Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellowship Program

Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellowship Program

*Applications for the 2014-2015 Fellowship are due Friday, 3 January 2014*

OSA and SPIE offer a congressional fellowship program providing members with an invaluable opportunity of public policy learning. Fellows gain a perspective that enhances their industrial, academic or government careers and the optics community's ability to more effectively communicate with Congress. The Fellowship is an ideal way to spend an academic sabbatical or leave of absence from a company.

A Unique Opportunity

The Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow works in the office of a US Senator or Representative or with a congressional committee to get first-hand knowledge of congressional operations, contribute to the policymaking process, and forge links among the engineering, scientific, and public policy communities.


Fellowships are normally for one year, running September through August. The 2014-2015 Guenther Fellow will join more than two dozen other scientists and engineers in early September 2014 for an intensive orientation program on the legislative and executive branches. This program is organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which also provides educational and collegial programs for the Fellow throughout the year. Following interviews on the Hill, Fellows choose a congressional office - personal or committee staff - where they wish to serve. Fellows are expected to handle varied assignments, both technical and non-technical.

A stipend of $72,000 is provided by OSA and SPIE, and additional support from other sources, such as a present employer, is permitted. The Societies also provide an allowance for health insurance, travel, and relocation expenses to the Washington, D.C. area. Final selection of the Fellow will be made in early 2014 after personal interviews are conducted.


Fellows are evaluated on the basis of technical competence, responsible work experience, ability to serve in a public environment and evidence of service to OSA, SPIE and the profession. Prospective Fellows must have a PhD or equivalent doctoral level degree by program orientation (1 September 2014); significant familiarity with optical engineering or science disciplines; a working understanding of the optical engineering and science communities; and demonstrated interest in the United States public policy process. Although prior experience in public policy is not necessary, a demonstrable interest in applying science and engineering to the solution of United States policy issues is required. Federal employees are not eligible. US citizenship is not required; however, applicants must be authorized to work in the United States. Applicants should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills and possess the flexibility to tackle a variety of work. Specifically excluded as selection criteria are age, sex, creed, race, ethnic background, and partisan political affiliation.

Applicants will be evaluated based on the following categories:

  • Scientific/technical background and professional accomplishments - weighted in consideration of the applicant's career stage.
  • Communication skills - to scientific and nonscientific audiences - including writing ability, community involvement, and outreach activities.
  • Demonstrated public policy interest, such as through participation in policy or advocacy activities; service to professional societies and/or the broader scientific community; student government or other campus involvement (if applicable).
  • Fellowship skills and abilities, including (but not limited to): capacity to work quickly, flexibly, and cooperatively; experience working with individuals with diverse viewpoints; ability to work in a public environment and; strong interpersonal skills.


Applications for the 2014-2015 Fellowships must be emailed or post-marked by Friday, 3 January 2014.

Candidates must submit the following materials:

  • A resume, no longer than two pages, providing information about educational background, professional employment, community and professional activities, public policy and legislative experience and committee and advisory group appointments plus one additional page for professional publications and presentations. Resumes should be tailored to address the qualifications described above.
  • statement of up to 1,000 words addressing the applicant's interest in the fellowship, career goals, contributions the applicant believes he or she can make as an OSA/SPIE Fellow to the legislative process and what the applicant wants to learn from the experience.
  • Three signed letters of reference sent directly to, specifically addressing the applicant's qualifications for the fellowship as described above. Letters of reference should be emailed directly to by the reference and must be in PDF format, on official letterhead and include an electronic or scanned signature. Letters of reference should not be sent by the candidate themselves.

Application Materials Should be Mailed or Emailed to:
Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellowship Program
c/o Jessica Pagonis
The Optical Society
2010 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
Office: +1 202.416.1932

NOTE: Applicants applying for both the Arthur H. Guenther and OSA/MRS Congressional Fellowship can send in one set of application materials for both fellowships, as long as it is noted that the materials are for both fellowships.

Directly below is a list of present and past fellows, along with their congressional office placements:


Carly Robinson

PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry
University of Colorado
Sen. Mark Udall

Chris Schaffer

PhD in Physics
Harvard University

Rep. Edward Markey

Anthony "T.J." Augustine

PhD in Chemistry
Stanford University

Sen. Dick Durbin

Marcius Extavour

Ph.D in Quantum Optics and Atomic Physics
University of Toronto

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Matthew McMahon

PhD in Experimental Psychology
University of California, San Diego

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

Robert Saunders

PhD in Physics
Duke University

Rep. Rush Holt

Audrey Ellerbee

PhD in Biomedical Engineering
Duke University

Sen. Carl Levin

Eleanore Edson

PhD in Neurobiology
Harvard University

Sen. Hillary Clinton

Jamie Link

PhD. in Biochemistry
Univ. of California San Diego

Sen. Joseph Lieberman

David Catarious

PhD in Biomedical Engineering
Duke University

Rep. Edward Markey

Elka Koehler

PhD in Optical Sciences
University of Arizona

Sen. Joseph Lieberman

Chris Beck

PhD in Physics
Tufts University

Rep. Loretta Sanchez

Kristen Kulinowski

PhD in Physical Chemistry
University of Rochester

Rep. Edward J. Markey

Apriel Hodari

PhD in Optical Physics
Hampton University

Rep. Cynthia McKinney

Barry Masters

PhD in Physical Chemistry
Weizmann Institute of Science

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich