Insights

Philip Rubin: FABBS’ Accidental Essential Man Linking Research and Policy

December 12, 2023 87

As he stands down from a two-year stint as the president of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences, or FABBS, Social Science Space took the opportunity to download a fraction of the experiences of cognitive psychologist Philip Rubin, especially his experiences connecting science and policy.

In talking to Rubin, a recurring theme is the number of mentors he’s had – or perhaps more intriguingly, the number he cites for every major endeavor (a partial list he drafted sits at the bottom of this Q&A). Despite his own impressive C.V. – which spans basic science in biology and psychology, innovation, policy, administration and even electric guitar and photography — he often defers to others as the smartest folks in the room, minimizing his own substantial contributions and his “particular set of skills.”

“I like to hang out with those smart guys because I try to bully them into doing some of my work for me,” he joked. “That rarely works, but sometimes it does.”

Whatever his methods (and bullying is not among them), Rubin has racked up a large policy footprint that rivals the research portfolio he honed at Haskins Laboratories (where he’s CEO emeritus), the University of Connecticut, and Yale University. As his focus on mentorship suggests, his methods focus on collaboration, finding and cultivating the people with a passion for the work, then letting them run with good ideas. He likens it to managing a baseball team, with luck being the product of preparation and opportunity.

That’s been his M.O, as the president at FABBS, where the triumvirate of Past-President Roxy Cohen Silver, and President-elect Jeff Zacks have joined Executive Director Juliane Baron in steering the Washington, D.C.-based umbrella group.

The following interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.


Social Science Space: Looking at your biography, there’s a lot there and I’m wondering if you could give me your elevator pitch about who you are.

Philip Rubin: I don’t have one, but in any case I started out as pretty much a straight academic doing research in the area of speech, and then speech technology.

A long time ago, when I was working a summer job, but before I really started graduate school, a friend’s dad, and then a consultant, mentioned Haskins Laboratories to me. So I applied to graduate school at a few places that would get me there.

I got married as an undergraduate and my wife and I were at Brandeis, so the University of Connecticut was the most convenient place to go back and forth. I became particularly impressed with the people in the group in psychology at the University of Connecticut, people like Alvin Liberman, Philip Lieberman, Michael Turvey, Ignatius Mattingly, a host of people like Janet Fodor in linguistics. I was excited to work there.

I developed stuff called sinewave synthesis, articulatory synthesis, and other technologies. It became clear at my laboratories that the staff, particularly the technical staff, were not treated ideally because we didn’t really have any administrative structure. So I asked my boss, “Hey, can I start doing some administration?” He thought I actually wanted to rise, and that was absolutely not my interest. It was really to buffer some of my friends.  And so I got involved with administration.

But in 1999 I had a very bad stroke — left side, near the hippocampus. [While recovering] I was lying around in bed for a couple months. It was pretty bad in the beginning, paralyzed on my right side, but then started to get good. But I was kind of out of it and I was just doing nothing. My wife, who is very, very go-go — she was a Supreme Court justice in Connecticut — and she doesn’t like people lying around. I like lying around!

In any case, she goes, “You know you need to do something with your life.” And I go, “Yeah. I’m lying here.” And she said, “No! What’s that you’re reading?” It was Science magazine. She grabs it, and goes to the back, to the job ads, and she pointed to a couple of things. She says, “Apply for that and apply for that.” I said, “I’m really not interested, but sure.” So it was a job as division director, Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, at that National Science Foundation.

Now let me just take a little breather and stop. Prior to that, at Haskins, which has confused me in the rest of the world, part of our mission statement and our approach is we were very much transdisciplinary. You brought the people together — biologists, physicists, speech scientists, linguists, psychologists, educators — to really tackle the problem. Nobody even talked about it; you just kind of worked that way. And I wanted to go to the NSF, even though I’d been funded by NIH in the main, because all the sciences were in one place, in one building, and I thought that was real cool — I’d be able to go and learn stuff! And it was all true. It was absolutely great.

So I ended up applying. I didn’t hear a thing. And then six months later I got a little postcard that said come down for an interview. I got the job, and that’s how I started, in a way, getting into policy.
I had a number of mentors who helped me along the way. I would say the first was Rita Colwell, who was the director of the NSF. We met on my first day and we just hit it off. My immediate supervisor, Norman Bradburn, who was the AD for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE), I would be nowhere without him. They started encouraging me to think broadly.

One of the things that I noticed back at the bench in the Laboratories was the increase in regulatory paperwork. When I had been taking over administration related to human subject protection, it went from a couple of pieces of paper to a growing pile, and I asked if I could be the representative for the NSF on the interagency [working group].
So now we’re going to get very wonky/

S3: Go ahead.

PR: The interagency world in our government is handled by something in the main called the NSTC, the National Science and Technology Council. That is overseen by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). I started getting involved with policy on the human subject stuff, and then started to get involved with the NSTC and other things.
That was my introduction to policy.

At NSF, when you’re the division director of Behavioral Cognitive Sciences, in addition to being the poorest division in the NSF, you have a broad range of fields — archaeology, anthropology, geography, and regional sciences, psychology, social psychology, child development — and one of the things I tended to be good at was listening to what other people were doing and leveraging that.

Your budget is pretty flat at the NSF in the social behavioral sciences (it remains so), so in order to get additional funding you, a), have to do good work, but, b), it’s going to have to come from somewhere else. And in general, Congress, when they hear “social,” it makes them jumpy, but you have to work with them.

There had been some planning — I took part in a little bit of it before I officially got there – on starting a new program in cognitive neuroscience. At the time, many areas like psychology, child development, and then across all of SBE, political science, and elsewhere, people wanted to get magnets. In other words, a magnetic resonance imaging unit, for their lab. The cost of a single magnet would almost take out 20 to 25 percent of the budget of any program. It was a killer financially. Our goal was to get new money to start doing cognitive neuroscience, but to differentiate it from NIH, which is health-oriented, by having it be about basic science at NSF.

I had to do a lot of explaining whenever there were panel reviews of ‘Why are you starting the new thing and taking our money?’ so I’d sit and go over the budget and show people, “You know, we’re actually adding money to your budget, ‘cause you no longer have to  pay for things that really clobber your budget.” So we launched the cognitive neuroscience program. I told my program officers, “Give me your best pitch on priorities” because we were starting to develop a new priority area under Norman Bradburn, Rita and others called Human and Social Dynamics. I became, briefly, the first chair of that.

I wanted to see what ideas that were out there were the best. As you know, the ideas come bottom-up, not top down. They come from the scientists; they come from the community. The idea was to listen to it, to hear what was exciting.

So I asked the people to pitch stuff, let me see what’s going on. I wasn’t that familiar with all the areas and really the best pitch came from two program officers: a guy named John Yellen, a program officer in archaeology (and older brother of Janet Yellen) and the smartest guy I ever saw at NSF, and Mark Weiss, our physical anthro program officer, a sweetheart. They talked about human origins, and I said to them, “Look, I don’t want to censor you in any way, and that’s not my job, but I don’t think that using the word evolution or other things like that in the original name was necessarily the right way to approach it. That’s up to you ultimately, not me. Think about, you know, some particular tensions in our elected officials and come back and give me something new on Monday.”

They came back with this brilliant thing called HOMINID – Human Origins: Moving in New Directions. So I went to Congress and pitched them in cog neuro and in human origins, and we got new funding for that.
Those were the highlights at NSF.

S3: And you went back to Yale?

PR: I went back to Yale, where I did research related to my stuff on articulatory synthesis — that’s making a device talk by moving around the articulators. My interest there was not so much in speech or even articulation, but how does the complex system work? So at that point, I’m back at Haskins. I started to get involved with things that I saw on billboards around the campus, like technology and ethics groups and groups like that.

I’m not a member, but I became the chair of National Academies board called the Board of Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences (BBCSS), that at the time was led by Barb Wanchisen (she’s also been a great mentor) and under Bob Hauser, who’s now at the American Philosophical Society. That was a really the first thing that was really totally about policy, particularly policy from the perspective of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE), which is broader. But BBCSS was really behavioral, cognitive and sensory sciences. We really started across many entities to getting engaged in policy.

And again, things started to happen. The guy chairing the academy’s board of science education was Carl Wieman, who won the Nobel Prize in physics when he was 40 for Bose-Einstein condensate. Although I’m a big fan of Carl, I did not like what he was doing in education and on human subjects, where they had stopped the interagency committee. I was kind of needling him. I got an email from him (we were actually cordial) and he said if you’re going to be in DC for any reason, come see me, I want to talk to you about a couple of things.

I thought he was going to yell at me, and as I walked into the office and started to say stuff, he put up his hands. He’s a very gentle guy and he handed me a piece of paper — that piece of paper was something that really frightened me originally, but it didn’t in a moment. It was congressional Authorization Committee markup language.

S3: Legislation?

PR: When the House and the Senate want to move ahead on something, but their language [in their respective bills’ versions] is different, you’ve got to resolve that difference in language. Sounds benign, but unbeknownst to many, that’s the opportunity for lobbyists unchecked to hand a slip of paper to somebody and change the world.

When I saw that [markup language] was actually interesting and exciting language, encouraging the creation of a White House Neuroscience Initiative. Carl asked me if I wanted to run it, and I said yes.

That was on a Monday. On the Friday before, I got mugged outside of Union Station and got my neck broken — but I did not know that until the Tuesday. When I saw Carl, I was just starting to just not feel well. I did an interview, not with Carl but with some other people. They said it went great and I said it was crap, but I asked, “You offering me a job?”
And they said, “Sure.”

I said, “What is it?”

They go, “We have no idea.”

So I said I will take it! Any place that chaotic I want to be at. And then I got on the train, and that’s when the [broken neck] symptoms started. And then I had surgery.

[After one surgery, but not the main one] I could actually start in about six weeks later leading the White House Neuroscience Initiative. Each week we all tried to pitch things. One thing I was pitching is something that I called the BRAIN Initiative, Basic Research Advancing Interactive Neuroscience (later changed by others to, “Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies).. It ended up that was my No. 2 project. My No. 1 was state-of-the-art approaches to the next generation of devices for those who had lost a limb but that still had proprioception.

Six weeks later an email came from Carl Wieman on a Friday saying he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma (he’s doing fine). John Holdren, another great mentor of mine who was the president’s science adviser, said, “Could you take over for a few weeks till we got someone through the Senate?” Perhaps he was a little naive about that or just kidding, but it took almost four years to get someone through the Senate. So for four years I was the principal assistant director for science, which is handling whatever the science crisis of the day was.

So that’s how I got into policy.

I also ended up starting, when I was there, the Common Rule Modernization Working Group, because I had done interagency stuff in three administrations, I actually was familiar with the process and on the common rule human subjects regulations, where you have 16 agencies. It’s herding cats!

My approach [in this car herding] is find three individuals whose hearts are in the right place and are willing to do the work. And you’ll make progress. And as to the others, well, you can’t solve every problem and people eventually will come to agreement.

So that’s the overview of how I got involved with the science policy. I’m leaving out a million things, but let me stop at this point.

S3: A lot of what you just described –and forgive me for saying so — sounds almost accidental.

PR:
Yeah. I think I had zero plan for anything like that. My goal was to go to the NSF and learn about different areas of science and then eventually return to my laboratories. I had no interest in policy, though I will say after I went back to Yale, I had a lot of interest with stuff on science, technology, utopian visions, all kinds of stuff. But you’re absolutely right.

The other thing though was a combination of me having a certain set of skills, as it’s been said in certain movies. You know, when John Holdren asked me to do stuff, it’s because I was one of the few people who had actually led NSTC groups. So you kind of accumulate these sets of skills or knowledge, and my skill was in finding other people who were smart.

My job, and the thing I love, is to help other people who are trying to do great things do great things, and to help people who are trying to do ordinary things do those ordinary things. Others don’t like that role. You know, not everyone likes administration. They see it as something odious. I don’t see it that way. My thing is, it’s more like team building, like being the manager of a baseball team. How do you get the right people together to do that something?

What we learned from the BRAIN Initiative is to recognize that you have to go broader than the federal government — getting involved with NGOs, getting involved with companies, getting involved in particular with communities. You have to give the last head of OSTP, Alondra Nelson, enormous credit for embodying that and understanding that.

S3: You said you are looking for input from people with great ideas or even good ideas. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I am one of those people with a good idea. What do you tell me to get me into the belly of the beast? How do you either get me over my own impostor syndrome or my own stage fright?

Philip Rubin:
I think it’s a great and difficult question and in a way it’s what we try to do at FABBS for younger people. I would suggest that a lot of what is important relates to mentorship: It’s finding the appropriate mentor or mentors who are working in an area.

With younger people, what do I tell them?

One they don’t like to hear is you have to pay your dues a bit. You know, everybody wants to be a little fast out of the gate, and fast out of the gate is the way things are these days. So I’m being old and fuddy-duddy, but in truth having a strong base in knowledge, whatever that would be — good statistical training, computer training, physics, engineering, social science, whatever it is, actually being knowledgeable in that — makes you a more useful commodity in a very, very complex world.

That, and not being shy or insecure. We’re all insecure and we’re all shy. But you know, don’t be a pain in the ass about it. Don’t be the person who’s the odd person out, the person who you don’t want at a meeting. I tell people, including my own daughter, who is very successful, is that you need to show your value in a team, why you’re there. what’s valuable about you.

Serendipity – luck and timing – are also important.

Put frustration behind you, but if things aren’t working out, move along.

FABBS logo

Also, take advantage of the resources. And again, now, I’m going to go to FABBS. You know, there are things out there, everything from statistics to open science and other things that you could study and learn about, but what a group like FABBS and others, like COSSA (the Consortium of Social Science Associations) and many, many others in different sciences, do is to try to help by providing those resources.

The final thing, and this is very, very frustrating to me, particularly in our colleagues for those who are in psychology, is getting engaged.

What I found with what I would say are 95 percent of my friends from Haskins, Yale, many other places, have no interest in any of the stuff we’re saying, and it’s painful in a way. Not that everybody should be, but in other areas you see greater and engagement on the part of the scientists. There are lots of reasons for that. One is, you know, our sciences are a little younger in a way and don’t have the machines behind them to help with the policy as well, and that’s why they need to look towards groups like FABBS.
The mentor who got me engaged like that was a guy named Jay McClelland. He was the president of FABBS when it was a tiny little organization and I was at NSF. I would show up at meetings and all of a sudden Jay would get angry about stuff. The anger would be about things related to the behavioral and social sciences and the way they were being treated. I had not seen that kind of passion before from a scientist.

So both he and Bob Hauser, who at the time was the head of DBASSE, would encourage me when I would whine and complain. You know, whining and complaining is easy, and they would say, “Instead of whining and complaining, do something. Go to Washington and do something about it.”

As far as getting engaged, with younger people, I tell them about AAAS fellowships, not the ones where you’ve been a senior scientist, or becoming a fellow at FABBS. You don’t do it on day one if you can avoid it, get a little bit of experience first, but putting having experience aside, there are lots of different opportunities for getting involved with that policy world.

S3: So you just said, “get engaged.”

PR: Yes.


S3: Let’s say, again for the sake of argument, that I’ve just published an important article in a high impact factor journal. I put it out there – and I’m done. Why isn’t it like Field of Dreams — I have published, now let them come. Now, why doesn’t that alone work? Or could that work?

PR: So that works if that’s what your goal is. I’m not there to tell people what their goals are. The scientists who say that? That’s most of the people who I know, though I have to say my closest friends are not the ones who care about, “I’ve got something in a tier one journal.” They’re really focused on what the problem is, something that we’re trying to solve and that’s long-standing, like how children learn how to acquire language. What’s going on in the brain? What’s going on in the physiology? That’s in their hearts.
And no one in my area gets Nobel prizes. Look, yeah, it would be nice, I guess, if you got in the National Academies. It’s not that people don’t want recognition, some do, but the ones who are the best and I’ve always been closest with, it’s really about doing great work.

So what would I tell somebody?

“Hey, if that’s what your career path is, that’s the best model that’s out there.”

I’m not a big fan of impact factor. I’ve hired a lot of people. I’m a trustee at a university where I chair the Research, Entrepreneurship and Innovation committee and serve on the Academic Affairs committee. I know a lot of academics, and those are some of the metrics that are used and they might cause structural problems.

At the same time, we do need value methods to do things, so I wouldn’t discourage them at all. I could go one of two different ways. I would try to find out what’s in their heart and what they care most about.

S3: If I’m interested in pursuing policy applications, what do I need? What would be one thing I ought to do?


Philp Rubin:
In a way, I’m probably going to give advice counter to some of the stuff I’ve already said. I suggest starting locally. You know, lots of stuff goes on in communities. Lots of stuff also goes on politically and people’s careers are made by aligning themselves with politicians of like minds. It’s hard to crack that nut, let’s say, to go work for a congressperson. But you know the way you do that is to volunteer on their campaign. People are running every two years, so it’s not that hard to get engaged and to share your smarts and talent. People want smart and talented people!

The second thing is to look for other opportunities.

It’s not that easy to jump right to something like OSTP that’s directly doing policy, but one place where you can do it tomorrow is ARPA-H (Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health). Juliane Baron, the executive director of FABBS, has been working very hard to make our communities aware of ARPA-H.

Another thing is to intern at different places and get engaged as rapidly as possible. But don’t forget about the power of the local level, which can really make things easier, particularly if you have constraints and can’t pick up and easily move to DC.

S3: I wanted to ask directly about FABBS.  What is the value of these kind of umbrella groups?
PR: So I’ve most been connected with three organizations in my day. In order, there’s the American Association for the Advancement of Science, particularly on the policy world. (I’m in many professional societies, so I don’t mean to belittle them.)

My main society for most of my career is about as wonky and small as it gets.
It’s called the Acoustical Society of America, which is a branch of the American Institute of Physics, and I would say that that one is a learned society.

That’s not what FABBS is about. We have, as our member organizations, approximately 29 learned societies. What we are about is serving a role that no other organization does for the behavioral and brain sciences. Now there’s some in the brain sciences that do a good job, but really, behavioral and cognitive and stuff falls a little bit through the cracks. We’re very similar in a way to COSSA except we kind of handle stuff that the other one doesn’t do. My first mentor in terms of this stuff was a guy named Howard Silver who was an executive director of COSSA.

Howard was really interesting. I was at NSF and he would get myself and a few others like Barb Wanchisen together in his office about once every week to teach us about policy (and with people like me to calm me down and get me to shut up. )

What FABBS brings is several things. We’re not a lobbyist per se, but we’re trying to do certain things in terms of advocacy for our communities. To do advocacy well, and that’s not something I could do well, you need somebody like Juliane or Paula Skedsvold, who was before her, and Barb before them.

Then you need particularly to have good relationships with all those entities that you’re trying to advocate to, which is basically Congress, the executive branch, and the agencies. FABBS has decided to really focus in general, but not exclusively, on the key funding agencies, which are NIH, NSF and IES (the Institute of Education Sciences), which is a tiny portion of the Department of Education, and was also one of the major funders of, by coincidence, Haskins Laboratories.

So at FABBS we fight to get authorization language into the federal budget and to make sure that budgets at federal agencies are maintained.

Doing advocacy is extremely important, but so is providing resources for those trying to navigate their career paths across their lifespan.

You know, we do online presentations with other groups spanning the sciences that will make things easier, and we capture the stuff and put it on the web. To me, making those things last forever is enormously important. And then related to that is education about these things.

The final little hinge is recognition. It’s very important, particularly for younger scientists, researchers, educators, to recognize their hard work and we have a set of different awards and we’re very proud of that. I know if I were on the other end — and I never would have gotten any kind of award because it’s just that wasn’t me — people really are trying to do something with their career and that recognition is very, very important to them and their career advancement.

So what you have to summarize what FABBS is trying to do is bring together some tangibles — and some seem to be intangibles — but are crucial and to promote a small set of things. That small set strongly includes diversity, equity and inclusion and open science. But also promoting things that aren’t in people’s comfort zone, so getting them familiar with things like ARPA-H or the very scary TIP Directorate, the new technology directorate at NSF.

You know, I have my concerns about that directorate, but at the same time there are opportunities there and it’s not our role to judge what people’s preferences and opportunities are. It’s our role to provide them the information, access and resources so that they can make the decisions themselves, and so we I really commend Juliane for just sticking to it on things like ARPA-H, where many in the community would just say, “Oh well, no none of our people got funded so we’re not going to pay any attention.” Well, of course you didn’t. They only have like three program managers. They just started. Give them like five years. Shape the thing, create it in your own vision, so that’s a summary of what I think FABBS is about.

The final thing that you’ll see is our journal, Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and our remarkable editor, Susan Fiske.

S3: Right, PIBBS is published by Sage (Social Science Space’s parent).

PR: You’ll notice that the flavor of policy throughout all this, which doesn’t always happen. Alan Leshner pushed it at AAAS, but scientists mostly want to do science solely, although younger people have increasingly skewed a little towards policy.

To me, they’re inseparable, and you can do good science and good policy at the same time. It’s harder to do good policy without good science, but it can be done. It depends on what you’re doing, and so again, I think that FABBS, which is a small organization, has, I think, a high impact representing a large group of larger organizations and some small ones, and plays a unique role.

You know, when I was at NSF, we fought every day in the ongoing, never-ending political and practical battle related to the social and behavioral science and economic sciences. These issues are human issues about human decisions, about human preferences, and we need to make sure that the science behind that is supported.


My Mentors

This list, prepared by Philip Rubin, names some of the individuals who served as mentors, collaborators, and/or influencers during his career. These are listed roughly in the order of when he first met them. 

Robert E. Remez | We were undergraduates together at Brandeis and wrote many papers together over the years. He is presently a professor of psychology at Barnard / Columbia. 
Louis Goldstein | Fellow student at Brandeis and co-author. Now professor of linguistics at University of Southern California. 
Arthur Caplan | Fellow student at Brandeis. Currently professor of bioethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
Samuel Jay Keyser | My linguistics professor at Brandeis. Became chair of Linguistics at MIT. Retired.
Caryl Haskins | Founder of Haskins Laboratories. Died in 2001.
Michael Turvey | Psychology professor at University of Connecticut. My adviser. Died Aug. 12, 2023. 
Philip Lieberman | Linguistics professor and another adviser at University of Connecticut. Moved to Brown University. Died July 12, 2022.
Ken Pugh and Carol Fowler | President and former President of Haskins. Both professors of psychology, present and past, at University of Connecticut and Yale.
Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson | Linguist and co-author. Died May 31, 2017
Norman Bradburn | Former assistant director of the National Science Foundation. Retired. 
Rita Colwell | Former director of National Science Foundation. 
Steve Breckler | Social psychologist. National Science Foundation
Howard Silver | Former executive director of COSSA.
Felice Levine | Executive director of American Educational Research Association.
Valerie F. Reyna | Formerly at the Institute of Education Sciences at the US Department of Education. Currently professor of human development at Cornell University.
Barb Wanchisen | Former executive director of FABBS and BBCSS.
Robert Hauser | Former executive director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. Now at the American Philosophical Society.
Paula Skedsvold | Former executive director of FABBS. 
Jay McClelland | Professor of cognitive science, linguistics, psychology, and computer science at Stanford. Former president of FABBS. 
Dr. Robert Levine | Yale School of Medicine. Staff on the Belmont Report that helped shape the human subjects regulations. Deceased.
Wendell Wallach | Bioethicist and author. Currently, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
Alan Leshner | Former Director of NIDA and Acting Director of NIMH. Former CEO of AAAS and publisher of Science. Retired. 
Alan Kraut | Former executive director of Association for Psychological Science. Retired.
John Holdren | Director of OSTP and science adviser to President Obama.
Arati Prabhakar | Former director of NIST and DARPA (where we worked together on the BRAIN Initiative). Currently she is the director of the White House OSTP and science adviser to President Biden. 
OSTP Science Division team, including: Jerry Blazey, Altof Carim, Danielle Carnival, Kelsey Cook, Tamara Dickinson, Joan Frye, Jo Handelsman, Sean Jones, Col. Geoffrey Ling, Dr. Saralyn Mark, Carlos Peña, Tania Simoncelli, Michael Stebbins, and Carl Wieman.
Jonathan Moreno | Bioethicist, University of Pennsylvania. 
Jane Snowdon | Innovation Engagement Leader, IBM. 
Paul Allen | Allen Institute. Deceased. 
Robert M. Kaplan | Former Director of OBSSR at NIH, and chief science officer at AHRQ. Now at Stanford and UCLA. 
Juliane Baron | Executive director of FABBS. 
Jim Olds | University professor of neuroscience and public policy at George Mason University. Former assistant director of Biological Sciences Directorate at NSF.
Sheila Blumstein | Professor of cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences at Brown University. Former chair of the board of Haskins Laboratories. Retired.
Michael Lubell | Professor of physics at City College, CUNY. Co-author. Author of Navigating the Maze: How Science and Technology Policies Shape America and the World
Thomas C. Katsouleas | Former president, University of Connecticut, 2019-2021. 
Radenka Maric | Current president, University of Connecticut

Social Science Space editor Michael Todd is a long-time newspaper editor and reporter whose beats included the U.S. military, primary and secondary education, government, and business. He entered the magazine world in 2006 as the managing editor of Hispanic Business. He joined the Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media and Public Policy and its magazine Miller-McCune (renamed Pacific Standard in 2012), where he served as web editor and later as senior staff writer focusing on covering the environmental and social sciences. During his time with the Miller-McCune Center, he regularly participated in media training courses for scientists in collaboration with the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS), Stanford’s Aldo Leopold Leadership Institute, and individual research institutions.

View all posts by Michael Todd

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The author’s team is developing ways to connect policymakers with university-based researchers – and studying what happens when these academics become the trusted sources, rather than those with special interests who stand to gain financially from various initiatives.

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NSF Responsible Tech Initiative Looking at AI, Biotech and Climate

NSF Responsible Tech Initiative Looking at AI, Biotech and Climate

The U.S. National Science Foundation’s new Responsible Design, Development, and Deployment of Technologies (ReDDDoT) program supports research, implementation, and educational projects for multidisciplinary, multi-sector teams

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There’s Something In the Air…But Is It a Virus? Part 1

There’s Something In the Air…But Is It a Virus? Part 1

The historic Hippocrates has become an iconic figure in the creation myths of medicine. What can the body of thought attributed to him tell us about modern responses to COVID?

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