SPIE and the Optical Society of America (OSA) have chosen Audrey Ellerbee, a PhD candidate at Duke University (Durham, NC), as the 2007-2008 SPIE/OSA Congressional Fellow.
The congressional fellow works in the office of a U.S. Senator or Representative or with a congressional committee to gain first-hand knowledge of congressional operations, contribute to the policymaking process, and forge links among the engineering, scientific, and public policy communities.
Ellerbee earned her BSE cum laude from Princeton University (Princeton, NJ) in 2001, was a visiting lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore for the 2001-2002 academic year, and expects to receive her PhD from Duke this August.
Her dissertation is on spectral domain phase microscopy (SDPM) as an investigative tool for cellular dynamics. SDPM is a novel technique for ultrasensitive measurements of cell-surface motions and cytoplastic flows, which Ellerbee and another student invented.
When not working on her research, Ellerbee is very involved with community and leadership work at Duke and as a member of SPIE, OSA, and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).
Ellerbee has received a number of prestigious honors for both her scholarship and leadership. Only naming a few, she received a Graduate Research Fellowship (2001-2005) from the National Science Foundation. From Duke she’s received the James B. Duke Fellowship, the Duke Endowment Fellowship, and was named a John T. Chambers Fellow at the Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics and Communication Systems. From the NSBE, Ellerbee received a 2007 Golden Torch Award for Graduate Student of the Year and was named the Student Leader of Year in 2005 by the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association.
“My life’s goal is to make a tangible contribution to the advancement of human knowledge that will cross gender, racial, social, and economic barriers in order to touch everyone’s life,” writes Ellerbee in her application.
The congressional fellowship will begin in September with an intensive orientation program on the legislative and executive branches. Following interviews on Capitol Hill, Ellerbee will choose a congressional office where she wishes to serve.