The ASGSR students participated in political advocacy to congressional staff last week in Washington D.C. Eight students attended the trip, which lasted three days.
On the first day, we went to a community input colloquium at the National Academy of Sciences regarding Microgravity Research at NASA. This meeting, which occurs every 5 years, covered the latest advances in space research for the following topics: Radiation, Biology, Materials and Combustion, Fluid Physics and Complex Fluids, Fundamental Physics, and Human Behavior.
The second day of the trip we started with a breakfast panel on Capital Hill called “Scientists Bringing International Space Station Research Down to Earth”, where a panel of four scientists, including our student president Samantha McBride, explained some of the advancements to science allowed by microgravity, and how those advancements translate to real-world benefits. Then, we split up and spent the day attending meetings with congressional staff along with board members of ASGSR. We told the congressional staff how we use the ISS and other microgravity platforms, and asked them to ensure that the U.S. has a continued capability to do microgravity research even after the ISS has been retired.
On our last day, we continued to visit congressional staff, this time without the supervision of the ASGSR board members. We scheduled the meetings with our representatives, and lobbied for support for microgravity research. Some of us found time between meetings to visit important monuments and other U.S. capital buildings!
We’d like to thank everyone who made this trip possible! Cindy Martin-Brennan, ASGSR’s executive director, planned the trip and made it possible for students to participate. Jobi Cook organized the student meetings with congressional staff. Michael Pecaut, our student-board liaison, helped with our GoFundMe effort and with the student planning. Rob Ferl gave us a behind the scenes tour of the National Academy of Sciences and told us about the history of the NAS and the role it plays in advising science-based policy. The entire ASGSR board was very supportive and taught us how to talk about space policy. And of course, we need to thank everyone who donated to the GoFundMe campaign to help us get to D.C. We had a great time, and learned a lot!