Advocacy Training Program

The program is currently on hold. Those interested in being informed when the application process is opened should email

The ASBMB Advocacy Training program is a six-month externship that provides hands-on science policy and advocacy training and experience. ATP delegates spend the first two months learning about science policy and advocacy and about how federal laws and budgets are passed. With support from ASBMB public affairs staff, delegates then develop advocacy activities focused on policies affecting their local 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 network of other delegates around the country dedicated to doing the same type of work. They also will have the chance to author several publications.

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 aims to develop and support sustainable hubs of regional science advocates throughout the U.S. so that ATP delegates become regional links to the ASBMB, building networks and mobilizing local grassroots efforts for national ASBMB advocacy campaigns.

ATP members will be able to help the ASBMB develop a better understanding of regional issues and direct the society’s attention to important regional policy debates.

What to expect as an ATP delegate 

You will devote about six hours a month to ATP coursework, discussions and activities.

Beginning with the training phase, you will attend five one-hour conference calls to learn about science policy. Assignments will be due before each call. You will read and watch videos according to the following schedule:

  • Session 1 — What is advocacy?
  • Session 2 — The administrative branch, agency authorization and budget process.
  • Session 3 — Local and state government.
  • Session 4 — Constructing the advocacy message. 
  • Session 5 — Advocacy before, during and after.

During the action phase, you will develop your elevator pitch, meet with your congressional representative’s regional staff during the Easter recess and carry out at least three local advocacy events. The ATP meetings during this phase, listed below, will guide you through your advocacy activities.

  • Review Easter recess meetings.
  • Finalize advocacy calendar, carry out advocacy events.
  • Review advocacy events. 
  • Review advocacy events, evaluate program and celebrate program completion.
Aria Byrd

Graduate student
University of Kentucky

"I started the program well aware of the numerous challenges scientists face, but the ATP gave me an opportunity to critically think about how to realistically address those challenges."

Kelly McAleer

College of New Jersey

"Participating in the ATP took me to a new level in my involvement in science communication and advocacy."

Christa Trexler

Postdoctoral fellow
University of California, San Diego

"Being a part of the ATP opened up the world of science policy to me... Through working with the ATP, I’ve had meaningful interactions with elected officials as well as campaigns."


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, write blog posts, attend meetings, strategize about the best ways to craft your message and complete other assignments. Be prepared to dedicate six hours a month to the program. If you cannot make such a commitment, skip this application period and apply later.
What if I miss a teleconference?
Delegates are expected to attend each teleconference to develop the tools needed to become an effective advocate. Because the meetings are over the phone, we hope that you will be able to take the phone call wherever you may be. 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.?
You will not be guaranteed a spot, but we encourage you to apply if advocating in D.C. interests you. 
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. You will also have the chance to author several publications. 
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 accepted in the fall and spring each year.
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. Join the Grassroots Network to stay abreast of our campaigns and be involved in making your voice heard.

Additional resources


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.


Advocacy toolkit

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


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.