Scientists across the country will step out of the lab today and into the streets, including locations like Chicago, for the “March for Science.” The event coincides with Earth Day.
Scientists think it's time to raise awareness for their respective fields. As a result, many faculty members have found themselves pushed into more active roles.
Reed Scherer is a professor of Geology at NIU.
"I have always been reluctant to sort of cross the line from scientist to activist," Scherer said, "but I feel, at this point, that it’s my responsibility to be speaking out."
Ralph Wheeler, department chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry at NIU, says the march is important to communicate science to the general public.
"I think scientists themselves have done a very poor job communicating science to the general public, and it’s a problem that stretched over decades," he says. "As a result, the taxpayers of this country are reluctant to support science to the level they should, because they don’t understand the benefits: Everybody uses a cell phone, many people use PCs, we are all on the web every day, and we don’t understand that we wouldn’t have that without the scientific research and development infrastructure in this country."
Narayan Hosmane is a General Chemistry professor at NIU.
"It’s taxpayer’s money! They have every right to decide. Ask the public first—do you want the science? Or you don't want the science? And I would love to hear this one first," Hosmane said.
Gary Baker is a professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at NIU.
"The days of studying why grass is green is probably not as well justified as before. And it’s probably right to question perhaps how some monies are being spent funding scientific research," he says, "but the problems that need to be funded need to be focused on problems related directly to society and technology. These are the things that allow us to connect with the public in the most meaningful way."
Ultimately, campaigns like the March for Science let others know how scientists feel; then, it’s up to the public to decide how to support them.