FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Katie Mosher, firstname.lastname@example.org
Four new North Carolina STEM Policy Fellows are beginning their yearlong roles in high-level state government offices. The fellowship provides in-state, non-academic career opportunities for recent graduate students in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.
“The 2021 NC STEM Policy Fellowships include two new host offices, along with two returning host offices,” says Susan White, North Carolina Sea Grant’s executive director. “Our incoming fellows will bring new perspectives and energy as they address policy challenges and opportunities on important issues.”
North Carolina Sea Grant administers the fellowship, now in its second year, with a generous matching grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and support from some of the host offices. This year’s fellowship class includes students from four North Carolina universities.
Matthew Kollman, a doctoral candidate at NC State University, studies the chemistry of deriving sustainable products from renewable resources. In particular his work has focused on catalytic conversion of lignin — the organic substances in plants that make them rigid and woody — into chemicals and fuels.
“As an NC STEM Policy Fellow, I look forward to working on a wide range of topics, while learning about and supporting advances in science and technology by innovative North Carolinians,” says Kollman, who will serve in the N.C. Department of Commerce Office of Science, Technology and Innovation. “I am excited to learn more about economic development, public policy, and science communication to improve the quality of life in communities across the state.”
Emma Hughes graduated from the Master of Environmental Management Program at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, where she worked with Duke colleague Sean Starkey on a project titled “Economic Implications of Managed Access at Zion National Park.” They measured how a visitor-use management plan would improve economic conditions of communities surrounding the park, as well as the overall visitor experience.
“I am very excited to be placed with the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Office of the Secretary,” Hughes says. “I became interested in using my knowledge and skills to uplift the protection and preservation of natural and cultural resources during my time at Duke, and I’m excited to continue this type of work.”
Rachael Wolff recently graduated with a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she specialized in land use and environmental planning and received a Certificate in Natural Hazards Resilience. Previously, she worked in federal emergency management.
“I am excited to learn about new things and contribute with my background in hazards resilience,” Wolff says. “As a storyteller at heart, whether through data or words, this fellowship will be a great opportunity to communicate the initiatives of the State Energy Office and transform science policy into equitable action.”
Stephanie Batalis has spent the past four years on her Ph.D. in biochemistry at Wake Forest University. There, she has loved working in the Innovation Quarter research park and seeing the excitement that comes from developing new technologies.
“My current work in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, a designated North Carolina Research Park, has shown me what can happen when research and innovation meet,” Batalis says. “I am looking forward to working with the NC Biotechnology Center to develop more of this kind of work. I hope to build my policy knowledge to support innovation in our state.”
The 2021 NC STEM Policy Fellowships also include professional development sessions in science policy and communication, developed in partnership with Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society, based in Research Triangle Park.
Sara Mirabilio, a fisheries extension specialist with North Carolina Sea Grant and interim program manager for the STEM Policy Fellowships, was a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow right out of graduate school.
“I worked on a wide range of science policy issues, including in work groups within NOAA and across agencies,” she says. “Those experiences informed my perspectives on resource management, and I believe these new STEM Fellows similarly will benefit from their work in state offices, becoming better prepared to address policy issues of importance here in North Carolina.”