Our Mission

The MIT Science Policy Initiative, founded in 2007, is a group of graduate (and some undergraduate) students who work closely with MIT Faculty, the MIT Washington DC Office, and other science policy advocates to better understand how scientists can play a central role in the framing of science and technology policy legislation and public discourse. We strive to create better scientists and engineers as well as a better society through rigorous research and authentic engagement with public policy.

Our programming includes monthly discussions, lunch seminars, an intensive short course during MIT's Independent Activities Period, and student trips to meet with lawmakers in Washington DC. We focus on educating science students on challenges facing our community at the institutional, local, and national level, to enable them to be better researchers and advocates, who are capable of effecting change in support of scientific progress. Our mission is to foster connections between researchers and policy makers. We work to place MIT's young researchers at the intersection of rigorous scientific research and public policy, such that they are well equipped to contribute to the development of both fields.

PRESIDENT   Max Olender   Max is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering studying the biomechanics of diseased coronary arteries to better understand and predict disease progression and intervention response. A proud Wolverine, he earned a B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan. After a positive experience with student governance as an undergraduate, Max got to thinking about how federal and state governance might be improved by the involvement of some critical-thinking and well-intentioned scientists and engineers, thus sparking his interest in public policy.

PRESIDENT
Max Olender

Max is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering studying the biomechanics of diseased coronary arteries to better understand and predict disease progression and intervention response. A proud Wolverine, he earned a B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan. After a positive experience with student governance as an undergraduate, Max got to thinking about how federal and state governance might be improved by the involvement of some critical-thinking and well-intentioned scientists and engineers, thus sparking his interest in public policy.

VICE PRESIDENT   Erin Rousseau   Erin is a PhD candidate in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) program where she develops technologies to better study substance use disorder. Originally from upstate NY, Erin graduated from SUNY University at Albany in 2016. Erin is deeply committed to science advocacy and political activism. Her work outside of research involves increasing representation and resources for underserved populations in higher education.

VICE PRESIDENT
Erin Rousseau

Erin is a PhD candidate in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) program where she develops technologies to better study substance use disorder. Originally from upstate NY, Erin graduated from SUNY University at Albany in 2016. Erin is deeply committed to science advocacy and political activism. Her work outside of research involves increasing representation and resources for underserved populations in higher education.

TREASURER   Quantum Wei   Quantum is a PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT studying energy-efficient water desalination. His current work focuses on batch reverse osmosis systems. He is particularly interested in public outreach and effective science communication and is also involved in the MIT Water Club. Quantum grew up in Northern Virginia before earning his SM and SB at MIT in mechanical engineering.

TREASURER
Quantum Wei

Quantum is a PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT studying energy-efficient water desalination. His current work focuses on batch reverse osmosis systems. He is particularly interested in public outreach and effective science communication and is also involved in the MIT Water Club. Quantum grew up in Northern Virginia before earning his SM and SB at MIT in mechanical engineering.







EXECUTIVE VISIT DAYS CHAIR Hannah Varner   Hannah is a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering focusing on the design of efficient in-home water purification systems in India. She came to MIT with a satellite in space (brownspace.org/equisat/) and with four years of working as a mechanical design engineer at Draper. Hannah is interested in how science and engineering mission and funding decisions are made in resources constrained environments, from the developing world to the federal government. Hannah is a proud Brunonian (’14) and enjoys climbing in her time outside of lab.

EXECUTIVE VISIT DAYS CHAIR
Hannah Varner


Hannah is a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering focusing on the design of efficient in-home water purification systems in India. She came to MIT with a satellite in space (brownspace.org/equisat/) and with four years of working as a mechanical design engineer at Draper. Hannah is interested in how science and engineering mission and funding decisions are made in resources constrained environments, from the developing world to the federal government. Hannah is a proud Brunonian (’14) and enjoys climbing in her time outside of lab.

CONGRESSIONAL VISIT DAYS CO-CHAIR   Elizabeth Shoenfelt Troein   Elizabeth is a W. O. Crosby Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. She received her undergraduate degree in Env. Biogeochemistry at Princeton and her PhD in Geochemistry at Columbia and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Elizabeth studies how terrestrial mineral weathering supplies nutrients to phytoplankton in the ocean, and how this impacts climate. Elizabeth is interested in optimizing collaborations between academia, industry, and policy to tackle society's biggest challenges.

CONGRESSIONAL VISIT DAYS CO-CHAIR
Elizabeth Shoenfelt Troein

Elizabeth is a W. O. Crosby Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. She received her undergraduate degree in Env. Biogeochemistry at Princeton and her PhD in Geochemistry at Columbia and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Elizabeth studies how terrestrial mineral weathering supplies nutrients to phytoplankton in the ocean, and how this impacts climate. Elizabeth is interested in optimizing collaborations between academia, industry, and policy to tackle society's biggest challenges.



CONGRESSIONAL VISIT DAYS CO-CHAIR   Lucy Hu   Lucy is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program working on designing medical soft robotics. Originally interested in the engineering design process, a public policy class her last semester of college pivoted her interests towards health and science policy; although, she’s always happy to discuss the parallels between engineering design and public policy. She is interested in broad issues concerning how we train our STEM and healthcare workforce, gender and racial health disparities, and market failures in medical technology development.

CONGRESSIONAL VISIT DAYS CO-CHAIR
Lucy Hu

Lucy is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program working on designing medical soft robotics. Originally interested in the engineering design process, a public policy class her last semester of college pivoted her interests towards health and science policy; although, she’s always happy to discuss the parallels between engineering design and public policy. She is interested in broad issues concerning how we train our STEM and healthcare workforce, gender and racial health disparities, and market failures in medical technology development.

EXTERNAL LIAISON   Eli Pollock   Hailing from the Greater Philadelphia Area, Eli is a fourth-year PhD student in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. He studied physics and biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also took classes related to entrepreneurship in technical fields and co-founded a political discussion group. He has always been interested in science as well as politics, philosophy, and other forces that shape history.

EXTERNAL LIAISON
Eli Pollock

Hailing from the Greater Philadelphia Area, Eli is a fourth-year PhD student in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. He studied physics and biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also took classes related to entrepreneurship in technical fields and co-founded a political discussion group. He has always been interested in science as well as politics, philosophy, and other forces that shape history.

BOOTCAMP DIRECTOR   Jack Reid   Jack is from the island of strange that is Austin, Texas. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Philosophy from Texas A&M University before starting his current studies at MIT, another dual degree, this time the Technology & Policy Program and AeroAstro. His research is on the management of complex systems and emergent behavior. This interest naturally enough bleeds over into the effects of policy as well as the political system itself.

BOOTCAMP DIRECTOR
Jack Reid

Jack is from the island of strange that is Austin, Texas. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Philosophy from Texas A&M University before starting his current studies at MIT, another dual degree, this time the Technology & Policy Program and AeroAstro. His research is on the management of complex systems and emergent behavior. This interest naturally enough bleeds over into the effects of policy as well as the political system itself.

DISCUSSION CHAIR Willie Boag   Willie is a 4th year PhD student in CSAIL's Clinical Decision-Making Group whose research focuses on Machine Learning for Healthcare. His 2018 S.M. studied racial disparities in end-of-life care and how that could be affected by mistrust in the doctor-patient relationship. Most recently, he spent his summer interning in DC at a healthcare startup promoting value-based care. He is especially interested in representation in STEM and how technology+policy influence society.

DISCUSSION CHAIR
Willie Boag

Willie is a 4th year PhD student in CSAIL's Clinical Decision-Making Group whose research focuses on Machine Learning for Healthcare. His 2018 S.M. studied racial disparities in end-of-life care and how that could be affected by mistrust in the doctor-patient relationship. Most recently, he spent his summer interning in DC at a healthcare startup promoting value-based care. He is especially interested in representation in STEM and how technology+policy influence society.

SPECIAL EVENTS DIRECTOR Miles Lifson   Miles grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. He received B.A.s in Physics and Government from Claremont McKenna College, where he focused his coursework around space policy. He is a student in the Technology & Policy Program at MIT. His research focuses on satellite systems and related questions with both technical and policy dimensions.

SPECIAL EVENTS DIRECTOR
Miles Lifson

Miles grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. He received B.A.s in Physics and Government from Claremont McKenna College, where he focused his coursework around space policy. He is a student in the Technology & Policy Program at MIT. His research focuses on satellite systems and related questions with both technical and policy dimensions.

ALUMNI RELATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR Anthony Tabet   Anthony is a 2nd year Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering at MIT working to develop combination therapies against childhood and adult brain cancers. Outside of the lab, he is passionate about entrepreneurship and scientific outreach. Anthony grew up in Minnesota, is an alumnus of Cambridge University and the University of Minnesota, and moved to Massachusetts and MIT in 2018.

ALUMNI RELATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
Anthony Tabet


Anthony is a 2nd year Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering at MIT working to develop combination therapies against childhood and adult brain cancers. Outside of the lab, he is passionate about entrepreneurship and scientific outreach. Anthony grew up in Minnesota, is an alumnus of Cambridge University and the University of Minnesota, and moved to Massachusetts and MIT in 2018.