Being an advocate for science can extend beyond calling your Representative or Senator or visiting them at their office. In fact, an excellent way to advocate on behalf of science is to take your representative for a visit at your office. A tour of your laboratory can introduce your representative to the important federally funded biomedical research being done by his or her constituents. All too often, public officials have never been in a scientific laboratory and do not understand what is done there and how this work is impacted by federal funding. It is also a great way for you and your colleagues to meet your Representative.
STEP ONE: ARRANGE THE TOUR
- Send an email invitation to the office scheduler. If you do not know the name of the scheduler, you can call the Washington, DC office to ask to speak to the scheduler or simply address the invitation to the Representative at their DC office.
- Be very flexible in suggesting dates and times for a visit, but stick primarily to visits between Friday through Monday, as these days are when Representatives are often in their home districts. You may also want to suggest a visit during one of the Congressional recesses that occur at various times through the year.
STEP TWO: GIVE THE TOUR
- On the tour, do the following:
- Provide a basic understanding of the work done in the laboratory in layperson’s language.
- Describe the potential economic, therapeutic, or preventative benefits of your research.
- If possible, include interesting visuals of the work you are describing.
- Set aside time separate from the tour for the Representative or Senator to meet with a cross-section of people in the laboratory (administrative staff, lab techs, students, postdocs, senior researchers, and the PI) to discuss their work and the role federal funding plays in supporting their research and training.
STEP THREE: AFTER THE TOUR
- Send an email message thanking them for their visit. Make sure to include a brief summary of your work and the role that they can play in furthering it.
- Share your experiences with friends, family, and colleagues through email and social media.
- *You may want to let your institution’s public information office know that you visited your Representative.
Note: If you were not able to secure a visit, do not be disheartened! Congressional offices receive hundreds of invitations for the limited periods of time they are in their home district. If your representative is unable to come for a tour, extend a similar invitation to a member of their staff. Staff members are well informed and play critical roles in helping Representatives and Senators shape their positions on various issues.
The ASCB has other “Be an Advocate for Science” how-to papers to help you be an advocate for science.