CC&E Student Delves Into Science Communication with D.C. UCAR Program

two men and a woman talking at a conference table

From left to right: Kirk Maasch, UCAR lobbyist; Ron Anderson, Senior Policy Advisor for Senator Bill Cassidy; and Amy Polen.  

  • Amy Polen, Master's Student, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences 
  • Hometown: Wellington, Florida
  • High School: Palm Beach Central 
  • Anticipated Graduation: Fall 2020

This spring, College of the Coast & Environment graduate student Amy Polen was selected as one of five 2019 Capitol Hill Scholars by University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, or UCAR. As part of this program, Polen traveled to Washington D.C. on June 4-5 to visit Capitol Hill, meet congressional members and staff, and attend several special events.

“Being able to practice science communication in a dynamic and changing setting, such as what is found in a meeting with staffers, is a skill that I want to develop even further moving on with my education and future career,” Polen said.

She spent part of her time shadowing The President’s Advisory Committee on University Relations, or PACUR, an advisory committee to the president that is comprises a group of atmospheric sciences faculty chosen from the 117 member institutions of UCAR. With PACUR, she learned how these scientists lobby for policy and support for the sciences that are critical to the development of the nation.

“The connections I made, not only with the members of UCAR and PACUR but also with government employees throughout D.C. will be invaluable later on in my career as a weather disaster scientist. I know this will benefit me in ways that I cannot predict now but will be vital to the development of my goals as a scientist and life-long learner,” Polen said.

LSU officially became a member of UCAR in December 2017. UCAR is a non-profit consortium of more than 115 North American colleges and universities that manage the National Center for Atmospheric Research on behalf of the National Science Foundation. Established in 1960, their primary focus is enhancing research and training in Earth system sciences.

You can view Polen’s video essay on UCAR’s website.