September 3, 2013
In August, biological researchers and educators participated in the 5th Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event. This nationwide event enabled scientists to meet with their members of Congress in their local area rather than in Washington, DC, and allowed elected officials to learn first-hand about the science and research facilities in their district.
Scientists participating in the event discussed the importance of life sciences research with the individuals responsible for casting the votes that shape the nation's science policy.
Highlights of the event include:
- U.S. Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) visited a lab at San Jose State University to see the impacts of budget sequestration on graduate student research.
- Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL) will visit Ordway-Swisher Biological Station in September.
- U.S. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) will visit the campus of the University of Central Missouri.
- Representative Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA) will tour a lab at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
- Participants met with five other members of Congress at district offices, including Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Mike Honda (D-CA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Scott Peters (D-CA).
- Meetings with five state elected officials from Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Virginia. State Delegate David Toscano (D-VA), the minority leader of the Virginia House of Delegates, toured a research facility at the University of Virginia.
- Tours of research facilities were organized for staff of Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and staff of Representatives Ann Kuster (D-NH), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Austin Scott (R-GA), and Filemon Vela (D-TX).
- Meetings were also arranged with staff for Representatives Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), George Holding (R-NC), Patrick Kennedy (D-MA), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Sean Maloney (D-NY), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Scott Perry (R-PA), Bill Posey (R-FL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Mark Takano (D-CA).
Over 100 scientists took part in the event. Individuals from 34 states signed up to meet with their elected officials. Participants ranged from graduate students to senior researchers and educators.
Individuals in the 2013 event participated in an interactive training webinar. The program provided information about how best to communicate science to non-technical audiences, tips for conducting a successful meeting with an elected official, and information about trends in funding for research.
The 5th Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits were made possible by the American Institute of Biological Sciences and Entomological Society of America, with support from event sponsors: American Society of Naturalists, Botanical Society of America, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, Natural Science Collections Alliance, Organization of Biological Field Stations, and Society for the Study of Evolution.
The 6th annual event will be held in August 2014. More information will be posted in spring 2014 at http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/congressionaldistrictvisits.html.