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Stony Brook Grad Students Empowered to be Science Advocates at AAAS CASE Workshop

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Stony Brook University graduate students Ilana Heckler and Matthew Cifone participated in the Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) program that took place on March 24 through March 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. The program was hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Matthew Cifone and Ilanka Heckler
Matthew Cifone and Ilana Heckler

The program provided an exciting opportunity for upper-class undergraduate and graduate students in science, mathematics, and engineering disciplines to learn about the role of science in policy-making, to introduce them to the federal policy-making process, and to empower them with ways to become a voice for basic research throughout their careers. 

“The opportunity provided by the CASE workshop to engage with like-minded students, who are passionate about both science and science policy, has fueled my drive for science advocacy,” said Heckler. “One of the meaningful takeaways from this workshop is that our job as graduate students is not only to tell the public what we know, but to explain why people should care.”

During the last day of the program, Stony Brook’s Office of Government Relations coordinated meetings with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s staff and Congressman Lee Zeldin’s staff. During these hill meetings Heckler and Cifone took the advocacy lessons learned from the CASE workshop and put them into practice.

“The CASE workshop was empowering as it emphasized how students across our nation are also constituents who possess tremendous influence upon the elected officials representing our congressional districts,” said Cifone. “I left the workshop with a better understanding of the crucial importance of not just being a good scientist, but being a strong advocate for scientific research both on the local and federal level.”  

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