MIT’s Science Policy Initiative holds 13th annual Executive Visit Days

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On October 23-24, a delegation of 21 MIT students, one MIT postdoc, and four University of the District of Columbia students met in Washington for the MIT Science Policy Initiative Executive Visit Days (XVD). Now in its 13th year, it is a forum where university students and young researchers meet officials and scientists from various federal agencies, discuss science and technology policy, and learn about the federal government’s role in solving these problems. .

The delegation visited seven different agencies, as well as MIT’s Washington office, where the team held virtual calls with staff from the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Advanced Research Projects in Health. Visits to the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration followed over two days. A series of meetings, facilitated. MIT Science Policy Initiative (SPI)It provides a window into the current activities of each agency and how individuals can engage with science policy through the lens of each agency.

The Science Policy Initiative is an organization of students and postdocs whose main goal is not only to promote interest in science policy at MIT and in general, but also to facilitate the exchange of ideas between today’s policymakers and tomorrow’s scientists. . One of SPI’s unique field trips each year, XVD allows students to gain insight into the work of federal agencies, while also providing an opportunity to meet with representatives from these agencies, many of whom are MIT alumni, and discuss career paths. In science policy. In addition, ExVD serves as an opportunity for participants to connect with students, postdocs, and experts outside the field but with common interests in science policy.

“I believe it is very important for students with the necessary technical knowledge to understand the realities of policy making,” said Philip Christopherson, a doctoral student researching AI in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and SPI ExVD 2023 Chair. We are reaching important points – AI, climate change, biotechnology, and many others. For this reason, science and science policy must be mobilized for the greater good of society, and it falls to us as scientists-in-training to make that happen.

One example of the delegation’s visits is to the White House OSTP, located directly next to the West Wing in Eisenhower’s Executive Office Building. This special agency of less than 200 employees, most of whom are seconded or on loan from other federal agencies, reports directly to the president on all matters related to science and policy. The atmosphere at the White House complex and the conversation with Ki Koizumi, deputy director of policy at OSTP, deeply moved the students and demonstrated the broad impact of science on federal policy.

A general feeling among the KVD participants is a renewed motivation to engage in policy issues, either as a motivation for their graduate research or for their future careers. The ExVD 2023 team is grateful to the MTA Washington Office, whose generous support was critical to making this trip a reality. The delegation also thanked the MIT Science Policy Initiative Leadership Team for organizing this trip, which was an invaluable experience.

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