Angelica Van Goor, a post-doctoral researcher in Assistant Professor Melha Mellata's lab, will begin a prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellowship in Washington, D.C. this fall. Contributed photo.

Post-doc accepted into competitive fellowship

Ames has been “home” to Angelica Van Goor for the past seven years while she’s been at Iowa State University. So naturally, she said it will be an adjustment to pack up her things (and her family) and move to Washington, D.C., where she’ll spend at least the next year partaking in a prestigious fellowship.

After an intensive application process, Van Goor, a post-doctoral researcher in Assistant Professor Melha Mellata’s lab, found out recently she was accepted into an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellowship. She will be hosted by the USDA-NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture). Her one-year fellowship will begin Sept. 4. Depending on how it goes, she may have the opportunity to extend her experience for one additional year.

“It makes me very proud when I see the training in my lab contributed to my students and post-docs getting on pathways to success,” Mellata said. “This highly competitive fellowship will open many opportunities for Angelica and will, without a doubt, provide clear-cut paths to future careers.”

The AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships allow scientists and engineers a chance to delve into science policy at the federal government level while using their knowledge and analytical skills to address societal challenges, according to the AAAS website. Fellows serve in each of the three branches of the federal government – executive, judicial and legislative. Van Goor will be working within the executive branch.

One of Van Goor’s long-time mentors encouraged her to apply for this fellowship, saying it may be a good fit for her. Van Goor said what stood out about this fellowship was the professional development aspect. Not only will she be able to network with other fellows and those at USDA-NIFA, but she’ll take part in the fellowship’s year-long professional development program. The program helps fellows understand science policy, learn to communicate with non-scientific audiences and enhance their leadership skills.

Van Goor received her PhD in genetics in the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State. During this time, she was a USDA-National Needs Fellow, which supported a six-month international research experience at the Roslin Institute in Scotland. She also served as a teaching assistant and participated in several graduate student organizations. During her post-doc she served as a co-principal investigator for a research grant to improve the health of cage-free poultry.

“Having good communication skills that will help in the transition from the lab to science policy,” Van Goor said is what will aid her in this fellowship. “I want to gain a different perspective on science, from an under the microscope view to the societal view.”

Van Goor said she’s looking forward to the opportunity and is excited to see what role it will play in helping her determine what career path she’d like to pursue.

“It’s a really exciting time to be involved in science policy,” Van Goor said. “It’s possible to use scientific training to do high impact things outside of the lab. What attracted me to USDA-NIFA was their emphasis on capacity building, especially recruiting more women and minorities into the STEM fields.”