Dr. Aruna Kilaru receives fellowship from AAAS
JOHNSON CITY (Aug. 10, 2021) — Dr. Aruna Kilaru, professor of Biological Sciences at East Tennessee State University, will serve as an agricultural science advisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a term-limited public service professional development program after being selected as a recipient of the Science and Technology Policy Fellowship (STPF) by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The position is located within the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Trade Policy and Geographic Affairs, New Technologies and Production Methods Division (New Tech Division).
“I am excited by this opportunity as I will gain first-hand experience in how science influences policy and vice versa,” Kilaru said. “The process of selection was tedious, and, after multiple interviews, I was offered placement in five divisions of various federal agencies. Because of my international background and expertise in the fields of plant biotechnology and synthetic biology, I chose to serve in the FAS New Tech Division.”
In this advisory role, Kilaru will help form and guide agricultural biotechnology policy in the U.S. and around the world through formal and informal commenting and through consultations with U.S. and foreign regulators, international organizations, and private sector stakeholders. Advisors also work within FAS, USDA and interagency U.S. government groups to communicate the significance and consequences of scientific advances, discuss the development and implementation of U.S. policy, and communicate interpretations of scientific considerations in U.S. and foreign regulations, particularly as they relate to trade.
The purpose of an AAAS Fellow is to provide scientific and technical support, analysis and advice in the area of emerging agricultural technologies. Fellows work with policy analysts by ensuring science and policy consistency within the USDA for the trade of products produced using those technologies, supporting goals to open and expand agricultural markets, improving agricultural productivity and food security, and fostering economic growth through the application and acceptance of those means.
Fellows also provide technical and programmatic oversight of U.S. government-funded biotechnology activities; provide scientific and technical support to New Tech Division staff to identify opportunities where new biotechnologies may be integrated into foreign and domestic agricultural, economic and food security priorities; identify related topics, including biosafety and policy/trade issues; and communicate scientific and technical issues in language that can be understood and used by non-scientists.
Since joining ETSU in 2011, Kilaru has mentored and graduated a number of B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. students. Her research contributions to the fields of plant stress signaling and oil biosynthesis are internationally recognized.
Kilaru earned her master’s degree in biotechnology from Maharaja Sayajirao University in India and her doctoral degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She attributes her four years of postdoctoral work at University of North Texas at Denton and two years at Michigan State University, East Lansing, as having paved the path for her current work at ETSU. Her research is funded by the National Science Foundation and USDA.
Kilaru joins approximately 120 first-year AAAS fellowship participants nationwide who were selected for the STPF executive branch during the 2021-2022 fellowship year.For more information, contact Kilaru at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-439-5601. More information on the ETSU Department of Biological Sciences can be found at etsu.edu/cas/biology/.