Random Thoughts from Debbie

Hi Deborah,

     Happy Thanksgiving everyone! My daughter, soon to turn 25, was born on Thanksgiving Day, so it's always been a special time for me.

      I thought I'd use this time to reflect a bit on part of the reason I believe science and engineering students learning about science and technology policy is so important.  When I'm teaching a Science & Technology Policy 101 workshop, I ask the students (who can be anything from high school students to professionals), how policy has benefited them; I get all kinds of interesting answers. 

     But what is frequently not among those answers?  The funding of STEM education, research, and innovation.  A few times, I've even been speaking in a workshop sponsored by NIH or NSF funds, and no one thought to mention that they would not be there without the support of the American people. Many scientists and engineers do not know that prior to World War II, government science and engineering activities were funded (since colonial days), but not academia.  Academia S&T was instead funded by universities themselves or philanthropists.  

       So, here's a top 5 list of why scientists and engineers should be thankful to the American people this Thanksgiving week.  It is from our friend Chat GPT:

  1. Funding and Support: Much of the research and development in the United States is funded by taxpayer money, either directly through government grants or indirectly through government-funded institutions and universities. This financial support is vital for scientific and engineering advancements.
  2. Education and Training Opportunities: The U.S. has a robust educational system, offering numerous opportunities for scientists and engineers to acquire advanced training and degrees. Many of these opportunities are supported by public funds and philanthropic contributions.
  3. Cultural Emphasis on Innovation: American culture often values and encourages innovation and risk-taking. This attitude fosters an environment where scientific and engineering endeavors are appreciated and supported, encouraging more people to enter these fields.
  4. Diverse Perspectives: The U.S.'s diverse population brings together a wide range of perspectives, backgrounds, and ideas, enriching the scientific and engineering communities. This diversity leads to more innovative and comprehensive solutions to complex problems.
  5. Public Engagement and Interest: Public interest in science and engineering, often manifested through media, museums, public lectures, and educational programs, helps sustain a society that values and understands the importance of these fields. This engagement is crucial for the continued support and development of scientific and engineering research.

These days I ask Chat GPT for a Sonnet that brings together the thoughts in my presentations.  Here's what it came up with this time:


In lands where freedom's light does brightly shine,

Where thinkers dream, and bold engineers craft,

The people's will, like stars, in night align,

Their support, a wind that fills the sail's draft. 

With funds they give, in trust and hope combined,

A nation's wealth to wisdom's quest they steer,

In labs and halls where curious minds unwind,

The fruits of knowledge to all held dear.

From diverse roots, a tapestry they weave,

Ideas born from every hue and creed,

In this rich soil, great discoveries conceived,

A blend of thought, where progress plants its seed.

For science thrives where hearts and minds are free, 

In gratitude, we thank this land's decree.


My final thought:  If all scientists and engineers could understand that the funding of STEM activities is not a right and the importance of thanking the American people for their support, I think Americans' trust in science would stop its currently downward decline. 

Empower your Science & Technology Policy Career to Advance Society

  • I'm pleased to announce that AAAS science and technology policy fellows can now sign up for career coaching at the S&T Policy Academy using their professional development funds. Interested AAAS STPFs, S&T organizations, and individuals interested in coaching can sign up for a complimentary discovery call.  I will also participate in a AAAS STPF meet the coaches activity on January 12.
  • As part of this effort, I will prepare a new class on S&T Policy careers.  I've offered modules on this before and workshops, but never a class.  I'd like to hear from you what would be useful in such a class not covered elsewhere on the web. The "you" in this case includes both those looking for S&T Policy jobs and those who have them now who came across topics they wish they had known.  Have some ideas?  Just hit reply to this email and I'd love to hear them! 
  • For the past 5 years or more, a group of S&T policy folks have been meeting monthly, with both financial and moral support from the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, to establish state S&T policy programs based on the concept of the AAAS STPF and the CCST STPF  in California.  I'm pleased to announce that West Virginia University, where I do a great deal of my consulting work, was chosen as one of the grantees for a planning grant for a state program there.  Because the West Virginia state legislature meets in January, and the speaker of the house (who has a PhD in chemistry from Notre Dame BTW) is very enthusiastic for the program to begin, we are now interviewing candidates for two virtual fellows on a rolling basis from now until December 1.  If you'd like to apply, you need to move fast!  You can find out more information here. I will be mentoring the fellows who will be producing Science and Technology Notes, similar to the Missouri program's Science Notes.

Upcoming Activities

  •  Speaking of S&T policy careers, I've been part of a group advising Sigma Xi on their new Civico state S&T policy career opportunity platform.  The Civico platform describes the policymaking process through identifying, formulating, and implementing policy. These stages can help users identify where and how they want to engage with state policy and find opportunities to meet their needs and satisfy their curiosity.  I will be providing a few comments at their virtual launch event on November 20 from 12-1 pm ETRegister.

On a fairly regular basis, organizations sponsor S&T Policy Academy workshops and allow others to enroll beyond their organization at no cost.    If you're interested in sponsoring your own workshop, sign up for a complimentary discovery call.  

  • The Idaho Science & Technology Policy Fellowship (ISTPF) invites you to a professional development seminar:  Introduction to Benefit-Cost Analysis, Cost-Effectiveness Analysis, and Risk Analysis. Benefit-cost, cost-effectiveness, and risk analyses are quantitative techniques used to assess a program's effectiveness, efficiency, and equity. More than any other analytical technique, they are critical in policy decision-making, particularly concerning the environment, health, worker safety, transportation, privacy/security, and energy fields. Register.

  • Innovate US sponsored three S&T Policy Academy workshops in October on program evaluation.  ICYMI, here are links to the recordings: Understanding Program Evaluation Essentials, Navigating Stakeholder and Community Engagement in Program Evaluation, and Crafting Logic Models and Developing Indicators. Beginning November 29, they also have what looks to be an interesting series focused on Human-Centered Design in Government as well as on How to Use Generative AI in Government for text and images. The speaker for the AI series is Beth Noveck, who I sat across from during my White House days.  She's a great speaker, and I'm sure you'll find the workshops useful.  I'm planning to attend both! Register.

More Ways to Learn and Grow 

The S&T Policy Academy has a number of ways for you to learn and grow:

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Deborah D. Stine, Founder, Science & Technology Policy Academy


Deborah Stine
Science & Technology Policy Academy