Eventful week for science advocacy involves biophotonics

NPI is committed to educating the Trump administration and the 115th Congress about the importance of photonics.

Barbara G 720

Yesterday's annual Congressional Visits Day (CVD) in Washington, DC saw the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) working to facilitate relationships between industrial and academic experts and Congressional offices. CVD involved participants from industry and academe in an effort to educate Congress on the importance of optics and photonics. "NPI is committed to educating the Trump administration and the 115th Congress about the importance of photonics," said NPI chair Alan Willner. He added that success in the overall goal depends in large part on "you…to help make the case to your lawmakers."

To assist you in helping to make the case, by the way, The Optical Society (OSA) has established a Legislative Action Center on its site, aiming to facilitate communication to Congress regarding the need for strong investments in R&D funding for FY 2017 and 2018.

The 2017 CVD meetings emphasized R&D funding and other relevant legislation, and aimed to facilitate work with representatives to continue making "breakthroughs in research commercialization and technology transfer to improve our nation's competitiveness," Willner explained (see documents delivered during the 2016 Congressional visits).

The event followed the March for Science held Saturday, April 22, where OSA led efforts to unite the optics and photonics community.

OSA student member Aleks Klimas, who is pursuing a PhD in biomedical engineering at George Washington University, participated: "Grant funding is critically important to the advancement of my career and my research," Klimas said. So did Inrad Optics CEO Amy Eskilson, who said, "Science has the power to create jobs in research and manufacturing. For all of our employees, from our PhD scientists to our production floor trainees, the connection between science and their work is paramount."

OSA's 2017 president, Eric Mazur—the Harvard University professor and entrepreneur well known for application of femtosecond lasers for work in biomedicine and other applications—called the March an opportunity "not only to stand up for science, but also to reflect on how the science community needs to better educate society about science's impact on our daily lives." The events that led to the March illustrate this need, he said.

With a goal of promoting sustained, coordinated science advocacy, the March for Science's Week of Action (April 22-29, 2017) is continuing the momentum (check out their blog: https://www.marchforscience.com/blog/2017/4/23/announcing-the-week-of-action). Today focuses on the launch of The People's Science's "The Field": a direct interface between scientists and public. (Follow along at #SCICOMM and #SHAREYOURSCIENCE.)

Another way to get involved: Join The Coalition to Save NIH Funding. Established to address the proposed budget cuts of nearly 20% that would bring funding levels to a 15-year low, the coalition aims to support the biomedical research that has proven able to help millions of people avoid unnecessary pain and suffering.

More in BioOptics World View