Advocacy & Policy

2019-20 MRS/OSA Congressional Science and Engineering Fellowship

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 other scientific societies. 


A prospective 2019-2020 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 Ph.D. by September 1, 2019. U.S. 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. 

MRS/OSA Fellow


Dylan Rittman
Stanford University 
 Current and Past MRS/OSA Fellows

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; 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 2019-2020 Fellow will have a one-year appointment beginning September 1, 2019. The Fellowship stipend will be $75,000, plus additional funds for health insurance, travel and relocation expenses to the Washington, D.C., area.


Applications must be postmarked or emailed by 11:59 pm (ET), Friday, January 4, 2019. Candidates must submit the following materials:

  1. 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 up to three pages) should list professional publications and presentations. Resumes should be tailored to address the qualifications above.
  2. 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 MRS/OSA Fellow to the legislative process, and what the applicant wants to learn from the experience.
  3. 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 deadline 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.

MRS/OSA applications are required to be mailed or emailed by 11:59 pm (ET), January 4, 2019, to:

Brandy Dillingham
Government Relations Specialist
The Optical Society
2010 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036-1023
Tel: 202-416-1409

For additional information, contact:

Donna Gillespie
Government Affairs Coordinator
Materials Research Society 
Tel: 724-779-2732