MRO Magazine

The Optical Society, SPIE and MRS Announce 2015-2016 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows

May 22, 2015
By Business Wire News


The Optical Society (OSA), SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and the Materials Research Society (MRS) are pleased to announce the 2015-2016 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows. Jennifer Brookes, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington, will serve as the 2015-2016 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow, which is co-sponsored by OSA and SPIE; and Peter W. Winter, Ph. D., a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health, will serve as the OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow. Each will serve a one-year term working as special legislative assistants on the staffs of U.S. congressional offices or committees in Washington.

The Congressional Fellows 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 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 Fellows are selected by a committee comprised of volunteer members from OSA, SPIE and MRS. For more information on the selection process and fellowship criteria, visit the SPIE, MRS or OSA websites.

Brookes and Winter formally begin the program in early September, after participating in a comprehensive training and orientation process facilitated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The new Fellows will then go through an interview and selection process with offices of senators, representatives or committees on Capitol Hill before choosing the offices in which they will serve.

About the 2015-2016 Fellows:

Jennifer Brookes

Jennifer Brookes is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Physical Chemistry at the University of Washington, where she has worked under the direction of Prof. Munira Khalil. She is currently preparing to defend her thesis, which focuses on understanding the local solvent environment of biologically relevant iron-nitrosyl systems using two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biology from the University of Portland.

In addition to her scientific pursuits, Brookes has served the University of Washington community in various capacities. She volunteers with the University of Washington Science Explorers, an outreach group facilitating STEM activities at an afterschool program for elementary students, and is an officer in the newly-reformed University of Washington Chapter of OSA Student Affiliates. Her other positions include Social Chair in the Chemistry Graduate Student Club and Safety Officer for the Khalil lab. She recently interned in the Seattle office of U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

As a Guenther Congressional Fellow, Brookes is looking forward to combining her scientific and technical background with her interest in policy to help elected officials make complex policy decisions. She is particularly interested in issues regarding energy, natural resources, STEM education at all levels, and the advancement of underrepresented demographics in STEM fields.

Peter W. Winter, Ph. D.

Peter W. Winter received a Ph.D. in Cell & Molecular Biology in 2011 from the Colorado State University and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Colorado College in 2005. From 2011-2015, Winter trained as a National Institutes of Health IRTA postdoctoral fellow in the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering’s Section on High Resolution Optical Imaging, where he developed novel fluorescence imaging tools for application in biological and clinical research. Winter’s research has led to the publication of over a dozen peer-reviewed scientific papers, a book chapter, and invitations to present at conferences and universities around the world.

Winter is excited to work on Capitol Hill as the 2015-2016 OSA/MRS Congressional Fellow, and feels that the input of scientists and engineers in the federal policy making process can be an invaluable resource. He intends to use his fellowship to learn more about the legislative process, and leverage his scientific background on a range of policy issues, specifically the pursuit of comprehensive, evidence-based, federal science and technology policy, which he believes is vital to maintaining the United States standing in a changing global landscape.

About OSA

Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs 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. OSA is a founding partner of the National Photonics Initiative and the 2015 International Year of Light. For more information, visit

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided $4 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2014. More information is at

About MRS

The Materials Research Society (MRS) is an international organization of over 16,000 materials researchers from academia, industry and government, and a recognized leader in promoting the advancement of interdisciplinary materials research 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 more than 47 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,

The Optical Society
Rebecca B. Andersen, +1 202.416.1443
Josh Miller, +1 202.416.1435
SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics
Amy Nelson, +1 360.685.5478
Materials Research Society
Anita B. Miller, +1 724.779.2754