Young scientists from across the nation will fan out on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to engage policymakers in discussions about today's grand research challenges and to practice communicating the importance of supporting scientific discovery financially to bring medical and technological breakthroughs to bear.
The undergraduate and graduate students participating in "Hill Day," sponsored by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, have a number of messages they intend to send to Congress. Organizers say the experience is likely to be a life-changing one for the emerging researchers, many of whom are performing important laboratory work back home.
"This is one of our most important activities," said Thomas Baldwin, dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, and a member of ASBMB's public affairs panel. "Not only does it afford us an opportunity to talk with our elected representatives in Congress, which itself is a critically important activity, but it is an opportunity for young scientists to engage in the process of public debate. These are our scientific leaders of the future. Getting them involved now will pay dividends to the science community for years to come."
Fordham University chemistry major and undergraduate researcher Stacey Barnaby, who is to meet with the staff of U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, among others, said she believes the nation is at a turning point in its history and that it is natural for scientists to play leading roles in helping to determine what's to come.
"It is scientists who spend many hours in the laboratory and come up with leading breakthroughs toward the cure for a disease, or vaccines, or build new materials for solar cells, or biofuels, to perhaps one day make us independent of foreign oil," she explained.
William Shadrick, 33, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee w
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American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology