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Success Continues for the Science and Technology Policy Internship Program

Aug. 28, 2007 -- The 2007 cohort of Science and Technology Policy interns was formally inducted into the Policy Internship Program Alumni Network on Aug. 2 in a celebration that included mentors, donors and interns from previous years.

The Science and Technology Policy Internship Program began in 2000 under the leadership of Richard Miksad, then dean of the U.Va. School of Engineering and Applied Science. From its early beginnings with just one intern who was placed in the office of Representative Virgil H. Goode Jr., the program has grown steadily over the years. To date, more than 70 undergraduates have served as policy interns through the innovative program. This year, 11 students experienced high-level placements in policy-making offices, shared housing with MIT students and enjoyed an outstanding speaker series that included national policy-makers.

The 2007 policy interns served in several agencies in Washington, D.C.; the National Science Foundation Europe Office in Paris; and in the office of the Virginia Secretary of Technology in Richmond, Va. In the D.C. area, they served in the White House Office of Science and Technology, the National Institutes of Health, the Amazon Conservation Team, the Federation of American Scientists, the Embassy of France and the office of Senator Hillary Clinton.

Science and Technology Policy interns have the opportunity to work on substantive projects that go far beyond what one would ordinarily expect of a summer internship placement. Intern projects this summer, for example, included the development of a model of network organizations responsible for D.C. water management, the crafting of a case study on French educational reform, the evaluation of the effectiveness of education programs designed to broaden participation in engineering education and the development of strategies to improve technological cooperation among government agencies.

Christine Devlin, a rising fourth-year student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, spent her nine weeks as an intern in Paris at the National Science Foundation Europe Office — she was the first intern ever, from anywhere, to intern in the NSF’s Europe Office. “I had the best internship in the world,” she says. “I was exposed first hand to international science policy through a job that was constantly challenging and exciting.”

Closer to home, Kimberly Naden, a rising third-year student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, investigated educational testing for the Federation of American Scientists. Working with President Henry Kelly and Information Technologies Manager Michelle Roper, Naden conducted an evaluation of effective strategies to test learning in educational video games. Using the FAS video game Immune Attack as a test sample, Naden’s research concluded that evaluation of learning in educational video games is best achieved with post-game survey assessment and in-game data collection that tracks the user’s actions.

The 10-week summer internship program seeks to educate the next generation of leaders by combining academic opportunities with hands-on policy experience. In the semester before their internships begin, students in the program enroll in a preparatory course taught by Policy Internship Program Director Edmund Russell, associate professor of science, technology and society as well as history. Over the course of that semester, students gain an understanding of public policy and presentation skills. James Turner, chief counsel for the House Science Committee and member of the SEAS Trustees, helped secure placements for all of the D.C. internships.

“This internship program is a transformational experience for each student,” says Russell. “They begin the preparatory class with enthusiasm, curiosity and a great deal of potential. By the time they give their final presentations in the Science Committee Hearing Room in the House of Representatives Rayburn Building, they have become mature, capable professionals with extraordinary presentation skills and a clear understanding of the nature of technology and policy.”

Emily Morgan Rush, who worked on a traditional nutrition case for the Amazon Conservation Team, agrees. “We would recommend the program to anyone, and we would recommend it for reasons we didn’t fully understand before we began. It opened our eyes to whole new worlds in ways that surprised us. We all feel changed for the better because of this experience.”

The Science and Technology Policy Internship Program is supported by contributions from SEAS alumni and friends. Additional information on the program is available at

The 2007 Science and Technology Policy Interns
Andrew Jay Bradley (’08), Biomedical Engineering
Institute of Health, Washington, D.C.
Data Sharing in Practice: A Study of the National Institutes of Health Data Sharing Philosophy

Suzanne Elizabeth Collier (’09), Computer Science   
National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C.
Broadening Participation: An Evaluation of National Science Foundation’s Programs Addressing Women’s Under Representation in Engineering and Computing

Christine Mary Devlin (’08), Electrical Engineering   
National Science Foundation Europe Office, Paris France
Evaluation of University Reform in France

Vinu Ilakkuvan (’09), Biomedical Engineering   
American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C.
Developing Human Embryonic Stem Cell Policy” A Case Study of Four Nations

Claudia Leahy (’08), Civil Engineering   
Embassy of France, Washington, D.C.
A Model of the Network of Organizations Responsible for Surface Water Management in the District of Columbia

Alexander Martin (’08), Engineering Sci, Physics, Philosophy   
Office of Senator Hillary Clinton
Possible Congressional Legislation Stemming from the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works’ Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health’s Environmental Justice Oversight Hearing Scheduled for July 25, 2007

Kimberly Naden (’09), Biomedical Engineering   
Federation of American Scientists
Evaluation Strategies for Educational Technology: Assessing Learning in Educational Video Games

Kevin Richards (’08), Computer Science   
Virginia Secretary of Technology, Richmond, Virginia
eForms Made Easy: A Strategy for Interoperability in Virginia

Emily Rush (’09), Morgan Biomedical Engineering   
Amazon Conservation Team, Washington, D.C.
Indigenous Nutrition: Case Studies Support Traditional Nutrition across the Globe

James Villarrubia (’08), Systems Engineering, American Govt
Office of Science and Technology, Washington, D.C.
End-Use through Retrofitting and Software Tools

Jenna Zhang (’09), Biomedical Engineering
National Institutes of Health, Washington, D.C.
Data Sharing in Practice: A Study of the National Institutes of Health Data Sharing Philosophy

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