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West Virginia Science & Technology Policy Fellowship

West Virginia State Capitol Building West Virginia Science and Technology Policy Fellows provide rigorous, nonpartisan science and technology policy research for members of the West Virginia State legislature, gaining first-hand experience of state-level science and technology policy.

The West Virginia Science & Technology Policy Fellowship (West Virginia STPF) provides opportunities for outstanding scientists, social scientists, and engineers to learn firsthand about policy making while using their knowledge and skills to address pressing challenges facing West Virginia. Through their support of evidence-based decision making in public policy areas involving science, engineering, and technology, West Virginia STPF fellows will develop an understanding of state legislators that they can use to enter a career in science and technology (S&T) policy.

West Virginia University’s (WVU) Bridge Initiative for Science and Technology Policy, Leadership, and Communications (Bridge Initiative) is reviewing applications and interviewing candidates for the fellowship program beginning on a rolling basis from November 1, 2023 until December 1, 2023.

This is a six-month hybrid position beginning January 2024 to support the West Virginia legislature which begins its term on January 11, 2024. Fellows do not need to move to West Virginia and will work virtually. They will, however, be required to travel to Charleston, West Virginia four times for a few days over the course of the fellowship. Travel support will be provided. Fellows will be paid $30,900 for the six month period. Two fellows will be selected.

Interested in being one of our inaugural fellows? Read below for more information! Apply here!

Who is Eligible for the West Virginia STPF?

Applicants should have completed a Ph.D. or other terminal degree in a science or engineering program, including the social sciences. If an applicant has completed all the requirements for their Ph.D. or other terminal degree, but has not yet officially graduated, they can apply for consideration.

Applicants should be U.S. citizens.

Experience with public policy and Appalachia will be considered an asset.

Applicants should have:

  • an interest in policy practices and procedures at the state-level, particularly in West Virginia;
  • capacity to provide nonpartisan, objective information to lawmakers, withholding personal biases;
  • professionalism and maturity;
  • initiative and ability to work independently on a variety of tasks;
  • excellence in written and oral communication, particularly in breaking down complex technical information for a general audience; and
  • commitment to improving the well-being of West Virginians, particularly those in disadvantaged communities.

How Does the West Virginia STPF Work?

Fellows selected for the program will have the support of the Bridge Initiative staff. They will report to Dr. Joan Centrella, Director of Bridge Initiative, and receive training and mentorship throughout the program from Dr. Deborah Stine, Founder of the Science and Technology Policy Academy. This includes an orientation on S&T policy analysis, program evaluation, and communication. As a result, no previous policy analysis skills are required of West Virginia STPF fellows though public policy experience is considered an asset.

Legislators will submit requests for S&T notes, which are then assigned to a fellow. The fellow will reach out to the legislator requesting the note for additional information. Based on that information, the fellow will write the note under the mentorship of Dr. Stine.

Each note will undergo a peer and expert review process before submission to the legislator requesting the note. Fellows will revise the note based on that review and prepare it for publication. All notes will become public information and posted on the Bridge Initiative website.

What do West Virginia STPF fellows do?

In response to requests from West Virginia state legislators, West Virginia STPF Fellows will draft science and technology (S&T) notes. These evidence-based notes provide an overview of the topic from a scientific and technical perspective, explaining the topic within the context of West Virginia’s societal needs.

Fellows writing these one-page notes will outline the current policies, opportunities, and challenges. They will also analyze the effectiveness, efficiency, equity, and ease of political acceptability of policies from other states responding to the same challenge or opportunity so West Virginia legislators can incorporate this analysis into their decision making. S&T notes do not make policy recommendations.

Illustrative policy topics that might be addressed by these notes include energy, environment, education, workforce, health, and transportation. Sample S&T notes are available at this link.

Provided below is a list of specific activities in which fellows will engage:

  • Synthesize scientific and technical research related to policy topics as identified by members of the West Virginia state legislature into science and technology notes.
  • Monitor and report about science and technology policy activities in the West Virginia legislature to identify possible science and technology note topics for legislators.
  • Identify reputable sources and figures that support and communicate the science and technology policy research topics.
  • Support stakeholder engagement activities, including identifying relevant stakeholders, communicating with stakeholders, organizing roundtable events, creating and distributing roundtable event information.
  • Incorporate expert peer feedback into S&T notes, including key input from WVU faculty and Bridge leadership.
  • Communicate S&T Note findings to West Virginia state and federal policymakers.
  • Prepare materials (powerpoints, other) for briefings to lawmakers and other outreach events.
  • Update Bridge website with S&T Notes and monitor legislature requests for S&T Notes sent via email and website.
  • Attendance at events deemed important to Bridge communications, with travel necessary at times.
  • Keep in contact with the Bridge Initiative for four years following the fellowship to support future fellows and provide information on the impact of the fellowship on your career.

What Professional Development Opportunities Do Fellows Have?

West Virginia STPF fellows will receive professional development throughout the fellowship program, with topics selected by the fellows, as well as career guidance on their next step following the fellowship. They will also have an opportunity to network with fellows from other state fellowship programs.

Specific professional development opportunities include:

  • Training in S&T policy, policy analysis, quantitative analysis (e.g., benefit-cost analysis), equity analysis, program evaluation, and DEI from Dr. Deborah Stine, Founder of the Science & Technology Policy Academy.
  • Opportunities to learn about communicating with non-scientific audiences, including lawmakers and community members, through the newly-formed American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Local Science Engagement Network (LSEN) in West Virginia, led by LSEN Liaison and Postdoctoral Fellow Brooke Eastman.
  • Meeting in person with WV legislators and observing hearings, committee meetings, and sessions, including during Black Policy Day.
  • Development of a science and technology policy portfolio, including through authorship of S&T notes.
  • Mentorship by Bridge Initiative staff and BFFs.
  • Participation in the West Virginia S&T Policy Fellows Alumni Network, after the program concludes.
  • Additional networking opportunities through state S&T policy fellows network, including virtual meet-ups with members of other state S&T policy fellows.

How Do I Apply for the Program?

The Bridge Initiative is reviewing applications and interviewing candidates for the fellowship program beginning on a rolling basis from November 1, 2023 until December 1, 2023. To apply, go here.

Provided below are a list of items that you will need to submit for consideration through the WVU website and you should prepare these prior to submitting your application.

  • a cover letter that addresses the questions below;
  • your resume; and
  • an existing writing sample, ideally one for a non-technical audience. The writing sample should not exceed 2 double-spaced pages or 1 single-spaced page. For longer writing samples, just include the first 3 pages.

In the cover letter, please answer the following (short answer, 1 or 2 paragraphs) questions:

  • Why are you interested in this fellowship program?
  • What connection, if any, do you have to Appalachia ( map)?
  • What background, education, experiences, and expertise can you bring to the fellowship, both in your S&T field and in policy? Provide 1 - 2 brief examples that may be relevant to your work as a fellow, and your role and accomplishments in those efforts. This might include activities with community groups, professional associations, advisory and editorial committees, nonprofit organizations, outreach and teaching to non-scientific audiences, etc.
  • What broad areas of science and technology policy topics are of interest to you? (e.g., energy, environment, education, workforce, health, and transportation). Why are they of interest?
  • What are your near- and long-term career goals, and how do you envision the fellowship will help you achieve those goals?

You do not need to submit reference letters. If you are selected as a finalist, however, we will request contact information for three references. Those will be discussed during your video interview.

We hope you will consider applying for this exciting opportunity! If you have any questions, please email scitechpolicy@mail.wvu.edu.

Image source: Analogue Kid, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons