Jennifer Novotney, Ph.D.

ACS Congressional Fellow, 2019-2020


Jennifer Novotney earned a Ph.D. in polymer chemistry from Cornell University where her research focused on the synthesis, characterization, and application of various types of porous organic polymers in the Dichtel Research Group.

As a graduate student, Jennifer received the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), and the National Defense Science and Engineering (NDSEG) Graduate Fellowship.

While completing her Ph.D., she interned with the National Informal STEM Education (NISE) network team at the Ithaca Sciencenter, tutored mathematics in a local prison, and won the inaugural American Chemical Society Chemistry Champions contest.

After receiving her PhD, Jennifer turned her focus on science communication and pubic engagement at the MIT Museum, where she acted as an interface between MIT researchers and the public. 

As the Public Programs Coordinator, she created opportunities for local and international visitors to engage in experiential learning related to science, technology, and culture.

Jennifer attended Western Washington University where she double majored in Chemistry and Mathematics, graduating Summa cum laude with honors, earning the Presidential Medal for the College of Science and Technology.

Jennifer grew up in Eagle River, Alaska, and moved to Spokane, Washington in high school, where she graduated valedictorian of her senior class.

Fellowship Focus

As a Congressional Fellow in the office of Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Jennifer:

  • Worked on the education portfolio covering issues from access to quality early education programs through graduate loan forgiveness programs.
  • Collaborated with educational and non-profit stakeholders to introduce legislation to retain experienced educators at low-income schools.
  • Drove efforts to ensure that low-income, public schools received adequate funding from the federal government. 


This past fellowship year has led to experiences far greater than I had planned. I witnessed an impeachment trial from the Senate gallery, wrote floor speeches and oversight letters, and even introduced legislation.  This year has shown me so much about communication and inspiration, various levers of power and different ways to govern, and how true leadership is about addressing immediate needs while keeping an eye on future goals.


Find Jennifer on LinkedIn