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    04/14/17

    Students, faculty, staff to participate in March for Science, April 22

Post-Doctoral Associate Megan Fieser prepares her poster for the March for Science, April 22.
Post-Doctoral Associate Megan Fieser prepares her poster for the March for Science, April 22.

Some students, faculty, and staff members from the Department of Chemistry will be participating in the March for Science—Minnesota, or the national march in Washington, D.C., Saturday, April 22 (Earth Day).

The March for Science is a diverse, non-partisan group that is working to protect and defend science funding, regulatory agencies, and evidence-based policy-making in recognition that science plays a vital role in the progress and sustainability of society. Its messages include:

  • Policy decisions should be based on evidence and scientific consensus.
  • No censorship of scientific data. Science paid for by the public needs to be available to the public.
  • Dedicated, generous public funding for scientific research is critical for a healthy and educated public.

Concentrating on these messages is important for some supporters of the March. The American Chemical Society has announced its support of the March for Science because it aligns with ithe Society’s key goal of fostering understanding and appreciation of science by the public, the media, and policymakers. The ACS views the March for Science as a way of expressing support for science and its contributions toward improving people's lives, protecting the nation, creating jobs, driving innovation, and facilitating economic growth.

National March in Washington, D.C.

Professor William Tolman, chair of the Department of Chemistry, works on his poster for the March for Science in Washington, D.C., Saturday, April 22.
Professor William Tolman, chair of the Department of Chemistry, works on his poster for the March for Science in Washington, D.C., Saturday, April 22.

Department Chair William Tolman said: “I’m excited to attend the March for Science in Washington D.C., because I feel passionately about defending public funding for science, preventing censorship of science, and making decisions about the future of our planet on the basis of evidence. I support these and other important ideals espoused by the march organizers, and feel strongly that public expression of this support is critical for our democracy.” 

Tolman is also participating in a symposium on scientific policy, Friday, April 21, at Georgetown University, addressing questions: What scientific initiatives can be assisted by policy? What would these policies look like? How can scientific evidence be distinguished from "alternative" facts? What is the role of the government in the dissemination of scientific research? Other panelists include Jeffrey Mervis, science policy reporter, Science Magazine; Dr. Joseph Majkut, director of Climate Science, Niskanen Center; and Professor Emanuela Del Gado, associate professor of Physics, Georgetown University.

Rebeca Rodriguez, a first-year graduate student with Professor Christy Haynes, is participating in the national march, which will include working with a reporter from C&EN News and a camera person from the American Chemical Society. C&EN will be showcasing people from diverse backgrounds who have traveled far to March for Science. Rodriguez said that her biggest focus throughout the march will be speaking about issues of diversity and inclusion. She said that she will be marching with people of science, including professors Lee Penn, Haynes and Tolman, and people from non-science backgrounds from University of Minnesota and American U, her undergraduate institution. 

March for Science-Minnesota

Katelyn Youmans, a second-year chemical physics graduate student with Professor Jiali Gao, is working with the outreach committee for the March for Science-Minnesota, serving as a liaison between march organizers and university organizations on their involvement in the local march. She shared information about the mission of March for Science, helped build awareness about the march, and explained the opportunities and logistics for people to become involved. 

Youmans is passionate about ensuring that people, including scientists, non-scientists, those working in industry, students, the general public, and elected officials, understand how and why government and science are intertwined. 

“Science is a non-partisan issue that has an impact on everyone,” said Youmans. “In order to make our science work so that we can make the planet a healthier and more equitable place, we need support from our government at every level. And in order to gain support from our government officials, we need to educate. And in order to obtain the resources to adequately meet the educational needs of our diverse populous, we need to convince our legislators of these needs and hold them accountable when they neglect to meet them.”

Diversity Committee spearheads chemistry's involvement

The Department of Chemistry's Diversity Committee is spearheading this opportunity for the department’s students, faculty, and staff members to choose to participate in the March for Science Minnesota. One of the Diversity Committee’s goals is to create a sense of community within the department, providing activities that individuals can participate in to be part of that community while maintaining diverse viewpoints.

“We felt that many people are passionate about the goals of the march, but might find it challenging or intimidating to go by themselves and take a stand,” said Post-Doctoral Associate Megan Fieser, Ph.D., a member of the Diversity Committee. “We thought that if we could bring together a group, it might be a more powerful voice, yet still allow people to maintain their own voices and views.”

Post-Doctoral Associates Megan Fieser and Wilson Bailey, along with Professor William Tolman, chair of the Department of Chemistry, wear the specially designed T-Shirts for chemistry participants in the March for Science, Saturday, April 22.
Post-Doctoral Associates Megan Fieser and Wilson Bailey, along with Professor William Tolman, chair of the Department of Chemistry, wear the specially designed T-shirts for chemistry participants in the March for Science, Saturday, April 22.

As part of the community building, the Diversity Committee, led by Fieser, created a special T-shirt that march participants can wear, but that also can be used to generally promote the Department of Chemistry. The front of the shirt reads “UMN Chemistry,” and the back of the T-shirt features a quote from astrophysicist and science communicator and advocate Neil deGrasse Tyson, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether you believe in it or not.” Department members through a survey selected this quote from two proposed. About 70 T-shirts were sold to people from a variety of different roles in the department.

“It is important that scientists work together to inform and engage the public in understanding how scientific research affects them,” said Fieser. “We also want people to know that we are paying attention to our community, the issues, and the politics and policies that affect our research,” she said.

Information

For additional information, visit http://www.marchforsciencemn.com. For specifics on the Minnesota Science for March and Rally Plan, including the starting point for the march at Cathedral Hill Park, visit http://www.marchforsciencemn.com/march/. Participants from the Chemistry Department will meet at the starting point at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of the park by the Old Kellogg Blvd and College Ave W cross street. People can follow participants on Twitter for updates the day of the march, including Fieser @mfieser7, Tolman @WBTolman, and Rodriquez @beck_ayeee.

In addition to Fieser, members of the Diversity Committee are Professor Lee Penn (chair), Bret Anderson (undergraduate), Professor Edgar Arriaga (faculty), Professor Philippe Buhlmann (director of Graduate Studies), Christine Hitomi (undergraduate), Professor Connie Lu (faculty), Diana Mayweather, Ph.D., (staff), Sadie Otte (Women in Science & Engineering teaching assistant), and Yuanxian Wang (graduate student).