Illa Amerson, a Ph.D. candidate at the Oregon Health & Science University in Beaverton, was selected as AGU's 26th Congressional Science Fellow for 2002–2003. Starting in September, Amerson will serve a one-year assignment in the office of a senator or representative, or on a committee's staff as one of only a handful of scientists on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Once in an office, Amerson can expect to work as a regular member of the staff, serving as a legislative assistant. Her duties could include advising her boss how to vote on specific bills, writing speeches or press releases, crafting legislation, meeting with lobbyists and special interest groups, and even answering constituent mail.
Amerson expects to receive her Ph.D. in environmental science and engineering this summer. Her dissertation focuses on the environmental impact of the gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). She completed a M.S. in civil and environmental engineering at Arizona State University and a S.B. in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Amerson has also spent three years working in environmental regulation and consulting, dealing primarily with air and water quality issues.