Hall, the COA Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Chair in Earth Systems and Geosciences, was elected by American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for a one-year Science and Technology Policy fellowship located at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) near Washington, DC. As part of Landslide Hazards Program The Natural Hazards Mission Area Office, it is helping implement aspects of the National Landslide Preparedness Act, which aims to reduce losses due to landslides.
“This The year-long training in policy and stakeholder engagement is a way for me to grow my professional skill set and then incorporate aspects of it into my teaching and work with COA students,” explained Hall. “It’s also really great to experience some of what DC has to offer, such as open hours with my reps, museum exhibits, food and music. I also joined a soccer team and am taking sign language and Spanish lessons.”
To engage with collaborators, Hall is attending conferences and visiting USGS science centers. This includes attending the annual AAAS conference in Denver, CO and working with USGS colleagues at the Geological Hazard Science Center in Golden, CO. she is also attending the Geological Society of America (GSA) Southeastern Section meeting in North Carolina to present the work of the Landslide Hazard Program Office and participate in a field trip to landslide sites within the Appalachian Mountains. At the GSA North-South Central Section meeting in Missouri, she will engage with collaborators about hazard programming, tour a sinkhole-prone landscape, and present some of her Maine-based research with the COA, Park Acadia National and MDI Biological Laboratory. – the authors.
A component of the fellowship’s time is devoted to professional development, which includes attending courses and seminars and participating in other professional activities such as Geological Society of Washington (GSW). In January, Hall gave a talk at GSW titled “(Un)Well Stories: Water Quality of Private Wells in Coastal Maine,” which featured the work of many current and past COA students.
“I’m excited to be in a space where I can refresh some of my expertise, meet new colleagues and learn new skills,” Hall said. “I think it’s really good for students to see that learning is a lifelong process and that it doesn’t end with university or even your terminal degree; you have to keep exposing yourself to new experiences.”
After her fellowship, Hall plans to return to COA, where she will apply her recent experiences and newfound knowledge to pressing issues close to home.
“I was interested in applying for this scholarship to learn more about how science informs policy. I have been working on water quality projects in Maine for the past six years with COA students. Half of Maine residents rely on unregulated private wells
water… It is overwhelming how many people are exposed to pollutants such as
uranium, arsenic and lead through drinking water. It seems to me that clean drinking water is a very low fruit problem in Maine. We have the filters and the technology; we need programs and policies that don’t let people fall through the cracks,” Hall said.
Science and Technology Policy Fellows (STPF) are selected from a select group of highly experienced PhD-level scientists and master’s-level engineers to engage in a comprehensive educational opportunity to gain practical experience in the public policy arena using their expertise to help tackle major societal issues, according to AAAS.
“The 51str class of STPF comrades are quite minds: these are expert-level scientists and engineers who have chosen to dedicate a year or more to helping ensure that the nation’s policies are informed by science,” said Rashada Alexander, PhD, director of STPF and graduate student.
The 2023-24 class of scholarships is sponsored by organizations including AAAS, the Moore Foundation and partner societies. Of the 276 elected members, 38 are serving in Congress, one in the Federal Judiciary, and 237 in the executive branch among 19 federal agencies or departments. Hall is an executive branch associate stationed at the USGS, an office within the Department of the Interior.
At the end of her tenure, Hall will join a select corps of 4,000+ STPF alumni who are equipped to solve problems with a unique set of science policy skills and acumen. Also this year, STPF is launching an alumni network to stimulate and support collaboration among them to further STPF’s mission to support evidence-based decision-making in US public policy.