Advocacy spotlight: William T. Booth II, veteran, scientist and advocate
This spring, members of the ASBMB are encouraging the U.S. Senate to advance the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act (S. 153), which directs the National Science Foundation to do more for veterans interested in pursuing education and training for STEM careers.William T. Booth
To learn more about the needs and experiences of veterans, ASBMB’s policy analyst, André Porter, interviewed society member William T. Booth, a postdoctoral researcher who spent more than eight years in the U.S. Army and National Guard.
Booth’s research at the Wake Forest School of Medicine physiology and pharmacology department is focused on elucidating protein structures to help predict their functions and design therapies to treat illnesses.
In 2018, Booth participated in the ASBMB’s annual Capitol Hill Day, during which he met with lawmakers to advocate for robust support for scientific research.
What inspired you to pursue a career in science, and how has your military service influenced your career path?
For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in the sciences. I joined the military to pay for school, with the intent of going into the army to work toward a career in STEM. My Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery General Technical score, however, was not good enough to go into a medical career, so I became a mechanic and a paratrooper. Surprisingly, working on trucks was really rewarding. You learn a lot about courage, patience, controlling frustrations, troubleshooting, and persistence toward mission accomplishments. These are all traits I never realized would be beneficial to me in my STEM career and in life.
What is a resource that you feel would help other veterans pursue careers in STEM, and how can your colleagues help?
As I advance in my career, the term “funding” is a word I hear daily. Obtaining funding and resources is absolutely essential for the progression of research and scientific discovery. In order for veterans to continue to pursue careers in STEM fields, at the baccalaureate, pre- and postdoctoral, and investigator levels, financial incentives for quality research and training is essential. Soldiers volunteer to fight for our country and its interests often as adolescents and young adults. Let us reward them for their courage to fight to keep our country safe by supporting legislation and policies that will make a concerted effort to broaden their inclusion in STEM.
Join Booth and other ASBMB members in this initiative by contacting your senators and urging them to support S. 153. We’ve drafted the letters. All you need to do is enter your information, personalize as you see fit, and submit.
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If enacted, this legislation would affect some foreign scientists collaborating with U.S. scientists on federally funded research.
U.S. Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Judy Chu, D-Calif., sent the NIH and FBI letters asking about the agencies’ investigations into scientists with ties to China.
The Building Blocks of STEM Act creates and expands STEM education initiatives at the National Science Foundation. Other pending legislation would boost minority-serving institutions.