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Catalyzing Advocacy for Science and Engineering Workshop

Every other year, Rackham selects and supports four graduate students to attend the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) workshop in Washington, D.C. Students spend two to three days learning about the structure and organization of Congress, the federal budget and appropriations process, and tools for effective science communication and civic engagement.

Rackham covers registration as well as all associated travel and lodging costs for the selected students. For additional details about the CASE workshop, visit the AAAS website.


  • Students must be enrolled in a graduate degree program at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Campus.
  • Students must be in a STEM field:
    • Biological, physical, or earth sciences
    • Computational sciences and mathematics
    • Engineering disciplines
    • Medical and health sciences
    • Social and behavioral sciences
  • Students must be available to travel to Washington, D.C., on the program dates.
  • Students must write a blog post or share their experience with Rackham staff and with others on campus in another way agreed upon at the time of acceptance.


Program Dates

April 14 to 17, 2025

Applications are due by 9:00 a.m. EST on Monday, February 12, 2024.

Student Experiences

University of Michigan and Michigan State University Students visit the office of Senator Debbie Stabenow. From left to right: Jacob Howe (MSU), Jasiel Strubbe (MSU), Lirong Shi (UM), Nolgie Oquendo-Colon (UM), Sharmila Samaroo (MSU), Warren Gunn (UM), Allison Cale (UM), Corinn Rutkoski (MSU).

2023 Attendees

Allison Cale

Ph.D. Student, Genetics and Genomics

“I am interested in science for policy, and something very useful that was repeatedly instilled into us was that when we as scientists are communicating scientific issues to legislators, we need to be extremely brief, avoid jargon, and contextualize the science in a way that functionally matters to the policy maker and/or their constituents. I also learned to avoid absolutist statements like, “The science says this is the right policy,” as science is ever-changing and just one facet of policy formulation—other facets include economics, personal values, public preferences, and prioritization of stakeholder interests, among many other things. We got to hear from several people with scientific backgrounds who worked within federal agencies, and it was very informative to hear their career trajectories and how science is funded and used within those agencies.”

Warren Gunn

M.S. Student, Environment and Sustainability
M.S. Student, Public Policy

“My participation in the AAAS CASE Workshop was truly transformative. It was so refreshing to be surrounded by other scientists and engineers who are equally committed to making a difference through increasing their involvement in the policy space. One concept we learned about during the workshop was this idea of, ‘Policy for science, and science for policy,’ which translates to, ‘How do we advocate for policies that support scientific research and development, and then how do we use good science to inform good policy?’ I had never thought of it in quite that way, and it has given me much on which to reflect in terms of how my work can inform both sides of that ‘policy coin.’

“Our actual Congressional visits went extremely well and really humanized the political process for me. I walked away feeling like most of our legislators, especially in Michigan, are deeply committed to adequately funding science at the federal level and devoting the resources necessary to help support the next generation of scientific research.

“Overall, this experience was incredibly empowering and enlightening, and I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about how they can use the knowledge and skills they have developed during their academic careers to help shape federal policy to apply to next year’s workshop!”

Nolgie Oquendo-Colon

Ph.D. Student, Engineering Education Research

“I attended the workshop very curious about how scientists integrate into public policy work, particularly what kind of role they play in decision making, and I understood not only the role of a scientist in the process, but also the responsibility it takes to be one.

“One of the most important elements of that role is trust. Tobin Smith said in his presentation, ‘You build trust in spoonfuls and lose it in buckets.’ American society has a high respect for the scientific community, and it is our mission to continue working with integrity and responsibility so that, in this way, we can be heard and be able to continue advancing for the good of our society.”

Lirong Shi

Ph.D. Student, Chemistry

“The AAAS CASE workshop provided a perfect opportunity for me to get exposed to real-world experiences and apply what I have learned. My favorite part of the workshop was the interactive activity of being in one of the appropriation committees in the Congress budget-making process. We were all impressed with the complexity and sheer amount of the budget that Congress has to figure out every fiscal year, let alone considering diverse perspectives and conflicting interests.

“Through a day of self-introduction and advocating for federal research funding, I found myself becoming more and more confident and fluent in introducing myself and the issues I care about to the government officials. I’m really glad to have participated in this workshop and look forward to bringing this experience into my future career.”

Contact the Program in Public Scholarship

1530 Rackham Building
915 E. Washington St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
Email: [email protected]


The Program in Public Scholarship is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year’s, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.