Scientists and supporters around the country and in Colorado are gearing up for a second March for Science on April 14, following the event last year that drew 20,000 participants to Civic Center Park. The theme for this year’s Colorado event is “Making the imaginary positively real,” and it is pinned to four ideas: investing in science; including diverse voices; celebrating innovation; and inspiring people to explore science.
The March has a decided political aim. Many of its organizers are concerned that politicians at all levels are ignoring scientific evidence and undervaluing scientific research in crafting policy.
Colorado’s March for Science President Lis Cohen is a Stapleton resident and a climate scientist. She became involved with the March last year because “I was really worried about what was going on in politics,” said Cohen. “It was frustrating for me to not feel like the leaders of our country understood and were willing to do something about climate change.”
Stapleton resident and March for Science organizer, Kevin Hennegan likewise feels concern when he hears legislators like Rand Paul propose cutting back on what Paul deems “silly science,” due to a lack of understanding of the implications of basic scientific research. “Anytime a legislator who doesn’t have a background in science starts talking about science policy, it gets really bad, really fast,” said Hennegan.
That’s why Cohen, Hennegan and others are working to get more scientists involved in politics. The March for Science group organized a community meeting last fall with Trish Zornio, a scientist who is exploring a bid for Cory Gardner’s U.S. senate seat in 2020.
Last Fall, Zornio met with March for Science members at Hennegan’s Stapleton offices. A New Hampshire native, Zornio is from a rural and conservative background and is the first in her family to achieve an advanced degree. Her graduate work in neuropsychology and neuropharmacology led her into mental health and rare disease research, and time spent between laboratory and clinic gave her experience in the impact of policies on healthcare.
“Given the massive backlash… towards science…from cutting funding to straight-out denial of the studies that have been going on for decades, whether it be climate change or vaccines or whatever it might be,” said Zornio. ”Getting people in office who are able not only to understand that science but break it down for the general public so it’s not quite so overwhelming and scary—that’s something I’ve become very passionate about.”
To learn more about Zornio see zornioeyes2020.com. And to get involved with the March for Science go to marchforsciencedenver.org.