SPIE and the Optical Society of America (OSA) awarded their 2006-2007 Congressional Fellowship to Eleanore B. Edson. This jointly sponsored program places the recipient in the office of a U.S. senator, representative, or congressional committee. While participating in the creation and implementation of public policy, the fellow helps the government to effectively utilize scientific knowledge and forges relationships among the scientific, engineering, and public policy communities.
Eleanore B. Edson will work for the next two years in the office of a U.S. senator, representative, or congressional committee.
Edson, an ideal recipient of the fellowship, possesses extensive experience communicating technical knowledge about biomedical research, biotechnology, mental health, AIDS, and smallpox to non-scientists.
Earlier this year she served as the National Academies' Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow in Washington, DC, where she attended many congressional hearings about contemporary issues in science, and conducted primary research on sleep disorders and reusable ventilation masks for pandemic influenza.
Edson majored in biological sciences at Stanford University (Stanford, CA) and received her PhD in neurobiology from Harvard University (Cambridge, MA). Her dissertation researched the transfer of information through the mammalian visual system over its development. The two classes of proteins she studied are essential for preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.
In the future, Edson plans to research emerging biotechnology and participate in the development of legislation that both encourages and regulates advancing biotechnology. As the SPIE/OSA fellow, Edson will gain unique firsthand experience about how lawmakers balance such ethical considerations with the need for scientific innovation. Edson hopes to apply her new understanding of domestic and international scientific policy to future research and public policy work.
Edson's term as congressional fellow runs from September 2006 through August 2007.