The initiative, which officially launched on January 17, was set up by the political action committee 314 Action (“314” for the first three digits of pi, in case it wasn't already clear that nerds are behind this).
Inspired by political action committees such as Emily's List, the group says its goal is to connect people with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math to the expertise and funds needed to run a successful campaign.
“There's nothing in our Constitution that says we can only be governed by attorneys,” founder Shaughnessy Naughton said. “Especially now, we need people with scientific backgrounds that are used to looking at the facts and forming an opinion based on the facts.”
Indeed, the past several months have seen an uptick in political engagement among the scientific community: Thousands of researchers have signed an open letter urging Trump to “respect scientific integrity,” and hundreds attended a “stand up for science” rally at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, one of the largest scientific conferences in the country.
Naughton said she hopes that boosting the number of scientists in public office would help combat what she sees as “anti-science” rhetoric in politics.
But as a chemist and cancer researcher turned small-business owner who has twice run for Congress and lost (both times to Democratic primary opponents), Naughton knows how hard it is for someone with a background in a classroom or a lab to navigate the political fray.
“We need to have an organization that people can reach out to say, 'I want to run, can you help me?' as well as having a strong base of people who care about these issues and to have them organizing their contributions that way,” Naughton said.
For Kaplan’s full story, click here.