The AAI Public Policy Fellows Program (PPFP)

  Applications are closed

The PPFP provides early-career researchers, who are within 15 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.


Elizabeth Franks

S. Elizabeth Franks, Ph.D.

Scientist, Bethesda, Maryland

I am extremely honored to have been selected as an AAI Public Policy Fellow. As a scientist, I was taught early in my career that the ability to relay your findings to the scientific community is of paramount importance. However, because we are living in a time when scientific fact is often opposed with anti-science rhetoric, it is critically important for scientists to convey those same findings to the general public in a way that is meaningful and that preserves public trust in research. It is also essential for the relationships between scientists and legislators to be strong and cohesive. Participating in the AAI PPFP will give me the opportunity to build these relationships and grow as a scientist to best serve the immunology community and the broader public.
Erin M. Harberts

Erin M. Harberts, Ph.D.

Towson University (formerly University of Maryland, Baltimore)

To say that I am excited to be an AAI Public Policy Fellow would be an understatement. I am grateful to have the opportunity to better understand how polices directing research are formed, be afforded valuable insight into proceedings that will ultimately shape my future as a researcher, and provide important scientific information and perspective to my legislators. Scientific research and education are investments in the future of public health. Now more than ever, I am committed to helping to ensure this future. I look forward to learning how to effectively advocate for public policies that allow for advancement of bench research leading to implementation of bedside treatments.
April Huseby Kelcher

April Huseby Kelcher, Ph.D.

Scientist, Minnesota (formerly University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)​

What we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic will inevitably shape science policy. These highly challenging times highlight the significance of developing innovative and creative solutions to continue the necessary work of scientific research. Although it is critical to have the support of policy leaders and stakeholders, recent months have also demonstrated the need to gain trust from the general public for policies to be effective. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the 2020-21 AAI Public Policy Fellows Program; I look forward to learning how key policy decisions are made and how I can effectively communicate with policymakers and colleagues. Together, we can be a voice for positive change and advance scientific research in the safest, most rigorous, and efficient manner possible.
Peter D. Krueger

Peter D. Krueger, Ph.D.

University of Minnesota Center for Immunology

I am honored to have been selected to participate in the 2020-21 AAI Public Policy Fellow Program. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was in its infancy when I applied, I feel even more privileged to work with policymakers in the throes of this historic moment. As an immunologist, I cannot think of a more apt time to help support public funding to all scientific research. From climate change to vaccination misinformation campaigns, there is nothing more important than to advocate for the revival of an “expert opinions matter” approach in our leadership and communities. I am excited to participate in the PPFP, which will help me learn how to best give support to my scientific community. Thank you, AAI, for this opportunity.
Brina Lopez

Brina Lopez, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Midwestern University

I am both honored and thrilled to participate in the AAI Public Policy Fellows Program for 2020-21. Because veterinarians play a major role in supporting the health and safety of the public, and as both a clinical research scientist and a veterinary internist, I hope to positively influence research-related policies that promote the health and advancement of people, animals, and the environment. Through this program, I am excited to learn how I can raise awareness of the need to support on-going biomedical research-based discovery, and how I can favorably impact public policy that specifically relates to animal welfare and the role of animals in research. Thank you for this amazing opportunity
Joshua T. Mattila

Joshua T. Mattila, Ph.D.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

I’m excited and honored to be selected for the 2020-2021 class of AAI Public Policy Fellows. We live in a time when our lives are increasingly influenced by research performed in labs around the world. Our ability to take advantage of these advances depends on our governmental representatives’ ability to translate these findings into sound public policy. By participating in the PPFP, I hope to improve our legislators’ understanding of the scientific enterprise and impress upon them that taxpayer investment in research improves the lives of people globally. I also want to help scientists better communicate the value of their work to the general public. I’m thrilled to be included in this program and look forward to advocating for the scientific community as an AAI PPF!
Parameswaran Ramakrishnan

Parameswaran Ramakrishnan, Ph.D.

Case Western Reserve University

I consider the opportunity to participate in the AAI PPFP a distinct honor and privilege, and I am grateful to the association for giving me this opportunity. My main reason for participating in the PPFP is to transform myself from a research scientist to a citizen-scientist. I realize that to become a complete scientist, it is essential to understand and successfully impact not only bench research, but also the public policies, including federal funding polices, that determine the future of biomedical research and the careers of the nation’s scientists. As an 'eAdvocate' of leading national scientific associations for several years, I hope to work further on policy issues and transform myself from electronic advocacy to in-person advocacy through the AAI PPFP.
Julia M. Scordo

Julia M. Scordo, Ph.D.

Texas Biomedical Research Institute/University of Texas
Health Science Center at San Antonio

I am thrilled to be able to participate in the 2020-2021 AAI PPFP program. As a scientist, I feel a strong sense of responsibility to advocate on behalf of my peers to our legislators. This advocacy is critical to ensuring that proper funding and ethical regulations are in place so that we can perform the most robust research, with the end goal of improving health outcomes in our population. I believe the AAI PPFP will help me gain critically important skills that will enable me to better communicate the needs of, and advocate on behalf of, the research community. I truly look forward to the experiences and relationships I will gain through this opportunity to participate as an AAI PPFP Fellow!
Shipra Vaishnava

Shipra Vaishnava, Ph.D.

Brown University

I am honored to be selected as an AAI Public Policy Fellow for 2020-2021. As an immigrant scientist working in this country, I have watched political discourse from the sidelines, never seeing myself as someone who would bring meaningful change to public policy., I saw my place at the bench, in academia doing what I know best. But recent changes in the political landscape and the epidemic of misinformation campaigns aimed at scientific research amidst the biggest public health crisis in our lifetimes has inspired me to get more involved. I believe now more than ever that we need scientists, especially immunologists, to help policymakers evaluate and counter the threat posed by infectious diseases. 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!
Tayab Waseem

Tayab Waseem, Ph.D.

Eastern Virginia Medical School

I am excited and honored to be selected as a PPFP Fellow. Now more than ever, the voices of scientists and experts need to be at the forefront of policymaking. As scientists, we shoulder some of the blame for the current anti-scientific rhetoric that is currently circulating; to counter this, it is imperative that we engage directly with legislators, the media, and the general public to not only explain the research but also prevent the spread of disinformation. By doing so, we can ensure effective and timely policy changes and better educate the general public. I would like to thank AAI for the opportunity to serve the immunology community and help bring the voice of scientific experts into government policymaking.
Ty Crowl
Ty Crowl, Ph.D.
University of California San Diego
Peter Morawski
Peter Morawski, Ph.D.
Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason
Magdia De Jesus
Magdia De Jesus, Ph.D.
University at Albany School of Public Health
Dennis Neeld
Dennis Neeld, Ph.D.
Emory University School of Medicine
Nicholas Hess
Nicholas Hess, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Shailbala Singh
Shailbala Singh, D.V.M., Ph.D.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Rebecca Hesterberg
Rebecca Hesterberg, Ph.D.
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
Anibal Valentin Acevedo
Anibal Valentin-Acevedo, Ph.D.
Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine
Weishan Huang
Weishan Huang, Ph.D.
Louisiana State University
Leah Wuescher
Leah Wuescher, Ph.D.
The University of Toledo
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, Ph.D. (2016-2017)
Eyal Amiel, Ph.D. (2016-2017)
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)
Kristina Burrack, Ph.D. (2016-2017)
Judy Cannon, Ph.D. (2011-2012)
Ling Cao, M.D., Ph.D. (2012-2013)
Devavani Chatterjea, Ph.D. (2011-2012)
Michael Constantinides, Ph.D. (2016-2017)
Stacey Cranert, Ph.D. (2016-2017)
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)
Jacquelyn Lykken, Ph.D. (2016-2017)
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)
Srinika Ranasinghe, Ph.D. (2016-2017)
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)
Rachel Temple, Ph.D. (2016-2017)
Tamisha Vaughan, Ph.D. (2013-2014)
Joshua Vieth, Ph.D. (2015-2016)
Lavanya Visvabharathy, Ph.D. (2016-2017)
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)
Mary Young, Ph.D. (2016-2017)

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