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Featured Force: Sara Wong

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Each month, we highlight a AAAS member who is a force for science. To find out how you can be a force for science, visit www.forceforscience.org.

Sara Wong is a doctoral student in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She recently helped start a science advocacy group on her campus. 

Tell us about a hobby or passion related to science advocacy.

My main hobby is professional development. As I learned more about career options, what really struck me was how science PhDs are advocates no matter the career. Whether teaching science classes to non-science majors or working with business clients on a new pharmaceutical, scientists must effectively communicate and represent science.

What science advocacy activity are you most proud of?

We organized a Science Advocacy workshop, run by an Outreach and Policy Advocate from the Union of Concerned Scientists. There was a ton of interest from students, postdocs, and staff. We even had interest from nearby universities. Providing training for others will bring more change than I can do as one person, and there is need for these resources.

Read a book you are dying to tell your peers about? Give us a brief summary and why you love it.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. It’s about her science career, from childhood through professorship. By exposing her struggles and flaws, it paints a different image of what a scientist should look like and act like. Chapters about plants wonderfully frame her personal narrative and also subtly highlight the excitement and importance of basic (plant) research.

Share a Web link/video/blog etc. that you’ve thought was especially compelling at communicating science.

I saw this video back in 2014 and I still think about it every once in a while. It does a great job advocating for basic science, explaining complicated topics without being condescending, and engaging the public in the story.

What advice do you have for those who’d like to get started advocating for science?

Seek existing resources - student groups (in STEM, public health, and public policy), your institution’s government relations office, national groups, professional societies, patient groups, and non-profits. Also consider two-way public engagement. Your goals are not only to advocate for science to non-scientists, but also encourage scientists to be active citizens.

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are those of the AAAS member and are not necessarily the opinions of AAAS, its officers, general members, and/or AAAS MemberCentral department or staff.

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