In August, AIBS launched the second annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event. This nationwide initiative is intended to spur individual biologists and research centers to meet with their members of Congress during the August congressional district work period.
"It is exciting to see the growing interest in this effort from the scientific community," said AIBS director of public policy Robert Gropp. "This year a number of leading scientific societies and organizations have joined us to sponsor this important event." In addition to AIBS, sponsors of the 2010 event were the Botanical Society of America, Genetics Society of America, Long Term Ecological Research Network, Organization of Biological Field Stations, Society of Systematic Biologists, and University of Michigan Biological Station. Stanford University's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve was a supporter of the 2010 initiative.
Each August, representatives and senators spend time in their districts and home states. This is an opportunity for individuals to meet with members of Congress to demonstrate the importance of their research to the individuals responsible for casting the votes that shape the nation's science policy.
"Inviting your member of Congress to visit your laboratory, to see what you do and how many people your work involves, is one of the best ways to educate your leaders and legislators about scientific research. They get to see where the money they appropriated to NIH [the National Institutes of Health], NSF [the National Science Foundation], USDA [the US Department of Agriculture], and other funding agencies goes, how carefully it is spent, and what amazing work is done with it," said Sherry Marts, executive director of the Genetics Society of America.
According to Marts, this is an important opportunity to put a face on science. "Most people get their images of scientists and science from Hollywood—a visit with a scientist is a great reality check," Marts said.
Keith Crandall, president of the Society of Systematic Biologists, agrees. "Congressional visits are especially effective for fields like systematic biology as the importance of basic science is not always obvious to those outside of science. These visits allow biologists to inform congressional members of the exciting science being performed and its potential contributions to society."
The second annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event occurred throughout the month of August. Dozens of scientists and research facilities from at least 27 states participated.
Organizations interested in sponsoring the 2011 Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event should contact Robert Gropp at rgropp@ aibs.org.
In July and August, AIBS commented on draft strategic plans for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric and Administration). In both cases, AIBS requested that science be elevated to an agency-wide priority to reflect the fact that science is essential to the work of each agency. Additionally, both agencies were reminded of a recent White House memorandum directing federal agencies to "implement strategies for increasing the benefits for science and society derived from scientific collections by following the recommendations in the report by the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections."
To read these or other AIBS policy statements, please visit www.aibs.org/position-statements/.
Original articles in English
Is Large-scale Production of Biofuel Possible? By genetically engineering certain crops, there is potential to produce biofuels commercially. Mariam Sticklen, of Michigan State University, illustrates that there are other benefits too, such as alleviating environmental contamination from fossil fuel production and use, and improving rural economies. Read the article here.
Sea Turtles: Ancient Creatures with Modern Problems. The long history of sea turtle exploitation laid the foundation for declines among many populations today. Katherine Mansfield, of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, offers ideas for management and conservation programs as well as suggestions on how the public can help ensure the survival of these ancient creatures. Read this article here.
Public Policy Report for 2 August 2010
Public Policy Report for 19 July 2010