AAAS "Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering" Workshop Student Competition

American Association for the Advancement of Science
"Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering" Workshop Student Competition


The CIRES Center for Science and Technology Policy Research is hosting a competition to send two CU Boulder students to Washington, DC to attend the AAAS "Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering" workshop. The competition is open to any full-time CU Boulder graduate student or upper class undergraduate in one of the following fields: Biological, physical, or earth sciences; Computational sciences and mathematics; Engineering disciplines; Medical and health sciences; and Social and behavioral sciences. Please submit a one-page statement explaining the importance of the workshop to your career development and a one-page resume to by February 14, 2017. The evaluation committee will select two students from those who apply. The competition is supported by the University of Colorado Graduate School and Center for STEM Learning. Competition winners will be asked to submit a brief report about their workshop experience and participate in a panel discussion.


Through a highly competitive selection process Adalyn Fyhrie (Astrophysical and Planetary Science) and Caroline Havrilla (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) were chosen as this year’s winners to attend the workshop.

Adalyn FyhrieAdalyn Fyhrie is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Astrophysical and Planetary Science department at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her thesis work revolves around developing and testing ultra sensitive far-infrared detectors for future space-based telescopes. In addition, she is studying carbon monoxide gas dynamics in the galaxy NGC 6240, a galaxy which is actually comprised of two galaxies merging together. Adalyn is passionate about improving the lines of communication between professional scientists and the rest of society, and plans to make a career of this work post-graduation. She believes that science-based policy decisions will serve our country best, and that the most effective way to advocate for these types of decisions is through a mutual understanding between scientists and non-scientists.

Carrie HavrillaCaroline (“Carrie”) Havrilla is third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Her research broadly seeks to understand the mechanisms that underlie vascular plant community structure and diversity in terrestrial ecosystems, and how anthropogenic drivers impact these processes. Carrie is currently studying biological soil crusts, ubiquitous soil microbial communities in dryland ecosystems, and their role in mediating plant communities and broader ecosystem functioning. She works closely with public land managers to develop research and novel solutions to management challenges in drylands of southwestern United States. Post-graduate school, her professional goals include creating innovative approaches to effectively incorporate ecological research into land management practices and decision-making by policymakers, and applying interdisciplinary science to solve complex problems in a changing world. Read Caroline Havrilla's workshop summary

Past Winners


Making our CASE:
Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering
April 2-5, 2017

A coalition of scientific and engineering societies, universities, and academic organizations has created an exciting opportunity for upper-class undergraduate and graduate students in science, mathematics, and engineering disciplines to learn about science policy and advocacy. This year's workshop will take place on April 2-5, 2017 (Tentative).

Elected students will participate in a three-and-a-half day program in Washington, DC, in the spring of 2017. During the workshop portion, participants will learn about the structure and organization of Congress, the federal budget and appropriations processes, and tools for effective science communication and civic engagement. In addition, students will participate in interactive seminars about policy-making and communication. By the end of the workshop students will have an opportunity to learn about ways to remain engaged through on-campus activities.

The day after the workshop, students will form teams and conduct meetings with their elected Members of Congress and congressional staff members, putting into practice what they have learned.

This entry-level program is organized to educate 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. Space is limited to two students per institution. Workshop Information.

Founding Organizations: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute of Physics, Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Research!America, University of Colorado Boulder

AAAS CASE Workshop 2016 Competition Winners Sarah Welsh-Huggins and Angela Boag, CU-Boulder, discuss why science should matter to the presidential candidates.




“The CASE workshop provided discussions with an impressive lineup of experts in the field of science policy, from members of Congress to employees of national science agencies. Each moment and every speaker was an opportunity to crack the world of science policy open…The CASE workshop focused on policy for science, how it is made, and how to advocate for it. The workshop also exposed me to the wide variety of people who contribute to policy for science. The two biggest takeaways for me were: first, that government doesn’t work the way it appears to in the news or during election time (it is, in general, much less partisan). Second, that governance is much more emotional than logical (stories can be more effective than facts). Honestly, these were counterintuitive to me, especially the importance of stories instead of facts in getting policy to pass. Many scientists (and I am no exception) want to solve problems with logic and facts, but this is not the most effective way to advocate for science and science funding to Congress. People respond to stories, and that is what we had to deliver. I started the workshop with a tenuous idea of what science policy was and how one could get involved with it as a career. By the last day, I was meeting with members of Congress and their staff and requesting continued funding of the sciences in the upcoming budget. The CASE workshop gave me confidence in my abilities as a science advocate and insight into the myriad of career options in science policy.” Adalyn Fyhrie (Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences), 2017 competition winner

“Participating in the 2017 AAAS Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) Workshop was a truly transformative experience for me as a scientist. The three-­-day workshop was a thought-­ provoking crash course in science policy, in the company of a diverse cohort of scientists from around the country, and exposed me to the complex world of policymaking…We learned about policymaking, the federal budget process, and importantly, how scientists can advocate for science and contribute to decision making within the science policy realm…According to many of the science policy officials we met with in Washington, scientists often miss out on valuable opportunities to effectively communicate their science for policy because their messages often misalign with the needs of policymakers. This misalignment often results from fundamental differences in what information science and policy spheres incorporate into their decision making processes. Policymakers often make decisions based on big-­-picture, culturally-­-based value systems, while, in contrast, scientists typically make decisions based on highly specific, data-­-based evidence…Science is only one small piece of the decision making process, but by aligning research to economic, environmental, and societal outcomes, we can better advocate for incorporation of science into policymaking…I had the incredible opportunity to visit the Hill and advocate for scientific research with Congressional members and their staffers. With the help of the AAAS staff and our Hill guide, Heather Bené (with CU’s Office of Government Relations), we had the opportunity to practice communicating our science and advocating for the incorporation of basic and applied scientific research into policymaking. I look forward to incorporating science policy in my future career.” Caroline Havrilla (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), 2017 competition winner

“Our time in D.C. was well-organized, thought-provoking, and for this future science policy-maker, a lot of fun. In three jam-packed days, we were introduced to the worlds of science for policy and policy for science, and what it means to be an effective leader in each. What do NASA and the FBI have in common? Their funding comes from the same congressional appropriations committee. What, then, is an appropriations bill? How does that differ from an allocation bill? Each session was thoughtfully designed to shape our understanding of a distinct piece of the policy puzzle. We scientists love to use long sentences with too many semi-colons and multi-syllabic words, but as the workshop taught us, politicians and their teams don’t have time to review every 30 page journal article on climate paleontology. What story can you tell about your work, and why it matters, they asked us, in three brief, yet informative bullet points? Policy is not just decisions made by our elected officials, however, as I learned from a Congressional Research Specialist at the Library Congress, who has worked on the Hill for over 40 years. She graced us with a short version of the day-long lecture she gives every freshmen class of Senators and Representatives on how Congress “really” works. She and all of the congressional staffers, university public relations lobbyists, and science policy officials with whom we met demonstrated how much policy-making depends on the thousands of behind the scenes actors working each day out of the limelight.” Sarah Welsh-Huggins (Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering), 2016 competition winner

“On the Hill Visit Day we were able to get experience trying to “break through” the fray of information that members of Congress receive using messaging techniques we learned. Not only did we learn that Congressional staffers (in most cases our peers, ranging from 20-30 years old) are really the filters through which information gets to members of Congress, but we also learned the importance of storytelling in conveying effective messages. From our Hill guide Heather Bené (staff member at CU’s Office of Government Relations) we also learned the art of the long game. She had clearly developed positive relationships with staffers from Colorado’s Congressional offices and we could see how these positive relationships led to productive meetings and opportunities to chat with Legislative Directors and members of Congress themselves. The staffers also encouraged us as scientists to reach out directly as constituents; several of them commented that the scientific community is often less directly engaged with Congressional offices than other groups.” Angela E. Boag (Environmental Studies), 2016 competition winner

“Overall, the experience of attending this workshop and the value of the information presented was an extremely beneficial opportunity for me as I look to further my aspirations of using fact-based, scientific information to support and advocate for issues relevant to my work and research. The lineup of speakers and panel topics proved to be a great introductory crash-course in science advocacy and lobbying. I think that the programming on a whole proved mutually beneficial to AAAS and the participants present and I would support others in my cohort who exhibit interest in advocacy and policy to apply for the workshop next year.” Nicholas Valcourt (Civil Systems Engineering), 2015 competition winner

“Participating in the 2015 Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) workshop sponsored by AAAS was a great experience. The workshop greatly improved my understanding of and appreciation for the complex process by which our federal government funds science. Additionally, I have come to understand the necessity for scientists to advocate for science and the need for scientists to participate in the political process. Thanks to the efforts of AAAS and CU’s Office of Government Relations, I was given the opportunity to meet with staffers of senators and representatives from Colorado in order to gain hands on advocacy experience. Furthermore the opportunity to meet with other graduate students interested in science policy and learn about possible career opportunities was quite valuable. I am very thankful to CSTPR, the Center for STEM Learning, and the University of Colorado Graduate School for sponsoring my participation in the CASE workshop and I hope they are able to continuing sponsoring other CU students in the future.” Thomas Reynolds (Chemical and Biological Engineering), 2015 competition winner

“The workshop truly exceeded my expectations, and those of all the participants. As a graduate student who relies on federal dollars with little knowledge of the process and mechanisms by which these dollars are allocated, it was eye opening to learn more about these procedures and what I can do to advocate for my own research and that of the University. Truly I cannot say enough good things about the specific workshops, the people I met from AAAS, and the individuals we met within our congressmen’s offices. I sincerely hope AAAS makes the CASE workshop an annual event and that CU can continue to participate.” Emily Pugach (Molecular, Cell and Development Biology), 2014 competition winner