2018-2019 Civic Engagement Initiative Grantees
The 2018 Civic Engagement Initiative awarded grants to ten science policy groups, led by graduate students and post-docs. By facilitating conversations among candidates, the public, and citizens invested in science, these groups worked to make scientific research is an issue of high local and national priority.
THE MISSOURI SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY POLICY FELLOWS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURIThe Missouri Science and Technology (MOST) Policy Fellows program forms a partnership between state legislature, higher education institutions, and foundations seeking to advance science and technology in the State of Missouri. MOST aims to promote long-term health, sustainability, and economic growth for Missouri communities by equipping legislators to make evidence-based policy decisions. MOST was co-founded by Mike Hendricks, Rachel Owen and Hallie Thompson to address the growing need for evidence-based policy-making resources after the 2016 elections.
For more information, please visit their website.
THE SCIENCE POLICY GROUP AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO
The Science Policy Group at UCSF is a coalition of students and post-docs that aims to provide opportunities and tools to scientists interested in building advocacy skills and engaging in science policy issues. They host a variety of speakers and workshops on campus, and last year sent 40 UCSF scientists to DC to advocate for federal research funding. Their Civic Engagement Initiative involves hosting a series of workshops designed to teach scientists how to write op-eds. Through this training, scientists and community members will be better equipped to make their voices heard ahead of the midterm elections.
“I am excited about our initiative because one of the wonderful aspects of the scientific community is that we come from all over the country, so if we make a dedicated effort to share the value of our research with our hometown communities, we can have a real impact,” says Emma Powell, UCSF Initiative leader.
For more information, please visit their webpage.
THE SCIENCE POLICY GROUP AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
The Science Policy Group at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is an organization run by graduate students and researchers that seeks to make scientific policy non-partisan. They communicate with legislators, inform constituents, and prepare scientists for policy-oriented careers. Their group believes that constituents and policymakers can find common ground through open and honest discussion. For their Civic Engagement Initiative, the Science Policy Group is organizing a forum for the candidates of Illinois’ 13th congressional district to answer constituents’ questions about environmental and agricultural policy.
“Having volunteered with environmental organizations when I was younger, I am excited to be involved with a project that will encourage our congressional candidates to discuss ways that our state and country can secure an environmentally-friendly future,” says Jordan Sickle, Vice President of the Science Policy Group.
SCIENCE, POLICY, ADVOCACY AND COMMUNICATION (SCIPAC) AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO
SciPAC at UC San Diego (UCSD) is a group of graduate students, post-docs, and technicians that are dedicated to increasing the public’s understanding of science, science communication, and science policy. SciPAC seeks to bring UCSD leaders together to create bridges between scientists and policy-making communities.
“As co-president, my own interest in SciPAC is motivated by a desire to raise awareness of how important science is to every person’s everyday life and how they can educate themselves and interact with science through communication and science policy,” says Regina Powers. “I, and many members of our group, felt a strong call to action after hearing the conversations around science policy during and after the 2016 election. We are excited to host events this fall to help educate our representatives and the public about the importance of science and science policy!”
CATALYSTS FOR SCIENCE POLICY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISONSIN, MADISON
The mission of Catalysts for Science Policy (CaSP) is to increase public engagement in science policy issues. They do this by educating graduate students about science policy and encouraging scientists to become involved in local and national governments. They educate the community of Madison, Wisconsin about how research in local universities ontributes to the economy.
CaSP views Research!America’s Bipartisan Civic Engagement Initiative as a way to publically showcase the benefits of scientific research while equipping early career scientists with the communication skills necessary to effectively translate research to policymakers and other stakeholders.
THE JOHNS HOPKINS SCIENCE POLICY GROUP
The Johns Hopkins Science Policy Group (JHSPG) is an organization comprised of graduate students and post-docs whose mission is to advocate for evidence-based policies that advance science and safeguard public health. They have organized numerous advocacy events, seminar series, and communication workshops to provide opportunities for researchers to engage in science policy and advocacy. JHSPG was co-founded by Richard Sima and Chanel Matney following the 2016 election.
“The election was a wake-up call that scientists cannot afford to remain secluded in our laboratories; science cannot speak for itself, and we need to lend our voices on its behalf,” says Richard Sima. “The Bipartisan Civic Engagement Initiative provides a great opportunity for scientists to remind political candidates why scientific research and evidence-based policy making is important to the health and growth of our nation. I can’t wait to lend my voice in support of this endeavor.”
THE WASHINGTON SCIENCE POLICY NETWORK AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
The Washington Science Policy Network (WASPN) is a cross-state network of scientific trainees focused on bringing science into civic discourse and advocating for research at the state and federal level.
WASPN was started by two graduate students, Katie Reichard and Emily Myers, at the University of Washington. Their goal was to broaden their coalition of advocates while pushing for science funding, evidence-based policy, and support for graduate education. WASPN expanded when Reichard and Myers connected with other science advocates from their home state in Washington, DC. With the support of Research!America’s Civic Engagement Initiative, WASPN created a statewide advocacy network that they are using to host public engagement events. The WASPN leadership team consists of six science graduate students: Brittany Bishop, Emily Myers, Nicholas Pokorzynski, Ashley Railey, Katie Reichard, and Gabriella Tosado, representing five different organizations: UW Graduate and Professional Student Senate Science and Policy Steering Committee; UW Scientists Advocating for Representation, Justice, and Equity; Seattle 500 Women Scientists; WSU-Pullman Graduate and Professional Student Science Policy Initiative; and WSU-Spokane Health Sciences Student Advocacy Association.
For more information, please follow them on Twitter @WASciPolNetwork.
THE SCIENCE POLICY INITIATIVE (SPI) AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
The Science Policy Initiative (SPI) at UVA is a contracted independent organization founded in spring 2017 to enhance awareness of careers in science policy. They seek to empower science and engineering graduate students to become advocates for science. They have hosted seminars with educational and policy professionals, an annual career panel, and a Science Policy Symposium for students acoss the United States. Materials scientist Matthew Diasio is SPI’s Community Outreach Chair and is interested in science communication and increasing scientists’ engagement with government. He saw Research!America’s Bipartisan Civic Engagement Initiative as a unique opportunity to accomplish these goals.
Collaborating with SPI on their Bipartisan Civic Engagement initiative, C’ville Comm-UNI-ty is a 501c3 non-profit group based in Charlottesville, VA and focuses on improving local STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) literacy and connecting university researchers with the public. Comprised of mainly University of Virginia graduate students, Comm-UNI-ty planned the 2017 Charlottesville March for Science and 2018 March for Science: Science Festival and holds monthly events to engage the public with science in an informal setting. Biochemist Elizabeth Hoffman is C’ville Comm-UNI-ty’s leader and is interested in advocating for evidence-based policies, improving communication and trust between scientists and the public, and electing more scientists into office.
THE VANDERBILT SCIENCE POLICY GROUP
Vanderbilt Science Policy Group (VSPG) is a nonpartisan, student-led organization that educates its members on scientific policy-making and empowers scientists to become advocates. VSPG recognizes that the federal government’s direction on key issues such as the opioid epidemic, research funding, and responses to climate change will have direct impacts on Tennesseans. Their bipartisan initiative strives to engage the scientific and health care communities of Middle Tennessee in the electoral process during this crucial midterm cycle. They believe it is imperative that their future elected officials appreciate the role science and scientific research plays in furthering growth and development across the state of Tennessee.
THE MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
SC Impact at the Medical University of South Carolina is engaging students, residents, faculty, and researchers through their “Coffee with the Candidates” bipartisan panel discussion on October 17. Through this question and answer forum, they’re giving attendees the opportunity to learn from midterm election candidates how to best engage policymakers. During the reception, local scientists will share the ins and outs of their research and how it impacts the economy of South Carolina. The event will bring healthcare trainees and candidates together in a collegial and educational environment to discuss policy issues in their area.