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SPIE, OSA name Guenther Congressional Fellow for 2009-10

22 July 2009

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- SPIE and OSA have selected Matthew McMahon of Second Sight Medical Products as the Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow for 2009-10. McMahon will serve a one-year term working as a special legislative assistant on the staff of a member of Congress or a congressional committee.Matthew McMahon, 2009-10 Arthur Guenther Congressional Fellow

"Matthew's background in biomedical optics is particularly relevant now," said Eugene Arthurs, CEO of SPIE. "He has sound policy experience and through his work demonstrates dedication and leadership in applying science to solve important health problems facing people across the globe."

"The Congressional Fellowships program is an unparalleled opportunity for scientists and engineers to dive directly into the legislative process while providing a valuable resource for the non-scientific community on Capitol Hill," said Elizabeth Rogan, OSA CEO. "Matt has shown tremendous enthusiasm for public policy and possesses the leadership qualities necessary to make meaningful contributions in a Congressional setting."

McMahon will begin the program in early September in Washington, D.C., with an intensive orientation facilitated by the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) for Congressional and Executive Branch fellows from more than two dozen scientific societies. The new fellows will go through an interview and selection process with offices of senators, representatives, and committees on Capitol Hill. Offices will extend offers, and McMahon will choose the office in which he will spend his fellowship year.

The Congressional Fellowships program is designed to bring technical backgrounds and external perspectives to the decision-making process in Congress. Typically, fellows conduct legislative or oversight work, assist in congressional hearings and debates, prepare briefs, and write speeches. By applying his scientific expertise in this policy environment, McMahon will help to broaden awareness of the value of scientist- and engineer-government interaction.

Finalists are interviewed and selected by committees of volunteer members from OSA and SPIE. For more information on the selection process, visit the SPIE's Fellows web page.

McMahon is the senior principal scientist at Second Sight Medical Products, developer of a retinal prosthesis to restore sight to people blinded by retinal degenerations. He has directed interdisciplinary R&D teams and worked with engineering, regulatory, and clinical affairs staff to improve the product and to facilitate the regulatory approval process necessary to commercialize the device.

Previously, McMahon conducted primate retinal physiology research as a senior fellow in the Department of Biological Structure at the University of Washington, and volunteered in Nepal through the Nepalese Ministry of Health and the Seva Foundation to train doctors and optometry students in basic and clinical vision science.

SPIE is the International Society for Optics and Photonics, founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 188,000 constituents from 138 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, and supports scholarships, grants and other education programs. For more information, visit SPIE.org.

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Media contact:
Amy Nelson, Public Relations Manager, SPIE
+1 360 685 5478
Email: amy@spie.org
Twitter: twitter.com/SPIEtweets
SPIE Press Room: spie.org/pr

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