New APS Education Fellow Goes to Washington

By Michael Lucibella

Julia Mundy
Photo courtesy of Julia Mundy

Julia Mundy

The American Physical Society (APS) and the American Institute of Physics (AIP) have jointly selected their first fellow to send to the Department of Education as part of the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education Policy Fellowship. Julia Mundy, who recently defended her Ph.D. thesis in applied physics, will go to the Department of Education to work on science and math education policies.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Mundy said. “There hasn’t been a strong presence of scientists in the Department of Education, so I’m really excited for the opportunity.”

The APS and AIP jointly announced the formation of the new fellowship in September 2013. The goal is to bring a Ph.D. scientist into the Department of Education for two years to consult on STEM policies.

“It’s exciting,” said Tyler Glembo, the APS government relations specialist who helped set up the new program. “The Department of Education is really the place to make important systemic changes.”

Mundy will work with the department’s STEM lead, Camsie McAdams. Though specific plans are still being finalized, she’ll likely work on new initiatives at the department, including the STEM Innovation Network, STEM Innovation Hubs, the STEM Teachers Pathway Initiative and the STEM Master Teacher Corps.

Mundy received her bachelor’s degree in physics and chemistry and her master’s in chemistry from Harvard University in 2006. After that, she spent two years teaching science through Teach for America, first in Baton Rouge with students who had been evacuated from New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina, then in New Haven, Connecticut. She then attended Cornell for her doctorate in applied physics.

“As a high school science teacher, you’re immersed in science education policy,” Mundy said. “I was really interested after college in working as a teacher to provide high-level educational opportunities to all students.”

The APS has been trying to establish such a fellowship at the Department of Education for years. The Society was one of the founding partners of the The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Congressional Fellowships in 1973, but placing individuals at the Department of Education proved more difficult. In September when the other AAAS policy fellowships start up, the STEM Education Policy Fellow will join the rest of the cohort.

“Forty years ago, APS was one of the founding member societies of the AAAS fellowships, and once again APS is leading the way,” Glembo said.

*Previously published in the February 2014 issue of APS News.

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