Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue
Photo of Benjamin Bridges standing on marble stairs under an arch in Washington, DC.

Everywhere a Volunteer: VolsTeach Student Awarded Fellowship in Washington, DC

Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology student, Benjamin Bridges, who for four years now has been enthusiastically sharing his passion for STEM subjects with K-12 students through the department’s VolsTeach program, recently returned from a distinguished summer research fellowship with the Office of United States Senator for Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, where he participated in healthcare policy research and contributed his expertise to legislative staff. Photograph of VolsTeach student, Benjamin Bridges, standing next to Chancellor Plowman and another student in an office setting in Washington, DC.

Bridges shared that the VolsTeach program provided him with constructive experience, which he utilized during his time in Washington, DC: “Each VolsTeach course focuses on teaching students how to best articulate and explain various STEM concepts in ways that everyone can understand. I think that being able to communicate your thoughts is one of the most important skills that a professional in any field can have and the VolsTeach program does a fantastic job at helping every student develop effective communication skills. I am passionate about gaining new experiences where I am able to translate and apply my own ideas to areas outside of my degree program, like working as a Research Fellow in the Office of U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn this summer- which would not have been possible without the experiences I have had with VolsTeach.” Benjamin Bridges currently serves as Event Coordinator for VolsTeach for Appalachia and the EastTN STEMHub.

While in DC, Bridges’ work was multi-faceted. He contributed to research into federal healthcare policies and used his STEM background “to inform senior legislative staff of specific biochemistry mechanisms surrounding bio pharmaceuticals and in the field of nephrology to aid in policy decision-making.” Portrait of Benjamin Bridges with a US flag and DC architectural column in the background.,Additionally, Benjamin gained experience gathering and analyzing Tennessee demographic data in Python to better learn the needs of the general population.

During his DC fellowship, Benjamin also met with many leaders, including UTK Chancellor, Donde Plowman, attended Senate Committee Hearings, and participated in “A Capitol Fourth,” an annual Independence Day celebration that takes place on the National Mall.

A lifelong resident of Knoxville, Benjamin’s interests are broad, and next in the field of science he is pursuing advanced scuba diving so that he may explore intricate symbiotic relationships in the ocean. Benjamin is also fluent in Spanish and Farsi. Through it all, he maintains a deep dedication toward sharing his passion for STEM with young local students.