The Research-to-Policy Collaboration
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Kathryn Lewis

Liberal Arts Majors: Global and International Studies, Spanish
Hometown: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Experience Time: Fall 2021

Give us a brief summary of your experience?

The Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC) bridges the gap between researchers and public officials to create and effectively implement evidence-based policy. The RPC takes a non-partisan, educational approach to improve science communication and strengthen relationships between researchers and policymakers. As an intern, I created and managed data to compile a recruitment list for our messaging trials. Also, I managed the RPC Twitter and analyzed website optimization techniques to better understand user engagement on the RPC website platform.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience grew my research skills. It allowed me to use Excel and R to compile and analyze data pertaining to our messaging trials and research enrollment and website optimization. I gained valuable knowledge to communicate with researchers and policymakers through analyzing their interactions with emails and our website. Simultaneously, I was able to manage data pertaining to the expertise fields of the researchers in our network. Along with these statistics-based skills, I was able to diversify my work experience and collaborate with professionals who provided me with beneficial feedback. Working independently and in a remote-based team allowed me to learn more about my own work style and how I communicate with my colleagues.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

The RPC taught me the importance of evidence-based policy. Prior to this internship, I had an interest in policy making and wanted to learn more about the process of implementing policies. I still hold that interest, but I now recognize the importance of utilizing science and evidence to create policies, while making the science easy to communicate. I also gained an interest in policy analysis; understanding who a policy benefits and conducting analyses to assess its affect is important in the policy process. In the future, I strive to expand upon these research skills and utilize them in a research center or think tank that will implement evidence-based, communicable policies.

"The rigor of course work and professional development resources offered through the Paterno Fellows Program helped me to stand out in my application and highlight myself as an asset to the RPC in my interview."

How has the College of the Liberal Arts helped you to find and/or succeed in this experience (e.g., adviser, faculty, staff, enrichment funds, etc.)?

The College of the Liberal Arts has supported me through enrichment funds and the ability to gain credit for my internship experience. Through these opportunities, I was able to learn more about my internship and expand upon my own professional development skills. The College of the Liberal Arts provides a plethora of resources for any student seeking guidance or information regarding about a career path or internship. The impact of this experience would not have been made possible without the support of the College.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The Paterno Fellows Program allowed me to become a competitive applicant for this internship experience. Many of the interns and fellows in the RPC are enrolled in graduate school or beyond. The rigor of course work and professional development resources offered through the Paterno Fellows Program helped me to stand out in my application and highlight myself as an asset to the RPC in my interview.

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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