Aps Careers | Physicist Profile

Alison Binkowski

Policy Analyst

Why physics?

Curious about how the world worked

Alison “was always interested in how the world worked: from why objects fall to what was at the ‘edge’ of the universe.” Her curiosity and desire to know the why behind everything inspired her to pursue a physics degree.

More importantly, Alison felt that using the language of physics and math to explain everything was elegant and appealing. Likewise, she marveled at how the wonders of the world could be captured and explained by mathematical formulas.

Gives a competitive edge

Alison says, “many fields – including international development and health policy – need more people with strong analytic backgrounds.” Alison’s knowledge of physics and computer science give her the valuable analytic abilities that many other people do not have.

Alison’s well-developed analytic training made her a valuable asset and a competitive candidate for many different jobs. She says, “my analytic training was noted as a primary reason why I was offered a partial academic scholarship in graduate school, and what helped me stand out from other candidates to get my current job at the GAO.”

Using Physics

Seeing the world from many perspectives

Alison is an international supervolunteer. She has helped out at a clinic in Costa Rica and at an international non-governmental organization (INGO) in China. She has also spent a summer in Senegal and Mali with the United Nations (UN).

Alison’s passion for medical services drew Alison towards international health care issues. Some of her own personal experiences from traveling around the world have shaped her views and made her realize the advantages of working on domestic health issues, as well.

Building analytical skills for innovative solutions

Alison’s experiences have distinctly shaped her non-traditional physics career as a policy analyst for the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In addition, her background in physics has set her apart from many other policy analysts because of the extensive analytic training that she has had as a physics major.

It’s not easy to think of creative solutions and to be able to examine a problem from different perspectives. But, for Alison, she is more than well-prepared to solve any problem and address any issue with her powerful critical thinking skills and impressive analytical skills that have come from her physics education. Her job as a policy analyst requires her to view policies from different perspectives and Alison credits much of her ability to advanced analytic skills.

Advice for students

Different experiences are important

Seeing the world and having a variety of knowledge has made Alison into a well-rounded and highly skilled policy analyst. Her travels, knowledge of physics, and knowledge of international health issues have made her successful in a career that requires the use of different experiences and knowledge to examine international policies.

Strengthen your analytical skills

Alison cannot stress enough how important it is to be able to think differently and to be able to analyze problems and issues in different ways. Not many people have strong critical thinking abilities and analytical skills. So, having the knowledge that supports analytical skills and critical thinking makes you into a much more competitive candidate for anything whether it is for jobs or for school.

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