UTEP Geological Sciences Doctoral Student Awarded National Fellowship, Headed for Capitol Hill
Last Updated on May 05, 2021 at 2:00 PM
Originally published May 05, 2021
By Christina Rodriguez
Amanda Labrado, a geological sciences doctoral student at The University of Texas at El Paso, was named a Congressional Science Fellow by the Geological Society of America (GSA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and will spend a year in Washington, D.C., working for a member of Congress or a congressional committee from September 2021 through August 2022.
GSA and USGS are among more than 20 science and engineering organizations that sponsor a Congressional Fellow each year. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) coordinates the fellowship and provides a two-week orientation program, assists with the process of finding a congressional office and sponsors professional development activities throughout the year for all Fellows.
“This award is of tremendous significance because scientists from across the nation compete for this one fellowship. The award recognizes that Ms. Labrado is at the top of her field,” said James Kubicki, Ph.D., chair of UTEP’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Resource Sciences. “She will have an opportunity to inform and influence the U.S. government regarding numerous critical issues that face our nation regarding geosciences. Amanda Labrado makes us all proud to be Miners."
The purpose of the GSU USGS fellowship program is to contribute to more effective use of scientific and technical knowledge in government; provide a unique public policy learning experience and educate the earth science community about the public policy process; and broaden the perspective of the earth science and governmental communities regarding closer interactions between scientists and policymakers.
Labrado is expected to complete her doctorate in May 2021. She received a bachelor’s in environmental science with a concentration in geology from UTEP in December 2012 and a master’s in geosciences with a minor in biogeochemistry from the Pennsylvania State University in May 2017. She was also awarded the Diana Natalicio Dissertation Research Fellowship for 2020-21 to support her last year of dissertation work at the University. Through the GSU USGS Fellowship, Labrado will receive a stipend of $68,000 plus allowances for health insurance, and associated relocation and travel.
Labrado hopes to work for NASA, the National Science Foundation or an organization that funds scientific research. She aims to promote diversity and inclusion through these organizations. Labrado said scientists play a vital role in communities, and education is only one way they impact positive change.
“Every day legislation is passed that affects our planet and the way everyone interacts with the natural world around them,” Labrado said. “My research interests lay at the intersection between abiotic and biotic processes or living and nonliving things. Just like my research interests, I want to work at the intersection between government and science. Helping our politicians understand how we can create and enforce protecting our planet’s natural systems is vital to our species’ continued success.”
Through this opportunity, Labrado hopes to learn how to successfully speak to multiple stakeholders, engage politicians in scientific discussions, and potentially assist in writing pieces of legislation that will help future generations to come.
“I am very honored to have been offered this incredible opportunity,” Labrado said. “I am very much looking forward to learning how scientists can engage in the policymaking process. I am incredibly thankful for all the wonderful people at UTEP who helped me to get to this point in my life.”