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Friday, April 22, 2016
Cornell brings its BEST to national science policy workshop

BESTies Charlotte Levy, ecol. & evol. biol. and Steve Halaby, molecular biol. & genetics, were selected to represent Cornell as one of over 50 institutions nationwide who participated in the AAAS Making our CASE Workshop held in Washington, DC, from April 17-19, 2016. They joined a dozen Cornellians in Washington D.C. for Hill visits the following day (see the "Cornell graduate students march on Washington" Chronicle article here).

The two and a half-day CASE workshop, organized by the Office of Government Relations at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), provided participants with a wonderful introduction to science and public policy. The speakers they met represent a broad range of backgrounds and experiences, and each has their own unique story as to what brought them to the intersection of science and public policy.

Candidates were selected at Cornell for nomination to the AAAS workshop for their interest in science policy and advocacy, strong leadership skills, and exemplary communication skills. Steve Halaby does research in the Fromme lab at the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology. He also serves as a Graduate Student Ambassador by assisting with recruiting strong applicants and welcoming them once admitted. The outreach program encourages a diverse student body and helps with retention. "We need science heroes," Halaby states.

Charlotte Levy works in the Goodale and Fahey labs and her research revolves around the global carbon cycle, focusing specifically on decomposition rates following chronic nitrogen addition, and carbon offsets from forest management and woody biofuels. She recently became the incoming President of the Advancing Science And Policy graduate club to better advocate for science and train graduate students and postdocs for increased skills and practical opportunities in policymaking and in communicating their research.

To prepare for the AAAS Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) workshop, participants reviewed the R&D Budget, as one of the activities at the workshop involved breaking into teams to actually work on the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations. This was a unique opportunity for participants to play the role of a congressional staffer. In addition, the workshop included a session on effective communication and opportunities to strategize and practice. Workshop materials included potential talking points and resource material that students utilized in crafting a message for a meeting.

The third day of the Workshop was organized by the Cornell Federal Relations office and provided an opportunity for students to visit with Members of Congress and their staff to put into practice some of the skills they learned the previous two days.