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Invite your representative to work. Change the world. Here's how.

  • Author(s): Montell, Denise J
  • et al.
Abstract

Today's political climate can seem hostile to science. Alternative facts, climate change denial, and relabeling of actual news as fake news are discouraging phenomena for sure. But these trends make it more important than ever to engage our politicians. Take heart! There is something you can do. You can show your representatives firsthand the amazing things you do, evidence of the economic engine that your activities generate, and the real people behind the discoveries. I did, and it was fun. We invited our congressman to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and he accepted! For 2 hours, we explained and demonstrated efforts to cure blindness using stem cells, the medical implications of the discovery that cells can recover from the brink of death, a mosquito lab striving to eliminate insect-borne disease, and an Alzheimer's disease laboratory. Salud Carbajal peered through a microscope and met real scientists. Before his visit, he did not know what a postdoctoral fellow was, much less what stem cells look like. When he left he knew our names, how much money we bring into his district, and how important National Institutes of Health funding and international mobility are to our enterprise. Although I live in the United States, this approach should also apply to other democratic countries. If each of us converts one representative into a science champion, we can change the world.

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