THREE QUESTIONS FOR
July 15, 2021
Jonathan Nurse joined the Lab’s Office of Government and Community Relations (GCR) in June as the Director of Federal Relations where he will work with GCR Executive Director Don Medley. A native of New Jersey, he has called Washington, D.C. home since he moved there in 1995 to attend George Washington University as a biology major. His long-held interest in government and politics led to a switch in major to political science and he’s never looked back.
After completing graduate school at GWU, Jonathan began his career in local government. He later found his stride working at the federal level, which he has done since 2004. With interests that lie primarily in higher education and research, he says the Lab is a great fit.
What do you do as the Director of Federal Relations?
The Federal Relations role means different things to different organizations. In my role with the Lab, I will serve as boots on the ground in Washington, D.C. I will help ensure that policymakers, whether they're considering appropriations or authorizing legislation, have the facts necessary to advance science relevant to the Lab. I aim to serve as a one-stop resource for congressional staffers and other stakeholders seeking to shape legislation, able to connect them to helpful expertise at the Lab. I also aim to develop effective professional relationships with research agency staff in order to help address challenges and identify opportunities. Additionally, there will be a need to keep staff at the Lab apprised of developments in Washington, D.C. that could impact their work. To that end, I encourage all to feel free to engage me on the full range of federal relations needs. I will also be active in my outreach internally and externally.
What made you decide to come to Berkeley Lab?
I was drawn to the Berkeley Lab’s alignment with priorities in Washington and capacity to truly impact the future of our planet. At the conclusion of my career, I hope to look back and say, “Wow, we achieved great things that are really going to impact conditions on the planet for future generations.” If my work here results in really smart scientists and engineers being able to meet their goals and make significant contributions to society, that will be a legacy I'll feel comfortable with.
You speak of a long-held interest in politics. What drew you to government and public policy specifically?
I think it all boils down to the impact. The significance of issues that we are educating policymakers on is enormous. We're talking about ideas that potentially affect every individual on earth.
I also think, particularly as a first-generation American, that there are many individuals who feel voiceless or lacking in the ability to engage their government. I was drawn to the idea that the act of guiding individuals and organizations in effectively engaging their government is essential to policy-making.