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How The 2016 Elections Could Impact STEM in the US

  • Posted by Milton Bertrand
  • January 24, 2017 11:25 PM EST
  • 3 comments
  • 1,550 views

By Milton Bertrand

STEM is the acronym that stands for Science, Technology, engineering and Mathematics. The days post the 2016 elections articles after articles scientists and researchers (STEMers) express grave concern, fear and even panic about the implications of future STEM research like biomedical research.

STEM fields have been responsible for a lot of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII.  Will America continues its leadership in these areas?  What policies will best ensure that America remains at the forefront of STEM innovation?

“I am simply stunned,” said Rice University physicist Neal Lane in an interview with Science magazine. “Trump’s election does not bode well for science or most anything else of value,” he added. Lane is a Democrat who once headed the National Science Foundation (NSF) and served under President Bill Clinton as a White House science advisor.

“Trump will be the first anti-science president we have ever had,” says Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington, DC. “The consequences are going to be very, very severe.”

Prior to the elections, Trump has questioned the science underlying climate change.  He suggested that climate change was a Chinese hoax and pledged to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.  “The Paris Agreement (French: Accord de Paris) is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.” Wikipedia

Here is what Susannah Gal associate dean for research and outreach at Penn State Harrisburg has to say. “Presidents have power over the direction of scientific research on a very large scale. This complete reversal of direction, based on the values of the president, is one of the more dramatic examples of the extent to which a change in administration can have a profound effect on science research.”

Mike Pence Vice President who holds conservative and religious views may have colored his perceptions of science. In 2009, he wrote in The Hill that embryonic stem cell research is "obsolete," after President Barack Obama lifted federal restrictions on such research. He also claimed in 2001 that smoking doesn't cause cancer.

What happens to women in STEM? President Trump has always been openly hostile to women; it is a major threat for women in every industry. While women have made a lot of progress over the years, there is a great possibility that women in the United States will give up these gains.

Many of the greatest and hardest challenges that we face as a nation extend beyond our borders and can only be ultimately addressed through global solutions and collaborations; it is a privilege to live in a country like the United States where individuals around the world aspire to visit and even immigrate to. It is indeed in the best national interest to think beyond our borders, and through our leadership, do everything we can to foster STEM education. What does it mean for Foreign STEM students and collaborators?

As STEMers, we have to stay active and fight in the name of STEM.

References:

1-http://election2016.psu.edu/2016/11/03/election-2016-whats-ahead-for-scientific-research/

2-https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2016/11/scientists-express-concerns-about-how-trump-will-affect-science-policies-and-

3-Business Insider

4-Wikipedia

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