Thank you so much to Oliver Lehmann and the entire organizing committee for the opportunity to share with you why the march for science is important and important to me.
I am from a very small state in the USA called Vermont, Bernie Sanders whom some of you might know was my neighbor and my mayor right about the time I was beginning to pay attention to the world outside my backyard and that may give you a idea of the community I was raised in. My parents taught me, among other things to always think for myself and to love and respect and have curiosity for the natural world. These are some of the most memorable things they instilled in me and they shape the lens in which I view the world.
It helped growing up in Vermont, which has more trees than people and is in the northeastern part of USA, and is covered with forests and mountains and lakes but it’s inland so I was 10 years old the first time I saw the ocean and something very memorable happened to me then, that was the moment I knew I wanted to be a scientist, I remember looking at the ocean, the vastness of the unknown was overwhelming and I felt a tug at my heart to know what lay beneath that huge body of water. That tug became a pull into studying biology at university and pursing a PhD.
This is why I am part of the March for Science because science is about understanding the unknown through critical thinking and evidence based facts. It is about new ways to educate, preserve, and improve our world.
Scientific research is the sounding board for unimaginable discoveries. Its foundation lies in inquisitive minds, independent thought, the desire to know why and how and to prove it. and you don’t need formal training for that
Through this avenue the most remarkable things have been discovered and developed like: the atom, DNA, computers, working exoskeletons that allow paraplegics to walk again, my personal favorite of the day that octopuses have personalities! The list could go on for days
If we continue to value and support scientific research just think of what science will uncover in the future that future knowledge is critical to the success of our world and it’s value it’s worth is unmeasurable by today’s standards, and should be reflected in education, scientific policy and research funding.
On November 9th 2016 I woke up to a new government, one that represents principles so vastly different from my own I felt shock. For the first time in my life I had the feeling that I didn’t want to go home. Home no longer felt safe
But those feelings quickly shifted to resolve and determination that I was no longer going to sit on the sidelines and let policy makers create laws that I would have to live within but didn’t reflect my values, I am going to have a say in what matters to me and this is what has brought me to this stage today.
I am at the early stages of my career and have not yet had to personally deal with the consequences of someone uninformed making decisions that prevent research my own or my colleagues but with the political climate of today I fear that is a real possibility unless we come together like today and show our support for a future where science is/remains a key player.
And so this, this is my first step off the bench and onto the playing field for Science.
I wanted to end by saying: Science is about reason and logic and knowledge that makes our lives better but it’s also about passion and love and in the end the betterment of not only our species but that of the world we all share and that is worth marching for.
Catherine McKenzie is a PhD-student at IST Austria. She studied General Biology at the University of California and is now doing research in Harald Janovjak’s lab dealing with the interface of synthetic physiology and neuroscience. She is in the final year of PhD-project on Design and implementation of a synthetic neurotransmission system.