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PhD Career Stories: Panel Discussion with AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows

Posted by on Friday, September 25, 2020 in Announcements, Upcoming BRET Office of Career Development Events, Workshops and Seminars .

In lieu of our regular monthly PhD Career Stories seminar, we invite you to join the ASPIRE Program and campus partners for a special panel discussion with current and former AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows.

Monday, October 19
1:30-2:30pm on Zoom
Co-sponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development ASPIRE Program, the Graduate School, the Career Center, the School of Engineering, and the VU and VUMC Offices of Federal Relations

Panelists include Vanderbilt PhD and postdoctoral alumni who were selected for the prestigious AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship Program. Panelists will discuss their experience in the program and how it helped them transition to careers in science policy and government affairs. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Heather Bloemhard, Assistant Director of the Vanderbilt University Office of Federal Relations and an alumnae of the AAAS program.

Panelists (see bios below):

  • Dr. Loren LaPointe, Environmental Protection Specialist, US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Dr. Stephanie DeLuca, Senior Legislative Aide, Office of Senator Bob Casey
  • Dr. Andrew Hastings, Public Health Analyst, NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease
  • Dr. Joe Rustick, Physical Scientist, US Environmental Protection Agency

Advance registration is required at

This special panel discussion is part of a series of events happening in October relating to science policy and advocacy. Learn more about the other opportunities at


Dr. Loren LaPointe is currently an Environmental Protection Specialist with the US Environmental Protection Agency where she serves as an international, tribal, and state liaison for EPA’s various pesticide programs and issues. Prior to joining EPA in July 2020, Loren completed a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship at the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service where she worked on agricultural trade policy issues related to pesticide regulatory policy and obtained experience in science diplomacy in order to promote U.S. agricultural trade, international food safety and food security.  Dr. LaPointe received her Ph.D. from UW-Madison in biochemistry and completed postdoctoral training in Chuck Sanders’s lab at Vanderbilt University.

Stephanie DeLuca, Ph.D., is currently a Senior Legislative Aide with Senator Bob Casey, who is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Children Families on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. She has served in this position, working on public health policy, since March 2019. She was the Biophysical Society/AAAS Congressional Fellow from 2016 to 2017 in the Office of Senator Elizabeth Warren, where she worked on health care policy, including drug pricing, Medicaid, protecting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and addressing the opioid epidemic. Stephanie also has experience in the campaign and non-profit sector:  She was the American Chemical Society Science Policy Fellow from 2014 to 2016, and she has served as a project manager at MoveOn and organized for political campaigns. Stephanie was a graduate student in the lab of Jens Meiler and received her Ph.D. from the Vanderbilt Chemical and Physical Biology Program in 2015.

Dr. Hastings earned his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2015 where he studied the immune response to respiratory viruses. After graduation, he completed a three-year postdoctoral position at Yale University researching how mosquito saliva enhances viral infections, such as Zika virus.  Both in graduate school and his postdoc, Dr. Hastings was actively involved in peer organizations serving as the president of the Vanderbilt Graduate Student Council and the Chair of the Yale Postdoctoral Association. He also attended the first Vanderbilt Federal STEM Policy and Advocacy trip during graduate school in 2014.  Immediately following his postdoc, in 2018, Dr. Hastings became an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the Legislative Affairs and Correspondence Management Branch of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the NIH, where he recently transitioned to a permanent position as a public health analyst.  At NIAID he is currently part of a team that responds to congressional inquiries into NIAID research on allergy and infectious diseases; writes NIAID testimony for hearings in the U.S. House and Senate; and prepares the NIAID director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other members of the NIH and NIAID senior leadership, for briefings with U.S. Senators and Representatives.