AGU Scientists Discuss Value of Research with Congress

24 September 2012
AGU Science Policy Alert 12-37

On 12 September 2012, scientists from across the country visited Capitol Hill for the 5th Annual Geosciences Congressional Visits Day sponsored by AGU and six other scientific organizations.  In 116 meetings, the 55 participants from 17 states engaged in dialogue with their members of Congress, congressional staff, and congressional committee officials about the importance of continued investment in scientific research and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

In order to prepare for these important conversations, the scientists participated in a training session on 11 September 2012.  AGU and its partner organizations briefed the scientists on the intricacies of the legislative process, upcoming bills of concern to the geoscience community, and how to effectively communicate with members of Congress.  White House policy analyst Bess Evans gave visiting scientists valuable insights on how to collaborate with Congress and about the White House perspective on science and technology policy.  Rebecca French, Kelly Kryc, Aisha Morris, and Karen Heymann, four scientists working in congressional offices or on committees as Congressional Science Fellows, also spoke, giving visitors a scientist’s perspective on making the most of their conversations on the Hill.

The next day, the geoscientists spoke with congressional offices about the importance of scientific research in their home states as well as the nationwide implications of investing in scientific investigation and STEM education, including economic competitiveness, job creation, natural disaster preparedness, and effective water and energy resource management.  These meetings were especially important given the approaching “fiscal cliff” of sequestration.  This 8-12% cut in discretionary funding was not intended to take effect, but was instead designed to incentivize compromise on budgetary matters after the 2011 debt ceiling crisis.  Without bipartisan congressional action before January, federal agencies and programs that support scientific research and education, including USGS, NSF, NOAA, NASA, and DOE, will likely face hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts in funding.

After a day of meetings and briefings, scientists, members of Congress, congressional staff members, and federal agency officials gathered to celebrate Representatives Betty McCollum (MN-4) and Steven LaTourette (OH-14), who were honored with the 9th Annual USGS Coalition Leadership Award for their efforts to further scientific progress at the USGS.

AGU invites its members to Congressional Visit Days, policy briefings, and exhibitions throughout the year. Upcoming events include the Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day on 12-13 March 2013.  If you would like to participate in these or any other congressional events with AGU, please contactKristan Uhlenbrock for further information.

AGU would like to recognize and thank its members for participating in the 2012 Geosciences Congressional Visits Day:

Jeremy Bellucci, University of Notre Dame
Stan Briczinski, Naval Research Laboratory
Sandy Carlson, University of California – Davis
Jim Connors, University of Southern Alabama
Jonathan Fentzke, Johns Hopkins University
John Geissman, University of Texas – Dallas
Luis Gonzalez, University of Kansas
Jack Hess, Geological Society of America
Susan Hough, United States Geological Survey
Tai-Yin Huang, Pennsylvania State University
Ivy Krystal Jones, Hampton University
Jonathan Krall, Naval Research Laboratory
Patrick Leahy, American Geosciences Institute
Ntungwa Maasha, College of Coastal Georgia
MaryAnn Love Malinconico, Lafeyette College
Robert Mason, University of Connecticut
Sharon Mosher, University of Texas
Dennis Nicks, Ball Aerospace
Wayne Pennington, Michigan Technological University
Sheldon Turner, Michigan State University
Betsy Weatherhead, University of Colorado