Making Impact in Research Through Science Policy With Adriana Bankston and Jamie Vernon

Welcome to Beyond the Thesis With Papa PhD, the podcast that delves into the diverse and impactful roles scientists can play beyond the lab.

In today’s episode, we explore the intersection of science and policy with our special guests, Adriana Bankston and Jamie Vernon. During our conversation Adriana and Jamie share their personal journeys from the lab to influential roles in science policy.

Adriana’s passion for policy was sparked during her academic career, leading to her pivotal role at Sigma Xi, while Jamie’s trajectory saw him transition from being a molecular biologist to advocating for scientists’ involvement in policy.

Join us as we unravel the critical roles of scientists in policymaking, the launch of Sigma Xi’s Civico, a groundbreaking platform connecting scientists with policymakers, and invaluable advice for early-career researchers looking to leave an impact beyond the thesis.

Adriana Bankston
Jamie L Vernon

Adriana Bankston is a Senior Fellow in Civic Science & Public Policy with Sigma Xi, where she leads a project that examines science policy engagement at the state level and determines the skills, knowledge, and resources required by scientists to successfully influence public policy.Prior to this role, Adriana was a Principal Legislative Analyst at the University of California Office of Federal Governmental Relations, where she served as an advocate for the university with Congress, the Administration and federal agencies. Adriana has had a number of roles leading to where she is today and in recognition of her contributions to the field, Adriana was named among the Top 20 in 2022 Advocacy practitioners by the Advocacy Association, and awarded the inaugural 2022 ARIS Emerging Broader Impacts Leader Award. Adriana earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology from Emory University.

Jamie Vernon is executive director and CEO at Sigma Xi and publisher of American Scientist. From 2014 to 2017, he served as Sigma Xi’s director of science communications and publications and editor-in-chief of American Scientist. He was also Sigma Xi’s co-director of operations from 2014 to 2015. A molecular biologist by training, he transitioned from research in 2011 to serve as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow and an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Fellow in the U.S. Department of Energy. For more than a decade, he has been an advocate for the use of science in decision making at all levels of government, business, and in our personal lives. He holds a B.S. in zoology from North Carolina State University, an M.S. in biotechnology from East Carolina University, and a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from The University of Texas at Austin.

What we covered in the interview:

  • How early-career scientists can effectively integrate policy relevance and societal impact into their research

  • Specific opportunities and resources available for scientists to engage in policy work, such as fellowships, internships, and advisory roles

  • How scientists  can navigate the transition from research to policy, and effective approaches for getting involved in policy work while pursuing a graduate degree

  • Challenges and benefits of scientists participating in policy discussions and advisory roles at the state and federal levels

  • How the Civico platform aims to bridge the gap between science and policy, and what opportunities it offers for scientists at various career stages

  • Managing time effectively to balance graduate studies with engagement in policy work and advocacy efforts


This episode’s resources:

Thank you, Adriana Bankston, thank you Jamie Vernon!

If you enjoyed this conversation with Adriana and Jamie, let them know by clicking the links below and leaving them a message on Linkedin:

Send Adriana Bankston a thank you message on Linkedin!

Send Jamie L. Vernon a thank you message on Linkedin!

Click here to share your key take-away from this interview with David!

You might also like the following episodes:

Alexandra Howson – A Career in Continuing Medical Education

Amal Abuzeinab – Flourishing in Your PhD and Beyond

Merle van den Akker – Debunking PhD Misconceptions

Emma Brodzinski – Supporting and inspiring graduate students

As always, if you find value in Papa PhD and in the content I bring you every week, click on one of the buttons below and send some of that value back to me by becoming a supporter on Patreon or by buying me a coffee 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.