I along with a few close friends (some that are STEMinists (my new favorite word), and some that work in STEM), joined the March of Science in Chicago (that's me being eaten by the skeletal T.Rex). It felt great and was a bit cathartic, but it was a stark reminder that there is so SO much more to do.
These are unsure and maybe even scary times for science and evidence-based everything; making advocacy for the scientific methodology, evidence and funding more important than ever. We as scientists, teachers, and professionals are challenged to help the nation and more specifically the skeptics understand what we do and why we do it.
Recently I was at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in DC. I overheard a father tell his child to move away from the docent explaining the difference in hominid skulls (an interesting and critical part of science explaining how we became Homo Sapiens). He implied that the child would be "brain-washed" into believing in what was on display. I can only assume he meant the origins of man and evolution. Perhaps this was a teaching moment, but I was too stunned to say anything. How do I engage the public on genomics without devaluing their religious beliefs? How do I effectively explain that science and religion are separate, unrelated understandings of the world? But it is clear now that this is definitely a job all scientists MUST engage in.
The immediate threat to funding is aimed at climate change science but we are foolish to believe that other "controversial" disciplines are not also in the crosshairs of radical politics. If you are reading this and disagree with me, let's talk about it! My guess is we have more in common than you think.
Ideas on how to make your voice heard:
Tell NIH (or any funding agency) what you think of their new policies/spending (NIH is re-evaluating how to spend their $$$ and it is not necessary good news---especially for those of use that collaborate)
Become a mentor to a future STEM scientist (the Next Scholars Program seems great, for all those female Computer Scientists out there.)
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