The Optical Society, Materials Research Society and SPIE Announce 2018-2019 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows

The Optical Society (OSA), the Materials Research Society (MRS) and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, are pleased to announce the selection of Benjamin Isaacoff and Dylan Rittman as 2018-2019 Congressional Fellows.

21 May 2018

WASHINGTON - The Optical Society (OSA), the Materials Research Society (MRS) and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, are pleased to announce the selection of Benjamin Isaacoff and Dylan Rittman as 2018-2019 Congressional Fellows. The Congressional Fellows will each serve a 1-year term as special legislative assistants on the staffs of U.S. congressional offices or committees in Washington, D.C. Isaacoff will serve as the 2018-2019 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow, which is co-sponsored by OSA and SPIE, while Rittman will serve as the 2018-2019 OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow. The two Fellows will begin their term in September 2018.

As part of their Fellowship, they will attend a comprehensive training and orientation facilitated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Following the orientation, Fellows will interview with staff from Senate offices, House of Representatives offices and Congressional committees on Capitol Hill, then select the office they wish to serve in for the next year.

The Congressional Fellowship program aims to bring technical and scientific backgrounds and perspectives to the decision-making process in Congress, and provide scientists with insight into the inner workings of the federal government. Typically, Fellows will have the opportunity to conduct legislative or oversight work, assist in congressional hearings and debates, prepare policy briefs and write speeches as part of their daily responsibilities.

Each year, following a formal application process, finalists are interviewed and Congressional Fellows are selected by a committee comprised of volunteer members from OSA, MRS and SPIE. For more information on the selection process and fellowship criteria; visit the OSA, MRS, or SPIE websites.

OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow
Dylan Rittman will earn his Ph.D. in geological sciences this summer from Stanford University (SU). His current research focuses on investigating the process of ionizing radiation damage over the femtosecond-to-nanosecond timescales on which it occurs. He has also worked on nuclear waste policy through his participation in the Reset of U.S. Nuclear Waste Management Strategy and Policy series, hosted at the Center for International Security and Cooperation. He received a B.S.E. in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (UM) in 2014.

"I'm looking forward to using my science background to get involved with policy issues ranging from domestic energy to international non-proliferation," said Rittman.

Dylan coordinated a contingent of Stanford University students to attend the March for Science and organized sessions to teach graduate students how to effectively perform science outreach to the public. Dylan's previous involvement includes working at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a research intern, where he was exposed to science with diverse applications, such as alternative energy and national defense.

Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow
Benjamin Isaacoff received his Ph.D. in applied physics from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (UM) in 2018, where he also previously earned his Bachelor's degrees and Master's degree. His doctoral research in nanophotonics investigated how single fluorescent molecules are modified by a plasmonic optical antenna. Ben was a National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate research fellow, and additionally received a GROW grant to conduct summer research at Leiden University, The Netherlands.

"I'm very excited to spend my year in Congress bringing both my experience as a scientist and my training in public policy to bear on the important science policy challenges that our nation faces," said Isaacoff.

During graduate school Ben also earned a graduate certificate in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy. In concert with this coursework, Ben has had many opportunities to participate in the science policy community through a number of conferences, workshops, and hill days. Ben is also currently an associate editor at the Journal of Science Policy & Governance (JSPG).

About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit

About the Materials Research Society
The Materials Research Society (MRS) is an international organization of over 14,200 materials researchers from academia, industry and government, and a recognized leader in promoting the advancement of interdisciplinary materials research to improve the quality of life. MRS members are engaged and enthusiastic professionals hailing from physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and engineering-the full spectrum of materials research. Headquartered in Warrendale, Pennsylvania (USA), MRS membership now spans over 90 countries, with more than 46% of members residing outside the United States. In addition to its communications and publications portfolio, MRS organizes high-quality scientific meetings, attracting over 12,000 attendees annually and facilitating interactions among a wide range of experts from the cutting edge of the global materials community. MRS is also a recognized leader in education outreach and advocacy for scientific research. More information about the Materials Research Society can be found on its website

About SPIE
SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering, and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2017, SPIE provided more than $4 million in support of education and outreach programs.

Media Contacts:
Rebecca B. Andersen, The Optical Society,, +1 202.416.1443

Daneet Steffens, SPIE,, +1 360.685.5478

Anita B. Miller, MRS,, +1 724.779.2754