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2024-25 MRS/Optica Congressional Science and Engineering Fellowship

MRS and Optica (formerly OSA) offer a congressional fellowship program providing members with an invaluable opportunity of public policy learning. Fellows contribute effective use of optical and materials science knowledge in government and broaden awareness of the value of scientist- and engineer-government interaction among our memberships, the federal government and the public. 


The application period for the 2024-25 MRS/Optica Congressional Science and Engineering Fellowship is now closed. Final selection of the fellow will be made in Spring 2024 after personal interviews are conducted.

Applications for the 2025-26 MRS/Optica Congressional Science and Engineering Fellowship will open in September 2024.  


The Fellow spends one year working as a special legislative assistant on the staff of a member of Congress or congressional committee. Activities may involve conducting legislative or oversight work, assisting in congressional hearings and debates and preparing briefs and writing speeches. The Fellow also attends an orientation program administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on congressional and executive branch operations, which includes guidance in the congressional placement process, and a year-long seminar series on science and public policy issues. The AAAS also administers many other aspects of the program for the MRS/Optica Fellow, as well as other Fellows sponsored by nearly two dozen other scientific societies. 

MRS/Optica Fellow

Marie Fiori

Marie Fiori
University of Wisconsin-Madison
 Current and Past Fellows


A prospective Fellow must have a record of success in research or scholarship in a field relevant to optical science and technology and/or materials, familiarity with the discipline and a working understanding of the scientific communities. The Fellow must also demonstrate sensitivity toward policy issues and have a strong interest in applying scientific and technical knowledge to United States public policy issues. The Fellow must be able to work quickly and communicate effectively to both scientific and non-scientific audiences on a wide variety of topics and work cooperatively with individuals having diverse viewpoints. An applicant is expected to be a member of Optica or MRS (or an applicant for membership) and have a PhD degree by the Fellowship's start date. US citizenship is not required; however, applicants must be authorized to work in the United States. Specifically excluded as selection criteria are age, sex, creed, race, ethnic background and partisan political affiliation. 

Applicants will be evaluated based on the following:

  • Scientific/technical background and professional accomplishments—weighted in consideration of the applicant’s career stage.
  • Communication skills—to scientific and nonscientific audiences—including writing ability, community involvement and outreach activities.
  • Demonstrated public policy interest, such as through participation in policy or advocacy activities; service to professional societies and/or the broader scientific community; student government or other campus involvement (if applicable).
  • Fellowship skills and abilities, including (but not limited to): capacity to work quickly, flexibly and cooperatively; experience working with individuals with diverse viewpoints; ability to work in a public environment; and strong interpersonal skills.



The Fellow will have a one-year appointment beginning September 1. The Fellowship stipend will be USD 81,750, plus additional funds for health insurance, travel and relocation expenses to the Washington, DC area.


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