Washington D.C. Congressional
Policy Postdoctoral Scholar
A tremendous gap between research and policy communities limits the effectiveness of policymaking and makes government susceptible to misinformation and inefficient use of resources. Researchers are rarely involved in policy efforts because they lack training and opportunities for engaging with the right policymakers at the right time when their subject matter experience could be useful to policy development. The Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC) revolutionizes how legislators interact with the research community by providing an agenda-neutral resource for connecting legislative officials with those who specialize in data and scientific study relevant to policymakers’ current policy agendas. Our team sits at the intersection of research and policy by both organizing researchers’ policy engagement as well as evaluating our impact. Our rigorous study has demonstrated that supporting researcher-policymaker interactions can both improve the value and use of research evidence in policy as well as provide a benefit to researchers’ policy skill, engagement, and future research.
We are hiring a Postdoctoral Scholar interested in a career at the research-policy nexus supporting the translation of scientific evidence to policymakers. This exciting opportunity would support an embedded policy fellowship placement that would provide training for implement an effective, replicable and non-partisan model for brokering researchers and policymakers. This position provides an opportunity to learn translational skills while working with a legislative audience, as well as opportunities to contribute to scholarly work regarding best practices for research translation and dissemination. Our team is hybrid academic and policy practice, thus we use data for action. This training position would be supported by a team that does the “legwork” of connecting policymaking staff with researchers, coordinating researchers’ rapid responses, and providing technical assistance to both parties. This is consistent with educational goals of research institutions; therefore, no lobbying occurs as part of this model. We emphasize building trusting relationships between researchers and policymakers. The current project also involves action-oriented data collection in practice that will allow us to improve researcher and policy staff experiences and engagement with one another. Primary aims of this project involve enhancing how RPC leadership and staff engage with these “two communities” (e.g., communication and organizing process), developing technical tools for researchers’ digital policy engagement, and improving racial equity in researchers’ policy engagement experiences.
The Postdoctoral Scholar would receive training to implement the Research-to-Policy Collaboration model, as well as contribute to data-driven optimization of the model. This mentored position includes opportunities for professional development and scholarly contributions. Examples of tasks include:
- Act as relationship broker and build, lead, and maintain partnerships between researchers and policymakers via rapid response meetings to respond to legislative requests for research-based information
- Frequently meet with legislative staff using a qualitative needs assessment to understand their policy goals, priorities and research needs
- Identify and recruit research-oriented professionals with subject matter expertise into RPC’s Raid Response network and coach them in policy engagement
- Write, edit, and review evidence-based communication materials (fact sheets, policy briefs, op-eds, blog posts) tailored for non-academic and congressional audience
- Organize panels, roundtables, or congressional briefings for policymakers
- Outreach with partnering organizations or those engaged in relevant advocacy activities to coordinate our response to legislative requests
- Quasi-academic activities include thorough tracking and reporting activities, managing relevant data, and contributing to publications
- Grant writing and other development activities that support sustainability of the RPC
- Supervise and train interns and fellows affiliated with the Research-to-Policy Collaboration
- Work collaboratively with other Policy Associates and team leads across projects
Skills and Traits Needed by Applicants
Applied research experience with an enthusiasm and commitment to accelerating the translation of science to policy.
- Curiosity and a generalist attitude with interest in learning about diverse social policy issues
- Experience in building and maintaining partnerships or collaborations
- Strong diplomatic communication and interpersonal skills
- Solid writing skills tailored for non-academic audience
- A balance of independent initiative that bolsters problem solving while also approaching work with a learning attitude for mentored training in a cutting-edge, novel policy strategy
- Thoughtful interpersonal communication and detailed documentation for coordination across an interactive team
- Professional mission for accelerating change and contributing to long-term growth of high impact policy work
- Completion of all requirements for the Ph.D. at the time of appointment; applicants may have their degrees from any department, but degrees in human development, public policy, social work, prevention science, psychology, or public health will be particularly good fits for the program.
- Although a large portion of work is done remotely, commuting distance to Washington, D.C. is required for in-person meetings. Our team is committed to working according to public health guidelines to protect the health and safety of our employees.
- Remote work requires high-quality, high speed internet connection in a home office.
- Prior collaborative experience and strong interpersonal skill is required; substantive policy experience is not required because training and mentorship will be provided. Experience with applied research or evaluation methods is also preferred.
Supervision will be provided by RPC leaders Taylor Scott, Ph.D., the RPC Training Director and Assistant Research Professor at Penn State University, and Max Crowley, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Penn State University.
A recent recipient of a Ph.D. degree will be appointed as a Postdoctoral Scholar. Positions on our team are renewed on an annual basis, contingent on performance and project funding. The current project is funded for at least two years. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. The start date is negotiable, though we anticipate this role either late 2021 or early 2022. Applicants who wish to start in the spring of 2022 are encouraged to apply. There is a possibility that the selected candidate will be appointed for an annual, non-tenure track, academic appointment, based on postdoc performance and continued growth of this initiative.
The postdoc will receive a competitive stipend with full health benefits, support for travel, preparation of scholarly work, and technology needs. The postdoc will also be provided access to university resources. Compensation corresponds with NIH postdoc salary standards.
Full consideration will be given to those applicants who send a complete application via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A complete submission will consist of:
- Cover Letter
- Curriculum Vitae
- A Personal Statement describing research interests, qualifications, relevant experience, and commitment to advancing the use of research in public policy (1-3 Pages)
- Writing Sample (preferably samples of work directed toward non-academic audience; may include samples of creative/artistic work; 1-2 samples, 35-page cumulative max)
- Three Letters of Reference may be requested upon review of materials.
Review and Selection
Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Penn State is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
General questions regarding the program may be addressed to:
Taylor Scott, Research Assistant Professor
Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center
College of Health and Human Development
314 Biobehavioral Health Building
University Park, PA 16802