Why science? Scientists share their stories

Personal stories are a great way to communicate scientific endeavors, and to bring context to policy discussions and in community outreach. 

Shortly after AAAS launched the Force for Science site in February of this year, we presented several questions and invited the public to share stories about the importance of science.



We asked:

  • Why is science important to you?
  • How has science affected your life, your career, or your community?
  • Why is it important that the government continue to invest in research and support the scientific enterprise?
  • What message would you like to send to policymakers regarding science?

We received more than 150 stories, a selection of which were published in the 12 May issue of Science. Those stories, and more, can also be read on this page.


Sustainability and conservation

I work in conservation. Ecosystem collapse would end human civilization as surely as nuclear war or global warming. Natural sciences show why we need to conserve biodiversity. Social sciences show that conservation needs people for economic and political support. In an attempt to address these complex issues, I have moved from ecological research to industry, to law, to trade disputes, to ecosystem services markets, to ecotourism, and now to psychology. How can we harness human desires, and create social machines and political institutions, to protect planetary ecosystems? Science leads the search for new ideas and understanding.

Ralf C. Buckley

Griffith School of Environment, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD 4222, Australia.

As a marine scientist, I study fish communities living within mangrove habitats in the Galapagos Islands. We hope the Galapagos National Park will use our findings to design zoning plans that will not only protect biodiversity, but also support long-term productivity of local fisheries. It is important that governments support scientific research because the results can ensure that resources are exploited sustainably in the long-term, improving the well-being of their citizens.

Denisse Fierro Arcos

Marine Sciences Department, Charles Darwin Research Station, Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, Ecuador.

 

Human health

Science is what makes us modern humans and gives us the quality of life we have today. We can look back over the evolution of humanity and clearly see what science did over time. People were dying from simple infections that are cured with Neosporin today. Thousands of would-be mothers and babies died throughout history because a simple cesarean section could not be performed properly until the 19th century. As a parent, I cannot be more thankful and relieved when I think of all we have available to make sure our children grow up with access to proper medicine, nutrition, and education. As a professional, I can't think of any part of the day when science is not part of my life.

Daniel L. Clinciu

Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Science, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan, 40402, China.

I have suffered from anxiety and depression since early adolescence. My research on building resilience in adolescents has provided me with a blueprint to improve my own life and the lives of others. Critically, this blueprint is based on science! That means it is evidence-based, with a strong empirical and theoretical basis, allowing me to make concrete recommendations to community groups conducting work in the area of adolescent mental health. Without government investment, none of this research would be possible.

Damian Scarf

Department of Psychology, University of Otago, Dunedin, 9054, New Zealand.

As an M.D./Ph.D. student, I have the privilege of observing the direct impact science can have on patients' lives. I sleep better knowing that science works to prevent doctors from having to tell patients that “nothing can be done.” I would ask policy-makers to acknowledge the incredible recent progress science has made in health through genetics, stem cells, medical imaging, microbiota, and more. Science creates profits, job opportunities in a knowledge economy, and human progress. Let's invest together.

Mark Trinder

Centre for Heart Lung Innovation, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6Z 1Y6, Canada.

Science shed light on the environmental and economic issues affecting my hometown of Flint, Michigan. Because of the water crisis in Flint, the country began to investigate similar communities, revealing similar issues. Research leads to new discoveries that improve all of our lives. It is why we are able to move forward with innovative health, environmental, and technological advances.

Endia J. Santee

Cancer Survivorship Program, University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA.

As a Ph.D. student and postdoc, I learned to sift through research literature to find out about the latest advances in medical research. Fast-forward 10 years, and I used the same resources to wrap my head around pediatric medicine. I found that while modern medicine certainly does not have all the answers, it has many solutions and is actively seeking more. Armed with hope and a measure of confidence from this knowledge, my husband and I adopted a child considered “difficult to place for adoption” due to medical challenges. Looking back 8 years, it is hard to imagine we could have ever passed by our gorgeous son. He is healthy, happy, and sports-mad, and he lights up the room with his enthusiasm for life. His school displays the word “YET” (as in “I don't know the answer YET”) prominently in every classroom. For me, this is what science is.

Katherine Kirk

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD, 4006, Australia.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. The beeping machines, the electrodes, the IV drip—all an affront to the natural childbirth we had planned. But there were complications, so cables streamed data from the baby to the machines while the IV stimulated contractions as my wife pushed heroically amid the clamor. When the baby's heart rate dropped, the cesarean became inevitable. “We have to do this for Benjamin,” the surgeon said urgently, looking straight into my wife's eyes. Thirty minutes later I held him, wet and warm, his skin separated from my lips only by the thin cloth of my surgical mask. And now, 18 years later, Ben's robotics team is the champion and he ponders which engineering school will be his new home. He has a deep love for machines, data, equations, and how to solve people's problems. Science matters because it makes our shared lives possible.

Tim Watkins

National Park Service, Washington, DC 20005, USA.

My father is a microbiologist. In the early 1990s, he developed a medication that prevents HIV transmission from mother to child. Now, my father has Parkinson's disease. If we fail to fund scientific research, the experiments that might one day lead to a cure for Parkinson's will be stifled. This is why defunding biomedical science is shortsighted. Investments in research are just that: investments. They won't pay of next week. They won't give a bump in polling popularity. But what they will do, eventually, is to save actual human beings from suffering. If government dollars aren't worth that, what are they worth?

Andrew Merluzzi

Neuroscience and Public Policy Program, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53705, USA.

 

Truth

Science is important to me because it can be proven, demonstrated, and replicated with accuracy. It is not a gut feeling or a difference of opinion. My community in Pakistan is rapidly catching up with the world, and we do so with the help of science.

Haider Ali Shishmahal

Cyberjack Studios/PixelArt Games Academy, Islamabad, Punjab, 44220, Pakistan.

Scientists do not understand how someone can be presented with overwhelming data (which is painstakingly, slowly, laboriously compiled, checked, rechecked, and debated) and then say, “This isn't happening.” Policy-makers must understand that science is a vital way of illuminating the world. If we don't like what we see, then we need to make changes to improve the situation rather than trying to turn out the light.

Rebekah Morrow

Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dothan, AL 36305, USA.

 

Shared history

The history of science is our heritage—our national, cultural, and social shared identity, united around the tenets of naturalism and empiricism. It gives us pride in past generations and hope for future ones. Those who oppose science try to undermine the influence it has on our political and social policy. This is unnecessary. Science cannot make our decisions for us. Ever. Only we can do that. Thus, we must fund science. We must always replenish the pool of facts about the world, from which we can choose what we want and how we want to achieve it. That is how science is nonpartisan.

Em Dzhali Maier

Department of Science and Technology Studies, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.

“If you don't know your history, then you don't know anything; you would be like a leaf that does not know it is part of a tree” (Pohnpeian proverb). For Pacific Islanders, the past is a resource—it is part of you. As an archaeologist working in the Pacific, this means engaging communities to bring their history alive from the remnants of their ancestors, where every artifact is part of the human story. Through science we tease apart that story, and ground it in facts drawn from stone foundations, altered terrain, and the tangible debris of human activity. The result is an understanding of a community's genesis through time and space, including its social, economic, political, and technological organization—a heritage that inspires future directions and contributes to the human puzzle of life, endurance, and adaptation.

Felicia R. Beardsley

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of La Verne, La Verne, CA 91750, USA.

 

Shared future

I would not be where I am without my colleagues. Several researchers at my institution come from different countries. Despite the differences in culture, our common purpose to make the world a better place unites us. Governments should cooperate in the same way. No matter what, we share the same planet and we are responsible for it.

Karen da Silva Lopes

Department of Sustainable Development, Vale Institute of Technology, Belém/Pará, 66055-090, Brazil.

Public high school in Southern Indiana gave me a vague understanding of what science does, but not how to “do” it. To me, science was some sort of magical process, with grand ideas appearing from some hidden genius class. I later realized that police investigators (usually) use something similar to the scientific method. Most officers don't follow a formal process, and few would consider themselves scientists, but they are finding truth. I realized that science and scientific thinking is for everyone, not just ivory-tower geniuses. There is a great sense of empowerment knowing that anyone can “do” science, which —for me—also increases curiosity. We should invest in science, not only to help innovation, but to improve the lives, curiosity, and thinking of the average person. Science is for everyone.

Joshua I. James

Legal Informatics and Forensic Science Institute, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Gangwon, 24252, South Korea.

 

Discovery and wonder

Science is what makes even the mundane aspects of nature profound. I am from a society that relies on mysticism for cures, and science has allowed me to break free from ignorance and identify problems and their prospective solutions with pragmatism. A few months ago, while educating children from a slum, I noticed their excitement when I told them how the air we breathe moves through our whole body and is carried by blood, like a cargo system. The government should bring science to these children, or they will be left in a different age.

Hassnain Qasim

Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, 44000, Pakistan.

I am an astronomer. I love that we can look up into the sky and wonder at its beauty, and then we can study the stars and galaxies we find there. I love that astronomy can serve as a gateway for students to get into science because of its ability to inspire wonder. While there are important economic benefits that have emerged from the study of astronomy, from the calibration of the Global Positioning System (GPS) to laser surgery, we must not lose sight of the importance of wonder and inspiration that come from the study of science.

Jessica Rosenberg

Department of Physics and Astronomy, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA.

From astronomical observations, important theories were developed that describe the gravity of bodies. Centuries later, we had the theories of relativity. Humanity built on that knowledge, and several decades later we had technologies that gave us our satellites, the GPS, and the ability to send scientific instruments to other planets. We also had observations of atomic properties that led to the quantum theory. Decades later, we had lasers and computers. The practical impact need not be immediate for scientific discoveries to be important. Anything that reveals how the world works is important on both a philosophical and a technological level. But history has shown us that even basic research leads to substantial practical outcomes that improve our lives considerably sooner or later.

Spiros Kitsinelis

Nightlab Publications, Athens, 17121, Greece.

Thanks to public education and television, I fell in love with science and research at a young age. I've studied why bread rises, why meat browns, why canned peas soften, and why food tastes so darn bad on airplanes. We like to think of science as facts and logic, but really science is about finding out just how much we don't know. We must continue investing in science so children know the importance of asking “why?” Science and wonder are all around us, all the time. You just have to look for it.

Samantha VanWees

Department of Food Science, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Runner-UP Submissions

Much of my childhood was spent watching my scientist father isolate cells from the beating heart of a rabbit. The role models that surrounded me were international, creative, brazen, and passionate. I took for granted that anyone could discover and share a piece of the world that no one knew existed. Years later, I have the dream job of testing out my own ideas in the lab. I have connected with students by teaching them my craft-- a family heirloom. I have felt the all-consuming highs and lows of any artist, writer, pioneer. Every scientist is someone I could have grown up with, and I swell with pride at each contribution we make. Now, we have been dealt the painful message that science is not a valued part of our society, that diversity of culture and thought is unwelcome. Is this the world our children will grow up in?

Yunji Davenport

Harvard Medical School, Brookline, MA, USA.

I breathe air. I drink water. I eat food. I generate waste. I need the ocean. I need the planet. So do you. So does every living thing. Only science will help us survive. It really is that simple. Without scientific advances, we will perish as a species and drag the rest along with us in a death spiral of selfishness and ignorance.

James Donato

Free agent, Hopewell, NJ, USA.

Scientists are explorers, and scientific exploration is for everyone. The daughter of immigrants, I have long been enchanted by the discovery of new worlds. Even exploration without a destination, like John Glenn's orbits, brings us new information and imbues us with thirst for more knowledge. The sense that I, too, could learn something that would help my community stayed with me through my childhood in Ohio, adolescence in California, and graduate studies back in Ohio. I began researching the causes of breast cancer and found a hero in Mary Claire King, who identified the most crucial breast cancer gene, then used her genetics expertise to reunite families in war-torn Argentina. Applied science might have corporate sponsors, but the government should fund science that helps us answer questions we didn't even know to ask.

Cindy Lee

Academia Sinica, Taiwan, Taipei.

Science is important to me because it satisfies my natural curiosity and allows me to understand complex phenomena through rational explanations. With this knowledge I have the potential to create useful applications to benefit others and contribute to my community.

Being able to know the truth about what goes around us is, now a days, a necessity. Critical thinking is a very important skill you can learn through the practice of science, also source-research and fact-checking.

“Basic” science and biotechnology are a fundamental tool we have as humans to add value on our natural resources and to make an efficient use of them. Applied sciences transform plants, animals, minerals, water and soil, in a sustainable way. Scientific research supports the creation of effective health solutions to improve people's life.

It would be very irresponsible to cut science funding and to ignore its importance to humanity.

Lorena Díaz Hemard

Universidad de Chile, Chile, Santiago.

I am a student of engineering, although the passion of my life has been classical music and dance. I have been studying dance for nearly fifteen years of my life. But it is only after I started receiving formal education in science that I began appreciating dance and rhythm better. Studying Math, Physics and Mechanics helped me appreciate motion and the fluidity of dance more. Pattern recognition, analytical thinking and critical thinking capacities that science instilled in me have aided me in appreciating the arts. Contrary to what I used to believe, the arts and sciences are not at odds with each other. One complements the other and serve to enhance the other's beauty. The objectivity of realizing this would not have come to me had I not studied science. Studying science has made me more aware and alert to both the sides of my personality.

Durga Tilak

Cummins College of Engineering for Women, Pune, India.

My family chained the young people by saying educated people either become hawker or clerk using a bribe. Despite of this my mother has a very strong believe a person with the good quality of education, especially in Science can have a successful life. Before me, my younger brother and sister left the school. Even going against my elders my mother encouraged me for the betterment of next generations break this taboo. In the meantime, thanks to GOD government of Pakistan newly introduced the higher education commission (HEC). Its main focus was on universities, mainly science subjects. Because of my undergraduate degree in computer science, immediately after graduation I secured a job in a company. Not only this I also did Masters from abroad and currently doing a job in abroad. With the efforts of my mother and benefits of science, today my family knows the importance of education.

Abbas Ali Butt

Eguana Commerce, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Science has invaded every branch of modern life. It is the noise of machines, cars, mills and factories, etc. which awakens us every-day in the morning. The clothes we wear. Science has led us to finding out things that give us what we have today. In fact without science we would not have electricity which would mean no internet, nor would we have fridges to keep food fresh.

A world without science would mean living in a very different way to that of what we live today. Science is based on curiosity and how to's. In fact we are natural Scientists - watch children and you will see that young children play like Scientists work, with investigation.

Science affects the lives of all humanity on a daily basis through inventions, progress and improved technology. The most important scientific breakthroughs include the invention of plastic, electricity, agricultural expansion and modern medicine.

Sagar Laghari

District Shaheed Benazir Abad Nawabsh Sindh_Pakistan, Islamabad, Pakistan.

Thirty some years ago, I had the good fortune to be hiredby a start-up company to help in the manufacture of custom lab animal diets. These diets continue to beused in basic nutrition and nutritional aspects of disease research such as obesity related causes of diabetes and heart disease.

Most of the funding for this research came from the federal government. In return, the government and the medical profession promoted nutrition as a way to keep the american people healthy. This led to many start-up companies selling products to the nutrition conscious market thus creating jobs and increasing tax revenue.

The same can be said for other government funded scientific research. Overall the results of scientific research have benefited everyone by making our lives easier and healthier and brought in much more revenue than what was initially invested.

Shawn McGee

Dyets Inc, Easton, PA, USA.

The basic tenet of science involving the quest to explain, discover the truth is what makes investing in science critical. Pursuit and dissemination of scientific knowledge is critical to curb the afflictions faced by human societies. Lack of knowledge plagues rural societies with communicable diseases such as AIDS in the sub-Saharan Africa or leads to undue victimization of women in remote corners of Indian villages where it is still the custom to blame the women for the birth of a female infant when in fact genetically, it is the father who decides the gender of the baby. Although science is a tedious affair with years of struggle, discovering the truth can up-lift and sometimes change human societies forever. Be it in the form of the humble aspirin pill found ubiquitously in our lives to cures for some of the most deadly of diseases, science enriches our lives on all fronts.

Divya Ramalingam Iyer

UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA.

Science is my life.  I want my whole future to be science related, whether teaching or research. I want to help people and help the planet, science does that. Science can improve lives and save species. Who wouldn't want to invest in that?  Defunding science doesn't just hurt scientists, it hurts the people who suffer from diseases like cancer. It hurts people who need clean water and renewable energy. It hurts species like the polar bear, facing extinction due to climate change. Defunding science hurts our future, all of us. This is the time to invest in our future, our people, and our planet.

Skyler Stevens

Sul Ross State University, Sedona, AZ, USA

Growing up, I thought scientists were cool, but didn't think it was a real job. I thought that people just played them on TV. During childhood, I engendered a love of nature and an irrepressible urge to protect it, but these were hobbies, not the sign of a budding career. By a whim of fate, I stumbled into academia, and now hold a Ph.D.  I spend my days surrounded by students, young idealistic souls with big ideas, and together we create bits of new knowledge, a privilege I never imagined having. Science is knowledge, and knowledge is what sustains us. What are we to become if we lose any sense of curiosity about the natural world, about the origins of life, or about the beautiful planet we selfishly inhabit, presuming all that surrounds us to be ours. To wonder at and to question what we know is to fully exist.

Susanne Brander

University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Wilmington, NC, USA.

“I don't much like cancer research; too many patients who brought it on themselves.” These are the ironic words of a younger me, a molecular biologist who doesn't yet realize that she'll be a breast cancer survivor before she turns 35.

For years, breast cancer research has been focused on ""early detection and prevention.""  But breast cancer rates haven't changed in 15 years.  The first line of treatment for breast cancer? Still a surgeon's knife.  Often radiation or chemo follows.  Eventually you get more modern hormone-related treatments.  Likelihood of metastasis after all of that?  Still 20-30%. Research into metastatic disease has only recently begun to be recognized (and funded) as an important next step.

I have three small daughters and a career in science.  I need scientific research not to abandon the future me, the woman who could stay a ""cured"" survivor or become a metastatic statistic.

Erin Childs

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA USA.

Science transforms chaos into order and order into data. We live in a universe that keeps proving itself to be more and more profoundly complex each time we look deeper or further within towards the atom and beyond into the quantum realm, as well as outwards into the vast never-ending reflections of space and time. We are sailing between layers of infinity in the abyss of nothing but also on the edge of everything. We carve our very own never-ending story as we journey through this adventure. Is the world magical, quantum, informational, holographic, imaginary, simulated, or spiritual? And most important of all, what is our part in it and why are we here? These are all questions that science inexorably scratches at like an itch that won't go away. Either-way, science allows us to quantify the world around us in a meaningful way that inspires and pushes boundaries endlessly!

Kenny Thorson

nanocheeze.com, Hillsboro, OR, USA.

"I've loved science since I was 14.  My best friend Randy and I were fascinated by chemistry, which at the time meant smoke bombs and thermite.  It sounds silly but this was my start to becoming a scientist.  Randy and I founded a chemistry club in high school so we could learn more and get others involved.  College then opened our minds to the vastness of science but it also brought challenges.  Randy died midway through my studies from a battle with drug addiction... I struggled knowing he couldn't pursue science at my side but told myself I'd now have to work twice as hard, for the both of us.

Science failed Randy.  We failed him.  Investing in more drug abuse research could've brought better therapies.  As a scientist, I now know this picture is so much larger.  Behind every ""research dollar"" sits a story, or a Randy.  That matters.

Mark Lucera

University of Colorado, Aurora, CO, USA.

Can you be completely cured _cure completely when you are injured or sick?

Can you travel to see your friends or relatives by cars, trains or airplane?

Do you have clean water or hot water, whenever you want?

Do you drink Japanese sake?

Do you watch TV, listen to radio or iPod, or play games?

Do you email or text?

Do you turn on a light at night?

Do you have clean and sweet fruits at the supermarket?

Answers to these questions are all "No", if you LIVED several hundred years ago.

However, science is the only way to turn THE dream into "Yes", or reality in our life. Once THEdream becomes reality, we tend to forget how important science is and how much time and effort scientists have spent.  Now is the best time for us to rethink THIS.. Science has been built from generation to generation over thousands of years.

Takaaki Kuwajima

Columbia University, Fort Lee, NJ, USA.

For me, science is the gateway to self-expression. Merging my passion for old school hip-hop with intricate scientific rhymes, I found I could get ordinary people to care about and relate to topics they didn't understand. With the drop of the beat, I went from scientist to communicator and I found my niche in the ecosystem. Science, like music, is an artform that allows us to connect to something bigger than ourselves. The process, a dynamic and intricate melody that unites us in the beauty of our differences.

Alex Warneke

Deep Sea News - Science Communicator, Escondido, CA, USA.

Science brings excitement to my life, both at home and work. As a child, the discovery that I could live a life of exploration of the unknown and possibly advance human understanding led me to pursue degrees in biology, and ultimately a career in academia sharing that love of discovery with the next generation of students. The continued investment in scientific discovery is essential to humanity's continued existence and well-being. It is through scientific research generating valid data that we will find the solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow. These discoveries will also open up opportunities for the enhancement of life that today can only be imagined. Only governments can provide the level of funding necessary to make the major discoveries in basic and applied science that will support our future. It is the responsibility of policymakers to optimize the potential of the scientific endeavor.

Kenwyn Roan Cradock

Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, NM, USA.

I was raised in an acutely creationist environment. From a young age, evolution was a four-letter word, both in church and in religious school. I remember reading Inherit the Wind by Lawrence and Lee, and William Jennings Bryan, defender of creationism, was viewed as the hero of the story. I attended religious school K-12 and never once was taught evolution. Indeed, I first learned it as a college freshman. Fortunately, several years' prior, my earth science teacher laid the foundation for me to grasp Darwin's theory. He taught us plate tectonics, and suggested – likely against the will of the school – the earth was very old. I am now an Assistant Professor who investigates the chemistry of the origins of life. I doubt I would be where I am without that teacher, and that lesson. Science teachers: you are the true heroes of the story. You have our support.

Jay G. Forsythe

College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.

Science (I'm a biologist), the lens through which I view the world, is at its core about the unknown. 

As a scientist I am comfortable with the fact that I don't know very much.  More than comfortable, my lack of knowledge is exciting!  Because that means there's more to know and that keeps life interesting.

As a teacher I try to impart that enthusiasm for the unknown to my students.  Because if you're excited about not knowing something that means you're willing to ask questions and learn something new.

Why is government support of science important?  Because science= learning.

Amy Rice Doetsch, Ph.D.

College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls, ID, USA.

Moving to the U.S. 5 years ago from Vietnam, I am fortunate to join research laboratories and be mentored by scientists who are experts in their respective fields. Although most of my experiments did not work at first hand, I have learned to think critically, enjoyed the process of problem-solving, and sharing my experience with others by attending scientific conferences. More importantly, I understand the circumstances of minority students who are passionate about science but are drawn away by the lack of information and support financially, and timely. By attending STEM club at school, volunteering at science event, I have chances to talk to others, share my experiences, my stories, and somewhat stimulate others pursuing science filed. Without the support from the government and multiple STEM education promoting program, I would not have such great learning and sharing experience as I am still struggling adapt to the new environment.

Hoang Phuong My Nguyen

Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.

Not all science is as exciting as the latest space shuttle taking off for orbit. Sometimes, science is sitting for hours at a sterile hood working quickly to keep your cells from getting cold. Will they respond to this treatment? Have I discovered a link to treat aortic stenosis?

Because my science isn't visible to the naked eye and doesn't involve explosives, some might think it's not worth investigating. Why should we care if a heart cell prefers one binding peptide over another? Well, I ask you this- what if this knowledge leads to an understanding of how cells interact with a surface, which translates to understanding how a cell behaves within a body, which someday, means people could take a pill to correct fibrotic tissues. Understanding how science works takes time, but is essential in contributing to society and improving the lives of all on this planet.

Megan E Schroeder

University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA.

Science is not just a class, but a way of thinking. Curiosity taught me how to ask questions, but science taught me how to answer questions and solve problems. Science taught me that there can be a lot of opinions and explanations, but there will always be undisputable facts that are based on evidence.

Without support for science, our nation won't have the tools and resources to make discoveries, solve problems, or answer questions.

Christina Forbes

Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.

If it weren't for science, we wouldn't be using smartphones or living past 30. We wouldn't be driving cars or repairing hearts. We'd never have reached the moon or the depths of the seas. To continue living is to continue exploring and understanding our world, bettering it for all living creatures. Progress cannot occur without thought, debate, and analysis. If past leaders had said "no" to science, we'd never be where we are today - no cures, no technology, no insight. Supporting research is imperative to all and a necessary part of our progress on this planet.

Nadine Dalrymple

Rutgers University Foundation, Piscataway, NJ, USA.

They say science is analytical and has nothing to do with being human. I disagree.  Science and humanity are intimately linked. Medical and technological research help us grow food, protect us from the elements, prepare for storms, and save lives. Scientific research helps us understand and live in our world.

More important is the fundamental principle that drives every scientific discipline—the careful analysis of available facts to support, revise, or disregard a belief, strategy, or plan. The ability to do this is the crux of successful decision-making and it's central for allowing us to move forward as a society. Without it, advances that continue to make our lives better-and open new markets to replace obsolete jobs-are impossible.

I am a scientist. But my livelihood isn't why it's important to me. Science is important to me because it makes the world I live in a better place to be.

Vicki M Giuggio

New York, NY, USA.

Our lives are intricately, inextricably intertwined with technology, the visible manifestation of scientific principles and accomplishments in action. Naturally, technology is what comes to most people's minds when they think 'science'. But much more than its assorted applications, science is – at its most fundamental – a way of living by continuous examination and reappraisal of our place in nature amongst other living beings and non-living objects, be it in the context of this planet, solar system, or the known universe. This empirical rigor allows science to offer the most parsimonious and rational explanation of the natural world around us. Science teaches us to ask questions and critically evaluate (and repudiate, if untenable) possibilities, thereby exploring, discovering and understanding the wonders of nature in all their scintillating or ominous overtones. This appreciation is key to the survival and prosperity of our planet; rejecting science in our lives imperils the future.

Kausik Datta

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Science healed me and opened doors that I never imagined I'd cross through. An adult survivor of childhood abuse, I used the military as my immediate way out, but after my service found myself without a clear purpose or direction. In college I found my passion for science. I turned that passion into 20 years of working with students, predominantly in low socioeconomic communities, sparking understanding and building scientific literacy and critical thinking that will pass through to their children. Texas State University, through a cooperative agreement with NASA hired me to continue that work with teachers in Minority Serving Institutions. Our country can only be great if our history of innovation and discovery continues. We led the world in those respects once. Science education programs enable the passion I found to take root throughout our citizenry, allow wonder to take hold, and genuinely ensure the future of our children.

Steven Carter Smith

NASA STEM EPDC, Los Angeles, CA, USA.