Science Societies Announce 2019-2020 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows

The Optical Society, Materials Research Society and SPIE make final selection for prestigious appointments to learn and contribute to science policymaking in Washington, D.C.

23 July 2019

Congressional Fellows 2019 Willis-Bomberg

GOOD FELLOWS: Willis, left, and Broberg

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 Christina Willis and Daniel Broberg as 2019-2020 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows. Each will serve a one-year term in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., as a special legislative assistant for a member of the U.S. Congress or as a staff member for a congressional committee.

Willis will serve as the 2019-2020 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow, which is co-sponsored by OSA and SPIE, while Broberg will serve as the 2019-2020 OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow. The two Fellows will begin their terms in September 2019.

"I look forward to applying the lessons learned in my research on semiconductor materials to science-informed policy-making on energy and climate issues," Broberg said.

"It's a huge honor to be selected for the Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellowship, and I am excited to learn as much as I can about the legislative process and how science policy is crafted," Willis said. "My background is in physics, optics, and high-power lasers, and I look forward to expanding my skill set by working on a broad range of technical topics, especially the areas of energy and environmental policy, STEM education and STEM diversity."

As part of their Fellowship, Willis and Broberg will attend a comprehensive training and orientation session facilitated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The Fellows will then interview with Senate, House of Representatives and congressional committee staff on Capitol Hill and then select which congressional office or committee they wish to serve for their fellowship 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 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:

Danny Broberg holds a Ph.D. degree in materials science from the University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A. (2019). His research uses theoretical methods to investigate the formation of point defects in semiconductor materials for energy applications, with an eye towards producing high-throughput tools for the Materials Project, a part of the Materials Genome Initiative of the U.S. National Science and Technology Council. He also holds bachelor's degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of Texas, Austin, U.S.A.

At UC Berkeley, he served in executive leadership roles for the Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative, starting an interdisciplinary mentorship program and helping direct the largest student-run energy conference on the West Coast. He also has been active in the Science Policy Group at UC Berkeley, helping start a sub-group that writes policy memos for the California legislature. Broberg hopes to contribute to policy surrounding energy and climate issues, including electric grid resilience, emissions reductions and the electrification of transportation.

Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow:

Christina C. C. Willis holds a Ph.D. degree in optics from CREOL at the University of Central Florida, U.S.A. (2013). She specializes in research on high-power, solid-state and fiber-laser systems. As an undergraduate student at Wellesley College, U.S.A., she held an internship at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md. After graduating from Wellesley, she worked on lasers for metrological applications at the National Metrological Institute of Japan. Since completing her Ph.D. degree, Willis has worked at Vision Engineering Solutions in Orlando, Fla., U.S.A., a startup specializing in laser tracking and imaging, and at Fibertek, Inc., Herndon, Va., U.S.A., where she worked on solid-state laser development for remote sensing applications. Willis has served on SPIE's Engineering Science and Technology Policy (ESTeP) Committee and participated in five Congressional Visits Days through the National Photonics Initiative. Her areas of policy interest include environmental and energy issues, STEM diversity, and STEM education.

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

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About the Materials Research Society

MRS is an international organization of over 14,000 materials researchers from academia, industry and government, and a recognized leader in promoting the advancement of interdisciplinary materials research and technology 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 80 countries, with 50 percent of members residing outside the United States. In addition to its communications and publications portfolio, MRS organizes high-quality scientific meetings, attracting over 13,000 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,

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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 257,000 constituents from 173 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2018, SPIE provided more than $4 million in community support including scholarships and awards, outreach and advocacy programs, travel grants, public policy, and educational resources.

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