Applications are closed for January 2022-January 2023 fellows.

Public Service Fellows

The Public Service Fellows program is a three-semester professional development sequence for graduate students in STEM who care about the social impact of their work.

This course sequence counts towards the Ph.D. minor in Community-Engaged Scholarship, if desired. Applicants considering the community-engaged teaching pathway are strongly encouraged to have some teaching experience.

Participants in the program will:

    • Acquire foundational knowledge in public service and community engagement in STEM
    • Gain significant practical experience in a specific public service pathway: community-engaged teaching, direct service/outreach, public policy, or social entrepreneurship
    • Connect with peers who are invested in the social impact of their work in STEM
    • Explore career options and build their CVs
    • Enroll in a 1-credit seminar in each semester (3 courses total)

In the third semester, participants complete a practicum in a public service pathway of specialization:

    • community-engaged teaching,
    • direct service,
    • policy & governance, or
    • social entrepreneurship.

An application is required, and a range of previous experience with the pathway(s) you are interested in will be considered. You may apply to more than one pathway. However, accepted fellows will be admitted into one pathway.

Spring: Learn the fundamentals of public service and civic engagement in STEM

Fellows meet weekly for two hours, completing a one-credit seminar on the fundamentals of community engagement in the STEM disciplines. The cohort will work together to explore the core pathways of public service and civic engagement (direct service, community-engaged teaching, public policy, social entrepreneurship, activism, and philanthropy), learn the basics of community partnerships, and reflect on personal experiences with community engagement.

Average time commitment: 2–5 hours/week

Summer: Engage in relationships & prepare materials

Fellows meet on a semi-regular basis to develop a workplan for the semester, initiate community partnerships, and create materials for use in their practicum.  Fellows will focus intensively on acquiring pathway-specific knowledge and skills. There will also be opportunities to practice transferable skills, problem-solve, and support your cohort members.

Average time commitment: 2–5 hours/week. This time commitment is variable, and there will be a mix of meeting types.  Some weeks we will continue to learn and work collaboratively as a cohort, and some weeks will be devoted exclusively to work within your pathway of specialization.  Some meetings may be held with practicum partners in the community.

Fall: Implement in real-world settings

Fellows engage in a practicum in their public service pathway of specialization, working directly with a community partner.  Participants will see how theories and concepts in their pathway play out in real settings, by implementing, refining, and evaluating the materials they have prepared for their practicum.  A particular emphasis will be placed on working with community partners and their constituents in a way that is ethical, demonstrates a high level of commitment, and is inclusive of all stakeholders.  Fellows will acquire the knowledge and skills to become leaders who advocate for civic and community engagement in the STEM disciplines.

Average time commitment: 6–10 hours/week.  Fixed time commitments are a 2-hour full cohort meeting every 2 weeks, and a 1-hour pathway meeting on alternate weeks.  Additional time spent working on the practicum project will be more variable, but should be no less than 6 hours/week.  Discuss your participation in this program and its time commitments with your graduate advisor (or equivalent) before applying.

The Pathways of Public Service and Civic Engagement is a framework developed by the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University and used by the Public Service Fellows program as a way of understanding the spectrum of possible approaches for connecting the work of scientists & engineers to issues of public concern.

Graduate students applying to the program will indicate their interest in specializing in one or more of the four pathways offered through the program.  These pathways are:

Community-engaged teaching

    • Community-engaged teaching describes courses that connect learning in the classroom to issues of public concern and frequently include learning in community spaces. Two students in this pathway will serve as instructors for the course Exploring Service in STEM.

Direct service/outreach

    • Direct service addresses the immediate needs of individuals and communities and frequently involves working directly with community members.  The most common example of direct service in STEM is frequently referred to as outreach.

Policy & governance

    • Policy and governance encompass activities related to policymaking, interacting with policymakers, and participating in governance processes.

Social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility

    • Social entrepreneurship draws on ethical private sector approaches to effect social change.

Community-engaged teaching

Melanie Callaghan, co-instructor in the community-engaged first-year seminar Exploring Service in Science:

The community-engaged teaching practicum is an experience guided by the WISCIENCE Director of Community-Based Learning in which a team of public service fellows teach the freshmen seminar course “Exploring Service in Science”. In teaching this course, I aim to connect students with spaces, organizations, and institutions within the Madison community, as well as gain experience guiding internal classroom discussions and overseeing assignments. In addition to the course learning goals for students, my intentions for the practicum are to develop professionally as an instructor, communicator, and connector, and I will receive student feedback at the culmination of the semester. Additionally, we have modified this course to the fall semester from its previous spring schedule, and I have developed a new teaching unit for use in future years.”

Direct service/outreach

Charlotte Francoeur, educational outreach about the many ways that microbes impact our world:

“In partnership with the University of Wisconsin – Arboretum, this practicum involved creating a zine (a small self-published magazine) about the many ways that microbes impact our world; from antibiotics to insects, wastewater treatment, and different ecosystems in the Arboretum. The Wonderful World of Microbes zine is illustrated by Lindsey Leigh, and is available for free in English, Spanish, and French. I wanted this to be a free product that people could read at their own leisure, or for educators to use in a variety of settings. As a part of the practicum, I also gave a talk for the Arboretum’s Winter Enrichment Lecture Series titled How Microbes Shape Our Lives, Transform the Environment, and Influence Climate Change. The goal of both outreach products was to share my love for microbes and hopefully influence how people think about the world around them.”

Public policy

–Laura Borth, advocacy & policy in the area of food access with Feeding Wisconsin

“I am working in partnership with the executive director of Feeding Wisconsin to develop policy related tools for use with the legislature and community to help advance grassroots advocacy and state level policy. For potential meetings with legislators, I’ll write policy memos regarding the child reauthorization act and collect stories from people at food banks who are affected by the recent SNAP eligibility change. To assist community partners, I’ll finish an advocacy toolkit and create media about the impact of hunger on nutrition and life outcomes. The end goal is a finished product: a packaged toolkit to assist partners of Feeding America in easier advocacy.”

Social entrepreneurship

–Bethany McCarty, connecting industry research with foundations

“I am working in partnership with a company that researches connections between public health issues, treatments, and support for patients. My project will begin with a literature review to understand the current status of a specific health disorder. Then I’ll compile the data and create a summary for in-house epidemiologists, and a public-facing version for a foundation that supports patients who are impacted by the condition. I’ll be able to use communication skills targeted for these different audiences, including technical and non-technical writing, as well as the creation of infographics for the general public.”

Program Eligibility Requirements

  • Interest in and enthusiasm for connecting STEM with the public, in one or more of these four areas: Community-Engaged Teaching, Direct Service, Policy and Governance, and/or Social Entrepreneurship.
  • Completing the program in its entirety, from January 2022 – January 2023, including attending the Public Service in STEM course in Spring 2022, Relationships and Materials Development in STEM Public Service Summer 2022, Mentored Practicum in STEM Public Service Fall 2022.
  • Working with a community partner or organization to co-develop a practicum project related to the intersection of science and issues of public concern.
  • Approval from your PI/advisor to participate in this program. (You may be asked to provide this approval in writing in the future.)
  • Your major field of study is in a STEM field. This is broadly defined, please contact Dr. Courtier if you have any questions.

Application Components

  • An online application form with:
    • Your contact and program information
    • A research blurb: You are riding on the bus and the person next to you asks you to explain your research. You have until the next stop which translates to a MAXIMUM OF 150 WORDS. How do you explain what you do?
    • Summary of your career goals (Target 200 words)
  • A resume or CV that includes:
    • Upload your resume or curriculum vitae as a PDF.
    • Please include (1) your research, teaching, and community engagement experience, and
    • (2) any professional development (courses, trainings, workshops, etc.) that pertain to the pathway(s) for which you are applying.
    • Please do not include presentations or publications unless they are connected to community engagement.
  • A personal statement (1-2 pages) that addresses these topics:
    • Information on your motivation to participate in Public Service Fellows program for the specific track(s) you selected above.
    • A description of your experience engaging with the community, whether it be as a scientist, engineer, or in another capacity.
    • If you are interested in the community-engaged teaching track, please describe your experience as a teacher, including your roles and responsibilities.
    • A statement of your existing obligations (research, teaching, etc.) and known conflicts from January 2022-January 2023. Include any time periods that you would be unavailable for program responsibilities and recurring weekly commitments when you are unavailable for meetings.

Applications for 2022 fellows closed on October 20, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

Summary Program Flyer

The WISCIENCE Public Service Fellows Program is funded in part by the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the National Science Foundation grant #1806908


Anna Courtier

Credentials: Ph.D.

Position title: Director of Community-Based Learning


Phone: (608) 265-5526

Room 104F
445 Henry Mall
Madison, WI 53706