Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellowship Program
The application process for the 2022-2023 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellowship will open on 01 October 2021. Please revisit this page for the updated application deadline and criteria at that time.
Optica 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 the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 Guenther Fellow will join more than two dozen other scientists and engineers in early September 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 nontechnical.
A stipend of USD 78,750 is provided by Optica 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, DC area. Final selection of the fellow will be made in early 2021 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 Optica, SPIE and the profession. Prospecive fellows must have a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral level degree by program orientation (01 September); significant familiarity with optical engineering or science disciplines; a working understanding of the optical engineering and science communities; and demonstrated interest in the U.S. public policy process. Although prior experience in public policy is not necessary, a demonstrable interest in applying science and engineering to the solution of U.S. policy issues is required. Federal employees are not eligible. U.S. citizenship is not required; however, applicants must be authorized to work in the U.S. 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; and 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.
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. One additional page (for a total of up to three pages) should list professional publications and presentations. Resumes should be tailored to address the qualifications described above.
- A 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 Optica/SPIE fellow to the legislative process and what the applicant wants to learn from the experience.
- Three signed letters of reference addressing the applicant's qualifications for the fellowship as described in the "Criteria" section above. Letters of reference should be directly sent by the recommender 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. However, the candidate is responsible for ensuring the letters are received by the application deadline.
Directly below is a list of present and past fellows, along with their congressional office placements: