Advocacy

Advocacy Training Program

Applications for the 2022 ATP have closed. The next application cycle will open in March 2023.

The ASBMB Advocacy Training program is a three-month externship (May–Aug) that provides hands-on science policy and advocacy training and experience. ATP delegates will learn how to advocate and about conducting science policy in the federal government and Congress. With support from ASBMB public affairs staff, delegates then develop and execute an advocacy activity focused on policies affecting their communities.

Participants in the program will gain skills that they need to create change in their region and to become a leader for those seeking to do the same. They will have a built-in cohort of other delegates around the country dedicated to doing the same type of work. ​They will also learn the importance of policy writing and how to communicate scientific issues to Congressional staff.

Goal of the ATP

While federal policies affecting life scientists are a focus for the ASBMB public affairs team, evidence-based state and local policies are also key to creating a productive, diverse and sustainable scientific enterprise.

The ASBMB public affairs team aims to educate and train interested ASBMB members in effective science advocacy. This program will arm participants with the ability to create sustainable advocacy efforts, improve policies at the institutional and local level and learn fundamental skills for science policy careers. The ATP is also designed in a cohort framework for further advocacy and networking opportunities beyond the duration of the program!

What to expect as an ATP delegate 

The program will require about 8–10 hours a month between ATP coursework, discussions and activities.

The program involves weekly one-hour virtual lectures to learn about science policy, applied learning assignments and developing an independent advocacy activity to execute in your local or federal community. Assignments and/or prior reading must be completed before each call. The course syllabus will include the following sessions:

Section One: Science policy, advocacy and the federal government

  • Session 1 — What is science policy?
  • Session 2 — The executive branch and federal agencies
  • Session 3 — Congressional advocacy, agency authorization and the budget process.
  • Session 4 — State and local advocacy and engaging community stakeholders

Section Two: Science policy strategy

  • Session 5 — Diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in advocacy
  • Session 6 — Science policy writing & finalize advocacy activity plan (No meeting this week)
  • Session 7 — How to shape policy
  • Session 8 — Finalize Op-Ed writing piece (No meeting this week)
  • Session 9 — Constructing your advocacy message

Section Three: Advocating before, during and after

  • Session 10 — One-on-one prep for your meetings with policymakers
  • Session 11 — Complete meetings with policymakers (No meeting this week)
  • Session 12 — Meeting follow-ups Program summary and evaluation
  • Session 13 — Exploring science policy careers

ATP delegates that fulfill all assignments and activities of the program will receive a certificate validating their completion of the program.

Any questions can be directed to publicaffairs@asbmb.org.

Cohort 4 delegates

Ankita Arora

Postdoctoral Researcher
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

“I am passionate about advocating for diversity in science, highlighting difficulties that international scholars face. As a part of ASBMB ATP, I hope to gain insights into how to be a better advocate for my community and their inclusion in STEM."

M. Cortez Bowlin

Graduate student
University of Alabama at Birmingham

“Coming from a rural community, I have personal experience in dealing with the distrust and doubt in science that results from poor communication, jargon-rich press releases and culturally tone-deaf statements often associated with 'Big Science.' I look forward to honing my advocacy skills and developing successful strategies for communicating between policymakers and stakeholders.”

Roxanne Evande

Graduate student
University of Delaware

“Through the ATP, I hope to improve my legislative, formal writing skills and policy vocabulary.”

Ryan Feathers

Graduate student
Cornell University

“Through the ATP, I hope to learn how to advocate for scientists from diverse backgrounds and promote increasing accessibility to a graduate education.”

Cedric Lansangan

Graduate student
Loma Linda University

“I am excited to learn how to better advocate for increased and enhanced support, outreach and funding for the physician-scientist pathway, one which is known for its leakiness and perceived difficulty.”

Lance Li

Undergraduate
Georgetown University

“I hope to become a scientist that breaks free from the ivory tower stereotype and one day hold a platform contributing to both biomedical research advancement and scientific policy reform.”

Lien Nguyen

Postdoctoral Researcher
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

“I’m passionate about promoting more equitable healthcare access and improving science education and research in developing countries, including my home country, Vietnam.”

Emily Pitsch

Graduate student
University of Utah

“My passion for advocacy work was realized through involvement in a local and state issue concerning invasive development in Utah’s mountains. I look forward to blending my passions for science and political action in my future career.”

Chelsea Rand–Fleming

Graduate student
Auburn University

“I am excited to participate in the ATP program because it will allow me to further serve as a role model to my daughter by displaying the importance of advocacy, outreach and service. It’s my goal to also demonstrate that we all have the potential to have an impact on the world.”

Aishwarya Sriraman

ORISE Fellow
U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense

“Throughout my career, I have gained insight into systemic hurdles in making a career out of basic science research. Through the ATP, I wish to learn how to bring about sustainable change in that system by advocating for more diverse perspectives and increased technical expertise at the policy-making level.”

 

FAQ

Do I have to be an ASBMB member to apply?
Yes. If you’re not already a member, join here.
I’m a faculty member. Can I apply?
Yes, you can apply.
Can green card holders and non-citizens apply?
Yes, you can apply.
What kind and how much homework will there be?
Homework will vary depending on the week. During the first two months, you’ll read articles and watch videos. You will develop advocacy materials, attend meetings, strategize about the best ways to craft your message and complete other assignments. Be prepared to dedicate 8–10 hours a month to the program. If you cannot make such a commitment, skip this application period and apply in the following cycle.
What if I miss a session?
Delegates are expected to attend each session to develop the tools needed to become an effective advocate. Because the sessions are virtual, you should be able to attend from any location. Sessions will be scheduled on Wednesday afternoons. If you foresee multiple date conflicts, we ask that you do not apply. 
Do I have to tell my research adviser/principal investigator that I am applying?
We encourage you to discuss your application and participation in this program with your adviser. If you believe that there will be a conflict between you and your adviser (or other institutional officials), we ask that you not apply. 
Do I get to participate in the ASBMB’s Capitol Hill Day in Washington, D.C.?
We're not sure! Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual ASBMB Capitol Hill Day has been conducted virtually with our Public Affairs Committee. As the situation evolves and Congress becomes accessible in-person again, this may change. 
What do I get out of becoming a delegate?
Our goal is to produce self-motivated, knowledgeable delegates dedicated to advocating for life science research. You will gain skills that you need to create change in your region and to become a leader for those seeking to do the same. You will have a built-in network of at least 10 other delegates around the country dedicated to doing the same type of work, meet and network with expert guest speakers, and learn about career opportunities in science policy. 
What happens after it’s over?
Alumni have the opportunity to become teaching assistants for the next cohort, participate in an ATP alumni working group and join ASBMB Public Affairs Advisory Committee working groups. The ASBMB policy team will use alumni feedback to improve the program for the next cohort of delegates. The policy team also will call upon alumni to mobilize their local networks to coordinate national advocacy campaign efforts.
If I don’t become a delegate this year, can I apply the next year?
Yes. Applications are expected to cycle annually. Reach out to publicaffairs@asbmb.org for the latest information.
I’d like to participate in advocacy, but can’t commit that much time to this program. What can I do?
The ASBMB provides a variety of advocacy activities throughout the year. Email publicaffairs@asbmb.org to learn what opportunities might be available, such as writing an article for the ASBMB Today magazine.

Additional resources

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Magazine

What we learned in the ATP

Seven members of the first group to complete the ASBMB’s Advocacy Training Program describe their experiences and share what they learned.

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Advocacy toolkit

Best practices for sharing your stories with the policymakers whose decisions affect your work.

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Magazine

Your voice does matter

Even in these deeply partisan times, grassroots advocacy is effective. As a subject matter expert, you can educate your legislator about the value of science.