SURVEY: Most Americans Cannot Name a Living Scientist or a Research Institution



According to a January 2021 survey commissioned by Research!America, most Americans (72%) cannot name a living scientist. Similarly, over half of Americans could not name a medical or health research institution, and 43% were unaware that medical research is conducted in all 50 U.S. states. However, the number saying they could name a living scientist increased from just 20% in 2017 to 27% in the most recent survey. The increased visibility of science during the COVID-19 pandemic may be behind this jump. Pfizer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention topped the list of named research institutions. 


Despite this lack of visibility, those polled largely held scientists in high esteem. Doctors, nurses, and scientists topped the list of professions deemed most likely to act in participants’ best interest. Additionally, a strong majority (91%) say it is important for scientists to inform the public about their research, indicating that most people think public science communication is important. It remains imperative for scientists to engage with their communities on research and science-related issues.

Check out our Public Opinion Polls page to see the full results from the survey.


Add comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Adds node titles to internal links found in content (as HTML "title" attribute).
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana