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OSA/MRS Congressional Fellowships

OSA / MRS Congressional Fellowship

The application deadline for the 2021-2022 OSA/MRS Congressional Fellowship is January 8, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

OSA and MRS offer a congressional fellowship program providing members with an invaluable opportunity of public policy learning. Fellows contribute effective use of optical and materials science knowledge in government and broaden awareness of the value of scientist- and engineer-government interaction among our memberships, the federal government, and the public.


The Fellow spends one year working as a special legislative assistant on the staff of a member of Congress or congressional committee. Activities may involve conducting legislative or oversight work, assisting in congressional hearings and debates, and preparing briefs and writing speeches. The Fellow also attends an orientation program administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on congressional and executive branch operations, which includes guidance in the congressional placement process, and a year-long seminar series on science and public policy issues. The AAAS also administers many other aspects of the program for the OSA/MRS Fellow, as well as other Fellows sponsored by nearly two dozen scientific societies.


A prospective 2021-2022 Fellow must have a record of success in research or scholarship in a field relevant to optical science and technology and/or materials, familiarity with the discipline, and a working understanding of the scientific communities. The Fellow must also demonstrate sensitivity toward policy issues and have a strong interest in applying scientific and technical knowledge to United States public policy issues. The Fellow must be able to work quickly and communicate effectively to both scientific and non-scientific audiences on a wide variety of topics and work cooperatively with individuals having diverse viewpoints. An applicant is expected to be a member of OSA or MRS (or an applicant for membership) and have a PhD by September 1, 2021. US citizenship is not required; however, applicants must be authorized to work in the United States. 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.


The 2021-2022 Fellow will have a one-year appointment beginning September 1, 2021. The Fellowship stipend will be $78,750, plus additional funds for health insurance, travel and relocation expenses to the Washington, D.C. area.


Applications must be emailed or post-marked by the application deadline.  The application deadline for the 2021-2022 OSA/MRS Congressional Fellowship is January 8, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

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 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/MRS 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 in the "Criteria" section 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. However, the candidate is responsible for ensuring the letters are received by the application deadline.

Application Materials Should be Mailed or Emailed to:
OSA/MRS Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow Program
c/o Brandy Dillingham
The Optical Society
2010 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
Office: +1 202.416.1409

NOTE: Applicants applying for both the OSA/MRS Congressional Fellowship and Arthur H. Guenther 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:


PhD in Chemistry
Columbia University
PhD in Materials Science

University of Minnesota

Sen. Richard Durbin

Daniel Broberg
PhD in Materials Science & Engineering
University of California, Berkeley

Sen. Christopher Coons
2018-2019 Dylan Rittman
PhD in Geological Sciences
Stanford University
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
2017-2018 Sarah Vorpahl
PhD in Chemistry

University of Washington

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Felicia Lucci
PhD in Chemistry
Tufts University

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

Peter Winter
PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology
Colorado State University

Sen. Christopher Coons
2014-2015 James O'Dea

PhD in Chemistry
University of California, Santa Barbara

Sen. Brian Schatz
2013-2014 Sydney Kaufman

PhD in Chemical Physics
University of Colorado Boulder

Sen. Mark Begich

Mirvat Abdelhaq
PhD in Physical Chemistry
University of Colorado, Boulder

Sen. Jeff Merkley

Laura Povlich
PhD in Macromolecular Science and Engineering
University of Michigan

Rep. Sandy Levin

Ashley White
PhD in Materials Science
Cambridge University

Senator Al Franken

Gavi Begtrup
PhD in Physics
University of California, Berkeley

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Amit Mistry
PhD in Bioengineering
Rice University

Rep. Ed Markey

Alicia Jackson
PhD in Materials Science and Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Kevin Whittlesey
PhD in Biological Sciences
Northwestern University

Rep. Doris Matsui

Benjamin Jay Gross
PhD in Physical Chemistry
Columbia University

Rep. Rush Holt


Karin Ezbiansky Pavese
PhD in Inorganic Chemistry
University of Pennsylvania

Sen. Joseph Lieberman


Colin McCormick
PhD in Physics
University of California, Berkeley

Rep. Edward J. Markey


Jeffrey Haeni
PhD in Materials Science
Pennsylvania State University

Rep. Rush Holt


Eric Werwa
PhD in Electronic Materials
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Rep. Mike Honda


Susan Ginsberg
PhD in Materials Science and Engineering
University of Minnesota

Rep. Howard L. Berman


Arun Seraphin
PhD in Materials Science and Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman


Merrilea Mayo
PhD in Materials Science and Engineering
Stanford University

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman


Brian Holloway
PhD in Mechanical Engineering
University of Florida

Sen. John D. Rockefeller


Michal Freedhoff
PhD in Physical Chemistry
University of Rochester

Rep. Edward J. Markey


Kelly Kirkpatrick
PhD in Materials Science and Engineering
Northwestern University

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman