This weekend’s first-ever March for Science, held on Saturday (also Earth Day), drew millions of people around the world, with marches and events taking place in nearly 500 cities in support of public policy informed by evidence-based science and the free exchange of ideas.
The flagship march, in Washington, D.C., drew tens of thousands of people to the Mall and featured 45 speakers on the main stage, including Bill Nye and Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician who exposed dangerous lead poisoning in Flint, MI.
RU-N’s Jessica Ware, an entomologist and evolutionary biologist, was right there beside them as one of the featured speakers in D.C., getting a coveted slot in the largest forum within this global event.
She was approached by march organizers six weeks ago. “I was surprised and delighted they asked me to speak,” says Ware. “They wanted scientists from all the major disciplines, and I’ve been a vocal entomologist.”
Like all other speakers, Ware was allotted two minutes, and she used it to talk about how entomology is a vital science because it promotes biodiversity; ensures crop protection and food safety; and works to mitigate vectors of insect-borne diseases. She also spoke about the need for increased funding to promote understanding of evolution and to preserve and expand natural history collections.
As an African-American female scientist, Ware’s presence on the podium also drove home another message central to the march’s mission: the need for diversity and inclusion in STEM fields.
“The fact I was up there sends a message to folks watching about what science can look like,” says Ware. “Talking about my work is obviously important, but it’s equally important that an 8-year-old child will see me and say, ‘That’s what scientists can look like!’ and see themselves in my shoes and know that this can be their job one day.”
The March for Science will be the first step in a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in everyday life—including in health, safety, economies and governments. The movement aims to combat policy that ignores scientific evidence, budget cuts that threaten scientific advancement, the silencing of scientists and their research, and curbs on the public’s right to free and full debate on issues of global importance.
March organizers partnered with nearly 200 organizations on the event, including Earth Day Network, American Geophysical Union, National Science Teachers Association, and Carnegie Science.
Ware, who attended the march with students from her lab, hopes the event results in open dialogue in Congress about funding for the EPA, NSF and NIH. She also hopes it raised awareness about the number of scientists out there and the diversity of topics and people in science.
“This kind of awareness could lead to increased collaborative spirit among the chemists, biologists, mathematicians, physicists, and others,” she says. “And that will ultimately benefit all of us.”
See Professor Jessica Ware's speech here (begins at 2:27:24).