Marine scientist advocates for positive change in and out of office

I am a biologist.

It is engrained in me. While it was not until just before I entered college that I made the conscious decision to study biology and become a career scientist, science has played an integral part in my life since I was little. I was that kid who went tide pooling on weekends to discover marine creatures, set up chemistry sets in the garage and did experiments with my dad.

I have been rescuing animals ranging from rabbits to newts since I was about five years old. Science has always been there, drawing me in. Discovering the natural world and the amazing living beings found on this earth, finding out why and how things work and then using that information to better the world or save an animal or an entire species is what has kept me captivated all these years, and continues to inspire me to learn more and do more with that knowledge.

As scientists we have always run into many road blocks, such as lack of funding or resources to do our work.

But in recent years new challenges have been arising that as a student and a scientist early in my career I never considered I would face: that scientific facts would not be accepted as scientific fact despite being peer reviewed, accepted by the scientific community and based on solid evidence.

There has also been a growing trend for policy to not be based on facts and in many cases completely contradicting scientific recommendations. These types of decisions can have many negative repercussions including risking losing endangered species and harming our environment in irreversible ways. While this all seems a little scary, I have hope, and I have found my voice and realized that there are many things that I can do and that we all can do to stand up for what we know is important.

Having had a connection to the Woods Hole Science community for more than 13 years and being a resident of the town of Falmouth (Woods Hole is a village of Falmouth), when I first heard about plans for a March for Science, I knew that our community needed to be a part of this movement. Recently, I have become very active in my local community, getting more involved in town government and volunteering in the community. I have realized how important this is for all of us to do, always and I have also realized, you cannot wait for other people to take action, if you think something is important you have to take that leap and do it.

I founded an organization with seven friends called Engage Falmouth, consisting of all talented women from varied different backgrounds who like me wanted to make a positive impact on our community.

With Engage Falmouth we are hoping to mobilize, motivate and empower our local community to be a force for positive change, in hopes that local change will be a catalyst for positive change beyond our community.

Community organizing and involvement in impacting policy is new for me. Like many other scientists, I once thought that policy and science should be separate for the most part and as a scientist I should not be involved in trying to change policy, only provide the facts. However, my view on this has changed dramatically. Who better to advocate for change, than those who have dedicated their lives to learning and discovering information on a particular topic or issue of concern?

Until the March for Science, my community organizing with Engage Falmouth and other local organizations and my work as the Necropsy Coordinator for IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue & Research Team has been happening in parallel, never overlapping, until now! Having been involved as one of the six organizers of the March for Science in Falmouth, since shortly after the official march was announced, I was incredibly excited, might I even say giddy, when I heard that IFAW is supporting and participating in the March for Science, bringing the two parts of my life that are equally important to me together! I am proud to work for an organization that is willing to stand up for science in this world wide movement!

The Falmouth March for Science is the only officially registered march on Cape Cod, MA. This local event will take place tomorrow at 2pm on the Town Green in Falmouth. There will be several speakers including Woods Hole scientists, a local doctor, teacher and a student, then a short march through town. To honor Earth Day there will be beach clean-ups at 10 am that morning at several Falmouth beaches.

Immediately following the march there will be a screening of several family friendly short science films at the Falmouth Library. Please see our website and  Facebook page for additional details! We hope to see you at the march or hear about your experiences at a one of the more than 500 marches across the world!

--MN

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