Published November 23, 2021
Jessica O’Neill, a recent doctoral-degree recipient from the School of Public Health and Health Professions, has received a fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has been placed with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance in Washington, D.C.
The bureau provides life-saving humanitarian assistance — including food, water, shelter, emergency health care, sanitation and hygiene, and nutrition services — to the world’s most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people.
O’Neill received her PhD from the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior earlier this year, and obtained her master of public health degree from UB in 2014.
She also received her bachelor’s in biological sciences from UB, and competed on the Bulls’ cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams during her time as an undergraduate. “In fact, the reason I chose UB was because I was offered an NCAA scholarship, by coach Vicki Mitchell, to fund my undergrad education,” O’Neill says. “At the time, that scholarship opened the door to being able to afford to go to college.”
While at UB, O’Neill co-founded the Buffalo pod of 500 Women Scientists. The group’s mission is to serve society by making science open, inclusive and accessible, and transform society by fighting racism, patriarchy and oppressive societal norms.
O’Neill is among 284 highly trained scientists and engineers who will spend a year serving professionally in federal agencies and congressional offices as a Science & Technology Policy Fellow. The U.S. government benefits from the contributions of highly trained scientists and engineers while they learn firsthand about federal policymaking and implementation.
For nearly half a century, the fellowship program has been part of the AAAS’ mission to advance science and serve society. The program aims to support evidence-based policymaking by leveraging the knowledge and analytical mindset of science and engineering experts, and foster leaders for a strong U.S. science and technology enterprise. Fellows represent a full spectrum of disciplines, backgrounds and career stages.
“I get excited about the possibilities the future may hold when policies are rooted in sound scientific evidence and developed with the lenses of equity and environmental sustainability in mind,” O’Neill says. “I am humbled by the opportunity to learn from distinguished leaders in domestic and international policy, and grow in the AAAS professional development program. I look forward to my first major project as a fellow, which involves developing an analytical learning tool to inform the design process for international humanitarian assistance, food security and resilience activities.”
Since the program’s inception in 1973, nearly 4,000 fellows have supported the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the U.S. government. After the fellowship, many fellows remain in the policy arena working at the federal, state, regional or international level. Others pursue careers in academia, industry or the nonprofit sector, leveraging their fellowship experiences to enhance their contributions and broaden their reach.
Visit www.aaas.org/stpf to learn more about the AAAS Science & Technology Policy fellowships.