Although many of the student participants were new to advocacy, this year’s group included two returning participants, Lauren Amable, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute, and Angel Byrd, an M.D./Ph.D. student from Brown University. Byrd, who intends to study childhood obesity as a pediatric endocrinologist, hoped her visits helped convince lawmakers of the “power of research and the long-term investment in its goals and vision.”
Meet the Hill Day Attendees
We asked our student/postdoc Hill Day attendees to answer some questions so we could learn a little more about them.
PAAC members, many of whom have logged long hours in the halls of Congress, thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to accompany the students. “Interacting with the congressional offices is a vital way to connect about the importance of research to our country’s well being, and it’s clear the representatives and their staffers paid particular interest to the young people and their stories,” observedSusan L. Forsburg, PAAC member and professor at the University of Southern California.
Overall, it was a terrific experience for the student participants, many of whom commented on how much they had learned. “It’s been really beneficial for me, and it’s been a great way to learn about science policy and how the budgeting process works,” said Kristen Kelps, a doctoral candidate from the University of Kentucky. Rob Watkins, a doctoral student at Montana State University, added, “It’s opened my eyes to a lot of new things ... As a biomedical researcher and end-user of government-allocated funds, I underestimated the complexities of the decision making behind federal spending.”
By the end of the day, several students had remarked on the importance of standing up for science and said they would encourage their peers to do the same. Eric Patridge, a postdoctoral associate at the Yale University School of Medicine, concurred. “Events like today’s are absolutely essential to the future of the NIH and our research as scientists.”
Hopefully, other student and postdoctoral members of ASBMB feel the same way and will consider helping make next year’s Hill Day an even bigger success.
Angela Hvitved (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing editor of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics.
Below is a slideshow from the 2011 Hill Day. For more photos, go to the ASBMB Flickr page.