August 1, 2011
3rd Annual Event Encourages Biologists to Share Importance of Science with Elected Officials
The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is pleased to announce the launch of the 3rd Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event. This nationwide initiative intends to spur individual biologists and research centers to meet with their members of Congress during the August congressional district work period. The event helps participants to demonstrate the importance of their research to the individuals responsible for casting the votes that shape the nation's science policy.
"Scientists engage in policy because many issues facing human populations, including global climate change, food production, and preservation of biodiversity, are inherently based in science," said Dr. Steve Weller, President of the Botanical Society of America, a 2011 Sponsor of the event. "We need to ensure that these policies incorporate carefully-reasoned approaches based the best scientific information."
The 3rd Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event occurs throughout the month of August. Participating scientists and research facilities will meet with their members of Congress to show them first-hand the people, equipment, and processes involved with modern scientific research.
"It is exciting to see the growing interest in this effort from members of the scientific community," said AIBS Director of Public Policy Dr. Robert Gropp. "This year a number of leading scientific societies and organizations have joined us to sponsor this important event."
Gropp further said, "As we have witnessed over the past several months, federal lawmakers have been engaged in a fever-pitched battle to set the future economic course for our nation. Scientific research can and must play a central role in these discussions. It is through scientific innovation that we create quality jobs, new markets, and a stronger economy. It is helpful to lawmakers to see how investments in research impact the communities they represent."
In addition to AIBS, Sponsors of the 2011 event are the Botanical Society of America, Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, Natural Science Collections Alliance, and Organization of Biological Field Stations. The Supporters of the 2011 initiative are the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), Inc., Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, and Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections.
As in past years, the event draws participation from individual scientists and educators, field stations, museums, state academies of science, and other research centers from across the nation.
"Researchers across the board recognize that there is a disconnect between the good science being published in scientific journals and the hearsay going around Capitol Hill," said Clarisse Hart, manager of outreach and development for education and research programs at Harvard Forest, an event participant. "They also recognize that receiving federal grant money imbues them with a responsibility to communicate their findings to the public in a meaningful way."
Participants of the Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits were prepared for congressional meetings by an online training session presented by AIBS that helps scientists understand how to translate their research in meaningful ways for non-technical audiences. The AIBS Public Policy Office also provided participating scientists with a handbook on successful engagement with policymakers.
More information about the Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event is available at http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/congressionaldistrictvisits.html.