Two APA groups advocate on Capitol Hill for increased science funding

APA Science Student Council and APA Committee on Animal Research Ethics “Stand for Science”

Science Student Council on the APA rooftop after a successful day on Capitol Hill.

On Thursday, April 21, 2016, eight members of the APA Science Student Council (SSC) headed up to Capitol Hill for their advocacy day to make the case for support for psychological science and funding at the federal science agencies. The SSC is a group of nine graduate students, currently chaired by Jenna Cummings of UCLA, each representing an area among the breadth of research disciplines within psychology including clinical, developmental, cognitive, social/personality, and cognitive psychology.

In their meetings, the graduate students described their research (much if it federally funded) and advocated for strong, stable, and predictable funding in fiscal year 2017 for the federal agencies that fund social and behavioral science, especially the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. In addition, the students advocated for support of this research by opposing legislation that singles out social and behavioral science grants or entire programs of research for cuts or further attacks.  

All told, the SSC members had sixteen meetings with the congressional offices that cover their universities’ home districts and states. In one meeting, Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky, a state hard hit by the opioid abuse epidemic, expressed strong interest in the work of University of Kentucky graduate student and behavioral neuroscience representative Justin Strickland, who is conducting research on mechanisms and interventions for substance use disorders.  Thus, these meetings provided opportunities to further educate policymakers about federally funded psychological science taking place in their districts and states.

CARE member, Regina Gazes, Ph.D., after a visit with Senator Robert Casey's office.

On the same day, five members of APA’s Committee on Animal Research Ethics (CARE) visited ten congressional offices.  In addition to carrying the message about the importance of funding the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, CARE members spoke about the importance of research with non-human animal models. CARE chairman John Capitanio of the University of California- Davis was able to speak with his U.S. Representative, John Garamendi (D-CA) about research on the Zika virus taking place with primates at his university. CARE members have found that there are few organizations speaking up in Congress about the continued need for research with animals, which makes their educational efforts doubly important. 

You can “Stand for Science” in your hometown when your member of Congress is there for a Town Hall meeting or other public forum. Download a copy of our briefing sheet to give to your Representative or Senator. See the online toolkit to get tips on visiting your member of Congress in DC or at home.  For more information, contact Cynthia Malley at cmalley@apa.org.