Why this local researcher is compelled to march for science in Philly - Generocity Philly

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Apr. 3, 2017 4:10 pm

Why this local researcher is compelled to march for science in Philly

The inaugural March for Science Philadelphia is happening April 22. Here's why organizer Marion Leary is behind it.

#MarchforSciencePHL.

(Image via facebook.com/events/257231881371826)

This is a guest post by researcher Marion Leary.
On Saturday, April 22, Philadelphia will join over 400 cities marching for science.

As our mission states:

“The March for Science is … not about scientists or politicians, it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.”

The lead organizers of the March for Science Philadelphia are a fusion of mostly #womeninscience (there is one man) who are scientists, science educators, science communicators, science advocates and friends of science. We are a group dedicated to making the March for Science PHL an awe-inspiring jawn, rich with support from a wide spectrum of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) fields. Philly has been representing science for centuries, so we have a long history and rich legacy to live up to.

Since its announcement though, there has been debate between scientists about whether a March for Science is a good idea. Therefore, I wanted to understand why my co-leads were not only marching, but felt so strongly that they were willing to spend an enormous amount of time  —  time they could be spending on say, producing science —  helping to organize it.

They described a wide-range of reasons: protecting science education in public schools and promoting scientific literacy; using science to understand our world and ourselves; rejecting gaslighting around verified scientific facts; supporting current and future scientists, and for those who depend on biomedical science to survive and thrive; lifting up the diverse voices that make up the scientific community; and encouraging productive communication between scientists, science advocates and the public.

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Though my colleagues were able to articulate why they were marching, I was still struggling with how to communicate the infinite number of reasons I personally felt so compelled to march and organize — it just seemed so inherently obvious that I was at a loss for words.

Science isn't an issue that needs debating.

While reading the most recent edition of Scientific American, it hit me; science is so ubiquitous throughout our every day lives it is taken for granted.

There were articles on everything from technology that can filter out 90 percent of harmful particle matter via a nanofiber coating on a window screen, to how technology from NASA can help make air travel more fuel efficient, to an article on Tsunami warning systems using sound, potentially increasing notification time dramatically, to an article on how changing diet, exercise and social activities can significantly improve complex memory in those at risk for dementia — and that was just in the first half of the magazine!

These breakthroughs run the gamut of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and because of them, your life, our country, and the world are all better, safer, healthier.

Coincidently, because we have become so proficient in our adoption of new STEM applications, they can often be overlooked as pre-existing states. But they are not, and these necessities and luxuries we have become so accustomed to could quickly disappear if we do not continue to support and fund all STEM/STEAM fields.

As scientists, science communicators, science educators and advocates, we need to make our work more visible so that the public can begin to appreciate and understand the depth and breadth of how pervasive and integrated STEM is in their everyday lives. As a resuscitation scientist, I need to be performing research, writing grants and manuscripts, and presenting at conferences, but I also need to be spreading the good word of the research I perform to the masses. It is my responsibility to make sure everyone knows that the work I do literally saves lives, so that they are more apt to support science in all its glory, and all its faults, and understand “science” isn’t an issue that needs debating.

But I am also an activist, and it is also my responsibility to stand up for science not just when it is under attack, but every day the earth rotates. We cannot let the science deniers dictate the messaging. We cannot stay silent, because if we do everyone loses — not just the scientific community.

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