Director Anna Hui’s perspective on the MOST Policy Fellows

JEFFERSON CITY (March 21, 2020) – The Missouri Science and Technology (MOST) Policy Fellow Initiative appealed to them, said Anna Hui.

Hui, the director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations participated in the Expo State Debrief: Bringing Scientific Evidence to Meet Local Policy Challenges at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in February.

Director Hui also serves as a MOST advisory board member. She said during the debriefing that MOST is placing fellows in the legislative branch with committees but in the executive branch they are looking at key issues facing the government statewide.

The advisory board will work to find ways to “integrate someone with a Ph.D. and an expertise background to come in and help us to better organize and understand what answers we already have in front of us,” she said.

Six fellows will start in the fall semester, according to Director Hui. MOST Policy Fellows will use foundation funding to help with legislative placements; however, to expand the number of  executive branch fellows “we are looking at the state government’s current fiscal year’s ability to take someone along with the current budget as well,” she said.  

See the full interview at https://t.co/0Qvdz272fp?amp=1.

Former S&T Fellows are using their experience to advise the MOST Policy Fellows program

Drs. Casey Canfield and Beth Prusaczyk, former science and technology fellows in Washington, DC, are sharing their experiences and guiding the MOST Policy Fellows program by serving on our advisory board. 

“Former fellows bring a wealth of information to the advisory board since they have experienced a science policy fellowship first hand,” said Rachel Owen, MOST Policy Initiative’s Director. 

Dr. Canfield is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. She has a doctorate in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University. After completing her Ph.D., she spent a year and a half as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office. In that role, she was involved in managing programs and designing future funding solicitations.

She said her experience as a science and tech policy fellow gave her a broad perspective on the importance of integrating technical knowledge in the policy-making process. “I’m excited for Missouri to benefit from Ph.D. level expertise in supporting legislation on science and technology,” she said. “Being a MOST Policy Fellow is an opportunity for PhDs to learn how laws and policies are made. You can make a difference.” 

Dr. Canfield designs, tests, and models human-centered approaches for big data, artificial intelligence, and automation to better understand uncertainty and risk. By combining analytical frameworks with user-friendly decision tools, she aims to improve system outcomes in complex infrastructure systems, such as energy, healthcare, and broadband. Broadly, she aims to increase data-driven decision-making at both individual and organizational levels.

Dr. Prusaczyk is an instructor at the Institute for Informatics and in General Medical Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She has a doctorate in social work from Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, completing her postdoctoral training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. During her postdoctoral training, she spent a year as a Health and Aging Policy Fellow in the Senate Special Committee on Aging for Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA).

“Scientists are trained to communicate to other scientists, but if we want to see the real-world impacted by our science then we have to be able to communicate with policymakers and help bridge the science-to-policy gap,” she said. “There is no better way to do this than to be embedded with policymakers and serve as that connector.”

The MOST policy fellowships offer researchers the unique opportunity to see how policy is made from the inside and bring their scientific expertise to the ones who can turn it into action, Beth said. “The skills policy fellows will learn will serve them well in whatever type of position they pursue after they finish the program, whether that is academic, industry, or non-profit.”

Her research interests include broadly what are the strategies to improve the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based healthcare practices for older adults both to policymakers and healthcare providers. 

MOST Policy Institute is currently accepting fellows applications. The deadline is March 25, 2020. More information can be found at https://mostpolicyinitiative.org/fellows.

The Journey Begins

Wow! We are really going to make this happen! When Hallie, Mike, and I began working on this project in fall 2016, I never imagined we would make it this far. Two years later after countless hours of meetings and brainstorming sessions, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Realistically, we are within 2-3 years of placing pre- and post-doctoral STEM graduates in Jefferson City to help inform evidence-based policy in the State of Missouri.

To date, we’ve spent a lot of time sharing our vision of MOST and seeking advice and guidance. We’ve worked with the Missouri legislature to assure that evidence-based policy resources are needed and will be accepted by our legislators, and we’ve also discussed what a successful program would look like in Jefferson City. We anticipate that fellows will serve one-year terms, starting in August before the General Assembly session begins in January. During that time, fellows will work with legislators to provide scientific guidance while bills are drafted and host workshops to build knowledge-based capacity with legislators. While session is progress, fellows will answer questions regarding legislation and serve as expert witnesses during hearings. We are showcasing legislative support by soliciting signatures on a letter of support during the 2018 session. We are very grateful to the Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM) for collecting signatures for us!

If you visit our giving page, you will notice that donations will be directed to University of Missouri. After weighing our options, we decided to work with the MU Office of Graduate Studies to manage the fellowship funds. While the funding is housed at MU, fellowship opportunities will be open to any Missouri STEM pre- or post-doctoral scholar and expert advice in Jefferson City will be independent from any bias associated with the University. That being said, we are incredibly thankful that Dr. Jeni Hart and staff in OGS have provided support for MOST and agree to do so moving forward. We hope you will consider making a donation to MOST so that we can continue to pursue our goals and hire a full-time program director in the near future. 

Before I go, I must also provide a shout-out to the University of Missouri Graduate Professional Council. Not only did GPC bring Hallie, Mike, and I together to work on this project, but they have provided financial resources to get us off the ground. We could not have made it this far without their support.

We are so excited to keep working in pursuit of informing evidence-based policy in the State of Missouri and improving the lives of Missourians in the process. Let us know if you’d like to work with us moving forward! 

-R

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. — Mark Twain

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Mike and Rachel at the Missouri Capitol in January, speaking with legislators about MOST.