The Power of Science Advocacy: Amplifying the Impact of Research

How scientists can enhance their research through advocacy and outreach efforts

When scientists embark on their research journeys, their primary focus is often on making groundbreaking discoveries and advancing scientific knowledge. However, many are unaware of the significant role that public policy and advocacy play in shaping the trajectory of scientific progress. By engaging in advocacy and outreach efforts, scientists can amplify the impact of their research, influence policy decisions, and secure vital funding. In this article, we will explore the world of science advocacy and how scientists can effectively navigate the intersection of science and policy to drive meaningful change.

The Misconceptions and Realities of Advocacy

While some scientists view advocacy as a distraction from their research, others believe it requires physically being in Washington, D.C. However, Yvette Seger, the director of strategic scientific program advancement and science policy at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, dispels these misconceptions. She emphasizes that advocacy can happen at the local level, where elected officials are directly accountable to their constituents. Scientists have the power to influence policies that impact their work without compromising their research efforts.

A Personal Journey into Advocacy

The author shares their personal experience with science advocacy, starting with their participation in the Society of Women Engineers Capitol Hill Day. Alongside fellow scientists and engineers, they advocated for legislation supporting girls’ and women’s education and careers in STEM. This initial exposure sparked their interest in public policy and led them to participate in the Public Policy Institute organized by the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering. It was during this program that they met Yvette Seger, who shared insights on the critical role of public policy in advancing science.

The Power of Advocating for Research Funding

Insufficient funding is a common challenge faced by researchers in academia. Public policies directly influence funding decisions, making it crucial for scientists to advocate for increased research funding. Seger highlights the impact of science advocacy on policies such as doubling the National Institutes of Health budget, implementing workforce policies that support early-career researchers, and training NIH grant reviewers to reduce implicit bias. By actively engaging in advocacy, scientists can directly contribute to securing the resources necessary for their research endeavors.

The Benefits of Engaging with Policymakers

Engaging with policymakers and sharing the progress and potential of scientific research is another vital aspect of science advocacy. The author recounts their experience as a congressional advocate for the Society of Women Engineers, where they visited the office of Senator Chris Van Hollen. Following their visit, the office expressed support for the STEM ReSTART Act, which aims to assist underrepresented populations in rejoining the STEM workforce. By sharing their work and journey as scientists, researchers can foster understanding and build support for policies that advance scientific endeavors.

Beyond the Lab: The Importance of Public Engagement

While scientists excel in their academic and laboratory pursuits, they often overlook the importance of engaging the public in their work. Science advocacy provides a platform for researchers to communicate the significance of their research to nonscientists and inspire a broader understanding of the potential of scientific discoveries. Seger emphasizes that scientists should not only focus on their research but also understand the policies and funding mechanisms that shape their work. By bridging the gap between science and policy, scientists can ensure that their research receives the support it deserves.


Science advocacy is a powerful tool that enables scientists to extend the impact of their research beyond the confines of the laboratory. By actively engaging in advocacy and outreach efforts, scientists can shape public policy, secure funding, and communicate the value of their work to a wider audience. It is essential for scientists to recognize the interconnectedness of science and policy and embrace their role as advocates for research. As we navigate the complex landscape of scientific progress, science advocacy remains a critical pathway to driving meaningful change and advancing the frontiers of knowledge.






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