On June 17 a group of students from Harvard, their professor, and a high school student, led by Dr. Doris Lewis, chair of the NESACS Government Relations Committee, met with 4th District Rep. Jake Auchincloss and his staff to discuss bills to be included in the USICA/COMPETES Act. After sharing their unique paths into the world of chemistry, they presented bills H. R. 476, Innovation Centers Acceleration Act; H. R. 204, STEM Opportunities Act; H.R. 74, Protecting Local Communities from Harmful Algal Blooms Act; H.R. 2307, Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act; and H.R. 1512, Climate Leadership & Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act.
These bills addressed a range of issues: inclusion in the sciences for women, minorities, and immigrants; STEM funding for bright young scientists from under-resourced regions; prevention of natural disasters caused by toxic algae blooms; and awareness about supply chains for helium. During the meeting, we discussed the growth of medicinal chemistry, academia, and international collaboration, in conjunction with policymaking and ACS’s interests. As a representative for one of the biggest scientific communities in the nation, Rep. Auchincloss shared his experiences working with Congress on these and similar bills and how language from these bills could be included in larger legislative packages, offering to take closer looks at some of the bills we mentioned. Overall, the experience allowed the young scientists to share their experiences, build stronger connections with our representatives, and strengthen the bridges between scientists and lawmakers.
Participating in the meeting were Tessa Haining, Harvard senior and undergraduate researcher at Dana Farber; Brammy Rajakumar, Harvard senior and research assistant; and Dr. Heidi Vollmer-Snarr, Director of Advanced Undergraduate Laboratories and Senior Preceptor on Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Zach Snarr is a student at Concord-Carlisle High School. Dr. Vollmer-Snarr is a member of the ACS Committee on Chemistry and Public Affairs and has a leadership role in involving research students in public policy.