On 2 August 2012, the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) announced the start of the 4th Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event. This nationwide initiative helps individual biologists and research centers meet with lawmakers while they are in their district for the August congressional recess. Scientists participating in the event are able to discuss the importance of life sciences research with the individuals responsible for casting the votes that shape the nation’s science and science education policy.

“Scientists are constantly generating new data and testing hypotheses of relevance to decisions being made by policymakers, and it is important that we take advantage of opportunities to meet and discuss our activities with them at every opportunity,” said Dr. Larry Page, President of the Natural Science Collections Alliance, a 2012 sponsor of the event. “The more information that is available to policymakers, the better their decisions are likely to be and the more positive the economic and environmental impacts of those decisions.”

The 4th Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event occurs during the month of August. Participating scientists and research facilities will meet with elected officials and their staff members to show them in-person 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 and participate in this important event.”

In addition to AIBS, 2012 sponsors are the Long-Term Ecological Research Network, Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, and the Natural Science Collections Alliance.

Gropp further said, “Federal lawmakers are in the midst of discussions 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. These meetings help scientists show lawmakers how investments in research benefit society.”

Participants in the 2012 event include individual scientists and educators, field stations, museums, and other research centers across the nation.

“My involvement in the Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits stems from my desire to promote science policy issues that impact federal and local legislation,” said Lauren Neighbours, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “I firmly believe that advocating for science policy changes and improvements are critical for scientific advancement in our country.”

Participants were prepared for 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.

More information about the Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event is available at www.aibs.org/public-policy/congressionaldistrictvisits.html.


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