OSA Announces 2007-2008 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows


Lyndsay Meyer
The Optical Society

OSA Announces 2007-2008 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows

WASHINGTON, May 30 – The Optical Society of America (OSA), along with co-sponsors SPIE-the International Society for Optical Engineering and the Materials Research Society (MRS), has selected its 2007-2008 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows.  Audrey Ellerbee, a Ph.D. candidate at Duke University, will serve as the OSA/SPIE Congressional Fellow and Alicia Jackson, a Ph.D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will serve as the OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow.  Ellerbee and Jackson will each serve one-year terms working as special legislative assistants on the staffs of members of Congress or congressional committees. 

“Audrey and Alicia were clear standouts in this year’s fellowship selection process,” said Elizabeth Rogan, OSA executive director.  “They both embody the spirit of this program – enthusiasm for public policy, high academic and professional achievement and an understanding of and appreciation for the value of science-government interaction.  They will be a valuable asset to any office on Capitol Hill.”

Both Ellerbee and Jackson will arrive in Washington, D.C. in early September and attend an intensive orientation facilitated by AAAS for Congressional and Executive Branch Fellows from more than two dozen scientific societies. Following orientation, they will go through an interview and selection process with offices of senators, representatives and committees on Capitol Hill. Offices will extend offers and Ellerbee and Jackson will each choose the office in which they will spend their fellowship year.  

The purpose of the Congressional Fellowships program is to bring technical backgrounds and external perspectives to the decision-making process in Congress. Typically, fellows conduct legislative or oversight work, assist in congressional hearings and debates, prepare briefs and write speeches as a part of their daily responsibilities.  By applying their scientific expertise in this policy environment, Ellerbee and Jackson will help to broaden awareness of the value of scientist- and engineer-government interaction.

Each year, following a formal application process, finalists are interviewed and fellows are selected by committees comprised of volunteer members from OSA, SPIE and MRS.

About the OSA/SPIE and OSA/MRS Fellows
Ellerbee, the OSA/SPIE Congressional Fellow, will receive her Ph.D. biomedical engineering from Duke in the next few months.  She received her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University in 2001.  Her research interests are in biomedical optics, where she currently works on a new optical technology to study embryonic heart development in small animals.  Ellerbee serves on numerous governing committees at Duke and was recently named the winner of the Golden Torch Award for Graduate Student of the Year from the National Society of Black Engineers in recognition of her academic achievement and service to the university community.

OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow Jackson will earn her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT next month.  Her dissertation is on "Phase Separation and Nanostructuring in the Ligand Shell of Nanoparticles."  After completing her Ph.D., Alicia will spend the summer of 2007 at the National Academies of Science as a Christine Mirzyan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow. While there, she will work with the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy on a project titled “Ensuring the Utility and Integrity of Research Data in a Digital Era.”

About OSA
Uniting more than 70,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society of America (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit www.osa.org.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Photos and complete bios of Audrey Ellerbee and Alicia Jackson can be found at
http://www.osa.org/news/congressionalfellowships/osaspie/ellerbee and