STPI Science Policy Fellows

Every year, a new cohort of Science Policy Fellows joins STPI for a two-year fellowship. This is a list of the current Science Policy Fellows.

Skandan Ananthasekar, B.A.
Skandan Ananthasekar joined STPI in 2023 after a fellowship with the Council on Strategic Risks, where he worked on biosecurity, biodefense and international cooperation. Prior to his time there, Skandan worked at the Mobile County Health Department’s Health Equity Office through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His work focused on leveraging community engagement to advance equity in areas such as COVID-19 vaccine uptake, food security, transportation access and environmental justice. Skandan graduated from Rice University in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and cell biology. As an undergraduate, he conducted research at Baylor College of Medicine where he focused on molecular mechanisms and mouse models for better understanding of cardiac arrhythmia and heart failure. 

Pragya Jain, B.A.
Pragya Jain joined STPI in 2023 after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and data science from American University. During her undergraduate career, Pragya completed a fellowship at American University's Center for Security, Innovation, and New Technology where she published articles related to automation and the future of work as well as encryption and data privacy. She then interned at the U.S. Senate and at the Council on Foreign Relations in the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program where she published an op-ed on international cooperation and emerging technologies. Pragya wrote her senior year capstone on the critical minerals supply chain for renewable technologies and its environmental implications.

Hannah Kirk, M.S.
Hannah Kirk joined STPI in 2023 after graduating with a master’s degree in energy and environmental policy from the University of Delaware. Her background is in public policy, wildlife conservation, economics, Asian studies, and Mandarin. Her ecological research at the university was used to pass a statewide ban on the sale of invasive plant species. While there, she conducted research for several research centers, including the Center for Research on Wind, the Delaware Environmental Institute, the Climate Adaptation Policy Lab, and the Disaster Research Center. In 2019, she was awarded the Taiwan-United States Ambassador Scholarship to study Mandarin at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. Her master’s research on bird-window collisions was recently used as the basis for a bird-friendly buildings bill introduced to the Delaware House of Representatives.

Aisha Lakshman, B.A.
Aisha Lakshman has experience in the ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of small molecule therapeutics and emergent technologies. As an undergraduate, Aisha conducted interdisciplinary research at the Genomics Institute and the Science and Justice Research Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Aisha holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in statistics. Her senior honors thesis examined ELSI of ribonucleic acid therapeutics, traditional and multidisciplinary research words, and ways to foster public trust in science.

Aaron Ouyang, B.A.
Aaron Ouyang has experience in life science research and health policy. His senior thesis investigated the effects of fragrant compounds on serotonin receptors. He has also conducted research on Alzheimer’s disease, aging, and olfaction at the University of California, Berkeley, and the National Institutes of Health. As an undergraduate, Aaron helped coauthor white papers on mental health insurance and digitization for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York and on 311 platforms for the City of Worcester Office of Urban Innovation. Aaron received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Columbia University in the City of New York with departmental honors.

Kush Patel, B.A.
Kush Patel has experience in analyzing how emerging technologies will impact the U.S. national security enterprise. His past experience includes internships with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. His work there dealt with refining analytic simulations on technology-enhanced foreign influence operations as well as analysis on effective open-source intelligence strategies for the U.S. Intelligence Community. Kush has also been involved with the University of Texas at Austin’s Inventors Program, where he facilitated hackathon-style events for STEM students to connect with government and corporate sponsors. Kush holds a bachelor's degree in history with a minor in entrepreneurship from the University of Texas at Austin.

Casey Roepke, M.Sc.
Casey Roepke graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2021, where she double majored in physics and politics and minored in journalism, media, and public discourse. Her senior honors thesis investigated grassroots climate activism through the lens of reproductive justice, for which she was awarded a research grant to fund qualitative interviews with global climate leaders. After conducting industrial policy analysis for the Office of Advanced Manufacturing at the National Institute of Standards and Technology as a John Mather Public Policy intern, she relocated to Glasgow, Scotland, for a master’s degree in applied physics. Her dissertation in the experimental quantum optics and photonics research group focused on exploring the effects of a heated rubidium vapor nonlinear medium on laser beam propagation.

Katherine Ross, B.A., B.S.
Katherine “Kate” Ross joined STPI in 2023 after graduating with bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and liberal arts from the University of Texas at Austin. Her minors were history and Russian language, which she studied extensively abroad. Her senior honors thesis evaluated barriers to climate change adaptation in delta regions. Kate was an undergraduate research assistant for a National Science Foundation program, where she experimented with plasma-based treatment of water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). She has a strong interest in emerging environmental contaminants and regulation.

John Sabatini, A.B.
John “Emory” Sabatini has experience in animal behavior, biological data analysis, public health and health policy. Prior to joining STPI, Emory worked in an evolutionary genetics and behavior lab where he collected over 130 hours of social and vocal behaviors from deer mice and developed deep learning models to automatically label and classify these data, all of which he submitted as part of his honors thesis. As an undergraduate, Emory also wrote a report outlining recommendations for the Mississippi State Department of Health to increase human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates. He worked as an intern with Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu and as a researcher with the Harvard Institute of Politics on projects relating to civic engagement, housing justice, pandemic-era voting policy, water transportation, and urban walkability. Emory received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College in applied mathematics and biology with a secondary in global health and health policy.

Erin Saybolt, M.S.
Erin Saybolt joined STPI in 2022 after working as a program assistant at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues. Some of her work at STPI includes research and writing on emerging technologies, evaluating federal government programs, and supporting efforts around pandemic preparedness. Erin holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Ursinus College and a master’s degree in biomedical science policy and advocacy from Georgetown University.

Zoe Shinefield, B.A.
Zoe Shinefield has experience in climate science and public policy with a focus on carbon removal and sequestration. Before joining STPI, Zoe worked in a geology lab studying the carbon sequestration capabilities of coastal wetlands. She also managed international environmental policy researchers for the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tank and Civil Societies Program. Zoe received a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Bryn Mawr College.