Earlier this year, the SSE Public Policy Committee offered grants to four SSE members to attend science communication and advocacy training held by the American Institute for Biological Sciences (AIBS) on March 25-27 in Washington, DC. In addition to the training, participants spoke with their elected congressional representatives during meetings organized by AIBS. Continue reading to hear from two SSE-funded participants about their experiences.
“Biologists came to Washington DC from across the country, as close as University of Maryland, and as far as Hawai’i, to ask Congress to increase funding for NSF. In the science communication bootcamp, we learned and practiced techniques to pass on our science to the public. From the various styles of the diverse and talented attendees, we learned skills and techniques that helped us in our visit to Capitol Hill. My group visited Congresspeople from Michigan, Rhode Island, and Ohio. Luckily, most of the staff with whom we met were already planning to vote for the NSF funding increase, but still appreciated hearing our stories. Having an influence on Congress is a lofty goal, but we discovered that it is possible for any scientist to have their voice heard. Crafting a personal story that translates those outside your discipline is a challenging, but essential skill.” - Acer VanWallendael
“Over my career, I have come to realize that scientists often do a poor job of explaining their complex research in a way that anyone can understand. That is why I have sought opportunities to learn about science communication. The American Institute of Biological Science Congressional Visit Days workshop offered not only the opportunity to learn about sci comm in a general sense, but how to speak with lawmakers about the importance of science funding. This workshop was uniquely rewarding because it allowed me to go to Washington, DC and directly engage with lawmakers, something not possible for me without the support of SSE. By engaging with lawmakers on science funding, I fulfilled my civic duty as a scientist to advocate for support of the sciences. We live in a day and age where science is increasing under attack and scrutinized, and it is the duty of every scientist to communicate the importance of science and funding it.” - J.P. Lawrence