On April 22, 2017 when hundreds of thousands of people participated in the March for Science in Washington, DC and over 600 satellite marches around the world, SACNAS members were an important and visible presence representing the vision for TRUE DIVERSITY in STEM.
Dr. Lino Gonzalez, SACNAS President said, “We all need to stand up in support of science. And those of us from communities traditionally underrepresented in the practice of science need to stand even taller or we risk being trampled. Together, as SACNAS, we will stand taller.”
We stood tall during the March for Science.
Following are transcripts of the speeches delivered by SACNAS members from Albuquerque to Washington, D.C.
ALBUQUERQUE: Dr. Nancy Hurtado-Ziola (Otomi) and Daniel A. Lujan
The Importance Of Diversity And Inclusion In Science
NANCY: Are you a curious person? I know that I am! Curiosity is a human trait and science is very much a human activity. Because of this, we as humans try to understand our environment.
DANIEL: It’s true — because of curiosity, people of various cultures have contributed to the advancement of science. It has impacted our world as far back as we have recorded history. The origin of science predates written history and includes many different societies.
NANCY: Welcome everyone! I’m Dr. Nancy Hurtado-Ziola. I am a Chicana from East L.A. and a Research Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico.
DANIEL: And I am Daniel Lujan, a Burqueño from the South Valley. Yes, that’s right, the South Valley does produce scientists! I am a graduate student at UNM. We are happy to be here today with you to support and celebrate science! It is important to point out that many fields of science didn’t begin with the societies that most historical accounts tell us they did. Many fields of science actually began in societies of color. For instance, it was the Egyptians and Mesopotamians who began describing and using physics. Later, while under Greek colonization it was expanded upon. First nations/Native Americans made foundational contributions in mathematics and astronomy and yet we have been taught that people of color are newcomers to science.
This simply is not the case.
So, why are we here today? — We are here to talk about Diversity and Inclusion in science.
NANCY: Well, what is ‘diversity’? And what does it mean to be ‘inclusive’ Many people believe that these terms mean the same thing. But they don’t. Rather than give you a textbook definition, how about we try a little imagery Let’s say that Science is a party. It’s been said that Diversity is like being invited to the party. Now think of Inclusion as being invited to dance at the party and to take part in the celebration and the entire process including the planning. Now I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to dance!
DANIEL: But, many people ask, “if scientific discoveries are already being made, then why change the culture of who becomes a scientist? Why should we care about diversity?”
BECAUSE DIVERSE SCIENTIFIC TEAMS MAKE BIG DISCOVERIES!
Many of our recent scientific discoveries have been made by diverse teams. For instance, the discovery of physical evidence for Einstein’s Theory on gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes was made by large diverse teams of scientists, including one led by Dr. Gabriela Gonzalez.
NANCY: Well, it’s is clear that some of us are getting invited to the party, and some of us are even getting to dance — a lot! But we still have work to do to be truly diverse and inclusive. But, WHO says diverse, inclusive teams are ‘good’?Well…let’s look to the business world to see — there are a lot of books, articles and motivational speakers who tell us that the best, most productive and innovative teams are often the most diverse and inclusive.
Because, having diverse teams often results in a variety of perspectives for solving a single problem. In the words of the Kelly brothers, yeah, you know, the Stanford d-school Kelly Brothers, who wrote CREATIVE CONFIDENCE, the diverse team is “going broad before going deep” to find solutions.
In short, promoting diversity and inclusion is smart business and makes for a better ‘us’. But, the literature also says that the rewards from diverse teams come at a cost — homogeneous teams are comfortable because everyone is the same, but diverse teams take work in order to understand one another and to get along.
DANIEL: Which groups must we consider when we talk about diversity and inclusion? It’s important that we include first generation college students, those from low socioeconomic backgrounds, diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds, people in the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities. They are ALL communities that deserve an invitation to dance as well.
NANCY: So what can we do to support diversity and inclusion in STEM here where we are? Here in New Mexico, we do have some programs that are working to advance our various communities in STEM and we’d like to share just a few of them with you. It’s important that we make sure that these diversity programs stay intact and vital.
DANIEL: Getting the people of our communities involved at a young age is ideal. In the South Valley, there is The Junior Science Outreach Program (JSOP), a summer program at Westside Community Center. The JSOP is a student-run volunteer organization that is dedicated to engaging young elementary school students in hands-on science for the purpose of both increasing the diversity of science and bridging educational gaps. JSOP does this by providing informal science education programs through creative community building projects focused on sustainability. Because it’s an all-volunteer program, JSOP is always in need of support.
NANCY: Then, there are the community colleges. There’s one program that I REALLY like. The Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (known as SIPI) is a 2-year Tribal College that serves Native American students. In 2014, as an effort to deal with poor retention, SIPI, through a NASA Learning grant, developed the IC-MARS Program. This program uses a unique NASA-inspired robotics facility to provide interactive educational experiences for college, middle and high school students. The program begins with the most basic introductory level topics, like creating simple mini-rovers from open source materials, and goes on up to advanced embedded computing and webpage design.
The centerpiece of the program is the SIPI indoor “Mars Yard” used to simulate remote space missions. This kind of interaction promotes “meaningful learning” experiences and a very tangible reason for younger students to prepare well for college.
In 2016, a mere 2 years after it began, SIPI took its robotics team to the NASA Swarmathon Competition at Kennedy Space Center. It was the only Tribal College at the competition, and SIPI took 3rd place! If you’d like to see a photo of the team that went to the competition, you can visit the SIPI IC-MARS project website for more information. And yes, there were young women on that team.
Native American engineers — that’s diversity!
DANIEL: For college and university students, at the University of New Mexico we have excellent programs like the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program and the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program among others. These programs promote diversity and inclusion in STEM by guiding first generation students, the underrepresented and students of color through the maze of getting into graduate school to earn an advanced degree. Without the MARC program, I would not be in STEM and without IMSD, I would not be where I am today as a young scientist.
NANCY: Did you know that New Mexico has its own Academy of Science? Yes, it does! And did you know that NMAS is actually older than the state of New Mexico? Part of the mission of NMAS is to raise the public awareness of the importance of science and science education, and to provide advice on such matters
In fact, the SIPI IC-MARS Program students presented their work at last year’s EPSCoR/NMAS meeting in Albuquerque. If you live in New Mexico and care about science, but are not a member of the New Mexico Academy of Science, then my question to you is — why not? NMAS has an exhibit table here. Go talk to them; find out what they, what we are about. If you have children, ask about the programs in the NM Junior Academy of Science. Cool stuff!
Boy, I tell you — when New Mexico is good, we are really good.
DANIEL: You bet your sweet. The UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center was awarded the highest recognition by the NIH National Cancer Institute. AND, In 2016 The University of New Mexico School of Medicine ranked third in the nation for its Rural Medicine Program
And yet, we have some of the biggest obstacles to overcome with respect to the state budget; teachers’ pay has been cut yet again, and we have one of the lowest per capita incomes in the Unites States.
Despite these major obstacles, our state shows flashes of brilliance but we need to care for and cultivate the good things in our diverse communities.
One of the ways we can do this is on the national level. We’d like to tell you about a great national organization that we both belong to that promotes diversity and inclusion in STEM.
We are both here as members of SACNAS. The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in STEM.
However, SACNAS is not limited to only Chicanos and Native Americans, we are an inclusive society and we are open to everyone. We have several chapters nationwide and an annual national conference.
NANCY: SACNAS supports post-secondary science education and professionals in STEM
- For Community College, College, and University students there are student-centered local chapters and a national conference where students are mentored and get to show off their research
- For Postdocs, Early and Mid-career Professional there are Leadership Institutes, which are done in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
We’d also like to tell you about two other like-minded organizations that are here today, EPSCoR and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) — Stop by and learn more about their organizations!
DANIEL: In Closing we want to share the following take home messages with you:
For New Mexico to be vital in the sciences and make big, innovative and creative discoveries, we must embrace diversity and inclusion in the sciences
How can we be sure to do this?
Find your favorite program, or organization or project and make sure that it becomes sustainable!
It sounds easy, but it takes work (and money)!
Enjoy the rest of the Albuquerque March for Science Rally and the 2017 Earth Day Celebration!
ATLANTA: Dr. Ron Hunter
Basic Science Promotes Health and Human Safety
Hi, I am Ron Hunter. I have a PhD in analytical chemistry from Emory University, and I am a scientist in industry at The Coca-Cola Company.
Science is not and should not be an enemy of any political ideology. And yet, given the current administration’s proposed budget and executive orders, funding and access to the STEM field are under threat.
The product of science — data — is independent of any political ideology.
Unfortunately, predetermined ideology can influence how and what data gets produced.
And this data is critical to health and human safety, to consumer safety.
Without evidence-based policy, there are far-reaching consequences on our health and safety.
People think safety is boring until your safety is threatened, until you start hearing stories like Flint, MI, the Gulf oil spill, or…a bridge collapses.
But safety is not always dramatic.
The trouble is, many people lack an understanding of how science happens and the infrastructure and long-term commitment required to answer hard questions.
Federal research is foundational basic research that is on a longer timeline and essential for new discoveries which then “go to market”.
People who studied baker’s yeast led to our understanding of cancer cells- which led to new therapies. Therapies that allowed my mom to be a breast cancer survivor.
As an undergraduate researcher, I worked on fuel cells that can compete with batteries and generators for portable use, such as those in pacemakers or generators used after a destructive weather! Science literally keeps somebody safe by helping his/her heart beat.
Departments like the EPA and others that promote environmental research are severely at risk, followed closely by health-related measures.
At Emory I worked on the EPA-funded Children’s Exposure to Environmental Pesticides Project highlighting the vulnerability to contaminants of one of our most precious populations — children. Science benefits consumer safety from K to gray!
Tobacco research we did at CDC created the evidence-based policy to restrict smoking in public buildings and reducing secondhand smoke exposure.
The proposed $6BN drastic NIH budget cut alone could destroy critical foundational research and programs slowing advancements in healthcare.
In my current job, we ensure the products that you drink are of the utmost quality and safe.
Coke products are consumed at a rate of more than 1.9 billion drinks per day. If we get things right 99.99999% of the time we still must ensure that 200 products are safe.
Without scientists, not only is your health and human safety at risk but also the integrity and reputation of the brand and trademark.
Finally, I am a Black, Latino, gay PhD chemist.
Programs that support the training of a diverse STEM workforce need consistent funding to prepare the next generation of STEM workers who will tackle our biggest health and human safety challenges.
Complacency is unsafe. It breeds a lack of safety. Vote in your local elections! Run in an election! Get…elected!
Now more than ever we must do what every scientist has done through the ages — brave the unknown, enter the space where the scientific method intersects politics and diversity, and help move the U.S. forward through not only making better evidence-based decisions but also understanding the consequences, positive or negative, of our choices.
CHICAGO: Dr. LeManuel Lee Bitsóí (Navajo)
We gather today, on Earth Day, here at Shikaakwa (an Algonquin word that means “the field of smelly onions”). Shikaakwa was a major crossroads for indigenous people before it was renamed Chicago. I begin with this HERstory lesson to acknowledge the indigenous people that once occupied this beautiful land, Turtle Island. I also say HERstory because history comes from heteronormative roots: His Story. We also know that the first books to exist were written by white men. It is in this vein that I speak to you today: to share the importance of sharing other stories of origin and the importance of diversity in science. Our March for Science is to reiterate the message that diversity drives scientific research. We see the results in the various ways in which diverse scientific research is leading the way to address some of the challenges that minority communities face, for example, ensuring that everyone has access to safe drinking water. We also see it in the ways in which we are now democratizing scientific research for underrepresented minority populations, especially for indigenous people globally.
An example of this is bridging the gap between Native Americans and the scientific community in genetic and genomic research. I am Navajo and as an indigenous scientist, I have the privilege of working with other indigenous scientists and researchers to foster a new generation of intellectual leaders (Native and non-Native) who will define the expanding frontiers of genomic analysis with a specific focus on research with indigenous communities. This goal is being accomplished in an interdisciplinary learning environment with students and instructors from diverse intellectual backgrounds and a curriculum that empowers Native American students to take leadership roles in efforts to use genomics as a tool for Native American interests. Through this effort, we are not only increasing the number of indigenous scientists and researchers, we are also educating non-Native scientists and researchers on how to work with our communities without a savior mentality to engage communities on how to address pressing issues and challenges.
This has been a major theme in my work as a bioethicist and social justice advocate to broaden the participation of underrepresented and underserved people and giving voice to communities who have not been heard before. I am active in various national organizations and oftentimes am the sole voice for Native Americans and the LGBTQ community. I’ll share with you one stellar organization that I am a member of, SACNAS. SACNAS stands for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. I am currently the Chair for the Native American Affairs Committee and we work closely with the Board of Directors and leadership team to strengthen and enhance Native American programming and we are successful in our endeavors.
I also have the privilege to work at an institution that values diversity and inclusion, Rush University Medical Center. At Rush, I serve as the Director for Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and also have faculty appointments in the College of Nursing and the College of Health Sciences. In my matrixed role, I am helping advance diversity, equity and inclusion for the Rush community and beyond. I contribute by developing innovative programming and connecting Rush with other national networks like SACNAS and the March for Science. I am also a member of the Rush Diversity Leadership Council where we invite social justice experts who advocate for underserved and unmentioned populations, such as intersex people. We had the fortune of having Pidgeon Pagonis, a local intersex activist come to Rush to talk about being intersex and being cognizant of such people since they have unique health care needs. This is diversity in action. The Diversity Leadership Council and the Office of Faculty Affairs at Rush also sponsored a presentation earlier this week by Dr. Peggy McIntosh, who talked about having white privilege. If you’re familiar with Dr. McIntosh’s work, then you are aware of her powerful messages.
Her presentation was an example of HERstory, as she explained that whites have “knowledge” and “money” power. In education, this means that our schools are usually led by white people and our children are taught by white people using books written by white people. This cycle puts whites in a place of advantage at an early age and disadvantages other people like me. However, through efforts like this March for Science, we can transform education and scientific research to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive. But, we need your support. We need you to send a message to Washington, DC that research funding cannot and should not be reduced or eliminated. Should that come to pass, all of us will suffer.
Ahe’hee, which means thank you in Navajo.
CLEVELAND: Leslie Cuellar Vite
I am honored to be the first speaker for today’s March for Science Cleveland. I want to send a special thanks to all the organizers because this has been an exceptional experience. Working with these individuals is a prime example on how people from different backgrounds and experiences can unite and work together to have a successful event like ours today.
I am Leslie Cuellar Vite, a co-chair for the volunteer committee, a woman, a PhD student, and most importantly, Mexicana Americana. My father, mi papa, crossed the US-Mexico border more than just a couple of times. He worked odd jobs so he could send money to his growing family in Mexico. It took mi familia more than a decade to obtain citizenship from an immigration reform back in the 1980s. A struggle that I can only imagine how my parents and my older brothers pushed through because I was born in the United States. Like most immigrants in our nation’s history, we lived in a marginalized community. A community where Latinos couldn’t dream of attending college.
For me, that dream became a reality. It was made possible by having inspirational older brothers and a program called Metas, a community program in the San Francisco Bay Area that focuses on supporting Latinos to complete high school and enter college. Following my passion for science made that transition to success easier. When I took my first biology course in high school my view of the world changed. I became enlightened. For the first time, I was taught to not accept the natural order of things but instead to think and ask questions.
Mi gente: Latinos, Hispanics, Chicanos, first generation Americans, we must think and ask questions. We must take positions that can cause change to help better our nation in policies that affect us most. We must pay attention to those that surround science. It is unjust to neglect truth and prevent us from living healthy lives. It is unjust to take away policies that keep our water and environment clean. It is unjust to not give money to science research laboratories that are working hard every single day to find treatments and cures for deadly diseases. Mi gente, science is woven into our everyday lives. And most importantly we drive science.
Diversity in science is essential. Great ideas can come from any place in the world which includes countries outside of the US or even within inner city neighborhoods. Great ideas can come from anyone. Immigrants, first generation Americans, even from families that have been here before the birth of the United States.
Individuals from these diverse backgrounds have unique problem solving skills that are critical for science. I developed mine by seeing mi papa, a now retired construction worker, and build things for our home. He designed and built. Mi papa was an engineer with only having a second grade education. When I see problems in my research, I reflect mi papa’s perspective, dedication, and resilience to find a solution.
For science to be successful, there is a need for creativity and different perspectives. We must continue to enhance our efforts on encouraging individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities to pursue a career in science. This movement has already started. National organizations, like SACNAS, are making sure that these individuals are supported and encouraged to become successful scientists. With these efforts, I foresee that in the future our scientific community will prosper. Our nation will prosper. As I stand here right now and I look into the crowd, I see thousands of people from all backgrounds ready to fight and protect science.
DENVER: Dr. Lupita Montoya
I want to thank the organizers of the March for Science Denver for the opportunity to address this crowd and to bring a message of urgency and hope. I am here to speak as a scholar from a community that is severely underrepresented in science and, especially, in engineering. I am a first-generation Chicana scholar and I use my science and engineering training to achieve social and environmental justice globally. I am here representing the Society of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, SACNAs for short.
My message will touch on four topics that should highlight the urgency and the hope in my message.
Español: Para mi gente que habla Español, voy a tratar de repetir las partes más importantes en nuestro idioma. Mi mensaje es uno de urgencia y de esperanza. Hoy vengo a hablar como ingeniera y científica Chicana y Mexicana. Vengo a representar a la Sociedad para el Avance de Chicanos/Hispanos y Nativos Americanos en la Ciencia. Soy una persona que usa la ciencia y la ingeniería para luchar por la justicia social y ambiental a nivel global.
First, I want to speak about the imperative for diversity in the practice of science and the creation of knowledge. As an engineer, I am trained to seek efficiency and optimization.
Diverse teams produce higher quality research and products because they bring multiple perspectives; they cover a larger space to generate solutions. This country has an untapped wealth in its existing diversity. We are a country of immigrants, and if we are smart about it, we can form the best diverse teams. We can be leading the world with the most complete and innovative solutions. This can only be possible if we educate ALL of our children and nurture ALL of the cultures represented in our country. We have the raw materials but we must utilize them properly. Let’s advocate for diversity in all environments we are in.
Español: En primer lugar, quiero enfatizar que la diversidad es necesaria en la práctica de la ciencia y la generación de conocimiento. Es urgente que la ciencia y la tecnología en este país reflejen toda la riqueza de nuestras comunidades. Como ingeniera, he sido entranada para buscar la eficiencia y la optimización. Los mejores equipos de innovación son los más diversos y este país tiene una riqueza oculta en su diversidad. Somos un país de inmigrantes y podemos guiar al mundo con las soluciones más completas e innovadoras. Esto sólo es posible si educamos a TODOS nuestros niños y fomentamos TODAS nuestras culturas. Hay que promover carreras en ciencia e ingeniería en nuestras comunidades. Hay que promover la diversidad en todos los ámbitos en que nos desenvolvemos.
Second, I want to make the case for conducting research that addresses the needs of disadvantaged communities. The product of science is data and it is independent of any political ideology. Unfortunately, underrepresented minorities and indigenous communities are the first to be negatively impacted by policies that are not evidence-based. Our communities also shoulder the burden of pollution and poverty in disproportionate ways and yet our scholars receive the least support from funding agencies. We need to be efficient and effective in our problem-solving by engaging and supporting the most qualified people to solve the problems in these communities: those who are truly invested in solving those problems and not in preserving them.
Español: En segundo lugar, necesitamos ciencia que resuelva los problemas y las necesidades de comunidades pobres. El producto de la ciencia es información, la cual es independiente de ideologías políticas. Desafortunadamente, las comunidades minoritarias e indígenas sufren las mayores consecuencias de políticas no basadas en evidencia. Esos problemas serán resueltos más eficientemente cuando personas de esas mismas comunidades participen en la solución de esos problemas. Necesitamos más científicos e ingenieros Latinos para ayudar a nuestras comunidades Latinas.
Third, I want to recognize that for me, and many other scientists in the US and around the world, science and faith are not in conflict with each other, instead, together create ʺcompassionate scienceʺ. On this beautiful and cloudy “Earth Day” in Denver, I join Pope Francis in his call to “protect our home” and to recognize the “intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet”. We need to hear “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”. Let’s practice conservation in our lives.
Español: En tercer lugar, quiero reconocer que para muchos científicos como yo, en los Estados Unidos y alrededor del mundo entero, no hay conflicto entre la ciencia y nuestra fe. Al contrario, juntas forman lo que yo llamo “ciencia compasiva”. En este hermoso Día de la Tierra, me uno al llamado del Papa Francisco que nos pide que “protejamos nuestra casa”. Necesitamos oir el “llanto de la Tierra y el llanto del Pobre”. Practiquemos la conservación en nuestras vidas.
Fourth, and in closing, I want to iterate that these are challenging times for humanity and we need as many scientists, with the most perspectives and the best education as possible, to address them effectively. Science and technology inform and improve every aspect of our lives, including public health, medicine, agriculture, education, energy and the environment. Challenges like Climate Change and Global Poverty are very complex and require many perspectives and contributions. We cannot sit on the sidelines and leave them to others or for later. We are all in this together. As the most diverse country in the world, we have the potential to lead in these solutions. My HOPE is that we will cease this moment in history and we will come together as one American family to provide these solutions for the entire world. Let’s contact our political leaders and ask them to support science.
Español: Concluyo mi mensaje recordándoles que estamos enfrentando problemas muy difíciles para toda la humanidad, incluyendo el Cambio Climático y la Pobreza Global. La ciencia y la tecnología mejoran todos los aspectos de nuestra vida, incluyendo salud pública, medicina, agricultura, educación, energy y el medio ambiente. No podemos sentarnos y dejar estos problemas para otros o para después. Todos estamos en ésto juntos. Mi ESPERANZA es que nos unamos como una sola familia Americana para solucionar estos problemas para el beneficio del mundo entero. Contactemos a nuestros líderes políticos para que apoyen a la ciencia.
Con esto concluyo mi mensaje. Muchas Gracias por su atención. / Thank you very much for your attention.
DES MOINES: Dr. Corrie Moreau
Diversity! This is the aspect of science that I value the most. Diversity of questions. Diversity of techniques. Diversity of ideas. Diversity of scientists. Diversity of opportunities to share our science. I will take a minute to explain why I think diversity is so critical in each of these aspects.
First, diversity of questions.
As scientists we have the opportunity to explore the world and universe around us. From the bottoms of the oceans, to the middle of the rainforests, to the tops of the mountains, to the expanses of space. I am an evolutionary biologist and insect scientist. I use ants as a study system to explore diverse questions in science. Did you know there are more species of ants than all the birds and mammals added together. That diversity in species and forms and behaviors provides the opportunity to do what I think is the most powerful aspect of science. Science not only requires us to pursue fact-based evidence, but it also requires creativity, curiosity, and diversity of ideas.
And that is why using a diversity of techniques is so powerful.
To reach fact-based conclusions we, as scientists, have the opportunity to use diverse research tools. Although I study rainforest ants, I spend much of my time using DNA and other molecular genetic tools and microbiology to understand what has lead to that prolific diversity of ant species and how their gut microbial communities have shaped their diets. One of the aspects of science that I love the most is that to truly pursue a question, we will use any research tool available.
But to make the most gains in science we must also value diversity of ideas and diversity of scientists. And to me these go hand-in-hand.
Despite the stereotypes of scientists as loners who spend most of their time working in isolation, this is far from true. This is why I believe a diversity of scientists is critical. We know that the best ideas in any field come from diverse teams. Of course like all people around the world, we have a natural tendency to want to work with people like us, people we are more familiar with. For me this means I often want to surround myself with other ant biologists. Sounds like a wild party, right? But to make true novel advances in science we must foster diverse communities. So, yes, I even work with chemists, and microbiologists, and physicists. But that is not the only diversity I am talking about. Not one of us has a single identity. I imagine each of you identifies yourself in a myriad of ways. We must learn to not only respect this in others, but even value it. We must actively work to be inclusive in science to insure we capture the best ideas and make the largest advances in our fields.
The last diversity topic is diversity of opportunities to share our science.
The work that we do is important. But, not everyone understands the impact of science in their day-to-day lives. That is something that all of us scientists must work on. We solve problems. We solve problems that have critical importance to understanding the diverse world around us. We solve problems that improve agricultural food production. And we solve issues that impact human health. We need to be able to explain that. We need to be able to explain that in a diversity of formats to a diversity of audiences. As scientists we need to get out of our comfort zones and use a diversity of tools and opportunities to share our work. This means we need to get out of the lab and into the street. Just as we are doing today for the March for Science.
Today we celebrate science. And I also hope we are celebrating diversity and inclusion, curiosity and creativity, and fact-based evidence. Society needs science. And science needs diversity.
I am Dr. Corrie Moreau. I am an evolutionary biologist and insect scientist. I was not always a scientist. Although I always loved ants, I didn’t know any scientists growing up. I grew up low income and am the first person in my family to go to college. I am standing here today proudly representing not only science generally, but also the importance of diversity and inclusion. Diversity of questions. Diversity of techniques. Diversity of ideas. Diversity of scientists. Diversity of opportunities to share our science. And, yes, because I study ants I study the little things that run the world.
DES MOINES: Dr. Tracy Heath
My name is Tracy Heath, and I have a confession to make: I am an actual living scientist.
Today I have two messages. First, I want to talk about my work and identity as a scientist. And second, I want to talk about the mission to MAKE SCIENCE FOR EVERYONE.
I am an evolutionary biologist. I am a educator and researcher at a large, public university. I am also the daughter of an immigrant from the Philippines. I am a cook, a deer hunter, a computer programmer, a soccer player, a statistician, a wife, a professor, and for the last 2 years I have been a happy resident of the state of Iowa.
As a kid I LOVED animals. In particular, I was captivated by the amazing variety of the animals in my stuffed toy collection. I was also enthralled by the natural world, especially in the places where I spent much of my life: the geology of the Desert Southwest, the forests of south-central Oklahoma, and the dinosaurs on display in the halls of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. This curiosity about nature, and my stuffed animals, led me to science. As a scientist, I study the extraordinary biodiversity we see in nature and in the fossil record. In my research, I get to live my dream by studying a wide range of organisms: like penguins, snakes, fossil trilobites, fig trees, wasps, and crocodiles.
As it turns out, I am not what many people picture when they hear the word “scientist”. I know this because throughout my career, I have often heard the phrase “You don’t look like a scientist.” In fact, I have been told that I don’t look like many of the things I just said I was: “You don’t look like a hunter.” “You don’t look like a computer programmer.” “You don’t look like you’re from around here.” “You don’t look like a professor.” “You don’t look like a scientist.”
I am here today to represent all scientists, especially those of us who have been told we don’t look like scientists. I am also here with members of my scientific community! This includes many scientists from all over Iowa, the Midwest, the US, and the world. And many of them have also been told they don’t look like scientists. Well, we are scientists and this is what we look like.
I am inviting all of you to be part of our scientific community, because: Science is for everyone and everyone needs science!
Like all scientists, my work builds on the research conducted by those who came before me. And scientific innovation relies on collaborations with scientists from different areas of science, from different cultures, and from different countries. Therefore, if we limit opportunities to science careers to just a subset of our population, we will set science back. If funding for scientific research continues to diminish, we will set science back. If we close the door on international collaborations, we will set science back. We will set back scientific innovation not just here in America, but globally. For these reasons, we have to make science for everyone, because science impacts everyone.
Science also gives us a framework for making decisions based on evidence. I am here to advocate for evidence-based policy and evidence-based decisions. Many scientific studies have shown that when teams are made up of people from diverse backgrounds, this leads to more productivity, more creativity, and more innovation. This evidence indicates that efforts to make science more diverse and inclusive will lead to more scientific advances. Advances that have the potential to make important impacts on health, business, education, agriculture, and the environment. And by diversity, we mean people from urban and rural communities; people who are rich, poor, and everything in between; all races; all genders; all parts of the political spectrum…all identities.
Making science for everyone means I want to see scientific careers occupied by people as diverse as the 300 students in the introductory biology class that I teach each year. Making science for everyone is why I am a proud member of SACNAS — The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, one of the sponsors of this march. We have many SACNAS members on the stage with me and in the audience today!
With SACNAS student chapters here in Iowa, we are helping Iowa’s scientists reach higher and become scientific and national leaders for their communities and for our country as a whole. Making science for everyone makes our country healthier, smarter, and stronger.
I am–and we are–what scientists look like and we are here to make sure science and our society do a better job of making science for everyone!
LOS ANGELES: Dr. Tepring Piquado
Hello! Thank you all for coming out today.
I’m so thrilled to be with you marching for science! I’m marching to celebrate Science, Scientists, and Scientific Achievement!
My name is Dr. Tepring Piquado and I am a neuroscientist.
I’m named after T’Pring, the Vulcan woman who was Spock’s wife in The Original Star Trek. I was influenced by Vulcan logic and reason.
I love SCI-FI, video games, puzzles, escape rooms and detective shows.
My dad raised me as a single parent. When I was young, he encouraged to become anything I wanted to be.
When I showed interest in the stars and space, my dad would say, “Be an astronaut!”
After an argument, he would say, “Be a lawyer” “Be a supreme court justice”
He said YOU. Can. Be. Anything. You. Want. To. Be!
I was incredibly lucky to grow up thinking I could have any type of career! I choose to be a scientist!
Even with all of the support from my dad and teachers, there weren’t examples of scientists who looked like me. I had to find out how I fit into the scientific community. I had to figure out how I could stand up and take part.
We are living in an interesting time. People are frustrated with science. Science feels too slow. Some people are confused…. Decision makers are saying science doesn’t matter. Some of those people are dictating policy. Those people don’t understand what science IS and what science CAN DO. This is a time when the TRUTH is being attacked.
With Fake News. Alternative Facts.
You can make up your own opinion, have your own beliefs.
BUT scientific evidence exists, whether you believe it or not!
We need to insist that our politicians speak to trusted experts. CCST, California Council on Science and Technology, is an organization of scientists, who are at the CA State Capitol right now providing non-partisan, evidenced based recommendations to policy makers. Evidence that’s vital for good policy.
Scientists that provide evidence on issues like Climate change, Vaccines, Water quality. These issues affect all of us. Men/Women, Children/Adults, Blacks and Whites. Once we understand the evidence, THEN and ONLY THEN can we begin the policy conversation about what we could do, what we should do.
Evidence matters! Research and analysis are only the means, not the End. Science gives us a process to find the best available data to help us get closer to the truth. The sooner we understand the facts; the sooner politicians can discuss policy solutions.
We need to legislate through scientific glasses …not rose colored glasses, not fake news glasses.
Science is a way of thinking, a way of asking questions, and a way of understanding.
The future of scientific inquiry, innovation and improvement is in our hands, in our voice through the use of our brain and with our heart.
I am speaking today to ask you to become a Scientifically Literate Person.
I am asking YOU to take part in someway with science by asking questions, seeking truth and being patient with the pace of science in order to find solutions — — solutions that work for not just some, but for all of us.
Science and Research are the means by which we achieve full impact to improve the health and well-being of our communities locally and globally.
I marched today because science matters.
Decisions should be made with the best evidence.
Let’s look beyond what tradition tells us about WHO can be a scientist!
Let’s look beyond what tradition tells us about WHY science is important!
Let’s look beyond what tradition tells us about WHEN we should apply the scientific method!
Hashtag: “Evidence matters”
Hashtag: “Diversity matters”
Hashtag: “You matter”
And for all you older people Pound sign Thank you
You can find me on twitter at DrTepring.
In the words of Mr. Spock: Live Long and Prosper!
LOS ANGELES: Dr. Maria Elena Zavala
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today!
I am a naturally curious person. In more ways than one!
Besides the usual things, when I was a child in La Verne California, our back yard included chickens, geese, and sometimes a goat or two. Over dinner, when I was about 5, I described what I thought was a rooster dancing around a hen. His wings were spread out and held downward. He strutted around a hen. He looked glorious. When he jumped on top of her I yelled at him tried to shush him off. He persisted. Besides my older siblings giving me the “WHAT are you SAYING!!” look, my parents and grandfather just looked at each other; then my dad explained that the rooster was courting the chicken and that we could now expect to have eggs and maybe even chicks in the near future!
What I was doing was exercising my observational skills! That skill is one of basic ones of a successful scientist. And my parents supported that curiosity.
The goal of all scientists is to understand nature.
I honestly believe that everyone is a scientist! We, as a species, are always trying to figure out how things work. And “things” include such things as our cell phones to our digestive systems, to disease processes. Science touches all of our lives EVERYDAY. I am a science professor at CSU Northridge. There we work understanding how roots control their branching and whether we can improve the nutritional quality of bean proteins. Those of us who have suffered from root clogged sewer lines will appreciate the importance of first problem! First don’t blame the roots all they are doing is seeking a good source of nutrients and water! As for the beans over 600 million people on earth depend on beans as a food major source. But bean protein has a low amount of an important compound that makes it less than perfect nutritionally. We are trying to change that.
Sadly, over one in seven people on earth are malnourished or undernourished. How do I know this? Because we have government and United Nations data and databases that are accessible to all. Somebody had to collect the data and with this data we can discover trends and needs but only if we have access to data. We need to assure that public data is just that available to the public.
While plants are really important to me, I have to admit that I have another passion: making science education and discovery open to all. Humanity is facing many serious challenges and problems. I believe that can arrive at the best answers to address these challenges by prepare the next generation of scientists that is as diverse as the all of the people in this country. How can we do that? Well, we can support access to high quality public education from pre-K to high school and beyond. We can support students who have talent but have limited resources to enter and complete a college degree. If it were not for Cal Grants, college programs, and other state programs I would not have been able to afford college. When I went to graduate school, I was supported by a Ford Foundation Fellowship. My College and Graduate education were an investment by society and from a philanthropic institution who believed in me and my potential. However, I will say that not everyone thought that I should even try to go to college.
Who will be the next generation of scientists? In the past science has been dominated by mostly males of the dominant culture. The USA and a large number of its people have prospered because of this investment in science. We need to do better to make science inclusive. I belong to several scientific societies who are sponsors of this March including the Society for Advancement of Chicano/Hispanic and Native Americans (SACNAS). AAAS, ASCB and ASPB all of these are working to make their societies inclusive. SACNAS is the largest and most diversity scientific society in this country. It supports the idea that science, culture, and community are tightly interrelated. What can each us do to promote science? We can support a strong public education system, support programs that help people complete college and advanced degrees without huge debt, and we can encourage the wonder that each person has to understand the world around them. It can be done. Si se puede!
PHOENIX: Dr. Omayra Ortega
I am here today to talk about the vital role that science plays in our lives and in our democracy. Everyone, every citizen, every human being has a right to science and the right to read and understand the science that other people engage in, to learn the skills to DO science, and to become a scientist.
At this moment in time, the relationship that democracy plays in science is under threat. There isn’t true democracy in how the government uses science and this doesn’t make sense. Science doesn’t have a political party. Data is non-partisan. Science is about systematic study, it’s about observation and experiment, but right now certain aspects of scientific research are being hidden from the public for political gains. In fact, science is under attack.
Our current government has been rolling back regulations meant to protect our health and our environment as well as remove scientific data from public government websites. Several House Representatives have written a bill to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency all together. Just this January the EPA was told to take down it’s website on climate change. This website contained publicly funded research on climate change. We paid for this research with our tax dollars, and because it showed that climate change was a real and present danger, they tried to remove this information.
It is CRITICAL that the public have access to ALL of the information. Not just researchers but for the general public who wants to find out more about what is going on in the Arctic and what’s happening to this planet that we share. By removing these research papers they removed the ability for citizens to become better informed. That’s simply not the American way. That’s not democratic.
A democracy is a system of government by the whole population. Even within science, blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians as a group are 23 percent of the U.S. population but only 6 percent of the total science and engineering labor force. This need to change. We need a more diverse scientific workforce. We need to invest in top notch public education for everyone to make sure that strong leaders can emerge from all communities ensuring that every voice is heard and every community is represented, in science and in our government.
Underrepresented minorities and indigenous communities are the first to be negatively impacted by policies that are not evidence-based. Women, people of color, and poor people across the board have less access to health care and the healthcare that they do receive is often inferior. These same populations are more likely to live near superfund sites or in communities that have polluted, air, soil, or water. I’m sure that we all remember the crisis with the lead in the water in Detroit, where 42% of the population lives under the poverty line — OR — the Dakota Access Pipeline where indigenous communities will bear the environmental consequences of the building of the pipeline through their communities. Minority and indigenous people are not called to the table when its time to make these decisions, but they are left to shoulder the brunt of the burden of health disparities, climate change, and climate-change related disasters that are the consequence of these decisions.
The only solution to these problems is to have true diversity in STEM and to shape our country’s public policies on evidence-based scientific research. True diversity is when a STEM field, including all of the people in the leadership, reflect the demographics of the population. It is IMpossible to achieve true diversity when the government cuts funding to the EPA, cuts funding to the NIH, cuts funding to the Department of Energy, cuts to NASA. The vision of achieving true diversity in STEM needs to be the central focus of the national conversation on science. Programs to support and fund the training of domestic scientists need consistent funding to prepare the next generation of scientists. If we cut funding now, we destroy the existing scientific infrastructure and lose a whole generation of scientists.
We need to invest in public education. We spend more money on prisons than we do on schools. That is immoral. We need to build up our schools to build up our communities.
I came from humble beginnings and it is because of education that I am where I am today, an Afro-Latina female scientist with a PhD in Applied Mathematics. Both of my parents were immigrants to this country. Neither of my parents went to college. I am an example of how education can change a family in one generation. Education is the great equalizer.
We need to amass a diverse scientific workforce to handle the challenges of the 21st century. Everyone benefits when we use research, evidence, and science to inform our public policies.
Many of you might be saying, what can I do? I’m not in the government. I’m not in a position of power. But we all have a role to play in this movement. We can each make an effort to learn something new about our communities. We can learn the science behind the canal system in Phoenix. Where does that water come from? Find out who built the first canals in this area. Practice Citizen Science. Plant a garden. Organize a community garden. Get to know your neighbors. Recycle. You can run for political office. Join your city council. Most importantly get registered and GO OUT AND VOTE! We can all be agents for change and this fight is going to take all of us working together if we are going to succeed.
PHOENIX: Dr. Gabriel Montaño
I never planned on becoming a scientist. I didn’t have a calling for science as a child, blowing up things in the kitchen or writing equations on my etch-a-sketch. I was a pretty typical kid, getting in trouble, pushing boundaries… getting in trouble….
Now I’m a National Laboratory scientist and a University Professor and a proud graduate of Arizona State University!
When I look back, I always had the makings of a scientist. Truth is I think most people do. If you’ve ever asked a question about why the sky was blue, the leaves green or Phoenix so dang hot and looked for evidence of an answer… you have the makings of a scientist as well… That’s what is so wonderful to see and celebrate here. This isn’t a collection limited to the lab-coat donning, goggle-wearing, code-writing, practicing scientists amongst us…, science and scientific inquiry belong to everyone. In large part, that’s what these gatherings and marches across the country are…. A reminder that simply put…. SCIENCE is Needed and Science is Good… and for the young adults and youth out there… it’s a lot of fun. Scientists don’t retire, we just evolve…
So why are we here? The biggest reason is that we believe the key to solving the complex problems facing us now and in the future requires a steadfast dedication and commitment to scientific pursuit…, and we further believe that the dismissal of inconvenient facts must end.
Science is not intrinsically political, it shouldn’t belong to any party or dismissed by any party when the results are not in line with a political agenda. Science is not the enemy of economic prosperity. It does not seek to destroy industries. Science is not the enemy of religion and faith.
It’s important for those of us who support science and scientific discovery to remember these things as well. Science is not something we have sole ownership of, it belongs to everyone.
Science and scientists can not and should not work in isolation and be dismissive of those who question the authenticity of science. Instead, we must be open to debate, not argument, and urge skeptics or those who aim to minimize science to rhetoric to engage, listen and discuss. But we can only do so if we too are open to such a dialogue.
And let’s be honest, science isn’t perfect. We have not succeeded in conveying the importance of science and research to the general public. We have been too quick to make assumptions of acceptance of facts and dismissed anyone unaware as ignorant. We have not served as the ambassadors of the great benefits of science that we should. The March for Science is an opportunity for us to begin that dialogue and open up that invitation.
It’s also a time for the scientific community to recognize that we as a community have significant work to do. For too long, the scientific community has persisted as an old boys club, requiring a certain pedigree to actively participate. As a result, the scientific community does not reflect the diversity of the society we live in but looks basically the same it did 40 years ago.
But just like science is not the enemy, diversity is not the enemy of science.
I was privileged to serve as President for the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science for the last two years, the country’s largest multicultural, multidisciplinary STEM society.
Just like you may have witnessed eyes rolling, and minds shut down by others when raising climate change…, many in the scientific community do the same thing when the topic of diversity in science is raised. What’s important for folks to understand is that those like myself who champion Diversity in science are not seeking an unfair playing field, nor are we seeking to introduce a subjective element into the objective framework of science. Diversity is about optimizing our ability to solve complex problems.
Scientific research has shown that diverse teams produce higher quality research than non-diverse teams. Secondly, the data demonstrates that there exist barriers that disproportionately limit underrepresented groups from becoming scientists and performing scientific research. This is why diversity in STEM is a scientific issue, for too long has pursuit of science been more a privilege than a right.
This is not PC rhetoric or about “doing the right thing”, it’s about building the strongest, most innovative scientific workforce possible.
Yet, when we look at the US STEM population, it’s about as diverse as it was 40 years ago. This is a huge waste. The greatest intellectual commodity we have as a nation is our diversity, yet we continue to fail to utilize that commodity where it’s most needed, in scientific research.
This is just bad business and bad science.
We have an opportunity here today and moving forward to not only bring attention to the impact and importance of science in our lives but to improve the scientific community.
We can and should be reaching out to all those who are not here today, who are skeptical about science for whatever reason. But I urge you to encourage the skeptics to engage, I urge you to listen and discuss, and I urge you to welcome debate but not rise to anger and dismiss.
Lastly, I urge you to hold science and the scientific community accountable. Science and science education should not be a privilege but a right, and let’s make sure that every aspiring scientist has that opportunity to make the world a better place one scientist at a time.
PUERTO RICO: Dr. Mónica Feliú-Mójer
¡Buenos días mi gente! ¿Estamos listos para marchar?
Yo hoy marcho por muchas razones, pero en particular marcho porque PARA MI, LA CIENCIA ES PATRIA. Ciencia es el cantar del coquí. Son las semillas de meaíto viajando por el aire en el verano. Ciencia es el ritmo de la bomba puertorriqueña. Para mi la ciencia es inseparable de la cultura e identidad puertorriqueña.
Yo creo firmemente que mediante la ciencia podemos encontrar soluciones a los problemas más apremiantes de Puerto Rico. La ciencia es un vehículo para nuestra prosperidad social y económica. A través de la ciencia, PODEMOS HACER PATRIA. Pero para poder hacer patria mediante la ciencia en Puerto Rico, todas y todos tenemos que tener acceso al conocimiento científico. Sin embargo, la ciencia, los científicos y el proceso de descubrimiento parecen ajenos a la vida diaria de la gran mayoría de los puertorriqueños.
Una de las metas principales de la Marcha por la Ciencia Puerto Rico es acercar la ciencia al pueblo. Hoy marchamos para que la ciencia verdaderamente le pertenezca a todas y todos. Porque queremos que todas y todos los puertorriqueños puedan estar armados con pensamiento crítico, para cuestionar y tomar decisiones.
Hoy hay cientos de científicos y científicas diciendo presente. Miren a su alrededor. Queremos que nos vean. Hoy marchamos para crear conciencia sobre la importancia del proceso científico en nuestro diario vivir. Porque Puerto Rico tenga una cultura científica y de pensamiento crítico, por el bien de todos y todas. Para tender un puente entre los científicos y la ciudadanía. Marchamos para que el pueblo de Puerto Rico sepa que estamos aquí, que estamos listos para hacer patria.
Mi nombre es Mónica Feliú-Mójer, vice-directora de CienciaPR. CienciaPR utiliza el conocimiento colectivo de la red más extensa de científicos y científicas boricuas del mundo para compartir la ciencia en arroz y habichuelas, mejorar la educación científica en Puerto Rico y forjar las próximas generaciones líderes científicos puertorriqueños.
Good morning! Are we ready to march?
Today I march because to me, Puerto Rico means science. Science is the rolling hills and meadows of Vega Alta. The song of the coquí. The heart-shaped African tulip tree seeds flying through the humid summer air. Science is the beat of the bomba drums. Puerto Rico is the place that made me a scientist and so to me, our culture and identity are inextricably tied to science.
Today I march because I firmly believe that through science we can find solutions to Puerto Rico’s most pressing problems. Science is a vehicle for our social and economic prosperity. Science can and should serve Puerto Rico. But for science to truly serve, all Puerto Ricans must have access to scientific knowledge. Unfortunately, science, scientists and the process of discovery seem alien to the daily lives of the vast majority of Puerto Ricans.
One of the main goals of the March for Science Puerto Rico is to bring science to the people. Today I march so that science truly belongs to everyone. Because I want all Puerto Ricans to be armed with critical thinking, so that they can question and make better decisions.
There are hundreds of scientists here today. Look around. We want you to see us. Today I march, today we — the scientific community marches — to raise awareness of the importance of the scientific process. Because we want a scientific and critical thinking culture for Puerto Rico, for the good of all. To bridge the gap between scientists and citizens. We march so that the people of Puerto Rico will know that we are here, that we are ready to serve.
My name is Mónica Feliú-Mójer, deputy director of CienciaPR. CienciaPR uses the collective knowledge of the world’s largest network of Puerto Rican scientists to share science in rice and beans, to improve science education in Puerto Rico and to forge the next generations of Puerto Rican scientific leaders.
SALT LAKE CITY: Dr. Claudio J. Villanueva
Marching for biomedical research, diversity, and future generations
I stand with you today as a Scientist, a father, and as a son of immigrants who came to this country to achieve the American dream. Much of this American dream was built on scientific and technological advances that have shaped our society and influenced the world we live in. In particular, we have made profound advancements in biomedical research which helps us provide a better quality of life for many Americans.
As supporters of the March for Science, at our core we value the work that American scientists carry out on a daily basis. They are a dedicated bunch. The scientists I work with spend many late hours in the lab carrying out experiments to develop a deeper understanding of the biological systems that we study. This deeper understanding will ultimately open doors to new medicines that will treat some of the most dreadful diseases that afflict us.
Today we are marching for science in honor of the lives saved by science. Think for a moment what the world would be like if scientists hadn’t discovered hormones like insulin, drugs like antibiotics, or preventive measures like vaccines. Prior to the discovery of insulin, learning that your child was diabetic, was like receiving a death sentence. These types of discoveries ignite my passion for biomedical research because at its root, they were made from simple observations by scientists with unwavering curiosity.
My lab is located at the University of Utah in the Department of Biochemistry, where we are studying the relationship between obesity and diabetes. Ultimately, we want to develop safe therapies to help diabetics control their glucose. In order to make educated decisions about which drugs should be developed, we must first understand the underlying biology. It’s our hope that the discoveries we make in our lab will improve the lives of diabetics in Utah, but also across the country and around the world.
Today we are marching for science because we recognize that advances in science require diverse points of view. Often, big discoveries are made in unexpected ways, and by individuals with different perspectives that think outside the box. This is why we must ensure that science is available to all. Creating an inclusive environment will produce better science, make us more competitive in the global economy, and make us stronger as a nation. We must continue working together to reach true diversity in the scientific workforce where students from all of walks of life can be mentored to become future leaders in Science.
Today we are marching for science to encourage the continued support of federally funded research. The National Institutes of Health is a federal agency that funds much of the foundational biomedical research in this country — and that funding is in jeopardy. NIH-supported advances lead to improvements in health that can bolster the economy, improve productivity, and reduce the costly burden of illness. Therefore, we must continue to support our scientific enterprise.
Today we are marching for science to invest in the next generation of scientists. Our young scientists are the ones who will lead future discoveries that will improve the human condition. We must be relentless in our support for science, and we should continue to encourage children to be curious about the world around us.
I encourage you to reach out to your elected officials to tell them to continue to support federally funded research, and to make policy decisions based on sound evidence.
SAN DIEGO: Dr. Keolu Fox (Native Hawaiian)
My name is Keolu Fox and I am a postdoc here in the school of medicine at UCSD. I want to thank the organizers of the March for Science for giving me this opportunity and all of you for supporting science.
First let’s do a little exercise. Let’s take 30 seconds to find someone in the crowd you don’t know, a stranger, and tell them why you are marching for science?
WU, EIENSTEIN, TESLA, MUSK, JOBS, BRIN — What do all of these men and women have in common? They are IMMIGRANTS, or the children of IMMIGRANTS.
In fact, 40% of the Nobels awarded in science, that includes chemistry, physics, and medicine were awarded to US based immigrant scientists. Moreover, in 2016 all six Nobels that were awarded in the US were awarded to immigrants.
I am here to discuss why DIVERSITY is so important in science. Not just diversity in ethnicity, gender, and sexuality — But also diversity in scientific culture that leads to diverse ways of solving problems.
Some people think there is no relationship between gender or identity and scientific innovation. However, I believe that there is no way to separate who people are from what they do. It’s IMPOSSIBLE.
For example, Alan Turing, the father of Computer Science, credits his sexuality, he was gay, as the inspiration behind the famous Turing Test.
Diversity is especially important in public efforts to conduct science through the UC system, which brings in almost 6 BILLION dollars per year in research funding.
Postdocs, who are responsible for a significant amount of progress in medical research come from many different backgrounds, in fact 65% of postdocs in the UC system are foreign born, visa holding doctors.
SO how do we CULTIVATE & PROTECT a culture that promotes diversity and innovation when we have an administration that has regressive stances on global warming, stem cell research, and the relationship between autism and vaccination?
I have a few suggestions:
- FIRST: Create a community — Everyone here has moved beyond hashtags(#’s), we are getting organized. We have made sacrifices to be here today. Traffic, maybe you missed the second weekend at Cochella.
- SECOND: Engage in difficult conversations. Science is not partisan, but it is political. If you’re a scientist, it’s your responsibility to make science more accessible to the public. It’s elementary educator’s responsibility to make science more accessible to children of all genders and backgrounds. It’s higher education’s responsibility to admit more diverse cohorts in grad school. AND it’s our administrations responsibility to support science, education, and diversity.
- THIRD: DO SCIENCE! Perform bench experiments, write code, appreciate nature, go on hikes. However, science is not just for scientists, if you don’t do science support it, any way you can. Bring up science at happy hour, weddings, at the gym, wherever you are.
- FOURTH: Hold people responsible. Especially journalists peddling fake news and fake data. Write your senator or representative, deliver signatures for causes you believe in.
- FINALLY, appreciate science whenever you can because the quality of life we enjoy is largely due to scientific discovery — and diversity plays a huge role in the success of that science.
SAN FRANCISCO: Dr. Leticia Márquez-Magaña
As I look onto this amazing crowd of individuals I can’t help but think of the motto of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) that embraces science, culture, and community. It’s clear to me that we are all here because we value the practice of science and an inclusive culture that best benefits all of our communities.
On a very personal level, I came to value the practice of science and critical thinking early in life. While at the time I thought of it as just common sense, I now want to share one of my childhood experiences. This experience solidified for me the importance of data and critical thinking to make the changes necessary to benefit all humanity through the practice of inclusive science.
I was born in Sacramento, the capital of this beautiful and courageous state. It was 1968–69, and I was either in Kindergarten or in pre-school. I’m not sure which because my mother is a Mexican immigrant who came to this country with two months of a second grade education, and very limited understanding of the educational system in the United States. Consequently, she enrolled me in Kindergarten before pre-school, something I just learned in the last few years, and that explains my confusion about the timeline of events. However, I am not confused about my memory of a transformative event wherein I learned first-hand how critical analysis of data can challenge status-quo thinking, and bring about change for the greater good.
I was 4 or 5 years old. It was a hot day in Sacramento, California, and I was on the playground with my classmates. I remember being very proud to be in school despite the fact that unlike others who wore cute outfits from JC Penney, I wore a homemade dress that my mother had made. Like in many other things, my mother is highly resourceful and she had taught herself to make her own patterns and to sew, and she was always on the look out for quality fabrics at the best price. In fact, I was wearing a yellow plaid dress with brown and green stripes made of sturdy fabric, and a faux fur collar. My mother had designed the dress using the remnants she found in the clearance pile at Hancock Fabrics. While I may have preferred a dress of another color, and without the faux fur collar, it really didn’t matter because I was in school and I was learning.
I already spoke Spanish, and I was learning English. I was also learning to read and this made me very happy. It also made my parents very proud. In fact, when friends and family came over to our house my parents would often have me read aloud in Spanish and English. It was these thoughts of pride, and feelings of becoming a stronger part of my parent’s new country, that occupied my thoughts that day on the playground when a classmate interrupted them to say, “It’s too bad you speak two languages, it makes you so dumb.”
For a millisecond I felt the same shame that my yellow plaid dress with faux fur collar caused me, but in the next millisecond I thought, “Two is bigger than one. Maybe I’m not the dumb one.” Science would later prove me right. In particular, an analysis of the results obtained through the practice of cultural linguistics led to a 2012 headline in the New York times that read: “Why bilinguals are smarter.” More recently, last year’s blockbuster, Arrival, showed that knowing two languages means you can know the world in at least two different ways.
I also realized that day on the playground that while the collection of data is important, it must be analyzed critically. It is only by analyzing evidence critically, through the practice of inclusive science, that we can make a difference for all communities. Otherwise, data can be misinterpreted (or not collected at all) to maintain the status quo. For example, in this beautiful city many lives were lost when some scientists, community members, and political leaders failed to critically evaluate the data on the biological cause of HIV. Only by coming together have we been able to make progress in this important field of investigation.
To similarly make a difference for all of our communities, the practice of science must be inclusive. It must include the perspectives of multiple disciplines, and the lived experiences and cultural understandings of our diverse communities to solve the complex problems that confront humanity. The inclusion of multiple perspectives helps to eliminate inherent bias that creeps in whenever humans take on any activity. It also creates necessary conflict that hones scientific thinking and makes the resulting science smarter.
These are the conclusions drawn in a recent Scientific American article entitled: “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter.” Its author, Katherine Phillips, reviews the scientific literature and makes the case for the inclusive practice of science. She documents that people who are part of diverse working groups are forced to think more critically and sharpen their arguments. This causes necessary conflicts, which are resolved only if individual members of diverse teams are open to listening to each other’s scientific arguments. Then progress is made by critically analyzing them through the lens of the scientific method. This practice of inclusive science requires compromise and collaboration, and this is often difficult. Nonetheless it is worth the effort because the faithful practice of inclusive science leads to greater scientific innovation through rigorous application of the scientific method for increased impact that benefits all of our communities.
I think these are some of the reasons many of us are marching today. I also think that we all know, at some level, that the practice of inclusive science and critical thinking can build bridges between communities for mutual benefit. For example, if I had known enough to practice inclusion at the time, I might have asked my classmate on the playground to help me improve my English and offered to help her learn Spanish so that we could mutually benefit from greater ways of knowing about our shared world.
Similarly, I trust that this March for Science will lead to greater recognition of the need to work not only across scientific silos, but also for those of us who are practicing scientists to work with our communities and political leaders to inform the decisions that affect us all. In my opinion, it is only in the practice of inclusive science that we can gather and critically analyze the data necessary to solve the complex problems that face all of humanity. After all we are all in this together because we share the same Earth.
Happy Earth Day!
SAN FRANCISCO: Dr. Lino Gonzalez
Dr. Lino Gonzalez was a speaker on the “Future of Science” panel.
Panel introductory remarks:
One of the hallmarks of the scientific method is that we can deconstruct and specialize in focused areas of investigation. It’s allowed us to make huge advancements. These advancements affect our society daily.
Unfortunately, this has the effect of creating a knowledge divide between those that are able to understand and direct our future. This creates a sense of distrust among a certain segment of our population. They see scientist as controlling an elite institution where only those from higher socio-economic standings can participate.
We need to double up our efforts to bridge this gap. We need to reverse this trend. Part of the answer is to raise our overall education level as a Nation. We need to focus on “first-in-their family” college attendees, from all underrepresented communities to obtain their undergraduate and graduate degrees and allow them to be the best scientists that they can. SACNAS has been working towards this mission for over 40 years, but we have not made enough progress.
Now our efforts are threatened in a scenario where government funding of scientific agencies is slashed. Many of the support systems that have been established over many years of hard work would disappear.
The consequence will be that many students will face an insurmountable wall of challenges and turn away from science. And unfortunately, we can never tell who will deliver the next breakthrough.
I was the first in my family to graduate from college, let alone get a PhD. Now, when my uncle who says to me, you know the Pharmaceutical companies have a cure for cancer, but they won’t release it because it won’t make them any money or put them out of business….I can explain why this is not the case and this will be coming from someone who he trusts and not from someone who is so far removed from his life and daily experiences.
Read more from Dr. Gonzalez in his op-ed: “We March for an Inclusive America.”
SAN JOSE/SILICON VALLEY: Dr. Jose Cabrera
When I meet someone new I am rarely asked who I am. Rather, I am asked, “what do you do?” As if what I “do” is my identity. My response? I transform lives and at the same time, I am changing the face of science!”
In response to the question, “who am I?” I am a husband, an educator, a brother, a son, a mentor, a friend, a chemist who just happens to be Mexican, and yes, a proud SACNista. Member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science.
I don’t have only one identity.
My name is Dr. Jose Antonio Cabrera and I serve the San Jose Community as instructor of chemistry at San Jose City College. I also serve as advisor to the San Jose City College SACNAS chapter. I am incredibly proud to serve at a Community College. A system of higher education that exists nowhere else in the world-Community Colleges are in fact, an American invention.
Students are the fuel that drives my passion to provide equitable access to a high quality education for all; but this is not just passion. It is the passion of the students who drive the mission of San Jose City College. Their tenacity, persistence, commitment to excellence; their grit despite the many barriers they face, personifies the lifeblood of creativity and innovation, and of scientific progress.
Here in the heart of Silicon Valley, students at SJCC, are the spring from which true diversity in STEM emanates.
In this national capital of innovation and technology, I call on you to do what you love and be proud of who you are. Pursue your goals with grit and passion. You have the power within you to decide whether or not you will participate in solving the problems that will define our future. Will you be a scientist? A writer? An artist? An activist? A politician? All of the above? No one else should decide for you. You have the power to see extraordinary things in the seemingly ordinary.
There is nothing worse than being able to see yet have no vision. Take a close look at us gathered here. We represent the talent and power and potential that is in all of us. We represent true diversity in STEM!
Thank you San Jose!
SANTA CRUZ: Dr. Antonia O. Franco
I am here today because I am worried about the future of science and our future scientists.
Did you know that our STEM WORKFORCE is comprised of -
.4 % is Native American/Pacific Islander
5% is African American
6% is Latino
17% is Asian
70% is White
If we do not train a diverse STEM workforce, we risk our ability to advance scientific discoveries to solve our world’s biggest challenges.
As an example, the sizable cuts to the National institute of Health, among other areas, has the potential to decimate funding for diversity training programs.
What I do know:
Students of all ages, in all fields including STEM are resilient and flourish when they have access to 1) hands on experiences, 2) resources 3) encouragement in their academic pursuits and 4) and most importantly, a supportive community.
I also know:
Change MUST be an INTENTIONAL action
There are many organizations and programs working locally and nationally to change the face of STEM. Organizations like Digital NEST, the STEM Diversity programs and SACNAS chapter at UCSC, and the organization I serve, SACNAS, are making a huge impact.
Lastly, I encourage to all become CHAMPIONS for Diversity
It doesn’t matter what your ethnic background is, or if you went to college, or how much money you make, or what your gender or sexual orientation is.
We all can and NEED to be champions for diversity, in our schools, in our workplaces, and in our communities.
- If you look around and everyone looks like you — there is good work to be done!
- Donate your time-talent-treasure to build bridges, have the conversations, and seek the support you need to create diverse and inclusive communities.
Organizations like SACNAS are here to help.
Together, Let’s stand up for SCIENCE…Let’s stand up for DIVERSITY
SANTA CRUZ: Dr. Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz
Science can be a profound source of empowerment. Science has allowed me to recognize my place within the vast Universe. Science has allowed me to grasp the complexity, beauty, and fragility of life on Earth. Science has provided me with the tools necessary to understand the deep responsibility that we all have to care and protect our amazing planet.
But science is not accumulation of knowledge. It is a mode of operating.
Of all its many attributes, the greatest is probably the freedom to doubt. To teach that doubt is not to be feared but embraced and deeply examined. To teach us to skeptically question those that tell us that something is true. Science teaches us to question those in authority. This is fundamental to its success and as such it is a vital tool for democracy.
In 1848 Horace Mann stated: “Education, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.
This was 169 years ago! And we are yet to fully embrace this profound message.
This why if our nation is to remain relevant we need a massive effort to remake science to include everyone — not just those in privileged positions.
As our nation grows more diverse, we find ourselves in a position of enormous opportunity. Diversity, it turns out, goes to the heart of how to do research and innovation effectively. This is because diverse individuals with varying viewpoints generally outperform homogenous groups in finding solutions to complex problems that are more innovative, more creative and effective.
This is why discrimination is not only unjust it’s also self-defeating.
It is an unacceptable and unscientific stance to believe the status quo as the most effective way of furthering science.
The persistent lack of diversity in science does not only contribute to race and gender wage gaps but it also means that talented minds have not been reached and as such we are lacking important perspectives.
Making science accessible to everyone requires the open recognition that our public education system is a key mechanism for leveling the playing field so that every child has a fair opportunity to be an active participant in our academic, political, and economic institutions.
We need to create more diverse and inclusive environments. We are definitely not going to prosper if we got half the team on the bench, especially when it’s the innovative half. Our diversity is our strength.
SACNAS is counting on all of you to help us breakdown those deep structural barriers. The fate of the country depends on it. Thank you!
Dr. Marina L. Ramon + daughter, Healey R. Skelton
MARINA: Recently, I was on an email thread with individuals compiling a list of being the “first” under-represented minority to earn a PhD in some STEM filed at some University or the first faculty, tenured faculty member, dean, department chair,…the entire conversation of “firsts” evoked a mixed set of emotions in me and I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
Others were just as horrified that we continue to have “first” in the 21st century or reminded of how lonely some STEM fields can be but at the same time I was so proud that many of my peers are breaking these barriers.
Science should be accessible to everyone and the scientific workforce, including leadership positions, needs to be just as diverse as this county. Only then will we reach our full potential for innovation and productivity as a county.
Science and technology informs and improves every aspect of our lives, including public health and safety, medicine, agriculture, food safety, energy, the environment, and education.
For example, my current research works on improving the ways we can detect fungal diseases found in local agriculture crops.
We need to continue to fund programs that support the training of a diverse domestic STEM workforce so that we can prepare the next generation of STEM workers who will tackle our biggest scientific challenges.
While I might be a “first” generation college student and the first in my family to receive a Master’s and PhD, I hope that the next generation hears fewer “first” stories and until then I will continue to work on diversifying the scientific workforce.
With that I would like to introduce you the next generation of artist, entrepreneur, scientist, my daughter, Healey Skelton.
HEALEY: Hello everyone my name is Healey and I’m a 4th grader at Westlake elementary. This year I was really excited about my science fair project! It was titled “Can we put brown and green algae into stasis?” My highlight was my partner and I got to work in Sison-Mangus’s lab at UCSC and wear lab coats. My challenge was waiting for my algae to grow. This experience was something that I will never forget #ScienceisRAD
SEATTLE: Dr. Tracie Delgado
Scientist. Latina. Christian. Wife. Mother. Professor. These are just a few labels that I have chosen to define who I am. But this wasn’t always the case.
I was born in East LA and grew up in a small one bedroom apartment with my mother and my four younger siblings. I attended a predominately Latino and overcrowded high school where I watched half my peers drop out. I did the best I could to succeed in a broken system. I dreamed of becoming a scientist but I desperately needed a mentor that looked like me, who had been down this path already, and learned how to re-write their labels.
In high school I had the fortunate label of “smart” and was even voted “most likely to succeed.” But at UCLA I was below average and struggling to stay afloat. My high school did NOT prepare me for college level science. We did not have proper scientific equipment, student to teacher ratios were not ideal and we lacked a vigorous scientific education which would have given us a chance of competing academically with our non-minority peers.
Unfortunately, my story is not unique as many minority scientists have had similar experiences. Underrepresented minorities are more likely to be first generation college students, like I was. Academically, they are more likely to struggle in introductory science and math courses due to their lack of scientific preparation in high school. This is where the system fails. We fail our children when we don’t support quality science education in K-12 schools. We fail our country when we don’t support diversity in science. Without input from a diverse group of people we are crippling our nation’s ability to fully engage all of our pressing problems including obesity, global warming, and cancer. Today I march for true diversity in science and to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the sciences!
My academic story took a turn when I met my mentor Dr. Elma Gonzales. Not only is she the third Chicana to get a science PhD in this country, but she is also one of the founding members of SACNAS, the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in the Sciences. She taught me how to walk, talk, and think like a scientist. Dr. Gonzalez was and continues to be a true inspiration for me, a role model, and a friend. Through my continued involvement with SACNAS, I am now surrounded with peers that I could identify with and can find support in. It is my passion to help carry on the mission of SACNAS which is to “foster the success of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientists, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math”.
I am now a role model for others and have spoken at various minority elementary, junior high and high schools about careers in science. I completed my PhD in Microbiology at the University of Washington and was given their highest scientific award for my achievements in their program. Currently, I am an Associate Professor with tenure at Northwest University in Kirkland WA, a small Christian liberal arts 4-year university. I have a Biosafety Level-2 research lab which studies how herpesviruses cause cancer. I also have the privilege of teaching upper division molecular and cellular biology courses as well as teach my students that it is possible to reconcile their faith with science.
It is my hope to help build the next generation of scientist in this country. However, I need your help to support programs which bring diverse voices with creative solutions to our world’s most pressing scientific problems. Because no matter what background you are from, we need non-biased, fact checked, peer-reviewed, evidence based policy. Policy that is scientifically sound. Not only FOR every type of American but also FROM every type of American. Thank you and God Bless.
WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Honorary Co-Chair of March for Science
I am a curious person — and I am a scientist! Scientists try to answer why by seeking facts―facts that can be tested and verified. We believe that evidence must be reproducible. We believe in the power of doubt. We are comfortable with uncertainty.
Science touches all aspects of modern life. Fundamental, basic science has made possible the cars we drive, the houses we live in, the clothes we wear, the smart phones, the entertainment we stream, the weapons that keep us safe. Basic science underlies the medical advances that allow us to lead longer, healthier lives.
In the 70’s I was part of a diverse team that showed that insulin could be made in bacteria. Today, anyone who takes insulin for diabetes takes an insulin made by the methods we and our competitors developed. This work was made possible because in the 50’s and 60’s, scientists sought to learn how certain bacteria resist infection by certain viruses. That basic research was supported by the American Cancer Society and the Federal Government despite little indication that it had any relevance to human health. However, that work led to the discovery of restriction enzymes. And that discovery made it possible to make insulin and other important treatments in bacteria. And that made possible the birth of the biotechnology industry — better health and many new jobs; many of these jobs don’t require a PhD.
This is one of many, many stories that illustrate the importance of fundamental, curiosity driven, peer-reviewed, basic research. We short-change our future when we do not provide sufficient public support for scientific research. U.S. support for research has dropped substantially over the last two decades. Mr. President, members of the House and Senate! Reverse this trend — Support science. Invest in our future!
WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Mary Jo Ondrechen (Mohawk)
Native and Scientific Wisdom: Knowledge of nature for prosperity and planet
Hello science lovers. And a special Se:kon to our members of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Observers of Nature. Water Protectors, and DEFENDERS of MOTHER EARTH.
I’m Mary Jo Ondrechen, Professor of Chemistry at Northeastern University; a Mohawk; and a Scientist. My research group and I work on interpreting the genome and on understanding how enzymes work. And where does this take us? To finding new ways to prevent and treat disease. To developing renewable energy systems. To designing new ways to make chemicals that are friendlier to the Planet.
We are also training our young people for the jobs of today and tomorrow. There is growing global demand for solutions — in Medical Technology, Clean Energy, Environmental Protection, and Biological and Cyber Threat Detection. Innovations mean new industries and new jobs. The United States can — and should — be the world leader in these innovations. But this depends on investment today in scientific research and education, in the NSF and the NIH.
To all of the students of science — Maybe it’s discouraging to know that some of our national leaders today do not believe in what we as scientists are doing. But I promise you — We will prevail. The need for science innovation is critical. We will work to elect leaders who understand that scientific discovery is vital. Vital to National Security, Health, Job Growth, and the Planet. We, like my Native ancestors, believe in science. And in science, the truth wins.