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Apply now for the 2022 Federal STEM Policy and Advocacy: An Inside the Beltway Look

Posted by on Thursday, August 4, 2022 in Announcements .

If you’re interested in a career in science policy, you won’t want to miss this unique opportunity to participate in an expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. for Federal STEM Policy and Advocacy: An Inside the Beltway Look.

OCTOBER 13-14, 2022

Hosted by the Vanderbilt University Office of Federal Relations in partnership with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Office of Federal Relations, the BRET Office of Career Development ASPIRE Program, The Vanderbilt Graduate School, Vanderbilt University Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Russell G. Hamilton Graduate Leadership Institute, and the Vanderbilt University Career Center.

Application Deadline Tuesday, August 30th at midnight

This two-day event will provide Vanderbilt graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) an opportunity to learn how federal STEM policy is made and the role of advocacy by various stakeholders in achieving policy goals. Participants will hear from officials – including some VU alumni – who work in the Executive and Legislative branches of government as well as scientific societies, associations and coalitions who are actively engaged in influencing and promoting federal investments in science and engineering.

For STEM graduate students and postdocs thinking about careers in science policy or research advocacy, this behind-the-scenes look will provide insight to potential career opportunities.

For biomedical sciences students and postdocs affiliated with departments within the School of Medicine/Basic Sciences (or VUMC postdocs)
, this program is offered by the BRET Office of Career Development as part of the ASPIRE program. Qualifying biomedical sciences PhD students and postdoctoral fellows with an interest in careers in science policy/advocacy will receive an ASPIRE travel scholarship covering airfare and individual hotel accommodations. The event agenda is still being developed and will be available on the event’s VU Office of Federal Relations website.  (See the agenda from the last trip: 2018-STEM Policy Agenda.)

If you are selected to attend, the ASPIRE travel award will cover the following trip-related expenses:

  • Individual hotel accommodations for the evening of October 12 and October 13 at the event hotel.
  • Roundtrip coach class airfare from Nashville to Washington, D.C., departing October 12 and returning October 14.

Attendees will be responsible for their ground transportation/parking expenses in Nashville and Washington DC, as well as meals not included in the program or the hotel stay (this may be up to 4+ meals).

Washington DC has an excellent rail system, the Metro, which connects to the airport and has stops near the event hotel.

ASPIRE travel award recipients will be asked to participate in a survey about their experience and its impact on their career development.


Please note: The Federal STEM Policy & Advocacy: An Insider the Beltway Look is a cross-institutional program.  The Graduate Leadership Institute (GLI) is sponsoring STEM graduate students affiliated with departments outside the School of Medicine/Basic Sciences (contact The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs is sponsoring STEM postdocs affiliated with departments outside the School of Medicine/VUMC (contact


Eligibility requirements
1. Applicants must be a current Vanderbilt University graduate student or postdoctoral fellow in a STEM field (Science/quantitative Social Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

——->MS students must be in a terminal research Master’s program and have completed one full year of graduate work at VU by the time of application.
——->PhD students who entered graduate school through the IGP, QCB, CPB, MSTP, or IMSD must have passed their qualifying exams before the application deadline.

2. Applicants must hold U.S. citizenship or dual citizenship between the US and another country.

3. Applicants must be able to attend the full workshop in Washington, DC, on October 13-14, 2022; this will require departure from Nashville on October 12.

To complete your online application, you will need to upload the following items as pdfs:
1) a current CV or resume highlighting academic accomplishments. leadership and service, and other experiences relevant to this event,
2) a letter of interest (300-400 words) describing your interest in the role of science in policy-making and advocacy, and what you hope to gain from such an experience, and
3) a brief description (300-400 words) of your graduate or postdoctoral research, as you would describe it to a lay audience; for example, if you were going to describe it to a lawmaker.


How to Apply:

Deadline to complete this online form and upload these documents: Tuesday, August 30th at midnight.

Apply online at


Read about the 2018 STEM Policy and Advocacy trip here.

If you have questions about ASPIRE or the Federal STEM Policy & Advocacy program, application, or funding, please contact Dr. Ashley Brady, Assistant Dean for Biomedical Career Engagement and Strategic Partnerships in the Vanderbilt School of Medicine, at

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