Julia (Warner) Jester, Ph.D.
ACS Science Policy Fellow, 2003-2004
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Dr. Julia (Warner) Jester completed her Ph.D. work in 2003 under the direction of Dr. William Kranbuehl at the College of William and Mary. Her research involved monitoring and improving the properties of polymeric materials during fabrication and use. She holds a B.S. and M.S. degree from the College of William and Mary. During the summer of 2002, she was an associate at the Rand Science and Technology Policy Institute where she studied factors impacting the relative accident rates in various high-risk industries. Following undergraduate school, she spent the summer in Japan teaching English for the Ministry of Education. After her fellowship, Julia joined the staff of Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI).
Mid-Year Fellowship Report, April 2008
I began working with the Office of Legislative and Government Affairs in early September 2003. Initially, I spent some time getting up to speed on the scientific issues relative to the federal government, ACS policy statements, and OLGA’s roles and responsibilities.
Before I had a chance to absorb very much, though, I became actively involved in supporting a series of briefings for the Science & the Congress project. Four briefings occurred in the fall: “Nanotechnology: From Theory to Commercialization”, “Advances in Medicine and Health: Understanding the Physical Sciences ‘Behind the Curtain’”, and “Environmentally Friendly Technologies: How the Government Can Partner for a More Sustainable Future”. The fall closed with our best-attended briefing of the fall, “Enabling the Hydrogen Economy” on the 12th of November, for which we were joined by our partners the Senate Science and Technology Caucus.
Since my introduction to the Science & the Congress project, I have become increasingly in-volved in both the planning and conception of future briefings. They are a unique tool for ACS to reach a targeted audience with information that legislators appreciate for its usefulness and strong scientific foundation. The Science & the Congress project will continue to be a significant responsibility of my position and I look forward to developing timely and relevant future topics.
In addition to the Science & the Congress project, I have worked on several issues of interest to the Science and Security priorities of ACS. They include open-access publishing and publication of work from embargoed countries, the future of technology assessment for Congress, the dual-issue of sensitive but unclassified information, and proposed peer review guidelines for federal agencies.
The status of congressional science and technology advice was dealt a small blow with the lack of passage of this year’s Energy Act, H.R. 6, which would have provided for a small-scale technology as-sessment service. Presently, no single group is designed to provide the legislative branch with adequate and timely information in order to understand and anticipate potential impacts of technology on national policies and problems. I have worked as ACS liaison to congressional staff engaged in the process of writing independent bills that would commission a more regular schedule of assessment studies. I have helped draft a policy statement regarding the ACS position on a future assessment service that emphasizes the need for independence, timely turnaround, and ease of access for all members, as well as the incorpo-ration of ACS is in the process of developing a statement on the future of congressional science and tech-nology assessment. To that end, I have worked with individuals on Capitol Hill to estimate what likely legislation will result and keep ACS in line with promoting a viable vision.
The publication-related issues are of supreme concern to ACS because their outcomes have the potential to effect how and what we publish. Dual-use uneasiness has resulted in the Bush administra-tion’s Bioterrorism Initiative and recent creation of a National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which is currently accepting member nominations. I have worked to make the case for ACS involvement in this group, since they will be responsible for determining guidelines for publications and research methodology in areas of research that many of our members participate. Additionally, I have also been responsible for monitoring the progress of proposed peer review guidelines for federal agencies. As ACS wants to be sure the best science shapes federal policy, we are carefully examining whether ACS believes the OMB plan would result in better science or simply more administration control over what science is used to determine regulatory actions.
I have also had the opportunity to serve as a part of the OLGA team for special events and other group activities. This has included advocacy on federal R&D budgets, contributing to the Capitol Con-nection newsletter, recruitment of new legislative action network members, drafting policy statements, and serving on several coalitions including one addressing student and international visitor visa issues.
1-Year Fellowship Report, August 2004
The second half of my fellowship year has been spent exploring the controversial issue of visa policy and in laying a foundation for academic and scientific societies to come together to discuss the future of science and technology assessment for Congress.
After several weeks of intersociety work, a coalition representing the scientific, engineering, and academic communities produced a statement on visa policies and problems. The statement identified seven specific problems and included corresponding recommendations for action. Following its release on May 12, the statement generated significant press and the attention of several federal agencies responsible for the development of visa policies and their enforcement. In addition to promoting the coalition statement, I have been actively exploring with some of our coalition partners specific changes to visa policy that would affect visiting scientists. Most recently on the visa front, I had the opportunity to serve on a public panel for a National Academies Committee examining the domestic impacts of international students and post-docs.
The issue of Congressional science and technology assessment gathered momentum in 2001, but quickly became overshadowed by other issues in light of the terrorist attacks, as well as lack of Congressional interest. OLGA believes that in the coming months there may be a real opportunity for legislation to improve on the existing status of technology assessment. Both the House and Senate have introduced bills that would install a new science and technology assessment service within the General Accounting Office (GAO). My work has involved researching the history of previous permutations of assessment, helping craft a cohesive policy statement on the topic (which was recently approved), and inviting others to join in the discussion.
Additionally, I have continued to help organize several Science & the Congress briefings, addressing issues like Impacts of Post-9/11 Visa Policy on U.S. Competitiveness; Children’s Health, and Science and Technology Globalization. I have also had the opportunity to serve as a part of the OLGA team for special events and other group activities. One of the highlights this spring was participating in April’s Legislative Summit, where I was able to interact with ACS members and members of Congress. Some of the relationships that developed during those constituent meetings, addressing funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, have resulted in some new connections for ACS while others strengthened existing connections.
Because of the unique challenges of this position, I look forward to renewing for the second year of my fellowship. In addition to an increased focus on advocacy for the office, my time will also be spent completing a special project that will examine interfaces between the pharmaceutical industry, drug policy, and individual chemists.