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Interning with Stony Brook’s Office of Federal Relations in Washington, DC

Luigi Pesce Ibarra

Luigi Pesce Ibarra, a doctoral candidate in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences with a concentration in Rehabilitation and Movement Sciences, shares his experience as an intern.


Luigi Pesce Ibarra
Luigi Pesce Ibarra

Before departing Long Island for my 2018 summer internship at Stony Brook University’s Office of Federal Relations located off of Capitol Hill, I could not fully imagine the unique experience that awaited me when I stepped off the train at Union Station in Washington, DC.

As a STEM PhD student focusing on Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, I have always been interested in federal policy and funding related to scientific research. Working with Stony Brook’s Director of Government Relations, my internship provided me the opportunity to both observe and participate in advocacy efforts impacting the very agencies that fund the areas of science and technology research that interest me. During my internship I met with representatives from the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and National Science Foundation. I also met with members of Congress and their staff, strategized with fellow higher education and research advocates from across the country and attended key congressional hearings on topics concerning technology, science, higher education and national security.

While I learned many valuable lessons during my Stony Brook internship, my greatest takeaway is a new comprehensive understanding of the critical impact that public policy has on scientific research, both with regard to funding and regulation. It’s for this very reason that researchers and STEM students like myself must be strong advocates for scientific research and play an active role in the legislative process.

When I was a kid growing up in Venezuela, I used to watch TV shows and movies that provided me a distant view of the city of Washington, DC, a true epicenter of power. To intern in that same city I viewed on my television screen and observe firsthand the major debates impacting American and global policy on immigration, healthcare, education and scientific research has been extraordinary. I am very grateful for Stony Brook’s PhD Works Professional Development Awards For Inclusion and Equity, which afforded me this tremendous opportunity.

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