The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is pleased to announce that Elena Suglia and Mohammad Inam Jameel have been selected to receive the 2023 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award (EPPLA). The award recognizes graduate students in the biological sciences who have demonstrated leadership skills and an aptitude for working at the intersection of science and public policy.
Elena Suglia is a Ph.D. student in population biology at the University of California in Davis, California. For her doctoral research, supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, she studies how climate change affects native California plants, using evolutionary ecology and genomics. Suglia intends to pursue a career working at the intersection of science, policy, and social justice. She has over 9 years of experience in science policy and science communication. She has coordinated science cafes, organized a science communication colloquium for the public, and has written over a dozen popular science articles, including a blog for the Scientific American. She currently serves as Graduate Advisor to the Dean of Biology on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice and is a member of the Population Biology Student Diversity Committee. Suglia earned her bachelor's in biology from Brown University, where she also served as the Science Policy Director for the Triple Helix, a student-run science blog.
Mohammad Inam Jameel is a Ph.D. student in genetics at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia. Jameel conducts research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado to understand how natural populations adapt to climate change. Jameel’s interest in science policy was sparked after he enrolled in University of California, Irvine’s, Science Policy and Advocacy certificate program. Jameel is active in his professional community. He currently serves as the President of Science Policy, Education, Advocacy, and Research, a student science policy group organization at UGA. He previously served as the President of the Genetics Graduate Student Association and as the Associate Editor for the Athens Science Observer, where he helped graduate students write about science for a broad audience. He is a recipient of the Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award from the Ecological Society of America. He is a member of the Society for the Study of Evolution, as well as the Genetics Society of America, where he serves on a policy and advocacy panel. Jameel earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech.
Both the awardees think it is critical for scientists to engage in policy. “By advocating for necessary resources and funding, scientists can ensure progress towards answering the world’s biggest questions,” noted Jameel. Additionally, he says, their specialized expertise “provides valuable insights and guidance to policymakers, which results in more informed and effective policies.”
Suglia argues that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed gaps in the translation of science into effective policy and exposed society’s inequities. “In a world facing increasingly complex and intertwined issues like climate change and social inequity, research-informed policy is needed more than ever,” she said. “Scientists can leverage their expertise and knowledge to solve society’s most pressing issues while also advancing equity and repairing public trust in science.”
The EPPLA program is in its 20th year of recognizing emerging student leaders in science policy. “We continue to be impressed by the outstanding achievements of the graduate students who apply for the Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award,” said Scott Glisson, AIBS Chief Executive Officer. “AIBS is proud to recognize Elena and Inam’s notable accomplishments and exceptional leadership in science policy.”
Suglia and Jameel will travel to Washington, DC, in April to participate in an AIBS science communications training program and to meet with their members of Congress as part of the annual AIBS Congressional Visits Day. In addition, they will receive a one-year subscription to the scientific journal BioScience.
AIBS is recognizing an additional graduate student leader with an Honorable Mention award. Emma Thrift is a Ph.D. student in biology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Thrift serves as Co-President of the Science Policy Initiative at Notre Dame and has completed a two-year policy fellowship with the Science and Technology Policy Institute.
AIBS is the national organization dedicated to promoting informed decision-making that advances the biological sciences for the benefit of science and society. The EPPLA program is one way that AIBS builds the capacity of the scientific community to promote sound decision-making.
The EPPLA program is made possible by the generous financial support of AIBS donors. More information about the EPPLA program and AIBS is available at https://www.aibs.org/.