The AAI Public Policy Fellows Program (PPFP)

  Applications are closed.

The PPFP provides early-career researchers, who are within 15 years (previously 10 years) of receiving their terminal degree, and who are committed to a career in biomedical research with the opportunity to learn about and participate in the public policy and legislative activities of AAI. Up to 10 Fellows are selected to participate annually. Fellows serve from May 1st of their selection year to April 30th of the following year.
The primary goals of the program are to 1) help AAI members, early in their careers, better understand the role of the President and Administration, Congress, and the National Institutes of Health in determining the policies that affect biomedical research, and 2) teach participants how best to advocate for the funding and policies that impact their careers. The program will also help ensure that AAI has within its ranks a cadre of well-informed scientists who can help lead the organization's public policy efforts in the future.

Program Components

  1. Capitol Hill Day: Fellows come to Washington, D.C., for a two-day Capitol Hill Day (likely in March). They attend a training session with AAI staff and visit their Congressional representatives to advocate for biomedical research and increased funding for NIH. AAI pays for Fellows' flights, hotel, and other reasonable expenses (per the AAI PPFP Reimbursement Policy).
  2. AAI Annual Meeting Program: Fellows attend the AAI annual meeting (during their Fellowship year), including any public policy or PPFP sessions requested by AAI. Attendance at the meeting is at the Fellows' expense. You may apply for and use any AAI travel awards for which you are eligible.
  3. Communication with AAI Public Policy Staff: The staff of the AAI Office of Public Policy and Government Affairs is in email and phone contact with the Fellows during their Fellowship year to keep them informed and to solicit their views on key topics. Fellows receive, and respond to as appropriate, emails and phone calls from AAI staff and/or other program participants during their participation year and complete a program evaluation at the end of their Fellowship.


All PPFP Fellows are selected by the AAI Committee on Public Affairs. Applicants are required to:

  • have received their Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent within the previous 15 years in immunology or a related field;
  • be a member in good standing of AAI (must be a member at the time of application and throughout the Fellowship year);
  • be committed to a career in biomedical research;
  • have excellent interpersonal and communication skills;
  • have an interest in public policy as it relates to biomedical research;
  • live and work in the United States; and
  • submit by the designated deadline, as a single combined PDF:
    1. the AAI PPFP application;
    2. a CV; and
    3. two references from AAI members (regular members in good standing who do not serve on the AAI Council or AAI Committee on Public Affairs) using the PPFP recommendation forms.


Ty Crowl
Ty Crowl, Ph.D., University of California San Diego
I am thrilled to be an AAI Public Policy Fellow for 2019-20. Through this fellowship, I hope to learn how AAI makes decisions about the policies we prioritize, and how to convey their importance to legislators and the NIH. Consistent funding is essential for biomedical research, and decisions about how that funding is awarded impact the opportunities of institutions and individual scientists to improve both research and the communities we work in. Funding for training grants, diversity grants, and early career investigators fundamentally shapes how scientists can improve our workplace and the quality of our work. Participation in the AAI PPFP will provide me with the tools and experience necessary to be a better advocate for my colleagues and the scientific community throughout my career.
Magdia De Jesus
Magdia De Jesus, Ph.D., University at Albany School of Public Health
It is truly a privilege and honor to have been selected as an AAI Public Policy Fellow. In our current political climate, where the importance of science is under scrutiny, it is critical that scientists and policymakers have an available platform where productive discussions about scientific funding, ethics, and how we will continue to support a diverse generation of new scientists can take place. I look forward to participating in the AAI Public Policy Fellows Program as I am highly enthusiastic about learning the skills that will allow me to bridge the gap between our government and our scientists.
Nicholas Hess
Nicholas Hess, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Despite being unbiased, scientific research is still subject to the political process and thus has the potential to be impacted by non-scientific political agendas. Therefore, it is imperative that scientific researchers at all career levels become both knowledgeable and active to ensure that politicians are adequately informed when making decisions about scientific research and funding levels. To that end, I am extremely honored to be selected as a 2019-20 AAI Public Policy Fellow and to work with other scientists who are equally passionate about the scientific policy agenda of our country. I feel indebted to AAI for offering this amazing opportunity to gain hands-on-experience interacting with both the AAI public affairs team and federal lawmakers. I look forward to learning more about how I can impact both policy and legislative decisions for the benefit of scientific research.
Rebecca Hesterberg
Rebecca Hesterberg, Ph.D., H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
I am elated to participate in the AAI Public Policy Fellows Program for 2019-20. It is important for scientists to understand how policymakers directly affect us beyond appropriating money to the NIH and how to advocate and speak up when decisions are being made. Additionally, as the current political climate sees an emergence of anti-science rhetoric, the relationships between lawmakers and scientists have never been more crucial. I am excited to join other early career scientists to be the next generation fostering these relationships and I look forward to working more with AAI in such a unique way.
Weishan Huang
Weishan Huang, Ph.D., Louisiana State University
I am very grateful for being selected to participate in the 2019-20 AAI PPFP. As an academic scientist, I am in general confident about communicating science, and am fond of delivering scientific knowledge to lay audiences through teaching and presentations. However, when it comes to government policies, I have been frustrated because I lack knowledge of government policies and the underlying rationales. The AAI PPFP is a great training opportunity that will help me gain such knowledge. By focusing on public policy, networking with policy experts and mentors, and communicating with peer scientists and legislators, I believe that I will be able to better learn about the system and serve our community. Again, thanks to AAI for this opportunity.
Peter Morawski
Peter Morawski, Ph.D., Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason
The ability of scientists to communicate their findings in a meaningful way to others in their field, and especially to the general public, is perhaps paramount even to the science itself. Research performed in the laboratory is undoubtedly central to our profession, but without accessible explanation and contextualization, the meaning behind the work can be lost. I believe that clear and relevant explanation and dissemination of scientific findings to policymakers and the public will help give the research community a voice in the policymaking process. I have trained extensively to develop skills as a researcher and an educator, and now endeavor to excel in science policy and advocacy. I am thus thrilled to be included in the 2019-20 AAI PPFP, knowing that it will provide me with the tools I seek.
Dennis Neeld
Dennis Neeld, Ph.D., Emory University School of Medicine
I am extremely honored and excited to have been selected to participate in the 2019-20 AAI PPFP. In addition to conducting basic research, scientists have an obligation to actively engage with the general public and congressional leaders about scientific issues in order to facilitate the development of effective policies. This fellowship will provide me with a unique opportunity to witness first-hand how scientific policy decisions are made, which will ultimately aid in making me a better advocate for immunological research. I thank AAI for this amazing opportunity and look forward to working with the rest of the AAI Public Policy Fellows.
Shailbala Singh
Shailbala Singh, D.V.M., Ph.D., The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
I am very excited and honored to be selected as an AAI Public Policy Fellow for 2019-20. As a scientist who has directly benefitted from both public and private funding for immunology and infectious disease research, I believe that the fellowship will provide me with an opportunity to learn about policy development through active interaction with policymakers. Besides contributing through my own experience and expertise in the field of immunological research, I look forward to learning from other Fellows as well as the AAI public policy team to further our mission of conducting scientific research that benefits humanity. I am grateful to be a part of this incredible advocacy network of AAI members who share my passion and commitment for science.
Anibal Valentin Acevedo
Anibal Valentin-Acevedo, Ph.D., Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine
I am greatly honored to have been selected to participate in the AAI PPFP. With this tremendous opportunity, I hope to learn how to become a better and more effective advocate for science and biomedical research. I truly believe that, if we intend to keep moving forward as a productive and healthy society, scientists need to develop better communication channels with policymakers and the public. It is common to see many misconceptions about science, in part because of a lack of understanding of what science and scientific research really are. Strategies that can help include teaching scientists how to deliver real and simple scientific facts. I am confident that the Fellows, with their scientific expertise and varied cultural, ethnic, and social backgrounds, will bring important perspectives to the discussion of biomedical research funding.
Leah Wuescher
Leah Wuescher, Ph.D., The University of Toledo
I am extremely honored to be selected as an AAI Public Policy Fellow for 2019-20. While I was never captivated by politics, recent changes in the political landscape and the epidemic of misinformation campaigns aimed at scientific research have inspired me to get more involved in political discussion. I believe this program will teach me valuable skills that will help me navigate politics and better understand the roles our representatives play in securing funding and providing a stable future for scientific research. AAI presents us with a unique opportunity to engage with our representatives and directly advocate for the issues we are passionate about and I am eager to get started!
Nathaniel H. Boyd
Nathaniel H. Boyd, Ph.D.
Emory School of Medicine
(formerly at University of Alabama at Birmingham)
Emily A. Hemann
Emily A. Hemann, Ph.D.
University of Washington
Gavin H. Imperato
Gavin H. Imperato, M.D.
Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Jesica R. Jacobs
Jesica R. Jacobs, Ph.D.
University of Utah School of Medicine
Liz McMichael
Liz McMichael, Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center
Mallory L. Paynich
Mallory L. Paynich, Ph.D.
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Gregory Szeto
Gregory Szeto, Ph.D.
University of Maryland Baltimore County
Stina L. Urban
Stina L. Urban, Ph.D.
University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Francisco R. Victorino
Francisco R. Victorino, Ph.D.
Washington University in St. Louis
Melody Y. Zeng
Melody Y. Zeng, Ph.D.
Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University
(formerly at University of Michigan Medical School)
Heather Marie Buechel
Heather Marie Buechel, Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh
David J. Dowling
David J. Dowling, Ph.D.
Boston Children's Hospital & Harvard Medical School
Mariana Guerra-Maupome
Mariana Guerra-Maupome, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Farrah C. Phillips
Farrah C. Phillips, Ph.D.
Kemin Industries (formerly at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)
Rachel S. Resop
Rachel S. Resop, Ph.D.
George Washington University (formerly at University of California, Los Angeles)
Timothy Rosean
Timothy Rosean, Ph.D.
University of Virginia
Nathaniel Schuldt
Nathaniel Schuldt, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota
Julie Swartzendruber
Julie Swartzendruber, Ph.D.
Midwestern University
Melissa M. Walker
Melissa M. Walker, Ph.D.
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Spencer C. Wei
Spencer C. Wei, Ph.D.
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Mufadhal Al-Kuhlani
Mufadhal Al-Kuhlani, Ph.D.
University of California, Merced
Eyal Amiel
Eyal Amiel, Ph.D.
University of Vermont
Kristina Burrack
Kristina Burrack, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota
Michael Constantinides
Michael Constantinides, Ph.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH
Stacey Cranert
Stacey Cranert, Ph.D.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Michael Constantinides
Jacquelyn Lykken, Ph.D.
Duke University School of Medicine
Srinika Ranasinghe
Srinika Ranasinghe, Ph.D.
Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard
Rachel Temple
Rachel Temple, Ph.D.
The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Lavanya Visvabharathy
Lavanya Visvabharathy, Ph.D.
Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine
Mary Young
Mary Young, Ph.D.
Center for Infectious Disease Research
Rachel Bergerson, Ph.D. (2013-2014)
Matthew Billard, Ph.D. (2014-2015)
Jennifer (Lori) Blanchfield, Ph.D. (2013-2014)
C. Colin Brinkman, Ph.D. (2014-2015)
Tullia Bruno, Ph.D. (2015-2016)
Judy Cannon, Ph.D. (2011-2012)
Ling Cao, M.D., Ph.D. (2012-2013)
Devavani Chatterjea, Ph.D. (2011-2012)
Ryan Cummings, Ph.D. (2014-2015)
Jonathan Deane, Ph.D. (2014-2015)
Gretchen Diehl, Ph.D. (2013-2014)
Jason Gigley, Ph.D. (2015-2016)
Kory Hallett, Ph.D. (2012-2013)
Nichol Holodick, Ph.D. (2015-2016)
Katrina Hoyer, Ph.D. (2013-2014)
Shawn Jackson, Ph.D. (2011-2012)
Stephanie James, Ph.D. (2012-2013)
Kamal Khanna, Ph.D. (2011-2012)
Heather Kling, Ph.D. (2014-2015)
David Larson, Ph.D. (2015-2016)
Elizabeth Leadbetter, Ph.D. (2013-2014)
Linda Lieberman, Ph.D. (2011-2012)
Nicole Perry Lieberman, Ph.D. (2015-2016)
Jean Nepomuscene Manirarora, D.V.M., Ph.D. (2015-2016)
Meghan Marré, Ph.D. (2015-2016)
Jeffrey Mills, Ph.D. (2011-2012)
Amy Moran, Ph.D. (2011-2012)
Joshua Obar, Ph.D. (2012-2013)
Shaun O'Brien, Ph.D. (2014-2015)
Karen O'Connell Martins, Ph.D. (2014-2015)
Anastazia Older Aguilar, Ph.D. (2011-2012)
Hannah Phipps-Yonas, Ph.D. (2012-2013)
Rebecca Pompano, Ph.D. (2014-2015)
Melanie Ragin, Ph.D. (2012-2013)
Sesquile Ramon, Ph.D. (2014-2015)
Jillian Richmond, Ph.D. (2012-2013)
Mark Rubinstein, Ph.D. (2012-2013)
Surojit Sarkar, Ph.D. (2013-2014)
Jeremy Schaefer, Ph.D. (2013-2014)
Brian Sheridan, Ph.D. (2013-2014)
Adam Soloff, Ph.D. (2012-2013)
Stefanie Sowinski, Ph.D. (2014-2015)
Erica Stone, Ph.D. (2015-2016)
Tamisha Vaughan, Ph.D. (2013-2014)
Joshua Vieth, Ph.D. (2015-2016)
Stephanie Watkins, Ph.D. (2013-2014)
Dina Weilhammer, Ph.D. (2012-2013)
Eric Weimer, Ph.D. (2011-2012)
Jessica Werner, Ph.D. (2015-2016)
Caleph Wilson, Ph.D. (2011-2012)

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