Bringing science into public policy

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Bahadori’s division focuses on national academies in 13 different areas, including space, energy, computing, aeronautics, national security and infrastructure. She helps bring together the world’s top experts to bring science and research to US policymakers and help shape that research into policy.

Being a graduate student at MIT with dozens of international peers from the biology and toxicology labs taught her the importance of communicating across disciplines and being able to think about innovations, applications, and implications. She says you don’t design something and then consider the impact later. For example, when advising NASA on shaping space exploration, it’s important to plan where to allocate resources, how to train the next generation of scientists, and how to add more diversity to the pipeline.

The private, nonprofit National Academies apply that approach to providing independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation. The challenge is to reach consensus on that recommendation while maintaining scientific integrity and focusing on long-term goals.

“You have to look at, with each policy choice, are you getting closer to where you want to be? If not, what else are you missing? Bahadori says. “What angle do you have to come up with that you haven’t seen?”

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