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Science Policy Discussion Group - Membership Policies


The Science Policy Discussion Group strives to create a comfortable environment for learning and expression of ideas and viewpoints on science policy related topics. SPDG membership is comprised of scientists and scholars with diverse backgrounds, education, personal experiences and viewpoints. At all times, members are expected to be respectful of the diversity of backgrounds and opinions held within the group and by the guest speakers.


Please note: space in the Science Policy Discussion Group is limited for the in-person Wednesday discussion sections. Applications for membership are accepted during August or September of each year. An application announcement email will be sent out by the Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) in August with specific application deadlines.

Applicants are required to submit a brief responses to questions, as well as a list of 3 science policy topics that interest them. Successful applications from previous years have articulated why they are interested in science policy and how membership in SPDG will help their career develop. Prior science policy experience is not required, however applicants are encouraged to include any information that displays prior interest in science policy. Priority will be given to fellows.  Notifications will be sent out within two weeks of the application deadline. Applicants not selected to join the Wednesday in-person discussion sessions are placed on a wait-list and will be able to join in on discussions using online platforms. New Discussion Group members are admitted from the wait-list throughout the year as space becomes available. Applicants on the wait-list will be invited to at least two in-person discussion sessions throughout the year, as well as open networking events.

Fellows who join the NIH after the deadline has passed or who were unaware of SPDG prior to the deadline can be added to the wait-list upon submitting to the co-chairs a brief justification for why the application was late (ex. joined NIH after the application deadline) in addition to the previously described application materials.


Regular attendance and a high level of participation in meetings are expected from each member. Timely communication with the co-chairs is expected if you are unable to attend a session. Due to the large waitlist for this group, we ask that members be considerate of others who wish to join and take themselves off the club roster if they find it is no longer possible to regularly attend meetings. In an effort to accommodate waitlisted individuals, the group roster will be re-evaluated every three months, based on attendance and participation at monthly meetings. Missing more than 2 meetings during the year will likely result in an active member being transferred to the wait-list. 

The group maintains a Google doc to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promote discussion between members beyond the bi-monthly group meeting setting. The SPDG Google doc offers a unique way for wait-listed individuals to keep up-to-date on discussion topics and participate remotely with the group. This way, wait-listed individuals are both included in the current discussion and are prepared to join the discussion should an open spot become available later in the year.


Readings and links for each month's topic will be posted 1-2 weeks in advance of the discussion date utilizing a Google docs interface. Readings will typically include background reviews, reports, editorials, and links to blogs or other web sites of interest. Members are expected to complete the assigned readings prior to the discussions. Required readings will be capped to either 2 items OR 2+ items with a total page limit capped to 30 pages. Reading of the optional material as well as independent reading beyond the required material is also encouraged.


To gain experience in communicating with a general audience, each member is expected to contribute to article summaries and one essay on a science policy related topic of their choosing.