Name: Sarah Rovito
Department: Research, Innovation, and STEM Policy
Title: Assistant Director, Research Policy
Date you joined APLU: October 3, 2016
Why did you want to work at APLU? I wanted to further APLU’s research mission as well as to share how public universities serve as pillars of their communities. Growing up, I had numerous swim meets, piano recitals, and orchestra concerts at Cleveland State University; it’s important to me that the public knows that our universities exist as a lifelong resource whether or not one is pursuing a degree. In addition, APLU’s charge of serving the broadest swath of students – first-generation, underrepresented communities, non-traditional – resonated with me.
What education or work experience had the greatest impact on you? I participated in the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) program immediately following undergrad. WISE was a transformative experience for me, opening my eyes to how Washington works and the many ways in which scientists and engineers can contribute to and influence policy. This program is a gem and is currently accepting applications for Summer 2019, please share with your sophomore, junior, and senior engineering students!
What current APLU project or initiative are you most excited about? I am most excited about the APLU Public Impact-Focused Research (PIR) Initiative that we are in the process of launching. Led by incoming Council on Research Chair and University of California, San Diego Vice Chancellor for Research Sandra Brown, this initiative seeks to foster more societally-responsive research at our member institutions and to convey the value of such research (and our universities) to the public.
What’s most rewarding about working with public research universities? Knowing that the research conducted on our campuses is truly capable of impacting society and improving lives.
What are you most proud of during your time at APLU? My fly casting debut at the Council on Research Summer Meeting at Montana State University (pictured at right). Just kidding! I am proud of the advocacy work that we do in support of continued federal funding for basic and applied research. I am also thrilled to have the opportunity to present on APLU’s Public Impact-Focused Research Initiative at SXSW EDU 2019 as part of a panel on “Why & How Universities Should Take on Moonshots.”
What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
Sleep in, drink lots of tea, go to Pilates class, and jam out to my finely-tuned Pandora station featuring Norwegian band Kings of Convenience.
What is your favorite thing about living in DC?
I’ve lived in the DC area for most of the last eleven years and still am in awe when walking by the Capitol or looking out the left-side plane window for monument views during descent to National Airport. I may be one of very few people out there who actually like metro, and the cultural offerings in town are fantastic. Not to mention State of the Union happy hours and cherry blossoms!
What was your dream job as a child? Like my colleague Julia Michaels, I too wanted to be President of the United States. Meteorologist was also in the mix. I have been passionate about math, solving problems, and politics from a young age, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that I’ve ended up as an engineer engaging in science policy.
What is the best movie you’ve seen recently? I rarely watch movies at home or in theater, but I was taken with The Post, which I saw in San Francisco with my friend from Journalism 101 in undergrad. Meryl Streep did a tremendous job with her portrayal of Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham.
What’s the first thing you do when you look at your phone in the morning? Slam my alarm and then Twitter.