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To Make Change: International Scientific Collaboration and the Plea for Equality

In the wake of the International Scientific Collaboration (ISC) debate, the Federation of American Scientists communicated a call to action, allowing scientists to share their concerns and opinions on ISC. Scientists throughout the nation were able to share their stories as to how ISC was a key aspect of scientific and technological research. They highlighted the importance of collaboration and pointed out the barriers that would be unveiled with any potential stoppage in collaboration.

In addition to sending in examples and testimonies to support the benefits and necessity of ISC, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) aided scientists in obtaining meetings with their local representatives to discuss the importance of collaboration in research. I was able to take advantage of this offer and, after contacting the President of FAS, Ali Nouri, about my interest in meeting with my representatives, Dr. Nouri put me in contact with Mike Fisher. Dr. Fisher is a senior fellow at FAS and previously obtained his Ph.D. in molecular biology from Princeton University.

Mike was able to help me make appointments with my local House representative, Joseph Morelle, and one of the NY senators, Senator Kristen Gillibrand. In preparation for the meetings, Mike facilitated my research of key interest areas for each individual and the committees they were a part of. This allowed us to tailor our talks to each individual’s interest and concerns, in order to ensure that they were engaged. In addition, Mike was able to collect unique personal statements from scientists regarding the importance of international collaboration that we provided to the individuals’ staff.

When the day of the meetings arrived, Mike guided me throughout the entire process. We met with Representative Morelle’s legislative assistant first and discussed how collaboration, specifically international collaboration was crucial to University of Rochester and my own research. In addition, we highlighted how collaborative studies could aid in our fight against climate change, something that our own lakeshore is witnessing with the recent Lake Ontario flooding. Following this meeting, we discussed the proposed House bill to deal with this issue as well as the fact that there was going to be a similar bill put on the Senate floor with Senator Gillibrand’s legislative assistant.

The day turned out to be quite productive and it was a great opportunity to help policy makers better understand the need for international collaboration. The Senate did indeed propose a bill, Secure American Research Act (S.2133), to better understand the issue and how to deal with it in an ethical and non-discriminatory way. Senator Kristen Gillibrand was one of the co-sponsors of this bill.