Dr. Becky McCauley Rench joins the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies as a Research Associate.

Prior to joining the Potomac Institute, Dr. McCauley Rench successfully defended her Ph.D. in Geosciences and Astrobiology at the Pennsylvania State University in 2015. Her graduate work focused on the diversity and metabolic potential of cave microbial communities as they relate to early Earth analog environments and the search for life. A West Virginia native, she completed her undergraduate schooling at West Virginia University and holds a B.A. in Biology and a B.A. in Chemistry. Before starting her graduate education and after obtaining her B.A. degrees, Dr. McCauley Rench participated in disaster preparedness response as an AmeriCorps member in San Francisco.

Dr. McCauley Rench is a Truman Scholar and NSF Graduate Research Fellow.

Michael Smith, IPA - DARPA

Erin FitzgeraldDr. Erin Fitzgerald joined the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in 2011. Through an IPA agreement she currently serves dual roles in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD): as a Strategist in OSD Policy and as Science Advisor and Program Director for Social Sciences in the Basic Research Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD(R&E)).

On behalf of both OSD organizations Erin directs the Minerva Research Initiative, a defense social science research program with an annual budget of $18 M and a portfolio ranging from the mechanisms of radicalization to geopolitical power projection in a multipolar world. As science advisor Erin develops strategic plans for future basic research investments in social science and beyond and across the defense enterprise.
Before joining the Potomac Institute Erin contributed to defense intelligence studies related to technology forecasting at the National Academies. Previous work on speech recognition and language technologies at Microsoft, Intel, and Raytheon BBN Technologies has given her a complementary familiarity with the industry research and development environment. 
Erin received her B.S. in electrical and computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon (where she also served as Student Body President) and her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Johns Hopkins. Her research in speech and language processing combined electrical engineering, computer science, and cognitive science approaches for data-driven efforts in automatic speech recognition and language translation.
Erin is a member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Association for Computational Linguistics, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).


The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Ballston Metro Center Office Towers
901 North Stuart Street, Suite 1200
Arlington, VA 22203
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Our Mission

The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is an independent, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit public policy research institute. The Institute identifies and aggressively shepherds discussion on key science and technology issues facing our society. From these discussions and forums, we develop meaningful science and technology policy options and ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government.

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