BUFFALO, N.Y. — Kenneth Kort is going to Washington.
Through the 2014 Christine
Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship,
Kort, a University at Buffalo chemistry doctoral student, will
spend 12 weeks in Washington, D.C., learning the ins and outs of
science and technology policy.
The program provides 30 fellows a glimpse of the role scientists
and engineers play in advising the nation with the goal that they
leave the fellowship with an appreciation for careers outside
“The fellowship is a unique opportunity for early-career
scientists,” says Kort. “We will get the chance to
explore a crucial part of scientific development and be a part of
the political process that can determine the direction for the
future of science and technology in the U.S.”
Now in its 16th year, the fellowship — which runs from
Jan. 21 through April 11 — operates through the Policy and
Global Affairs Division of the National Academies, an advisor of
the federal government on scientific and technological matters.
Kort will work with the National Materials and Manufacturing Board,
one of 70 possible committees that fellows are assigned to for
research on policy topics.
Each fellow works with a mentor and presents his or her findings
to the fellowship class at the end of the term. Several program
alumni now hold positions in congressional committees, federal
agencies, foreign governments and more.
Kort hopes the fellowship will act as a stepping stone toward a
career in public policy focused on supporting science and
technology development. A Poughkeepsie native, he is driven to help
rejuvenate the Rust Belt through advanced manufacturing of
“Kenny is the rare student who combines creativity in the
laboratory with a boundless curiosity about the intersection of
science and society,” says Sarbajit Banerjee, PhD, associate
professor of chemistry. “He is a passionate and tireless
advocate for reviving advanced materials manufacturing in the Rust
Belt. Washington desperately needs more creative and scientifically
accomplished problem-solvers like Kenny.”
Kort completed most of his research within UB's Center of
Excellence in Materials Informatics under Banerjee. One of his
projects involved creating two-dimensional nanocrystals to improve
the energy efficiency in cell phone and television displays. He has
also worked with SEMATECH, a company that researches advanced chip
manufacturing, on developing a technique that uses lasers to
measure charge-carrier density in III-V semiconductors.