Howard Garrison Advocacy Fellow

Madison Flory

Madison Flory is a graduate student at the University of Kentucky. 

Describe your interest in participating in the program.

Flory: I am extremely interested in being a part of the Howard Garrison Advocacy Program. I hope to move into the science policy field permanently after finishing graduate school. I am passionate about using policy to improve trainees' experiences in academia, especially those from underrepresented groups. I feel strongly about increasing science literacy and engagement in the public and increasing transparency to increase productive collaboration and understanding between academia, industry, government, and the public. Increasing scientific funding will help to greatly advance these goals and is something I fervently support. The Howard Garrison Advocacy Program will provide me with the connections, experience, and confidence to advocate for policy change on all levels of government. I hope to learn how organizations like FASEB influence policymaking and how interactions between outside groups, policymakers, and federal systems impact how policy is interpreted and implemented. I am excited to learn more about biomedical science policy at the federal level, as the decisions made there affect each one of us every day. I hope to learn about different careers and opportunities in science policy. I am also interested in learning more about FASEB as an organization and how internal policy decisions are made and advocated for at the federal level. I look forward to experiencing policy on a national level and learning from experts and those currently active in the field. I also look forward to focusing on biological and biomedical research policy as opposed to the more general exposures I have had to science policy until now. A long-term interface with the science policy space will be extremely beneficial for me as I come to understand and immerse myself in the intersection of government, policy, and biomedical science. The Howard Garrison Advocacy Program will help me to become a competitive applicant for a future science policy career and will help me to connect with other like-minded individuals who are passionate about making a difference in the scientific world through policy change.

How do you plan to use the knowledge and experience gained through your participation in the Howard Garrison Advocacy Program? 

Flory: I hope to use the knowledge and experience I would gain for my career goals and to help provide leadership to others. Participation in the Howard Garrison Advocacy Program will benefit me, as I am passionate about moving forward into a career in science policy or advocacy. I am currently exploring various options, including the differences and overlaps between science policy and advocacy. The introductory course will help me to clarify my future goals in science policy work, and the monthly skills workshops push me to improve. Participation in the Science Policy Symposium and Hill Day will improve my communications skills, especially as they apply to interactions with various audiences. The tools and information I would gain through the Howard Garrison Advocacy Program would be invaluable as I prepare for a future in science policy. On an outward-focused scale, I would use the high-quality training and resources provided through the fellowship to further educate and train others. As a new officer in my university’s student-led science policy group, I am eager to pass knowledge, experience, and opportunities onto others interested in policy. In the past, our group has focused on state policy, but I look forward to the opportunity to educate and explore federal policy with our group. Again, the lessons and skills provided through the Howard Garrison Advocacy Program would prove extremely beneficial in helping myself, and others discover policy as a career and passion.

Using no more than 250 words, describe your research as you would to a non-scientist.

Flory: My research explores how bacteria living in the intestinal tract affect the development of colon cancer. Since everyone has unique gut bacteria, differences in the numbers and types of gut bacteria contribute to a person’s colon cancer risk. I am learning what the effects of these bacteria and their byproducts are on the growth, division, development, movement, and DNA stability of the cells that line the colon. The characteristics I am studying are key features of cancer development and progression. If we can learn how gut bacteria can change human cells to influence cancer, we might be able to develop a way to stop these changes from happening. This would help scientists to make better treatments for colon cancer or even a cure! To help me study how bacteria affect human colon cells, I use cancer cells, human samples, and animal models. I use a microscope to help me look at cell survival, cell division, and specific proteins that control the cellular roles I am interested in. I use special tests to determine which cellular instructions are turned on or off in response to gut bacteria. I also measure how much cells can move over time to help learn about cancer metastasis. These tests helped me learn how human intestinal cells change when exposed to certain gut bacteria. It is important to do these experiments because they will teach us more about how colon cancer develops and how we can prevent it.

Briefly describe any past or present participation in additional career exploration activities, experiences, and/or programs.

Flory: I am a member, and recent President-elect, of KASPR (Kentucky Advocates for Science Policy and Research), our university’s graduate student science policy group. As a member of this group, we researched bills that were proposed in the Kentucky legislature, identified those related to science, created 1-pagers for a bill of our choice, and traveled to the capital to meet with legislators to discuss our chosen bills. This experience gave me a look into state policy and ignited my interest in pursuing policy as a career. I am extremely interested in expanding my experience to the national level of policy work. In addition, I have recently joined the science policy committee of the Kentucky Academy of Science and am being exposed to various state policy achievements and challenges. I am also participating in a mentorship program sponsored by the University of Kentucky’s Women in Medicine and Science group. My mentor is a recent graduate working in the advocacy space, and she has provided me with valuable career advice and mentorship during our meetings. Finally, I have recently begun to explore the resources and opportunities provided by the National Science Policy Network and hope to continue to take advantage of these as I continue my career exploration and embark on building a science policy and advocacy portfolio. 

Madison Flory is a member of American Association of Immunologists, a FASEB member society.