July 1, 2009


More than 30 scientists and graduate students were in Washington, DC, in April to participate in the annual congressional visits event cosponsored by the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) and the Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions (CoFARM). The scientists met with members of Congress to discuss the importance of a predictable, sustained federal investment in biological, agricultural, and environmental science.

The two-day event began with a briefing by senior members of the science policy community. Following the briefing, event participants attended a BESC/CoFARM Capitol Hill reception to recognize Senator Dick Durbin (D–IL) and Representative Maurice Hinchey (D–NY) for their support of biological and agricultural research. Senator Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip, was recognized for his leadership on behalf of agricultural and environmental research. Representative Hinchey has long supported investments in biological, environmental, and agricultural research from his position on the House Appropriations Committee.

"Through their actions, Senator Durbin and Representative Hinchey have demonstrated that they understand the best investment for the nation is one that funds all fields of scientific research," said Robert Gropp, cochair of BESC and AIBS director of public policy. "Answering the grand scientific questions and global challenges we must address in the coming decades requires a comprehensive approach—no one discipline will inform our actions."

Participating in this year's congressional visits were the winners of the 2009 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leader Award, Adam Roddy, of the University of California, Berkeley, and Anna Stewart, of the State University of New York College of Enviromental Science and Forestry. The Organization of Biological Field Stations—an AIBS member organization and participant-level contributor to the Public Policy Office—sent six participants. The Association of Ecosystem Research Centers and Long Term Ecological Research Network also had scientists participating in this year's event.

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