On September 6, three CaSP members and a CaSP member’s lab mate met with Flora Csontos, the Southern Regional Representative for US Senator Tammy Baldwin, at her Madison office. The purpose of the visit was to discuss current hot topics in science policy, including key points individual CaSP members wanted to get across. This meeting was in part associated with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s (ASBMB) annual push for scientists to interact with their local representatives. Their “August is for Advocacy” campaign helped facilitate our contact with the Senator’s office. We began the meeting by introducing our fields of research, which happened to be as diverse as parasitology, plant pathology, and human physiology.
Among the topics discussed were immigration, continued science funding, and science outreach and education. All of us had international colleagues, and we expressed to Ms. Csontos that international scientists have limited rights, precarious funding, and constant uncertainty. This makes them less willing or able to work in the US, which negatively impacts the country’s talent and diversity. Concerning funding, we all mentioned how important it was to keep predictably, steadily funding science rather than supporting big leaps in appropriations, and how we were all funded from diverse sources. Finally, we discussed the importance of outreach and science education. Ms. Csontos was especially sympathetic to the issues facing rural outreach, since there is a big divide between rural constituents and their assumptions regarding the liberal, educated elite as detached and condescending. We all agreed that positive relationships between rural communities and the University were important for overcoming this divide, and that outreach and extension initiatives are essential to this end.
The discussion ended with a friendly photo and admiration of the quilt hanging in the office outlining the shape of Wisconsin. What was particularly valuable about this experience was that we were able to introduce Ms. Constos to our organization, and to new resources that she and Senator Baldwin might use to become more involved in science policy. We also felt we were strengthening the voice of early career scientist constituents, who are almost certainly underrepresented in politics. Advocating for scientists and their interests in this way has the potential to influence positive change in the realm of science policy, both in Wisconsin and on the national level.
Contacting and meeting with your representatives is important, and they need to hear from early career scientists about what issues matter the most in science and to scientist constituents. For this reason, we have provided a list of current representatives, and the resources you can use to contact and meet them in person. The November 6th election is coming up; now is the time to make your impact with the people who may be chosen to represent you in the federal and state governments.
Resources to contact/meet with current representatives
Governor Scott Walker; Madison Office, 115 E Capitol, Madison, WI 53702; Phone: (608) 266-1212; General contact form and scheduling
To find your state representatives, use this map and type your address into the upper right hand corner. Email addresses and phone numbers are listed.
To meet/contact candidates for November 6 election
For governor: Tony Evers (Democrat); PO Box 1879, Madison, WI 53701-1879; Phone: (608) 888-1665; info@TonyEvers.com; Schedule a meeting or event
For Lieutenant Governor: Mandela Barnes (Democrat); P.O. Box 90541, Milwaukee, WI 53209; Phone Number: 414-939-4736; firstname.lastname@example.org
For Lieutenant Governor: Rebecca Kleefisch (Republican); email@example.com
For US Senate: Leah Vukmir (Republican); PO Box 488, Brookfield, WI 53005; firstname.lastname@example.org
Article by CaSP secretary and social media manager April MacIntyre, with assistance from Co-president Shannon Walsh and Andrew Garfoot