CEMS graduate student Elisah VandenBussche selected to be an ASME Congressional Fellow

Elisah VandenBussche, a fifth-year chemical engineering PhD candidate in the Flannigan group, has been selected as the 2021-2022 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Congressional Fellow representing the area of Energy. She will begin this appointment in September 2021.

“I am excited to build a foundation of policymaking experience to inform my future career while using my engineering background to contribute to effective and equitable policy,” said VandenBussche.

Since 1973, ASME has sponsored the prestigious Congressional Fellowship program to provide an opportunity for ASME members to work with the U.S. Congress. As federal legislation becomes increasingly technical, the need for engineering expertise is essential. Congressional fellows participate directly in the lawmaking process and learn how the federal government operates. In addition, Congress is provided with the necessary engineering expertise and, at the end of the fellowship year, a fellow's employer has an engineer with in-depth knowledge of congressional decision-making processes.

VandenBussche’s graduate work focused on using novel techniques to better understand heat and electron transport at the nanoscale in photovoltaic materials. She also helped to pioneer the use of pulsed electron beams to minimize and study degradation mechanisms of radiation-sensitive materials.

Beyond her research, VandenBussche has served in several leadership positions at the University of Minnesota, including co-founding the CEMS department DEI committee and working for the UMN Institute of the Environment and the Women in Science and Engineering Initiative. In these roles, her efforts have focused on building diverse coalitions within the department, college, and university to address injustice and inequity in STEM education and in environmental and energy development spaces.

She has also worked as a volunteer researcher for the Minnesota House Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Committee and helped to found the Twin Cities Science Policy Network. VandenBussche holds a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BA in Violin Performance from Case Western Reserve University.