Psychologist Robert Balster of VCU is Awarded the Jefferson Science Fellowship

The Jefferson Science Fellowship aims to develop and advance the fields of science, technology, and engineering (STE) in international arenas.

Robert BalsterDr. Robert Balster, PhD, a pharmacology and toxicology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and founding director of the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, has recently been named a 2011 - 2012 Jefferson Science Fellow.

Developed by the U.S. State Department in 2003, the Jefferson Science Fellowship aims to develop and advance the fields of science, technology, and engineering (STE) in international arenas. With the view that STE fields are critical to the development of “good governance,” tenured American academics from these fields are chosen every year to serve as ambassadors for the U.S. State Department or the U.S. Agency for International Development, providing the expertise needed to impact international policy decisions. Following their term, the fellows may return to their former positions but remain available to the U.S. government as expert consultants for a period of five years.

Candidates are selected by their scientific achievements, communication skills, interest in science diplomacy, and ability to describe complex scientific issues to non-expert audiences. Although Dr. Balster’s specific area of focus has not yet been determined, his career has recently focused on international training and research. His contributions may include the development of curricular materials and training programs, substance abuse treatment and prevention programs, and drug or tobacco control policies.

Dr. Balster is only the second psychologist to win this fellowship award. The first was Timothy DeVoogd, a neurobiologist at Cornell University who spent his 2008 tenure working to improve science and technology ties between the U.S. and Latin American countries.

For more information on the fellowship, see the official website.