SPIE and Optica announce their 2022-23 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow

Clara Tibbetts, the professional science societies’ Congressional Fellow, will contribute to US science policymaking
16 June 2022
Clara Tibbetts, 2022-23 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow
Clara Tibbetts, the SPIE-Optica 2022-23 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow.

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA – SPIE and Optica are pleased to announce the selection of Clara Tibbetts as the 2022-2023 Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow. She will serve a one-year term in Washington, DC, as a special legislative assistant for a member of the US Congress or as a staff member for a congressional committee beginning in September. SPIE and Optica are co-sponsors of the fellowship.

“I am excited for the opportunity to learn from policymakers and the chance to apply my background in chemistry to a range of policy issues, including climate and energy topics,” said Tibbetts. “It is an incredible honor to be this year’s Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow.”

Tibbetts will graduate with her PhD from the Chemistry Department at Colorado State University (CSU) this summer. She uses ultrafast lasers to study questions in the fields of energy storage and renewable energy generation: as one example, she studies electrolyte solutions used in different applications including lithium or sodium-ion batteries. Specifically, she has investigated the roles different materials play in determining device lifetimes and efficiency. 

Beyond the lab, Tibbetts is passionate about science policy and communication: she believes that scientists have an obligation to effectively communicate their research to the public and policymakers. During graduate school, Tibbetts was president of the CSU Science in Action group. She also led a team of graduate student leaders in policy-related activities and worked to build relationships between local policymakers and graduate students. She was also involved in other organizations focused on science communication and student advocacy. Tibbetts has been an organizer for the Rocky Mountain ComSciCon, she was a Leadership Fellow with the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, and is currently a student representative with the CSU Graduate Center for Inclusive Mentoring. 

As part of her fellowship, Tibbetts will attend a comprehensive science policy and communication training and orientation session facilitated by the American Association of the Advancement for Science. Upon training completion, she will interview with Senate, House of Representatives, and congressional committee staff on Capitol Hill and then select which congressional office or committee she wishes to serve for her fellowship year.

The Congressional Fellowship's program mission is to bring technical and scientific backgrounds and perspectives to the decision-making process in Congress and provide scientists with insight into the inner workings of the federal government. Fellows have the opportunity to participate in a multitude of policymaking functions including conducting legislative or oversight work, assisting in congressional hearings and debates, preparing policy briefs, and writing speeches.

Each year, following a formal application process, finalists are interviewed, and Congressional Fellows are selected by a committee comprised of volunteer members from Optica and SPIE. Complete information on the selection process and fellowship criteria can be found here

About Optica

Optica (formerly OSA), the society advancing optics and photonics worldwide, is dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving, and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources, and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications, and accelerate scientific, technical, and educational achievement. Discover more at Optica.org.

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About SPIE

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, brings engineers, scientists, students, and business professionals together to advance light-based science and technology. The Society, founded in 1955, connects and engages with our global constituency through industry-leading conferences and exhibitions; publications of conference proceedings, books, and journals in the SPIE Digital Library; and career-building opportunities. Over the past five years, SPIE has contributed more than $22 million to the international optics community through our advocacy and support, including scholarships, educational resources, travel grants, endowed gifts, and public-policy development. www.spie.org.


Daneet Steffens
Public Relations Manager
+1 360 685 5478


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