Web Date: April 23, 2017
Chemists march for science
Chemists, chemistry students, and fans of chemistry took to the streets on April 22 along with hundreds of thousands of others in support of science across the U.S. and the world. Billed as a nonpartisan event, the March for Science drew demonstrators who touted their love for science. More than 500 marches took place around the globe.
Many marchers in the U.S. called for the government to continue funding research in the face of calls by many in Congress to cut nondefense spending and proposals by President Donald J. Trump to slash federal support for many areas of science. Some criticized Trump’s climate change policies, including his plan to eliminate all of the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate programs.
The march in Washington, D.C., attracted participants from all over the country. One was Monica Ohnsorg, a chemistry graduate student at the University of Minnesota, who pulled an all-nighter to finish a homework set before catching a 6 AM flight to the nation’s capital.
Ohnsorg said she came to Washington to attend her first demonstration because she sees the future of science in collaborative research such as the National Microbiome Initiative and the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. “We have to let the government know that these initiatives need to be continued, the funding need to be continued,” she told C&EN.
In Chicago, Laure Dussubieux, a chemist at the Field Museum who brought her family to the march, said she wanted her two daughters to understand that science permeates every aspect of life. Moreover, she’s worried about the current climate for science in the U.S.
“I hope this march is going to show people that science is important and is worth funding,” she said.
A Chicago-based chemist with EPA who requested not to be named said she marched to support the important work of the agency. “Science is everything, and this Administration is not paying attention to the facts,” she said. But although she hoped the marches across the country would send a message to the White House, “unfortunately, I don’t think it’ll change anything,” she said.
While many scientists and science enthusiasts rallied, some researchers opted out. Some argued that organizers failed to appropriately address issues of diversity and inclusion, and others were unhappy with what they viewed as the politicization of the event.
The American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN, officially supported the march in conjunction with its annual Chemists Celebrate Earth Day events, with the proviso that march organizers maintain a nonpartisan stance.
Scroll on to see scenes from the marches captured by C&EN reporters in Washington, D.C., Berlin, Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco. Former C&EN editor-in-chief Rudy Baum also contributed from Portland, Ore.
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