Eric Werwa, an assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, was named the 2001-2002 MRS/OSA Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow. His tenure began in September. As a recipient of this one-year appointment, Werwa worked directly for a member of Congress or on a Congressional committee as a consultant on scientific and technical matters.
Brian Holloway, chair of the MRS Congressional Fellow Subcommittee, said, "I am very happy that Eric has accepted the 2001-2002 MRS/OSA Congressional Fellowship. During the selection process, the combination of his experience as a scientist and an educator helped him stand out in a very strong applicant pool. However, I think that his obvious dedication to public policy, his strong desire to serve in the policy arena and his innate understanding of the political process are what really set him apart. MRS and OSA have quickly built a tradition of outstanding Fellows. Eric will not only follow in the footsteps of those before him, but he will raise the bar for future Fellows."
Werwa said, "As a Fellow, some of the issues I am interested in working on are science education, funding for the physical sciences, environmental policy and energy policy." At Otterbein, Werwa has developed and taught the courses Energy, Science and Society and Our Place in the Universe for non-science majors. The courses presented the challenge of intertwining science with economics, history, public policy and other disciplines to demonstrate the relevance of science to students' lives. While observing two focus groups last year, organized by the Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America and designed to learn the public's opinions on science and federal funding of scientific research, Werwa realized that people, including Washington insiders, viewed math, science and engineering as hard and boring fields that they do not know or care about. "I will help staff and elected officials develop some understanding of the technical aspects of relevant pieces of legislation, allowing them to make informed decisions based on their own opinions," Werwa said. "I will also be a resource for other scientists, helping them participate in the legislative process more effectively."
Werwa served on the MRS Public Affairs Committee, and as a member of its Public Outreach Subcommittee; he chaired the Materials MicroWorld Task Force, which developed a traveling museum exhibit about materials science. The task force obtained a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help fund this project. After his Fellowship, Werwa was considering a career in science and technology policy. His specific area of research is in the synthesis and optical properties of semiconductors and nanoparticles. He received his B.S.Eng. in 1992 from the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. in 1997 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His honors and awards include recognition of Meritorious Service from Otterbein College, the John Wulff Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award, the AT&T Bell Laboratories PhD Scholar, 3M Corporation Graduate Fellow, NSF Graduate Fellow, Starr Graduate Fellow and Benjamin Franklin Scholar. His professional society memberships include MRS, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, ASM International, the Council on Undergraduate Research and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Werwa Accepts MRS/OSA Fellowship Position with Rep. Honda
Eric Werwa, the Materials Research Society/Optical Society of America Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow for 2001/2002,* accepted a position with U.S. Representative Michael M. Honda (D-Calif). As a then-new member of the House from Silicon Valley, Rep. Honda served on the Research Subcommittee within the House Science Committee. He has advocated for the high-tech community in favor of legislation to augment the research and development tax credit and to eliminate taxes on graduate-school tuition paid by employers. He was forming a bipartisan Task Force on Mobile Commerce to better understand and support innovative companies in the wireless industry.
Werwa expected to work closely with the semiconductor industry, which makes up a large portion of Rep. Honda's constituency. Werwa was also to be working in the areas of biotechnology, energy issues (including renewable energy sources), environmental issues and science education.
"As a former science teacher, Representative Honda appreciates the importance of science and technology in the lives of all Americans and the importance of educating the public about science and technology. This made his office seem like an ideal place for me to work during my fellowship year, one where I should have many opportunities to advance science in the Congress," said Werwa. "We are currently in the process of developing legislation to improve science education and increase funding for scientific research to be introduced in 2002. I invite members of the science community to give me their input into these and other subjects."
*See MRS Bulletin 26 (May 2001) p. 409.