president's / executive director’s message
APHL Marches for Science
APHL President Chris Whelen and Executive Director Scott Becker discuss advocacy—
and why it's important to laboratorians.
Scott Becker: By the time this issue of Lab Matters is published, the first national March for Science will
be history. And APHL will be proud to have been an inaugural sponsor of this important opportunity to
stand up for science and advocate for evidence-based policymaking and research funding. There will be a
flagship march on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and over 400 satellite marches around the world.
Chris Whelen: As you know, Scott, laboratory science leadership is a priority for my year as APHL
president, so I am excited to be part of this event. I have long believed we need to promote the work of
government laboratories throughout our individual spheres of influence. Sure we can boost visibility for
science, but I think we should take it a step further. Let’s elevate the visibility of laboratory science in the
eyes of the greater science community.
I have long believed we
need to promote the
work of government
our individual spheres
– A. Chris Whelen, PhD,
Becker: I could not agree more. And the fact that the march occurs at the beginning of Lab Week, well, if
that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is. We have uncertainty like we’ve never experienced before, here in
DC, and we are bracing for budget cuts for virtually every federal agency except the military. As I have said
before, we can mope and talk about the ‘good old days’ or we can take action. And there are aspects of
science advocacy that everybody can get involved in, from the bench to the director’s suite.
Whelen: That’s right. And the timing of the march—coinciding with Earth Day and Lab Week—is a perfect
storm of "nerd-vana" to distract us from the temptation to mope. Here in Hawaii, there will be four
separate marches, one on each of the major islands. I will be marching in Honolulu, and I will not be alone.
I don’t want to be an individual lab scientist in a sea of science geeks—I want to be part of a consortium
of laboratory scientists. So I’ve initiated outreach to our staff, local laboratory science organizations like
ASCLS-Hawaii and local chapters of the ASM and CLMA, key clinical and industry laboratory directors and
supervisors, as well as college and university faculty. I’ve asked that they mobilize their staff and students
(and families) to join us. We’re encouraging folks to wear shirts that show their affiliation with laboratory
science—any apparel that screams our allegiance to beakers, test tubes and pipettes.
Becker: APHL has been active as well. By sharing March for Science news on social media channels, we’ve
been able to reach more of the bench staff who typically aren’t as closely connected to APHL. I even posted
to the March for Science Facebook page my personal motivations for walking in the DC march. I said, “I
will march for science to support the public’s health and the CDC. I march for my association’s members—
public health laboratory scientists who help Americans and our brothers and sisters around the world lead
LAB MATTERS Spring 2017