Mr David (Gil) Damon (2019)
Growing up along the rural coastline of Northwest Florida, my community was often shaped by exchanges between science and government. When hurricanes approached, instruments aboard federal satellites, buoys, and aircraft enabled lifesaving forecasts. During clear skies, the health of our fisheries, wetlands, beaches, and springs generated intense discussions at the state and local levels. To explore the complex interactions between scientific and political entities, I interned for a bipartisan pair of US senators, with a Florida representative, in the Obama White House, and twice for NASA. At Florida State University, I majored in political science and psychology to study both civic institutions and the minds influencing them. There, I conducted psychological research on science communications and developed a program to encourage understanding among strangers with opposing political beliefs. I worked concurrently as a park ranger at Wakulla Springs State Park, where I narrated riverboat tours through a wildlife sanctuary, before serving its parent environmental agency as a Florida Gubernatorial Fellow. Prior to graduation, I defended a psychology thesis and received the Thomas R. Dye Award, my university’s top undergraduate honor for political science. Through my MPhil in Public Policy and immersion in the Gates Cambridge community, I’m eager to further investigate the fusion of communications, science, and politics.