Cornell graduate student named 2005 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leader

04/18/05

Recipient will travel to Capitol Hill to speak to members of Congress about science policy

Washington, DC--The American Institute of Biological Sciences, a Washington-based nonprofit scientific association, has named Cornell University PhD candidate Karen Deen Laughlin as its 2005 Emerging Public Policy Leader.

Laughlin will receive a trip to Washington next month to participate in the Science-Engineering-Technology Work Group's annual Congressional Visits Day, a two-day event that brings scientists, engineers, researchers, educators, and technology executives to Washington to raise visibility and support for scientific research funding. Laughlin will meet with Congressional leaders and attend briefings by key government officials as well as a reception honoring members of Congress for their work on behalf of science.

She will also participate in a briefing on federal programs that support biological research, sponsored by the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) and the Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions (CoFARM).

The AIBS award will, Laughlin says, "give me a chance to see how interactions occur between federal officials and scientists who are interested in policy, and at the same time to interact with scientists who are interested in policy. I think this will be a great experience for me in terms of getting to have these interactions and putting forth my views and the views of a new generation of scientists."

Laughlin expects to complete her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology this fall. She earned an undergraduate degree in environmental science and policy from Duke University in 1997.

She has received a variety of awards and grants, including a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, a Cornell Center for the Environment Graduate Research Grant, a Cornell Sigma Xi Award, and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant.

"I'm very interested in looking at domestic and international policy dealing with agriculture and sustainable development," she says. Laughlin's doctoral research is a study on the ecological risks of gene flow from genetically engineered virus-resistant crops to wild crops, an issue she says she enjoys in part because of its political and economic implications.

Laughlin has worked as a teaching assistant and lab instructor at Cornell; an environmental scientist at Epsilon Associates, a Massachusetts-based engineering and environmental consulting firm; and an environmental policy intern at the Washington-based Committee for the National Institute for the Environment.

In her spare time she has coordinated a scientific textbook drive for libraries in Afghanistan in conjunction with Books for Freedom; volunteered as a math and science tutor; and served on Cornell's Mellon Student Research Grants Review Panel and Grad Student Invited Speaker Committee.

Says AIBS Executive Director Richard O'Grady, "AIBS designed the Emerging Public Policy Leader Award to recognize a promising biology graduate student who has demonstrated an interest in science policy. Karen is a well-rounded individual who is poised to make some positive contributions to this year's Congressional Visits Day."

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