she volunteers with Catchafire and writes about green living.
Edward G. Derrick, PhD
Chief Program Director, Center for Science, Policy& Society Programs
Edward Derrick became director of the AAAS Center of Science, Policy & Society Programs in July 2011 after serving as acting director for seven months. The Center for Science, Policy & Society Programs bridges the science and engineering community on one side, and policymakers and the interested public on the other. The programs address an array of topics in science and society, including the interplay of science with religion, law and human rights; they also connect scientists and policymakers through programs in science and government, including the S&T Policy Fellowship program. As acting director, Dr. Derrick oversees the programs, which combined have a staff of about 40 and an annual budget of over $20 million, and serves as a member of senior management at AAAS.
Ed first joined AAAS in 1998 as a member of the AAAS Research Competitiveness Program (RCP). RCP provides review and guidance to the science and innovation community. He became director of the program in January 2004, with responsibility for the development of new business and oversight of all aspects of the design and execution of projects. Ed has participated directly in over 50 RCP projects, having led committees to assist state and institutional planning for research, to review research centers and institutions and to advise state and international funds on major investments.
He holds the Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, with a dissertation in theoretical particle physics, and the B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with an undergraduate thesis in biophysics. Prior to joining AAAS, he spent two years as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in Germany. He has worked for Ontario Hydro in the Nuclear Studies and Safety Division and consulted for the National Research Council.
Stephen D. Nelson, PhD
Senior Advisor, Science & Technology Policy
Stephen Nelson is senior advisor on science and technology policy in the Center of Science, Policy & Society Programs at the AAAS. In this role he organizes the annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology (S&T) Policy and the AAAS Leadership Seminar in Science and Technology Policy. He serves as staff officer to AAAS's Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy, a subcommittee of which provides advice and guidance to the S&T Policy Fellowships. Steve also serves as staff officer for both the AAAS Philip Hauge Abelson Prize and the William D. Carey Lectureship. In addition, he contributes to the direct assistance program within the AAAS Research Competitiveness Service, and serves on AAAS's Policy Alert Group, writing a weekly summary of upcoming and recent policy issues for AAAS's top leadership.
He first joined AAAS in 1984 as manager of Science Policy Studies, and from 1990 to 1999 was director of AAAS's Science, Technology and Government Program. In these positions he managed the R&D Budget and Policy Program, and directed the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships for 14 years, for which Steve now serves as a senior advisor.
He has co-authored or co-edited 47 volumes published by AAAS on federal funding for research and development and other issues in science and technology policy. He is also an adjunct professor in Virginia Tech's graduate program in Science, Technology and Society at the Northern Virginia campus, and teaches the program's core course on S&T policy.
Prior to joining AAAS, Steve was senior professional associate at the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences. He also served for six years as administrative officer for Science and Technology Policy at the American Psychological Association. He received his bachelor's degree in psychology from Kansas State University, and his PhD in social psychology from the University of Michigan. Before coming to Washington, DC, in 1977, Steve was project director at the Center for Research on Utilization of Scientific Knowledge at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. He also taught in both the psychology and sociology departments.