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21 June 2023

Optica, MRS and SPIE announce selection of 2023-24 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows

Claire Cody and Marie Fiori named as the newest fellows bringing their scientific expertise to the US Congress while receiving a firsthand learning experience in policymaking

WASHINGTON — Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, the Materials Research Society (MRS) and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, are pleased to announce the selection of the 2023-2024 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows: Claire Cody and Marie Fiori. Congressional Fellows serve a one-year term in Washington, D.C., USA as special legislative assistants for a member of the U.S. Congress or for a congressional committee.

Cody will serve as the Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow, co-sponsored by Optica and SPIE, and Fiori has been named the Optica/MRS Congressional Fellow. Cody and Fiori will begin their terms as fellows in September 2023.

The Congressional Fellowship is a unique opportunity for Ph.D. scientists and engineers to lend their technical and scientific backgrounds to federal policymaking. Fellows also gain firsthand experience in the policymaking process by participating in a variety of ways including conducting legislative or oversight work, assisting in congressional hearings and debates, preparing policy briefs and writing speeches.

“It is such an honor to have been selected as this year’s Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow,” said Cody. “I can’t wait to connect my scientific background to energy, environmental, and climate policy issues facing Congress, and gain hands-on experience with the legislative process at the federal level.”

"I am eager to advance energy and environmental justice in the United States as a Congressional Fellow, and I am honored to have been selected,” said Fiori. “Climate affects all spheres of policy, and I am excited to deepen my understanding of how these policies intersect and affect American communities as a Fellow."

The American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) provides training in science policy and communication as well as an orientation for new Fellows. After completing this training, Cody and Fiori will meet with various U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and congressional committee staff before selecting which office or committee they wish to work in for their fellowship year.

Each year, following a formal application process, fellowship finalists are interviewed, and Congressional Fellows are selected by a committee comprised of volunteer members from Optica, MRS and SPIE. For more information on the selection process and fellowship criteria, visit the OpticaMRS or SPIE websites.

Caption: Claire Cody, Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow

Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow:

Claire Cody (she/her/hers) will graduate with her Ph.D. from the Chemistry Department at Yale University this summer. Her research focuses on electrocatalytic chemical conversion of small molecules such as water and ammonia, with the ultimate goal of using solar electricity generated from photovoltaics to generate carbon-free fuels and chemical feedstocks.

Outside of research, Claire is passionate about science policy, communication, and advocacy. She has served in leadership roles for Women and Gender Minorities in Science at Yale, building networking and mentoring opportunities for women and non-binary scientists across all levels at the university, and Yale Student Science Diplomats, the graduate student group focused on scientific advocacy and policy. She created and wrote Energy Basics, a website that provides an overview of the scientific basics for energy transformations, designed for non-scientists to learn about energy systems. Recently, she has been involved with the non-profit, non-partisan organization Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV), where she has helped to write briefing papers and testimony on important environmental issues facing policymakers in the state legislative session. She is excited to gain experience in the federal legislative process, and bring her scientific background to policymaking.

Caption: Marie Fiori, Optica/MRS Congressional Fellow

Optica/MRS Congressional Fellow:

Marie Fiori (she/her/hers) received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her graduate research examined the molecular packing in organic glasses produced by physical vapor deposition, similar to the ones used as the active layers of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) devices and organic photovoltaic cells (OPVs). She became interested in the intersections of climate, energy, society, and policy when she studied sustainable development in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This interest led her to seek engagement opportunities outside of the lab, where she served in leadership positions in local and national science policy groups. Additionally, she led the Contract Enforcement Committee of her graduate workers’ union.

Marie served as a 2022-2023 Energy Jobs Fellow in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Policy. As an Energy Jobs Fellow, she advanced efforts to create good jobs in the energy sector that are accessible to all workers and coordinated labor engagement at the Department. She looks forward to continuing to accelerate policies that advance clean energy and support American communities as a Congressional Fellow.

About the Materials Research Society

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2023, MRS is an organization of nearly 15,000 materials researchers from academia, industry and government worldwide, and a recognized leader in promoting the advancement of interdisciplinary materials research and technology to improve the quality of life. MRS members are students and 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 90 countries, with approximately 45 percent of members residing outside the United States.

MRS serves and engages members across generations to advance their careers and promote materials research and innovation. The Society produces high-quality meetings and publications, assuring that members of all career stages can present and publish their most important and timely work to an international and interdisciplinary audience. MRS continues to expand its professional development portfolio, as well as promote diversity and inclusion in the scientific workforce, with career services for researchers worldwide. The Society advocates for the importance of scientific research and innovation to policymakers and the community. And the MRS Awards program honors those whose work has already had a major impact in the field, as well as those whose work shows great promise for future leadership.

For more information about the Materials Research Society visit and follow @Materials_MRS.

About SPIE

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, brings engineers, scientists, students, and business professionals together to advance light-based science and technology. The Society, founded in 1955, connects and engages with our global constituency through industry-leading conferences and exhibitions; publications of conference proceedings, books, and journals in the SPIE Digital Library; and career-building opportunities. Over the past five years, SPIE has contributed more than $22 million to the international optics community through our advocacy and support, including scholarships, educational resources, travel grants, endowed gifts, and public-policy development.

About Optica

Optica, Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is the society dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica's renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement. Discover more at:

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