He spends his free time with his family, going hiking and camping with his children, among other activities.
Staff Director, Research and Technology Subcommittee
Sokolov is a self-professed “bona fide nerd.” In the past year, she’s worked on a wide array of legislation addressing everything from forensic sciences to advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity to natural hazards. This diversity is what she loves about her job, and coming from a science background, she has a deep passion for the issues under the committee’s watch.
Capitol Hill wasn’t initially on Sokolov’s radar screen (she graduated from University of California, Berkeley with an engineering physics degree and got a Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Washington). In fall 2004, she left the lab for a year to work in Congress as a science and technology policy fellow sponsored by the American Institute of Physics. Her mindset: She’d work there, then move on to something else in the science policy world.
But more than 10 years later, Capitol Hill is still her professional home. “I got the bug, as they say,” she said.
Sokolov’s held a variety of roles on the committee since her fellowship, starting in July 2005 as professional staff for the Energy Subcommittee’s Republican side, moving on to subcommittee staff director before switching to the Democratic side in 2007. She now serves as the staff director for the Research and Technology Subcommittee. She hopes the committee at large continues to move meaningful legislation through, but as a scientist, she’s concerned.
“What we do (or don’t do) really has an impact on U.S. science, so I do genuinely worry about the future,” she wrote in an email.
But that doesn’t keep her from having a good laugh. Sokolov took improv classes for about a year, complete with participating in a public performance as the finale to each eight-week course.
Professional Staff, Space Subcommittee
Years ago, when Pamela Whitney was employed at a publishing company, she was working on books about computers and space. She quickly became intrigued with the questions surrounding space—and how they converged around technology, policy, and international issues.
Whitney was hooked. She’d already graduated from Smith College with a bachelor’s in economics. And when she went to get her master’s in international communication from American University, she learned about space policy and held an internship at a small organization working on security and cooperation in space.
It’s easy to tell Whitney’s expertise is in space (she’s now been in the field for more than 20 years). She’s a member of Women in Aerospace and of the International Academy of Astronautics. Prior to joining the committee in 2007, she directed studies and managed committees on international collaboration in space science, space policy, and more as senior program officer and study director of the National Academies’ Space Studies Board.
As Democratic professional staff, Whitney provides research and background to Democratic committee members as they ready for hearings, budget analysis, and more. She often interacts with NASA officials, industry representatives, and nonprofits to stay abreast of the most topical issues.
In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, hiking, and cooking. She’s the mom to identical twins, which keeps her busy.