A FASEB Award and DC Visit

Last December, Stand With Science entered the Stand Up For Science! competition sponsored by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.  Our entry, which described the development of the Stand With Science community and demonstrated the unique voice and perspective of students and young researchers through videos like “Stand With Science: What’s Next?” so impressed the FASEB judges that this past February, Stand With Science was awarded the grand prize of $10,000, and invited to join FASEB for its annual Capitol Hill Day event.  So this past March, three of us from Stand With Science traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with FASEB and bring our message to congressional offices on Capitol Hill.

On the evening of March 18, we met with many of the FASEB members to discuss Stand With Science and the impending issues of federal science funding.  There were representatives from FASEB and many of its member societies; some had been with FASEB for many years, and some were as new to it as we were, but all had a deep and inspiring passion for the importance of innovation, and all were eager to find out what was in store for Stand With Science.  We shared with them our desire to continue building the Stand With Science community, and our hope that Americas young researchers will become an important voice in the debate over America’s continued investment in research.

The next day, along with dozens of other FASEB members and ambassadors, we made our way to Capitol Hill, to meet with House and Senate offices and remind them of the importance of our nation’s investment in science and engineering research.  These meetings made two things clear to us: the fight for our country’s commitment to innovation is far from over, and that fight cannot be won without the effort and passion of the hundreds of thousands of graduate students, post-docs, and young scientists that form the backbone of our national research community.  The debate over the 2013 sequester is still barely complete, and the battle for funding in fiscal year 2014 and beyond has already started; without your voice, and the voices of thousands like you, across-the-board cuts, drastically reduced budgets and fewer and fewer grants will become the new normal, and the long term effects to our science and engineering communities will become inexorably more devastating.

We at Stand With Science are deeply grateful to FASEB for inviting us to join them this past March, and for the generosity and confidence they have shown in America’s young scientists and engineers by awarding their grand prize to the Stand With Science community.  It is our hope that we can continue to work with FASEB and organizations like it, to protect our nation’s investment in innovation, and keep us on the road to groundbreaking ideas and long-term economic growth.

Written by Nat Twarog, SWS Founder


Stand With Science Wins Prestigious Award as President Supports Investments in Basic Research in State of the Union Address

By Melinda T. Hough, PhD, Director of Public Relations.

In a little over 60 minutes two nights ago, President Barack Obama outlined his vision for America; a 21st century vision of prosperity built on investment, innovation, and a support of science.

“Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. We need to make those investments.” the president said. Yet, in less than 15 days, the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration, are set to devastate the American research enterprise.

Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America, applauded the president’s support of basic research saying, “It reflects the views of a majority of citizens in recent polls. Cutting funding for research is not a deficit reduction strategy.”

Stand With Science is overjoyed to hear the president supports investments in research, and the innovators, of tomorrow. As part of our mission, we entered our message in the inaugural Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) “Stand Up for Science” science advocacy competition.

On February 6, 2013 FASEB announced Stand With Science won the Grand Prize for best advocacy illustrating how federally funded science improves the health, quality of life, or economy of local communities. “Their video ‘What’s Next?’ underscores the importance of federal funding to science and technology and highlights the adverse consequences that across the board spending cuts, also know as sequestration could have on future, innovative research… We are excited to award ‘Stand With Science’ the $10,000 prize and commend them for their outstanding work in science advocacy.” Judith Bond, PhD, FASEB president commended.

The Stand With Science leadership team is truly humbled by this unexpected honor for our efforts to save research funding for future generations of scientists. Without your voices, we wouldn’t be here. We are honored to work with you as we develop new and exciting ways of advocating for science.

From Taxes to Spending Cuts – Science Funding Remains On The Chopping Block

By Melinda T. Hough, PhD, Director of Public Relations.

Washington D.C. – In a last ditch effort to avoid catastrophic tax increases and prevent the United States from going over the fiscal cliff, Congressional leaders came together on January 1, 2013 to pass The American Tax Relief Act of 2012 details of which can be found here. According to the OMB, the bill raises approximately $620 billion in revenues and saves more than $100 billion in federal interest payments. Widely heralded as a bipartisan step towards solving some of America’s fiscal problems, the act ONLY addressed tax rates effectively bumping the discussion on spending cuts to March 1st.

The 113th Congress was sworn into office two days later and discussions have turned to addressing the cuts soon to be imposed by The Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as the sequester. All federal spending, both discretionary (including science funding for agencies such as NIH, NSF, NASA, and others) as well as non-discretionary (including defense and many social programs) will be subjected to an across the board 8-10% cut for FY13. These cuts will have devastating consequences for research funding. At NSF, for example, these cuts would account for $523 million or the total spent on all undergraduate educational support programs in FY11 including training scholarships and new research opportunities. At NIH, Francis Collins predicts that would mean 2,300 fewer grants would be funded.

The American Tax Relief Act of 2012 has delayed sequestration by two months. According to Matthew Hourihan, Director of the R&D Budget and Policy Program at AAAS, “The Administration and Congress will have discretion in allocating this new round of cuts, rather than the across-the-board approach taken by the sequester – which leaves open the possibility that they’ll prioritize science and innovation funding.”

In his remarks on the ‘fiscal cliff’ deal, President Obama said, “We can’t simply cut our way to prosperity… And we can’t keep cutting things like basic research and new technology and still expect to succeed in a 21st century economy.” The entire transcript can be read here.

We have TWO MONTHS to get our voices heard. Now, more than ever we need your help as the scientists of the future to help prevent the proposed cuts to research budgets and the stifling of budding careers. Reach out to everyone you know and explain the work that you do and that it is federally funded. Call your congressional representatives and urge them to save the strongest economic engine this country has seen since the end of World War II, the scientific enterprise. Tweet. Facebook. Hold a sign. Call a local radio station. Get out the message that you believe we must invest in a stronger future built on the cutting edge research we, as the future scientists of America, are doing.

Stand With Science Reaches 1000 Signatures in Less Than 5 Days

By Melinda T. Hough, PhD, Director of Public Relations.

Stand With Science Reaches 1000 Signatures in Less Than 5 Days

Stand With Science – Saved from Sequester campaign launched on Wednesday, December 5th to a social media frenzy. In less than 5 days, over 1000 supporters have signed “The Letter” representing researchers from around the US who are making their voices heard! Click on the map to see where your fellow signers are from.

Keep talking to your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors about the importance of prioritizing science R&D during the Sequester discussions. It is your invaluable efforts that will save research funding for future generations of scientists.

Thanks for Standing With Science!

Stand with Science–back in high gear!

We’re coming out today with a new letter tackling Congress’s response to the “fiscal cliff”. If you signed last year, please sign this one as well–same spirit, different particulars, as Congress hasn’t fixed the problem. Check it out on the homepage, and ping your congressman–advice on that can be found on the “tell Congress” page.

Also up is an inspiring, fantastic video about why what we all do at Stand with Science is so important. Fun fact: Nat learned how to produce/direct/edit videos just for Stand with Science–he’d never done it before!

SWS is also up for an award from the “Stand Up for Science” competition put on by FASEB. You can vote for us here. Plus if we win, we can stop worrying about how to get money to run the site!


Budget update

The AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) recently put up an analysis of the recent House budget proposal. In addition to the full sequestration cuts hitting science, the House budget lays on an addition 5% cut to non-defense R&D. That makes a total cut of about 12% to research next year! And, as you can see from the plot in the AAAS report (red line), the situation stays bad for years… The plot doesn’t go out that far, but that low level lasts for a decade! If that seems bad to you, tell your elected representatives!

Of course, this is an election year, control of the House and Senate is split, alternate proposals are being floated… This is by no means how the final budget will look. All the more reason to tell congress how you think it should be!

Taking Your Signatures to the Hill

(You can see how it all went down on video as well!)

On Tuesday, March 27, Mike, Sam and I joined Hoku West-Foyle and Vasudha Srivastava of Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. to deliver the Stand With Science letter to the offices of six members of Congress.  It was a remarkable opportunity to give our congressional leaders a glimpse of the extraordinary passion that you in the Stand With Science community have expressed for the importance of investing in research and innovation.

Our day began in the office of Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.  We met with Dr. Neena Imam, a staffer in Senator Alexander’s office and senior research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Dr. Imam thanked us for our efforts, and assured us that Senator Alexander remains committed to the value of science and engineering research; the Senator, after all, has been a leader for many years in the furthering of federal investment in basic research, helping to pass bills the America COMPETES Act of 2007.  After our meeting in Senator Alexander’s office, we headed downstairs to the office of Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts.  Much to our surprise, Senator Brown himself took the time to stop by our meeting and listen to our message.  Jeffrey Farrah, the staffer in Senator Brown’s office who met with us, agreed that science and engineering need to remain a priority; the deficit problem has to be solved with a scalpel, not a hatchet.

After Senator Brown’s office, we took a short detour to the office of Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas.  Both Sam and I are Kansas natives, so it was a real thrill to visit Senator Moran’s office and share our message with them.  As in all of our meetings through the day, the response from Senator Moran’s office was one of strong and enthusiastic support; Senator Moran has been a staunch supporter of federal investment in research, particularly in biomedical research and the National Institutes of Health.

Next up was a pair of concurrent meetings with Representatives Mike Capuano of Massachusetts and Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania.  Mike and Vasudha met with Congressman Fattah, the ranking Democrat on the House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, and he was more than prepared for the meeting, having already read the Stand With Science letter on-line and learned about the project.  During the meeting, he showed not only an impressive familiarity with the facts and issues surrounding federal research funding, but an genuine interest in the outcomes of that investment; both Vasudha and Mike were honored to get the chance to share their research stories with him. Meanwhile, Congressman Capuano generously sat down with Sam, Hoku and me for a full half hour.  A seven-term congressman and long-time champion of federal research investment, he offered not just support, but challenged us to continue our work, and mold Stand With Science into a permanent community capable of real change.  Needless to say, it’s a challenge we’ve taken to heart.

Before our last meeting of the day, we paused to get some much needed sustenance.  During lunch we got the chance to meet up with Max Bronstein and Clint Collier of Research!America, a national advocacy organization working to protect and promote federal investment in biomedical research.  Max and Clint, with the experience and resources of Research!America, have been critical in helping us spread the word about the Stand With Science project, and it was great to touch base with them, let them know about the meetings we’d already taken, and discuss Speaking Up for Science, a new Research!America resource to help young researchers get involved in the federal budget discussion.

Our last meeting of the day was in the office of Representative John Lewis of Georgia, thirteen-term congressman and legendary civil rights leader.  Though we were unable to meet with the Congressman himself, we were able to have a very encouraging meeting with members of his staff.  It was during that meeting that one of his senior staffers said something that has stuck with me ever since: he explained that while science and engineering are important to economic growth, “when it comes time to make the budget, if we haven’t heard from you, we haven’t heard from you.”  That simple expression perfectly encapsulates the importance of staying involved in the discussion: with so many factors to weigh and interests to consider, our representatives count on us to remind them of what’s important, and why.

All in all, it was a fantastic day; but while we were fortunate to meet with six offices throughout the day, there are still 529 offices that haven’t gotten the chance to hear from the Stand With Science community.  In the coming weeks, we’ll depend on all of you to keep the Stand With Science message strong by delivering it to your Representative and Senators.  Visit here for more information on how to let them know about Stand With Science and its mission.  And keep spreading the word about Stand With Science; we may have over 10,000 signatures, but we’re just getting started.

Video 2.0 is out!

We’ve got a nice update on the front page… A new video that talks about the current, post-supercommittee science funding situation. Thanks to all the people from across the country who spoke out on the video! Stand with Science wouldn’t happen without people like you.

As of this morning, we are also *so close* to 10,000 signatures… Go out and tell a few friends to check out Stand with Science, and be the one who pushes us over the top!

You can follow the tally here.

The 2012 Research Budget

As some astute readers have pointed out, there is some good news for research coming from Congress. The fiscal year 2012 budget passed by congress is good news for science, giving the tough fiscal climate. This funding was part of the recent “minibus” passed last week.

The sequestration cuts that Stand with Science are fighting are a different issue, though. Those 9% cuts are for 2013 to 2021; they kick in right after the FY2012 budget that was just passed. In short, science is fine for the moment, but still slated to get shoved off a cliff in a year.

As you can see, even with the supercommittee failure, time has not yet run out… Sign the letter, get the word out. Another good thing to do would be write your senators and representatives, thanking them for supporting science in FY2012, and asking them not to waiver on science support when it comes to sequestration.


Some of the research related numbers passed in the minibus:

  • NSF: $7.03 billion, $173 million above FY 2011.
  • NASA: $17.8 billion, $648 million below FY 2011 (within NASA, however Science account was increased 3%).
  • NOAA: $4.89 billion, $306 million above FY 2011.
  • NIST: $751 million, $33 million above FY 2011.
  • NIFA: $1.215 billion, $128 million below FY 2011.
  • OSTP: $4.5 million, $2.1 million below FY 2011.
  • USPTO: $2.7 billion, $588 million above FY 2011.

Update on Congressional action–and Stand with Science over 8,000 signatures

Here is a copy of an email blast updating everyone on the debt supercommittee’s failure and the need–greater than ever–to write Congress, asking them to fend off the looming budget cuts to research:

Dear Science Supporters,

As you may have heard, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the “debt supercommittee”) has officially declared failure in its mandate to find $1.2T in deficit reduction. This means that the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration are slated to go into effect starting in 2013 and lasting through 2021. The sequestration cuts include the very disaster about which Stand with Science warns: roughly 9% cuts to all federal R&D funding—about $13 billion!

This makes your participation with Stand with Science more important than ever. Although the mandatory cuts are looming, congress still has time to enact other deficit reducing measures instead. We must make sure every last Representative and Senator realizes the value of research, and realizes the public supports it. The effect of word of mouth is dramatic: it’s by far the largest source of signatures on the letter, so please share Stand with Science with a few friends or post it on Facebook… We have a whopping 8,377 signatures so far, and it’s thanks to you spreading the word.

When it became clear that the debt supercommittee was failing, we decided against making a “formal delivery” to the supercommittee; all your great work would have been overlooked in the political drama of the last couple days. Instead, we will take the letter to congress as a whole, and we will keep an eye out for the most impactful time to do it. Until then, keep getting the word out! I cannot stress how important it is for you to share this letter with your friends. Although the letter was written from the perspective of grad students, *everyone* is welcome to sign.

To be clear: we are slightly changing the addressee of the letter; instead of being addressed to the supercommittee, it will now be addressed to all members of Congress. Since the letter has always been publicly available, we hope no one feels like this is an unreasonable change.

Also, we are putting together an updated video! We need to update the message in light of the supercommittee’s failure, but we also want to hear more stories, and make a video that reflects the diversity in science and engineering research and its supporters. If you would like to be involved in the Stand with Science video 2.0, please email ntwarog@mit.edu.

All the best and happy Thanksgiving,


PS- Several science/engineering students have asked how they can get more involved/learn about policy at their school. Check out web.mit.edu/spi for an example of a policy group founded and run by scientists. They have lots of good resources, and people there will be glad to help you start an organization, if you like.