Monday, May 13, 2013

Primack Lab Goes to Washington

Caitlin McDonough MacKenzie

Caitlin & the cherry blossoms (photo credit: Matt Berg)

One of the major tenets of the Primack Lab is an emphasis on communicating our research beyond the scientific community.  From the Concord Museum to the pages of the New York Times to this very blog, we are committed to public outreach and education.  Following in this tradition (and inspired by our newly minted lab blog!) I applied for an Ecological Society of America Graduate Student Policy Award, and then I blogged about the experience.

The opportunity to travel to Washington DC for two days and talk science, policy, and research funding with ecologists and Congressional staffers was amazing.  Every time I entered a Congressional office, I talked about my work studying the effects of climate change on plant communities in Acadia National Park, the importance of ecological research, my experience as a graduate student whose funding had been sequestered on March 1, 2013.  And, when I returned home, the opportunity to blog about this trip at Early Career Ecologists was truly icing on the cake.  Read an excerpt below & click through for the full post!

In April, I had the honor of visiting the Congressional offices of my home state Massachusetts to lobby on behalf of science funding. I spent Monday morning tromping between snow drifts off the coast of Maine, but by Tuesday evening I was wandering under cherry blossoms along Washington DC’s tidal basin in a T-shirt. I was a week into my field season monitoring flowering phenology in Acadia National Park, but I had traded my down jacket and LL Bean boots for a pencil skirt and pumps, hopped on a tiny eight-seated Cessna at the Bar Harbor airport, and flown to Washington DC as an Ecological Society of America (ESA) Graduate Student Policy Award recipient.
The ESA’s Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA) is actually a two-day experience. There’s a hint of career-fair, a crash course in suit-wearing, a steady shuffling of business cards, and a challenging exercise in communicating your dissertation at a middle-school-science-fair level. The agenda, of course, doesn’t list those activities. Instead, it reads: “Science Policy at Federal Agencies,” “Training Program for All Participants,” and “Orientation for Congressional Meetings.” That is Day One – the preparation for the migration of scientists to Capitol Hill, the lead in to the Congressional Visit Day.  Continue reading →

Caitlin & other grad students on Congressional Visits (photo credit: Julie Palakovich Carr)

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