Jasmine Hunt Dimitriou, Ph.D.
ACS Congressional Fellow, 2010-2011
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Jasmine Hunt Dimitriou earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from University of California, Santa Barbara in July 2010. Her doctoral work is focused on the synthesis and evaluation of biomaterials for pulmonary gene delivery and imaging as well as the synthesis and characterization of polyelectrolyte copolymers for hydrogel formation. She was a recipient of an ACS Scholar Award and served on the ACS graduate student symposium planning committee for the Spring 2010 ACS National Meeting. As a fellow, she worked for Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) handling energy and environmental issues.
Year-End Fellowship Report
Please discuss the projects you worked on as a Fellow in your host office and describe your contribution.
During my time in Sen. Durbin’s office, I worked primarily on energy & environmental issues. This would include writing briefing the Senator on pertinent issues within my portfolio and working with relevant constituents and businesses on challenges they had with Federal regulations and agencies.
In addition, I worked on issues concerning scientific research and innovation. This involved working with research universities and national laboratories within Illinois on research funding and application issues.
What important insights on public policy did you gain while serving at your host agency?
As a scientist, I was interested in public policy and the effect it had on determining goals and foci for research nationwide. However, I was shocked at how much lawmakers depend on technical experts for their ultimate decisions. Scientists has a very unique skill set in evaluation, technical, critical thinking capabilities that often complement those trained in the law or political sciences.
I feel that I have realized seen the power of effective communication and how poor communication of good policies can lead to them being disregarded.
Please share any highlights of success (e.g., awards, honors, publications, reports, seminars, conferences, committees formed, partnerships, media coverage).
One area of considerable success I have experienced has been organizing two hearings that were chaired by Senator Durbin. The first hearing occurred shortly after the events at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant and focused on nuclear safety and preparedness in the State of Illinois. The second hearing was after the tornados and floods this year and focused on climate change and disaster relief funding.
In both instances, I was responsible for identifying and inviting the witnesses, preparing the Senator’s remarks and questions, and doing all of the other associated work. In addition, I worked with our press staff on press releases and op-eds.
Did you benefit from the interactions with your supervisor and/or mentor? If yes, what was most valuable? If no, what might have helped improve the situation?
I have benefitted immensely from the advice and guidance of my mentors. They are both intelligent women that have worked on the Hill and in the office for a considerable amount of time and have a significant amount of institutional knowledge. They have provided much needed guidance on writing and political analysis. They are also a wealth of insight when it comes to discussing my potential career paths.
What challenges did you encounter during the second half of your fellowship year?
Coming to the Hill was definitely an adjustment in my communication style. In academia long, laborious discourse is often the norm. So converting my writing to doing everything in a ‘one-pager’ was a change.
In addition, I had to learn to interact with individuals with lots of different agendas and goals of their own.