Montell offers guidance for bringing politicians into the lab

The American Society for Cell Biology encourages its members to write letters to their local government official, meet with members of Congress on Hill Day, or otherwise engage with the policy-making process in any way that they can, especially with regards to how it affects scientists and research funding. Denise Montell, Duggan Professor of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, decided to take her involvement one step further. She invited Representative Salud Carbajal from California’s 24th congressional district to visit her lab, meet with her students and postdocs, and learn about her research.

Rep. Salud Carbajal visits Denise Montell’s UCSB lab.

Montell shares her experience in a lively Perspective published online in ASCB’s journal Molecular Biology of the Cell. More than just a memoir of the day, Montell offers colleagues step-by-step instructions on how to go about inviting a local politician into their workplace and what to do with them once there. Such a visit offers researchers a chance to showcase the impact of their findings, provide justification for the funding they receive, and practice their science communications skills. Based on her experience, Montell also offers advice for when challenges arise.

Montell reports that she found her visit from Carbajal rewarding. She writes that she believes Carbajal was converted from being “reasonably supportive of federal funding for research into a champion of our cause.” She also reported positive rewards realized within her institution from those in university leadership to the students and postdocs in her lab.

Read Montell’s entire Perspective here.

For more ideas on how to become your own champion of science, visit ASCB’s advocacy webpage or contact Kevin Wilson, ASCB Director of Public Policy and Media Relations at


About the Author:

Mary Spiro is ASCB's Strategic Communications Manager.