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.


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.


Through a highly competitive selection process Angela Boag (Environmental Studies) and Sarah Welsh-Huggins (Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering) were chosen as this year’s winners to attend the workshop.

Angela BoagAngela E. Boag is a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado Boulder investigating the relationships between climate change, forest management and land ownership. She has a Master's in Forestry from the University of British Columbia and worked for environmental advocacy organizations before returning to graduate school. Now a member of the Communities and Forests in Oregon (CAFOR) research project led by Dr. Joel Hartter, Angela is studying how changing climate and wildfire regimes impact forest resilience, as well as how private forest owners adapt to these changing conditions. She is passionate about linking social and biophysical research to solve complex problems, and advocates for policies that advance environmental sustainability. 

Nicholas ValcourtOriginally from Columbus, OH, Sarah is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Civil Systems program within the Dept. of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering. Her doctoral research assesses the economic and environmental life-cycle tradeoffs that arise from designing buildings to be both sustainable and hazard-resilient. At CU Boulder, Sarah has also completed a graduate certificate in Engineering for Developing Communities (EDC). Her EDC fieldwork in northeast India in 2014 led her to pursue a M.S. in Structural Engineering, consecutive to her Ph.D. studies, to investigate the seismic risk of hillside buildings in the Indian state of Mizoram. She is the current Co-President of CU Boulder’s student chapter of the national Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, which supports multi-disciplinary research and practice to reduce global earthquake risk. In 2012, Sarah earned a dual B.S./B.A. in Civil Engineering and International Studies from Lafayette College. Post-graduate school, her professional goal is to lead the creation of new approaches for holistic community and urban planning by improving communication channels between citizens, scientists, engineers, and policymakers. She seeks to promote sustainable community development through interdisciplinary solutions that protect natural resources, mitigate natural hazard risk, and ensure a safe and equitable future for generations to come.

Past Winners



“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