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Jared Tur

 

Recent events have spurred many researchers worried about the future of scientific research in the United States to engage in advocacy. An example of this is the March for Science that occurred on April 22, 2017, all around the country. I was fortunate enough to be in Chicago, IL, at the time attending Experimental Biology, one of the largest biomedical sciences conferences in the world. At the meeting, more than 10,000 scientists and researchers agreed that advocacy for science—in particular, funding for scientific research—could no longer be ignored or pushed to the side. Many scientists walked that Saturday afternoon to demonstrate their resolve. Chicago saw roughly 50,000 scientists, researchers, and locals marching for continued funding and support for scientific research.

 

The Experimental Biology conference included seminars on how to become more active in advocating for science. Ideas included but were not limited to: starting scientific blogs; writing for local papers and magazines about scientific issues; and actively engaging with politicians and other officials about the importance of scientific research and funding. There are many ways to become an advocate. When there is an issue that needs to be addressed, a tried and true method is to contact your local and state representative to express concerns and provide suggestions. It’s their job to listen and represent you.

 

Want to learn more about advocacy?

 

The NPA offers several resources to support advocacy about postdoc issues. A Postdoc’s Guide to Advocacy offers an overview of what advocacy is and tips for advocating effectively. You can also learn more about policy issues affecting postdocs and the NPA’s Agenda for Change, including recommendations for postdoctoral policies and practices.

Another option is to join a local government committee or board in an area close to your interest. Recently, I became a board member of the Suncoast Health Council in Pinellas County, FL. The Suncoast Health Council receives federal funding and is responsible for allocating over $1 million in different health initiatives. These committees and boards are a great opportunity for those interested in advocacy to understand how their local government enacts change. Upon my initial search, I found numerous vacancies in multiple committees and boards within my county. I’m sure that in whatever county you live in, a quick search on the local government website will uncover multiple opportunities. Some may not view these committees and boards as exciting or maybe even productive. But these committees often make decisions that strongly impact you and the community.

 

Another way to advocate is to join a local organization with mission you believe in. There are many organizations at the local and national level that are always in need of assistance. Tasks that volunteers conduct to achieve the organization’s goals include making phone calls or writing letters to politicians and donors. The Department of State website provides a list of both national and international organizations to volunteer for. Volunteer Match has a database of different organizations based on location to find the best organizational fit for you.

 

However, you decide to engage in advocacy, it has never been more important to advocate for something that you believe in.

 

Jared Tur, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy and a member of the NPA Advocacy Committee.

 

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