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Student Policy Resources

How to Make an Impact as a Graduate Student

Now is a critical time to get involved with science policy as an early career researcher or graduate student. Below are just a few examples of issues that researchers and students lent their voices to and had a major impact on public policy decision-making.

Tuition waivers that come with research assistantships–often the lifeblood of graduate students which provide modest stipends to live off–would have been counted as taxable income under a GOP tax proposal. Advocates argued that this would make graduate school an unaffordable proposition for too many students. The research community stood-up and the Administration backed-down.

A proposal to eliminate the student loan interest deduction that allows students to deduct up to $2,500 of interest payments on student loans was on the chopping block. The research community stood-up and Congress backed-down.

The Lifetime Learning Credit that provides tax benefits up to $2,000 for tuition and enrollment fees was set to be eliminated. The research community stood-up and Congress backed-down.

This is where you come in—as a graduate student, it’s easy to get involved with issues you care about, like the ones listed above, to impact policy at the local, state, & national levels.

Not sure where to start? Get informed about the science policy ecosystem with this guide. 

ucsd students
AIMBE Fellow Dr. John Watson’s students from the University of California, San Diego visit with their lawmakers in Washington, D.C. with the help of AIMBE.

Unsure of your current representatives? Look-up your lawmakers here.

Role of Students in Science Policy

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AIMBE Advocacy Toolkit

AIMBE provides resources to look-up your Members of Congress, write a letter to your lawmakers, schedule appointments with your elected officials, information on hosting a congressional lab tour, and more. Get engaged and use these resources to get active on your campus. Learn more. 

Engage with the Experts

AIMBE Public Policy Institute

AIMBE hosts a 2-day Public Policy Institute for Rising Leaders to inform students about the policy landscape shaping medical and biological engineering. This training workshop has included sessions by White House officials, industry executives, and public policy experts in the medical device and innovation sector. Learn more.

Former White House Official Robbie Barbero, Ph.D., Assistant Director for Biological Innovation for the Office of Science and Technology Policy address the White House Role in Science Policymaking.

Participants network with Philip Desjardins, J.D., Vice President of Global Regulatory Affairs & Intelligence for Medical Devices at Johnson & Johnson.

The AIMBE FDA Scholars discuss regulatory policy with Patricia Shrader, J.D., Former Vice President of Global Regulatory Affairs for Medtronic.

Post-grad Opportunities

AIMBE FDA Scholars Program

The AIMBE Scholars Program enables distinguished post-doctorates in biomedical engineering fields to serve as expert advisors to policy makers at the FDA. Scholars learn how to apply their experiences from the lab to inform regulatory policy. AIMBE Scholars work side-by-side with the most influential decision makers at the agency. Scholars receive training about regulatory science and policy and build relationships with key government stakeholders. Learn more.

2017-2018 AIMBE Scholars meet Dr. Michael Hill, Vice President of Corporate Science, Technology, and Clinical Affairs for Medtronic.

2016-2017 AIMBE Scholars meet with former White House Official Robbie Barbero, Ph.D., Assistant Director for Biological Innovation for the Office of Science and Technology Policy and AIMBE Past President Dr. Gilda Barabino.

Talk to your university’s Office of Government/Federal Relations for opportunities at your institution and use resources like the National Science Policy Group to explore science policy groups/initiatives in your area.

Additional fellowship opportunities are identified here. Below is a short list of some of the most popular opportunities.

  • AAAS Catalyzing Advocacy for Science and Engineering (CASE) Workshop: Organized to educate graduate students who are interested in learning about the role of science in policy-making, to introduce them to the federal policy-making process, and to empower them with ways to become a voice for basic research throughout their careers. More info
  • AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship: Provides opportunities to outstanding scientists and engineers to learn first-hand about policymaking while contributing their knowledge and analytical skills to the federal policymaking process in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government in Washington. More info
  • Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program: Provides early career individuals with the opportunity to spend 12 weeks at the Academies in Washington, DC learning about science and technology policy and the role that scientists and engineers play in advising the nation. More info

Track the Issues

Follow AIMBE on Twitter and LinkedIn

Join the AIMBE LinkedIn group and follow AIMBE on Twitter to stay connected.

Twitter is a great resource for keeping-up with science policy. Start by following #scipol, #scicomm. and #scipoljobs, and explore the resources below:

  • @AIMBE

    American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering – Leadership and Advocacy for MBE

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  • @ESAL_us

    Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally–Dedicated to increasing local civic engagement by engineers & scientists.

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  • @ESEPCoalition

    An ad hoc alliance to empower scientists and engineers to effectively engage in the policy making process at all levels of government.

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  • @AAAS

    Updates from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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  • @ScienceInsider

    Breaking news & analysis of science policy, politics, & controversies from Science Insider.

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  • @SciPolGuy

    Vice President for Policy, Association of American Universities.

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  • @ComSciCon

    A #scicomm workshop series for grad students.

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  • @CCSTorg

    A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established via the California State Legislature—making California’s policies stronger with science since 1988.

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  • @AAAS_GR

    Providing objective S&T info to Congress & policy info to the STEM Community.

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    Science & Tech. Policy Fellows enhance federal policy and transform their careers.

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  • @BeyondAcademia

    Career education group that exposes UC Berkeley Ph.D. students and postdocs to career options outside of academia.

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  • @FYIscipolicy

    A science policy news service supported by the American Institute of Physics.

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