Society News

ATP delegates push for improved policies

A dozen advocates gain skills to address issues that affect science
Raechel McKinley
April 5, 2024

In an uncertain political landscape, scientists are increasingly concerned about the impact of legislative decisions on research funding and their quality of life. Learning how to advocate for policies that support the research community is one way to act on these concerns.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Advocacy Training Program is a three-month externship that trains ASBMB members to use their scientific knowledge to advocate on issues at state and local levels.

The twelve 2023 ATP delegates attended sessions to develop science advocacy and policy skills and then learned how to deliver an elevator pitch that succinctly makes their case and how to craft an equity action plan. In addition to this training, each delegate received guidance on cultivating an individual advocacy project.

Rollbacks of programs supporting diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion. Science education equity. Seabird habitat conservation. Federally funded predoctoral stipends. Fraudulent stem cell therapies. These are some of the issues tackled by the 2023 ATP cohort in their projects.

At the end of the program, the delegates were ready to deliver their elevator pitches to legislators during the 2024 ASBMB Capitol Hill Day to be held in May. They shared their projects in the ASBMB’s first ATP Showcase in September.

2023 ATP advocacy projects

Mericka McCabe

Increasing scientific partnerships through graduate school internships

Mericka McCabe, a postdoctoral scholar at Albert Einstein University, responded to the National Institutes of Health’s request for information for NIH-wide challenges and opportunities to encourage funding opportunities for graduate students to pursue internships in academia.

Justin Wang

Prioritizing mental health and well-being at the Scripps Research Institute

Justin Wang, a graduate student at Scripps Research Institute, hosted a student well-being town hall and led discussions on mentorship, career development and ways to improve the Scripps graduate program. In addition, Wang developed and conducted a survey on issues affecting student mental health, which led to the mental health services at Scripps reoffering their open house.

Faith Bowman

Charting a path for data equity through decolonization and inclusion

Faith Bowman, a graduate student at the University of Utah, wrote a policy brief recommending ways to implement data decolonization strategies in basic and translational research. As part of her project, Bowman also led a research roundtable at the annual retreat of the Utah Diabetes and Research Metabolism Center.

Maksim Dolmat

Creating a career exploration workshop for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars 

Maksim Dolmat, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California at San Diego, created a multiday workshop at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to expose graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to careers outside of academia and wrote an op-ed on the connections between cancer and climate change.

Benjamin Duewell

Advocating for an increase to federally funded stipends 

Benjamin Duewell, a graduate student at the University of Oregon, wrote a policy brief on predoctoral stipend disparities across federal agencies. He corresponded with federal agencies, advocating that National Research Service Award stipends keep up with inflation and urging officials to publish reports on predoctoral stipend changes over time.

Sydney Haas

Seabird conservation in Florida

Sydney Haas, an undergraduate at New College in Florida, partnered with a local seabird conservation organization to host a webinar on state legislation updates that are needed to preserve seabird habitats and protect them from red tide, a harmful algal bloom.

Chloe Kirk

DEI funding crisis at Florida universities

Chloe Kirk, a patent law clerk at Arnold and Porter who recently earned a Ph.D. at the University of Miami, advocated against Florida bill SB266, which defunded diversity, equity and inclusion programming at all public universities in the state. She wrote a policy brief and led a social media campaign highlighting how the bill will threaten Florida’s status as a health technology hub.

Kira Mills

Addressing STEM education inequities in Texas

Kira Mills, a computational chemist, led a multipronged approach to advocacy by drafting a policy brief on expanding access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in Texas and launching a social media campaign illustrating inequities in Texas STEM education.

Katie Scott

Advocating for inclusive, equitable and accessible science education programming within the Iowa City Community School District

Katie Scott, a graduate student at the University of Iowa, launched a letter-writing campaign in her local community to bring STEM educational inequities to the attention of the Iowa City school board. As a result of this campaign, two individuals from the University of Iowa’s Neuroscience Graduate Student Program STEM education subcommittee will serve on a science curriculum review board for Iowa City.

Nidhi Shuka

Supporting and increasing research funding for renewable energy

Nidhi Shuka, a postdoctoral scholar at Case Western Reserve University, led a live X (formally Twitter) chat with experts in academia and at federal funding agencies to discuss the steps needed to increase a sustainable environment for renewable energy research. As a result, Shuka established a partnership with the Great Lake Energy Institute and will host future social media campaigns.

Isha Verma

Taking action against the marketing of fraudulent stem cell therapies

Isha Verma, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, coordinated with patient advocate groups and experts in the field to host a webinar on the dangerous practice of marketing unproven stem cell therapies.

Joselyn Landazuri Vinueza

Addressing the low strong>HPV vaccination rate in developing South American countries

Joselyn Landazuri Vinueza, a graduate student at the University of Washington, used her training as a virologist to advocate for closing the human papillomavirus vaccine gap among communities in South America. To do so, she launched a social media campaign to counter misinformation about the HPV vaccine in Latinx communities.

Join the ATP

Interested in joining the 2024 cohort of the ASBMB Advocacy Training Program? Learn more and apply here. The application deadline is April 19.

If you have questions, reach out to the public affairs team.

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Raechel McKinley

Raechel McKinley is ASBMB's science policy manager.

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