MOST Team Chats

Updates, jobs, and more

December 12, 2019

As we move into the holiday season, I’m reflecting on where we were at in December 2018 and how much has changed at MOST Policy Initiative in the past 12 months. You may have noticed a few of these changes. In 2019, we adopted “MOST Policy Initiative” as our name to better capture the breadth of our programs and goals. We defined three key areas where we hope to focus our efforts moving forward:

  1. Policy Initiatives – working side-by-side with elected officials to incorporate more scientific information into state and local policy decisions
  2. Empowering Scientists – providing resources and training for scientists interested in interacting with the policy-making process
  3. Public Engagement – engaging with the media and broader community on issues related to science and technology.

With the generous support of the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the University of Missouri Graduate School, I was able to join MOST as the full-time director after I completed my PhD in June. Unfortunately, this meant that we said goodbye to my former co-director, Mike Hendricks. Dr. Hendricks started as a tenure-track faculty member at Illinois State University in the Department of Political Science in August. It is strange to fly solo as the leader of MOST, but I’m excited that Mike is thriving in his new position.

In October, we officially moved into our new office space in Jefferson City. I am excited to be two blocks from the capitol and have already begun to see benefits for MOST by being where the action’s taking place. Just like it’s crucial to be in Washington, DC if you’re working on federal policy, it has been important that we are based in our state’s capital city. If I look hard enough, I even have a view of the Missouri River!

When I look back on 2019 in the future, it will probably seem like a fairly uneventful year compared to 2020. Next year, we will be hiring our first class of Missouri Science & Technology Policy Fellows, launching the Missouri Local Science Engagement Network with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and expanding the resources that we offer to policymakers and scientists across the state. Our staff will also be growing! Early next year, we will be hiring a Program Support Coordinator and a Public Relations Assistant (see announcements below).

In 2020, MOST Policy Initiative will be taking another big step – we will become independent from the University of Missouri and be a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are so grateful to Mizzou and the Graduate School leadership for being our home to this point, but we are excited for the opportunities that come with being an independent organization. We look forward to continuing to work with Mizzou and other Missouri universities as we grow.

As a mission-driven organization, MOST Policy Initiative relies on the generous support of donors and foundations to make our work possible. We hope that you will consider giving to MOST so that we can continue to support and expand knowledge transfer between policymakers and scientists and elevate the role of science in civic conversations.

Thank you for your continued support! Happy Holidays!

Cheers,
Rachel


We’re growing!

October 1, 2018

If you were following our group over the summer, you may have noticed that Mike and I were joined by three undergraduate interns. We are excited to keep Joel, Maggie, and Nick on our team this fall, and we’re also welcoming Emily and Rebecca! Altogether, this brings us up to a team of seven. We wanted to provide a brief update on how our organizational structure is going to look moving forward and talk about a few of our big plans now that we have a bigger team.

We are currently organizing our efforts in three main topic areas. First, we are still working to build strategic partnerships in Missouri and around the country. Next, we have been applying to grants and reaching out to donors to reach our goal of $75,000 in fundraising for the 2019-2020 academic year. Finally, we have prioritized outreach and public relations through our social media accounts, website posts, and community events. We have identified partnership building, fundraising, and outreach as our top priorities as we build this program in Missouri.

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While Mike and I are both in the final year of our Ph.D. programs and seeking post-graduation jobs, we meet multiple times each week to discuss the future of MOST and work on these priority areas. Nick Waters is staying on as a Partnerships Coordinator, and will be working with state legislators and agency directors to spread the word about MOST in Jefferson City. Joel Lesher and Maggie Mock are assisting in applying for grants and researching potential donors as our Fundraising Coordinators. Emily Moore and Rebecca Craigg have both joined our team this fall and will be working as our Policy Coordinators, gathering information to showcase how MOST Policy Fellows will effectively serve in Jefferson City.

Visit the “MOST Team” page to find out more about who we are and why we are passionate about building a science and technology policy fellowship in Missouri. We look forward to bringing you more updates soon!


The Journey Begins

February 25, 2018

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