By Beth Linas, 2015-17 Executive Branch Fellow at National Science Foundation
Eileen Oni, 2017-19 Executive Branch Fellow at National Science Foundation
Eileen Oni, Andrew Tarter and Beth Linas
Starting the morning of the 2018 March for Science (April 14) at AAAS headquarters fired us up for a day of advocating for science, especially for engaging in science communication over Twitter. The AAAS rally featured several influential voices from the scientific community.
Dr. Talitha Washington of Howard University reminded the crowd of the importance of including the voices of women and minorities in STEM. She urged us to continue speaking up, even when we feel we aren’t heard.
Some of most memorable moments of the day were during the walk from AAAS to the National Mall. Many onlookers cheered their support: “Yay science!” and “Evidence matters!” This was our chance to meet other science activists and supporters and hear about what brought them to the March.
While walking with Jon Peha (1997-98 Executive Branch Fellow and 1998-99 Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow sponsored by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), Beth realized how well he embodies the combination of scientist and activist for which she’s striving to become. Peha is a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon who served as an assistant director in the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House and at USAID. In short, he is a big deal. He made it clear that he was marching to help ensure the longevity and integrity of sound science. [See tweet here.]
As people gathered on the Mall to hear an incredible line-up of speakers, it was impressive to see how many people came out in support of their discipline in a manner that may not have felt comfortable to them. Scientists are trained to focus on their experiments, seek and answer questions within their discipline, and present findings to their peers at conferences or in peer-reviewed manuscripts. They are usually not trained to address the public.
In the recent past, this narrative has changed and scientists are speaking up about why the scientific method and enterprise is so important. While science is not intended to be political, it is a crucial component for the advancement of society.
“Science is too important to people’s lives to be denied or downgraded,” said Dr. Holt to the full complement of marchers on the Mall. From the opioid epidemic to climate science, science not silence was on full display at the 2018 March for Science. [See tweet here.]