Dr. Laurel Watkins de Jong
AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow
Education and Workforce Development Cluster
Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
Class of 2022–2022
Dr. Laurel Watkins de Jong has a highly interdisciplinary academic trajectory, starting as an art major interested in 3D design and concluding with a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Her introduction to neuroscience was as an undergraduate studying the behavioral strategies of rodents learning optimal foraging paths. This training played an important role in Watkins de Jong receiving an NSF graduate fellowship. She went on to receive a master's degree from the University of Arizona where she studied changes in human EEG signals surrounding decision-making. She then transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where her doctoral work used high-density electrophysiology and optogenetic techniques to examine neural circuits in the rodent hippocampus that support learning and memory. Throughout her academic career, Watkins de Jong has developed a deep appreciation for the use of quantitative approaches to answer complex scientific questions. She is excited to engage in policy work that aims to create a more diverse and capable science workforce by increasing access to and training in computer sciences.