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“The nations may be divided in everything else, but they all share a single body of science.” – Isaac Asimov (Source: Isaac Asimov’s Book of Science and Nature Quotations (1988), 270.)

With the goal of exposing scientists to science policy early in their careers the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) hosts the annual CASE workshop. This three and a half day experience in Washington D.C. aims to expose senior undergraduates and graduate students in STEM to the organization and structure of Congress, the federal budget, appropriations processes, policy-making and effective communication tools in politics. The day after the workshop the students form groups to meet with their representatives in Congress and congressional staff to put to use the skills they learned.

At The Ohio State University (OSU), the Battelle Center for Science, Engineering, and Public Policy took on the task of selecting four students from a competitive pool of students across colleges and departments. For the 2018 CASE workshop the selected students were: Jonathan Ogland-Hand, PhD student in Environmental Science; Miguel Lopez Jr, PhD student in Biomedical Sciences, Natalie Hurst; BS student in Public Policy; and myself.

All four students from OSU that went to this workshop came from different colleges, which made the experience a more enriching one. On our day to day lives as students we are often surrounded by our peers that are in the same field. Working together with  students from different backgrounds gives you a new perspective from which to look at your science.

PhD students often find themselves lost as to what kind of jobs they can get after they get their degree. The path that most PhD students are familiar with is: getting a Post-doc, and then trying to find a tenure-track position at a prestigious university. However, the fact is that not all PhD students want to go on that path. The challenge that graduate programs face is to identify the needs of their students and give them the tools they need to succeed. Programs like the CASE workshop are tools to help students identify the path they would like to pursue. The earlier on their career they identify this the better they will be able to prepare to tackle the future beyond the thesis defense.

Below are some pictures from this experience:

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Doing the O-H-I-O with Senator Rob Portman. From left to right: Natalie Hurst, Priscila Rodriguez Garcia, Miguel Lopez Jr, Senator Rob Portman, and Jonathan Ogland.

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Ex-President Obama’s office back when he was a senator.

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We had to do the O-H-I-O at the AAAS headquarters in Washington D.C. Left to right: Natalie Hurst, Priscila Rodriguez Garcia, Jonathan Ogland, and Miguel Lopez Jr.

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I got to ride on the train that runs beneath Capitol Hill!

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The 2018 CASE Workshop participants (March 18-21, 2018). Picture source: CASE website.

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