Dr. Anne Kornahrens
AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at NSF
Junior member since 2015
Interview by Dr. Adriana Bankston
“I advocate for empowering more women in STEM, and for the fact that women can be scientists.”
Tell us about yourself.
I obtained my B.S. in Chemistry from Boston College, and was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for graduate studies in synthetic organic chemistry. I was then admitted to the Skaggs-Oxford program, a joint Ph.D. program which allowed me to spend over two years at Oxford, followed by over two years at The Scripps Research Institute. I am currently a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at NSF, and my policy expertise comes from being a STEM outreach advocate for the San Diego Chapter of AWIS.
Can you offer advice to Ph.D. students interested in science policy careers?
A key piece of advice is to focus on how you can demonstrate a policy interest. By doing your Ph.D. you have already demonstrated your scientific expertise, so don’t worry about that. In trying to find a policy area to work in, think about how you can get involved in your community, by which avenues you can work in advocacy or science communication, or what specific science policy areas you care about. It’s not about one specific thing that you can or should do, but instead focus on finding something that can help you gain different skills and allow you to demonstrate a commitment to public service.
What are useful strategies to advocate for women in STEM?
You can talk to representatives about science funding, write letters, and ask for support for programs that encourage women to pursue STEM careers. You should also tell people about your interests. I advocate for empowering more women in STEM, and for the fact that women can be scientists. We can do a lot of things day to day to help this – for example consider the language we might use to speak to or about women vs. men. When we’re in such a position, we should consider what we can do to ensure that women are being hired, supported, and promoted. We need to keep the ladder set and stable for those coming up after us. This can also be accomplished by being the face of science in the organizations and communities we work and live in.