Entomology graduate named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania – Emily Sandall, who completed her doctoral studies at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences in 2020, was selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to be part of its 50th class of Science and Technology Policy Fellows.

Sandall will spend a year with the Office of Trade Policy and Geographical Affairs of the Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. His research focuses on the characterization of insect biodiversity patterns by geographic, morphological and phylogenetic methods.

After earning her doctorate in entomology at the University, Sandall worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Yale University, where she examined the global biogeography of dragonflies and led a team of species experts. In her fellowship role, she will draw on her research on biodiversity and global change and apply it to multilateral affairs of agricultural policy.

“My time at Penn State exposed me to many different agricultural and research experiences, from Ag Progress Days to the Great Insect Fair,” she said. “It broadened my horizons as someone with many research interests and a real desire for broad engagement with science.”

Sandall has also served as president of the Community Garden at Penn State and as a representative for the Student Sustainability Advisory Council and the Entomology Graduate Student Association.

Sandall said she felt very lucky to be taking a wide range of courses — from bioethics to entomology to bioinformatics — to help her understand how she saw her work in the larger scientific landscape.

“The opportunities I had at Penn State showed me that I wanted to pursue a career where I could work at the interface of science and society,” Sandall said. “The skills I have acquired through these various experiences have helped me in my journey towards this scholarship.”

Gary Felton, professor and head of the Department of Entomology, said Sandall was an outstanding doctoral student. “Her research experience and background in biodiversity and biogeography provide an excellent foundation for agricultural policy development in her new role as an AAAS Fellow,” he said.

During the fellowship, Sandall will learn first-hand about federal policy making and implementation, while the U.S. government benefits from the contributions of scientists and engineers.

“As someone who grew up in the rural Midwest and was the first person in my family to go to college, finding my calling as a scientist has been an incredible journey,” she said. “I look forward to this fellowship opportunity to use my research knowledge to serve science-based policy.”

The Science and Technology Policy Fellowship Program supports evidence-based policymaking by leveraging the knowledge and analytical minds of science and engineering experts and develops leaders for a strong American science and technology enterprise. Fellows represent a full range of disciplines, backgrounds and career stages.

The 2022-23 class of scholarship is sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Moore Foundation, and corporate partners. Of the 300 selected fellows, 31 will serve in congressional offices, one will serve in the Federal Judicial Center, and 268 will serve in the executive branch among 19 federal agencies or departments.

After scholarship, many remain in the political arena working at the federal, state, regional, or international level, while others pursue careers in academia, industry, or the nonprofit sector.

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