Students inspired by the 2018 Catalyzing Advocacy for Science and Engineering (CASE) Workshop, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Wayne State doctoral students, Heather Mooney (sociology) and Niko Moses (cancer biology), along with two reBUILDetroit scholars, Leena Abbas (nutrition and food science) and Rachel Bruinsma (psychology), attended AAAS’s Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) workshop March 18-21 in Washington, DC. These students were selected through a competitive application process and funded by the Graduate School’s BEST [Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training] program. The workshop provided attendees with a unique opportunity to learn more about Congress, the federal budget process, effective science communication, as well as a chance to meet with their local congressional representatives.

“Having scientists involved in policy-making is essential for our society, not only to advocate for the advancement of science but also to have an engaged citizenry,” said Heather Mooney. One of her key takeaways from the AAAS-CASE workshop was the value of using storytelling to communicate large and often complex scientific issues on the local and personal level. “Cultivating dialogue and action is especially integral during such a polarized political climate,” she said.

The CASE workshop also enabled Wayne attendees to network with a diverse group of like-minded peers from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Michigan Tech. Together they discussed their issues of concern and how to approach meetings with local policymakers and representatives. “It was interesting to hear the issues that other scientists in our state thought were of critical importance, and share with them my own biggest issue: advocating for our representatives to vote against HR 4508 (The PROSPER Act),” said Niko Moses. “I'm motivated to explore career opportunities in government after finishing my Ph.D. I was also made aware of all the work I can start doing now to influence policy before I graduate; I am going to try and arrange meetings with my representatives in Lansing as well as write an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press about HR4508,” she said. The CASE workshop provided inspiration and tools for action and advocacy, such as those provided by AAAS.

Group photo from the CASE workshop
Left to right: Leena Abbas, Heather Mooney, Rachel Bruinsma, Nicolette Moses

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