STEM Public Service Fellows

Are you a STEM graduate student or postdoc interested in the social and community impact of your work? If so, this program may be for you!

In this unique year-long program, Fellows build foundational knowledge and skills in public service and community engagement, then gain hands-on experience in a mentored practicum with a campus or community organization. Graduate and postdoc students from any STEM discipline will be able to incorporate issues of public concern into their career goals.

Each Fellow specializes in one of the following pathways: community-engaged teaching, direct service, or policy and governance. You may apply to more than one pathway; however, accepted Fellows will be admitted into one pathway.

Applications are closed for 2024.

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The program gives STEM Public Service Fellows the opportunity to:

  • 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, or public policy
  • Connect with peers who are invested in the social and community impact of their work in STEM
  • Explore career options and build their CVs
  • Enroll in a 1-credit seminar each semester (3 courses total). This course sequence counts towards the doctoral minor in Community-Engaged Scholarship, if desired.

In the third semester, participants complete a practicum in one of the following public service pathway specializations:

  • community-engaged teaching
  • direct service
  • policy and governance

The program is divided into three semester-long phases: Fellows first  learn the fundamentals of public service and civic engagement in STEM, then engage in relationships and prepare materials, and finally implement their learning in real-world community partnerships, mentored by WISCIENCE program directors.

1. Spring Semester: Learn Fundamentals of Public Service and Civic Engagement in STEM

Course Average Time Commitment
INTEGSCI 640 – Public Service in STEM 2-5 hours per week

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.

2. Summer Term: Engage in Relationships and Prepare Materials

Course Schedule Average Time Commitment
INTEGSCI 740 – Community Relationship and Materials Development in STEM Public Service May 20–23, 2024 from 9 A.M.–1 P.M. (mandatory)

4 additional meetings scheduled by the Fellows in June and July (flexible)

2-5 hours per week*

Fellows meet on a semi-regular basis to develop a work plan 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.

* 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.

3. Fall Semester: Implement in Real-World Settings

Course Schedule Average Time Commitment
INTEGSCI 840 – Mentored Practicum in STEM Public Service 2-hour full cohort meeting every 2 weeks

1-hour pathway meeting on alternate weeks

6–10 hours per week*

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.

* In addition to the fixed meetings listed above, Fellows will spend time working on the practicum project, which should be no less than 6 hours per week.

Each Fellow specializes in one of the pathways below based on their career interests and goals. You may apply to more than one pathway. However, accepted fellows will be admitted into one pathway.

 Community-Engaged Teaching

  • Community-engaged teaching describes courses that connect learning in the classroom to issues of public concern, and frequently includes learning in community spaces. 2–4 students will serve as instructors and gain firsthand experience designing and teaching a first-year service course.

Direct Service/Outreach

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

Policy and Governance

  • Policy and governance incorporates evidence-based approaches related to policymaking, interacting with policymakers, and nonprofit or advocacy work.

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 STEM students and postdocs to issues of public concern.

What past STEM Public Service Fellows have to say about their experience:

“It felt so refreshing to get to know and collaborate with STEM students from all across the university who share my interest in community engagement. Working in this cohort helped me to escape the lab bubble that I usually find myself in and to explore something that I have a lot of interest in with people who had unique insights and experiences.”


“I enjoyed that [the practicum] was an independent, but assisted, experience where I learned how to be partner to a community organization. I enjoyed learning as I went, and felt that it was great experience to learn how these community organizations are run.”


“Both the content I learned in PSF as well as the experiences during my practicum have helped me in my current position as Education Outreach Lead.…It also pushed me to think about best practices for science communication with various audiences. All of these are things that I use every day in my current position.”


“I loved being able to network and form relationships with different people interested in the intersection of community engagement and STEM!”


“I felt supported by and helpful to my community partner. It made me hopeful and excited to continue engaging in community-based research.”


“It was a wonderful feeling to meet others on campus who are just as passionate and committed to public service through higher education and STEM as I was and begin to build a network of colleagues.”


“For this coming semester, I have obtained internal funding [from the college]….The ultimate goal is to take a similar project off campus, where students would partner with local food pantries to develop nutrition education materials, in addition to gaining an understanding of food accessibility in their community.”


“I adapted the storytelling tool from my practicum to use for our elder justice coalition storytelling collection (and that practicum got me the job interview). In my [current job], I help with coalition building, so looking for who’s not at the table [similar to activities from PSF].”

Program Eligibility Requirements

  • Interest in and enthusiasm for connecting STEM with the public
  • Ability to complete the program in its entirety, from January 2025–January 2026 (including Public Service in STEM in spring 2025, Community Relationship and Materials Development in STEM Public Service in summer 2025, and Mentored Practicum in STEM Public Service in fall 2025)
  • Ability to work 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. Anna Courtier if you have any questions)
  • Note: you may apply to more than one pathway, and a range of previous experience with the pathway(s) you are interested in will be considered. Accepted Fellows will be admitted into one pathway.

How to Apply

Application Components Details
An online application form (available during the fall application window) This should include:

  • Your contact and program information
  • A short blurb explaining your research using plain language for a lay audience (150 words or less)
  • A summary of what you hope to gain from the program (150 words or less)
Your resume or CV (PDF format) Please highlight:

  • Your research, teaching, and community engagement experience
  • Any courses, trainings, or workshops you have taken related to the pathway(s) you are applying for
  • Only include presentations or publications if they are connected to community engagement
A personal statement (1-2 pages) Please address these topics:

  • Why are you interested in this program and the specific pathway(s) you selected?
  • What experience do you have engaging with the community, whether as a scientist or engineer or in another capacity?
  • Have you taken any courses, trainings, or workshops related to the pathway(s) you are applying for (not required)?
  • Broadly, what are your career goals?
  • If you are interested in the community-engaged teaching track, please describe your experience as a teacher (if any), including your roles and responsibilities.
Your availability and existing obligations Please include:

  • A list of your existing obligations (research, teaching, etc.) and known conflicts from January 2024-January 2025. Include any time periods that you would be unavailable for program responsibilities as well as any recurring weekly commitments

"It felt so refreshing to get to know and collaborate with STEM students from all across the university who share my interest in community engagement. Working in this cohort helped me to escape the lab bubble that I usually find myself in and to explore something that I have a lot of interest in with people who had unique insights and experiences."

2022 STEM Public Service Fellows Alum

Fellows Profiles

Get to know some of our STEM Public Service Fellows and program alumni and learn about their experiences.

Virtual Drop-In Info Sessions

There are no upcoming events.

Contact

Anna Courtier

Credentials: Ph.D.

Position title: Director of Community-Based Learning

Email: anna.courtier@wisc.edu