Meet 5 brilliant scientists running for office in 2018
At least 60 will be running at the federal level, and thousands for state offices.
In the wake of the first year of the new administration and its policies that are perceived as anti-science, actual scientists from many disciplines are throwing their hats—and their lab coats—into the ring.
Here are just five to be aware of, but there are at last 60 running for federal positions and thousands for state offices. Many of them are seeking guidance and training in just how to accomplish that from an organization named 314Action, whose splash page states:
“We are committed to electing more STEM candidates to office, advocating for evidence-based policy solutions to issues like climate change, and fighting the Trump administration attacks on science. If you want to help bring science, fact, an reason back to government, join us today.”
1) Elaine DiMasi is a physicist running in the first congressional district of New York. Previously, she deciphered the structures of biological materials at Brookhaven National Laboratory. She has already learned that “Politics is about showing up. I would go into a room of influential people, and the first three times I showed up, they didn’t care. But on the fourth time, they’d say, ‘Oh, good—Elaine’s here.’ A scientist might well wonder, ‘What did I do differently?’ I simply offered myself.”
2) In Houston’s 7th congressional district, clinical oncologist Jason Westin has a chance to win in a district that currently has a Republican in office, John Culbertson. Culbertson heads a House subcommittee that sets the budget for science agencies like NASA and the National Science Foundation, so it’s rather ironic that an actual scientist is seeking to win against him."My first commercial describes how I will stand up to Trump and the Republican Congress against their attacks on science. When I'm in Congress I'll use facts and science to fight back for us."
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump look up at the partial solar eclipse from the balcony of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 21, 2017. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
3) Moving from scientist to fund-raising politician is not an easy transition, but one who has mastered that is 20-year army veteran Joseph Kosper, an entrepreneur who has an engineering degree from the West Point Military Academy in New York. He’s running in the 21st congressional district in Texas, and he’s raised nearly $700,000 to get there. He would be replacing Rep. Lamar Smith, retiring later this year.
4) Molly Sheehan is a bioengineering postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. She’s running in the 7th congressional district of PA, near suburban Philadelphia, and she understands the fundraising challenges. “Most academics don’t make a lot of money …Academic scientists think $100 is a big deal.”
FARMINGTON, CT - AUGUST 27: Kristin Martins-Taylor feeds stem cells at the University of Connecticut`s (UConn) Stem Cell Institute at the UConn Health Center on August 27, 2010 in Farmington, Connecticut. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Of course, one early successful primary candidate for president in the 2016 election was none other than Bernie Sanders, who raised every dollar from small donations, and avoided Political Action Committees and large mega-donors who ultimately were offering dollars for influence, so it’s doable.
5) This is something always on the mind of Phil Janowicz, a former chemistry professor at California State University in Fullerton, CA. In his bid to win the Democratic party nomination for California’s 39th congressional district, he spends a lot of time thinking and planning what it will take, and raising money every day to get there. So far, he’s at about $350,000.
Much like the youth in Florida who are marching to force politicians to keep them safe at school, this wave could be the beginning of something much bigger on the political scene in the United States.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.