Two PRL grad students advocate for science on Capitol Hill

  • Feb 21, 2019
  • Kerfeld lab, Montgomery lab, future scientists
  • Future Scientists, Nonfeature News Story
  • By David Arnosti, Val Osowski, Igor Houwat

PRL graduate students, Brandon Rohnke and Aiko Turmo, were part of a MSU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) team that met with staff at the offices of Senator Peters, Senator Stabenow, Representative Slotkin and four other representatives to advocate for science funding. The February 5-7 event was sponsored by the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).

“Advocacy for science funding is a fundamental part of professional training in Biochemistry,” noted BMB professor and graduate director David Arnosti. “Some students will be interested in future careers in the intersection between policy and research, while others will remember the role federal programs play in science, as they develop their careers in research, teaching, and the private sector as publically engaged scientists.”

ASBMB’s experienced Director of Public Affairs Ben Corb personally accompanied the MSU group on their meetings. The studentshad the opportunity to personally describe the fundamental research supported by federal funding, while Corb introduced them to the intricacies of the budgetary process that underwrites their work.

The students expressed a shared and keen interest in science policy and advocacy and how lobbying and the legislative process work.

“I’ve been considering a career in science policy for a while now, and a trip to DC to advocate for science really highlighted how important it is to have scientists interested in science policy,” said Brandon Rohnke, who is also a member of the Montgomery lab. “I was excited the whole trip, which is encouraging as I consider a career track in the field!”

Aiko Turmo, a member of the Kerfeld lab, thought, “I learned about how science advocacy worked at the federal level. It was a great opportunity to experience an environment other than academia and meet new people with different backgrounds who were passionate about science. I appreciate Dr. Arnosti for giving us this unique opportunity. Also, I am grateful to Mr. Ben Corb from ASBMB for showing us around the Capital Hills and coaching us on how to communicate our exciting science to our legislators.


Banner image by David Arnosti. Caption: Between visits to the offices of US Senators and Representatives, Director of Public Affairs Ben Corb from the ASBMB joins MSU Biochemists on the steps of the Capitol. Aiko Turmo is second from right and Brandon Rohnke is in the back, second from right.