Colin McCormick was been named the MRS/OSA Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow for 2003-2004, with his term beginning in September.
"During my research career in atomic physics and nonlinear optics, I have become aware of the important links between public policy and science," McCormick said. Policymakers often guide what scientific areas will be explored, pressing researchers to answer questions of immediate importance, ”at least in the view of the policymaker in question. Yet at other times, science leads policy by developing faster than debate and decision can follow. Legislators then must determine after the fact how these advances will impact society as a whole. I am interested in both of these modes of science policy."
While obtaining his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, McCormick taught physics to undergraduate students who typically had not already been exposed to the field. This experience, along with his tenure as editor in chief of the student-run Berkeley Science Review, a journal promoting public understanding of graduate research, prepared McCormick to explain scientific topics to a nontechnical audience. He was eager to apply this skill to the legislative process.
As a recipient of this one-year appointment, sponsored jointly by the Materials Research Society and the Optical Society of America, McCormick took a position in the office of Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).