April 12, 2013
Biological scientists traveled to Washington, DC on 10-11 April 2013 to communicate to members of Congress the importance of sustained federal investments in the biological sciences. The scientists and graduate students were in the nation's capital as part of the annual Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) Congressional Visits Day.
Among the participants were researchers affiliated with the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and its member organizations, including the Organization of Biological Field Stations, Botanical Society of America, Entomological Society of America, and the Ecological Society of America. Also participating were Jennifer Rood and Paul Tanger, the 2013 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award recipients.
AIBS President Dr. Joseph Travis (center) with Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award winners Paul Tanger and Jennifer Rood.
The two-day event began with a training session for the roughly thirty participants. Policy staffers from AIBS and the Ecological Society of America provided participants with budget analysis and advocacy training.
On 11 April, participants fanned out across Capitol Hill for meetings with members of Congress and their staff. This year, the group emphasized the importance of sustained federal investments in research that will help the nation create new jobs and respond to society's needs, such as food security, maintaining healthy ecosystems, and improving human health. Participants highlighted the importance of the NSF in fostering economic growth. The agency's Biological Sciences Directorate funds about 64 percent of fundamental, non-medical biological research.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) met with Congressional Visits Day participants.
This year, BESC recognized two members of Congress for their leadership and support of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research and education. Representatives Daniel Lipinski (D-Illinois) and Dave Reichert (R-Washington) were awarded the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition Congressional Leadership Award.