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Katherine Crowley Wins AMS Congressional Fellowship

The American Mathematical Society (AMS) has announced that Katherine Crowley, assistant professor of mathematics at Washington and Lee University, will be the organization’s Congressional Fellow for 2009-2010.

She will join 29 other congressional fellows, representing the other scientific societies, on Capitol Hill for the next academic year.

According to the AMS, the fellowship is designed to demonstrate the value of science-government interaction, and to bring a technical background and external perspective to the decision-making process in Congress.

Crowley will spend a year working on the staff of a member of congress or on a congressional committee. Her precise assignment will be decided in September when she will attend a week of placement interviews.

“I’m excited about it,” says Crowley. “The reason I applied was because I really want to see up close the process of turning science into policy. It’s one thing to create a perfect, beautiful, theoretically exact solution to something, but it’s quite different for someone to apply it. If there’s too much of a gap between science and law making, the two processes will never be useful to each other. I’d like to help bridge that divide. Or at least see how it gets done.”

Crowley’s participation in the fellowship program may also have benefits for W&L students.

“I’ll be looking to bring back some opportunities for W&L students, although I don’t know what those will be yet. Maybe it will be in the classroom—giving them a better understanding of how math can be used in public policy decision-making. Maybe it will be some type of internship. I’ll be keeping my eyes open.”

The fellowship program includes a year-long seminar series on issues involving science, technology and public policy. All fellowships are administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.