Archive for the ‘advocacy’ Category

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There are a multitude of ways to become involved in science policy, communication and outreach. Until there are more opportunities for formal training in these topics at the undergraduate, graduate and continuing education levels, creativity and maintaining an open mind regarding how to gain experience is important. When possible, seek out help and advice from more experienced colleagues and mentors.

A scientist’s life is already extremely busy, and many find it difficult to find additional time for these learning and engagement opportunities. Do not over commit yourself, be honest with your time constraints and stress levels. I suggest greater participation in one or two things rather than little to no participation in a variety of things.

Open and honest communication with your mentor(s) is crucial. Not all mentors will be equally supportive of endeavors outside of the laboratory, start with explaining why you are interested in these activities and how they will help you in your future career aspirations. Seek outside advice, mentoring and support when required. See here for tips from AAAS on how to maximize your personal mentoring.

This list is not exhaustive and is a work in progress. Please comment additional suggestions and opportunities not listed here.

Suggestions:

Join the Forum on Science, Ethics, and Policy (FOSEP) (if located in Seattle) and sign up for their listserv (for occasional emails containing suggested webinar trainings and events).

Search for and join campus groups related to science policy. Attend events and contribute to discussions. If no such group exists in your area, contact your graduate school and/or student activities office to start your own.

Start a blog or contribute original submissions to an already established blog. SciencePolitics and FOSEP are happy to accept guest posts and advise.

For graduate students: volunteer to serve as a student representative for your department’s council meetings and/or to serve as your department’s representative to the graduate student senate.

For postdocs: volunteer to serve on the postdoctoral affairs committee, if one does not exist on your campus, contact the graduate school to explore the possibility of starting one.

If active on social media (facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc.) connect with science organizations and universities. Many of these groups also have separate accounts for their advocacy arm. Example suggestions: AAAS, OSTP, NIH (and individual institutes), SfN, etc. (local to the PNW: NWABRNSWA, Seattle Town Hall, Pacific Science Center etc.).

Join applicable science policy and advocacy groups hosted through organizations (expl. ASBMB and ASPET). Sign up for their action alerts and emails.

If eligible, apply for applicable “Hill Day” trips to Washington DC. These usually consist of advocacy training, mentoring, and organized meetings with elected officials and their staff. Many early career Hill Day opportunities are funded through travel awards. See ASBMB for an example opportunity.

Sign up for volunteer opportunities through local and national organizations (science and education museums, scientific societies, local nonprofits etc.).

Attend for credit, audit, or sit in on science policy, communication and outreach courses offered at your local institutions (see here for a (partial) list of courses offered at UW). If no courses are offered, MIT’s Science Policy Bootcamp (open courseware) and/or read Beyond Sputnik – US Science Policy in the 21st Century.

Apply for science policy and communication related fellowships. Examples include AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship and the Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program. See here for additional suggestions.

Become active in local and state politics. Attend your legislative district meetings. Participate in election caucuses. Volunteer for city and county commission/committee seats. Volunteer for non-profits and board of directors seats.

From the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Science Network Workshop Series:

101: Science & Policy Change: Using your expertise to influence the policy making process

Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Presenters: Kate Cell, Senior Outreach Coordinator, UCS Climate and Energy Program; Dr. Dave Cooke, Vehicles Analyst, UCS Clean Vehicles Program; Dr. Daniel Pomeroy, AGU Congressional Science Fellow, Office of Senator Edward Markey

In today’s partisan political climate and noisy media landscape, science doesn’t always get an equal seat at the table in the policy making process. But for experts who want to make a difference on the issues they care about, there are opportunities to be a voice of influence and reason at all levels of policy making. This webinar is a guide for scientists and other experts who are interested in learning how they can use their expertise to make an impact on the policy process at the local, state, or national level. We will cover an approach to the theory of social change as it relates to the policy process, what it takes to create policy opportunities and how to identify them, strategies for working with coalitions, and advice on how to be a resource for decision makers. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions to experts who have been involved in every step of the process, from organizing to coalition-building to advising a legislator.

 

ECS: So You Want to Work in Science Policy: What the experts wish they knew when they were students

Thursday, September 25, 2014, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Presenters: Christopher Boniface, UCS National Advisory Board member and molecular biologist; Emily Boniface, UCS National Advisory Board member and cell and molecular biologist; Andrew Rosenberg, Director, the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS

Whether you’re a grad student, post-doc, or early career scientist, if you’re interested in a career at the nexus of science and policy, it may be hard to know where to look for guidance. Join us for a Google+ Hangout with three scientists who have been in your shoes. Our experts will share tips on how to make the most of the resources that are available to you, and personal stories about what they wish they knew when they were finishing their degrees. During this interactive Hangout you’ll have plenty of time to ask your questions about building your network, finding a mentor, and where to look for resources and guidance as you take the next step in your career.

http://researchamerica.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/a-weekly-advocacy-message-from-mary-woolley-deep-thoughts-occasioned-by-ice-buckets/#more-2309

Dr. Mary Woolley, Research!America President and CEO, shares her thoughts on the ALS ice bucket challenge and issues her own challenge. “Where will change come from?  Probably not from more ice bucket challenges, per se, yet we should not underestimate the power of social media that is driving this challenge.  The science community is not particularly adept with social media and may even disparage it.  But we do so at great risk if we care about staying relevant and accessible to the public.  Using social media this election season to ask candidates to take a stand on the importance or lack of importance they assign to medical progress is a different challenge than pouring freezing cold water over your head and/or writing a check to the ALS Association.  Both are ways to speak out about the importance of fighting back against diseases instead of standing down, as Congress appears to be doing. Contact your candidates and tell them what you think. Don’t wait; seize this teachable moment; make a phone call; show up at a town hall meeting;  use social media to connect to candidates. Tap our list of candidates’ Twitter handles to easily direct a tweet to their attention.  And take the ice bucket challenge!”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/asiapacific/2014/08/china-pulls-plug-genetically-modified-rice-and-corn

“China’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to renew biosafety certificates that allowed research groups to grow genetically modified (GM) rice and corn. The permits, to grow two varieties of GM rice and one transgenic corn strain, expired on 17 August. The reasoning behind the move is not clear, and it has raised questions about the future of related research in China.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/education/2014/08/flow-chinese-grad-students-u-s-slows

“For years, U.S. university administrators have worried that China’s massive investment in higher education would eventually mean fewer Chinese students seeking to earn advanced science and engineering degrees at their institutions. A new survey from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) hints that the time may be approaching: For the second straight year, graduate applications from Chinese students are essentially flat. So is the number of acceptances, the first time that has happened in nearly a decade.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/education/2014/08/iranian-parliament-ousts-reform-minded-science-minister

“A monthslong effort to breathe new life into Iranian universities is at a crossroads after the ouster on Wednesday of the nation’s reformist science minister, Reza Faraji-Dana. “His downfall is a sad day for science in Iran,” says a scientist at the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran who asked to remain anonymous because of the uncertain political climate.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/people-events/2014/08/science-group-asks-u-s-energy-secretary-intervene-case-fired-los-alamos

“A science advocacy group is calling on Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to get involved in the case of political scientist James Doyle, who was fired by the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) after publishing a scholarly article questioning the value of nuclear weapons.”

 

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/08/25/3475190/date-rape-nail-polish/#

Alternative response/opinion to the recent headline grabbing Undercolor Colors, a new nail polish that will detect certain types of date rape drugs in liquids. “While the new product has captured its fair share of headlines over the past week, sexual assault prevention advocates warn that it’s not necessarily the best way to approach the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses.”

 

New Action Alert from Research!America:

Funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has remained flat in recent years, and uncertainty is growing over the ability of universities and other research institutions to conduct the noncommercial medical research underlying new preventative measures, diagnostic tools, treatments, and cures. In response to significant concerns about the erosion of NIH’s purchasing power, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced legislation, the Advancing Biomedical Research Act, that empowers Congress to provide up to 10% increases in NIH funding for FY 2015 and FY 2016, and up to 5% increases through 2021. These increases are more than justified by the scientific opportunity unleashed when the human genome was sequenced. And that’s just one of the developments that has set the stage for accelerated medical progress. We need to conquer Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, and other deadly and disabling health threats…and we can. Show Congress that you support Senator Harkin’s efforts to fuel medical progress. Urge the senators who represent you to support the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act now!

http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2014/04/u.s.-biomedical-research-unsustainable-prominent-researchers-warn

The U.S. biomedical science system “is on an unsustainable path” and needs major reform, four prominent researchers write in an opinion piece published today by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers should “confront the dangers at hand,” the authors write, and “rethink” how academic research is funded, staffed, and organized,according to Science Careers (published by AAAS, which also publishes ScienceInsider).”

 

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/04/ipcc-report-calls-for-climate-mitigation-action-now-not-later.html

“The world is heading towards possibly dangerous levels of global warming despite increasing efforts to promote the transition to a low-carbon economy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns in its latest report today.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/europe/2014/04/pro-life-citizens-initiative-worries-e.u.-scientists

A group of European pro-life organizations is mobilizing against embryonic stem cell research in a way that the European Commission cannot ignore. One of Us, a so-called European citizens’ initiative, has collected 1.7 million signatures from all 28 E.U. member states for a proposal that would block funding for research in which embryos are destroyed; under E.U. rules, the European Commission must now consider turning the proposal into legislation.”

 

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/04/acid-bath-stem-cell-scientist-apologizes-and-appeals.html

“Haruko Obokata, the Japanese scientist at the centre of a controversy over studies purporting to turn mature cells to stem cells simply by bathing them in acid or subjecting them to mechanical stress, today apologized for her errors in the work.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/health/2014/04/armed-new-data-researchers-again-challenge-effectiveness-antiflu-drug

BMJ has published the latest volley in a battle over one of the most controversial drugs of the 21st century: the anti-influenza compound oseltamivir, better known as Tamiflu. A working group of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of scientists that performs systematic reviews of the medical literature, has carried out the most exhaustive meta-analysis yet of the drug’s efficacy—and its conclusions are, once again, pretty damning.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/people-events/2014/04/white-house-budget-director-lead-health-and-human-services

President Barack Obama today nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the White House budget office, to replace Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).”

 

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/04/former-nih-stem-cell-chief-joins-new-york-foundation.html

“Stem-cell biologist Mahendra Rao, who resigned last week as director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), has a new job. On 9 April, he was appointed vice-president for regenerative medicine at the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), a non-profit organization that funds embryonic stem-cell research.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/environment/2014/04/u.s.-park-service-nixes-immediate-genetic-rescue-isle-royale-wolves

The next chapter in the long-running scientific story of Michigan’s Isle Royale wolves will not include a dramatic genetic rescue. After 2 years of consideration, the National Park Service (NPS) announced this week that it will not introduce mainland wolves to revive the genetically inbred and declining wolf population on the isolated island. “The decision is not to intervene as long as there is a breeding population,” Isle Royale National Park Superintendent Phyllis Green tells ScienceInsider.  “

From Research!America:

“Given that the budget allocated to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funds the non-commercial, basic medical research required to develop new medical treatments and cures, is actually lower this year than it was in 2012, it has never been more important to fight for NIH funding. To help ensure that this unique federal agency receives the resources needed to support research at universities, hospitals and other research institutions across the country, Representatives Peter King (R-NY), Susan Davis (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), and David McKinley (R-WV) are circulating a sign-on letter in support of critically needed funding for NIH.”

In addition to the NIH budget being lower this year than in 2012, as a recent NatureEditorial points out, due to inflation and continued flat funding, the NIH’s budget has decreased by 10% in the last 10 years! Inflation for biomedical research is high, which means flat funding is actually a funding cut when inflation is taken into account. For example, while President Obama requested a 0.7% increase in his FY2015 budget for the NIH, inflation is projected to rise by 2.2% in 2014, translating into  an actual 1.5% cut for NIH spending. Likewise, by FY2019 the Department of Health and Human Services is projecting biomedical inflation to be at 3.3%, which would mean Congress would have to approve at least a 3.3% budget increase just for the NIH’s purchasing power to remain flat!

While these numbers are quite disheartening, a bipartisan group of Congress members are now recognizing what flat funding for NIH actually means. The McKinley-Davis-Carson-King Letter for Medical Research currently being circulated reads, “As Members of Congress who value the critical role played by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in better health outcomes, job creation, education, and economic growth, we respectfully request that the NIH receives at least $32 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. We feel this amount is the minimum level of funding needed to reflect the rising costs associated with biomedical research. At a time of unprecedented scientific opportunity, it is critical that the United States make forward-thinking investments that promote medical breakthroughs as well as our international leadership in biomedical research.”

The McKinley-Davis-Carson-King Letter for Medical Research’s $32 billion ask for FY2015 would be an additional 5.5% budget increase over Obama’s request. Please consider contacting your US House of Representative to urge them to sign on to the letter.

 Crossposted to Seattle FOSEP.