April 9, 2012
Biological scientists traveled to Washington, DC on 28-29 March 2012 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 and the Ecological Society of America. Also participating were Lida Beninson and Andrew Reinmann, the 2012 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award recipients.
Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA) accepts the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition Award from Dr. Susan Stafford, president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Steward Pickett, president of the Ecological Society of America.
The two-day event began with a briefing by senior staff from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Policy staffers from AIBS and the Ecological Society of America provided participants with budget analysis and advocacy training.
On 29 March, 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 62 percent of fundamental, non-medical biological research.
This year, BESC recognized two members of Congress for their leadership and support of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research and education. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, which oversees the budget for NSF and several other science agencies. Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA) is the senior Democrat on the subcommittee.
To download a BESC fact sheet on the importance of federal investments in biological research, visit http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/resources/BESC_2012_Leave_Behind.pdf.