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October 19, 2017

Shaughnessy Naughton speaks on STEM professionals in politics

(Hong Bui / Daily Collegian)

(Translated: Shaughnessy Naughton主张政治需要STEM专业人才的加入)

Chemist and former Pennsylvania congressional candidate Shaughnessy Naughton spoke at Mount Holyoke College Thursday night, explaining how her non-profit, 314 Action, has worked to improve science policy in the country through helping to elect STEM professionals.

The lecture was titled  “From the Chemistry Lab to Public Policy: The Science of Creating a Political Movement” and was preceded by an informal student leadership seminar held that evening, where Naughton said she would answer questions on political engagement, STEM leadership and advocacy careers and the work of 314 Action.

Naughton founded 314 Action to help train STEM professionals in politics and campaigning as an attempt to get scientists elected at all levels of government. Through electing scientists, Naughton hopes that scientific issues will become more prominent in government debate and will help alleviate political gridlock.

“Scientists are problem solvers,” Naughton explained to a crowd of students and adults. “And right now, when we look at the gridlock and dysfunction in Congress—but really all levels of government—having problem-solvers is what we desperately need.”

314 Action is currently running over 6,000 campaigns, over 100 campus chapters across various universities and has state and local coordinators in 40 different states. In addition, the organization formulated a network of around 250,000 people, which, according to Naughton, “is quite promising as far as where we want to go with this organization.”

“As somebody who also did some biology when I was here, I thought it was really interesting and really important, especially now, for a woman to be involved in this,” said Kamie Ma, a senior English major and economics minor at Mount Holyoke College.

Ma also emphasized how important it is “for people to be more aware of all these situations [in a modern political climate] going on and just in general to have a general knowledge of STEM and being involved in the community and how important science has a role in politics.”

In her lecture, Naughton also called students to action, offering many ways for college students to get involved and help bring more representation to STEM issues in government. Some suggestions Naughton offered included pursuing a career on a political campaign or as scientific advisor to a candidate, starting a campus chapter for 314 Action, hosting a quorum for fellow students to discuss scientific and political issues or even simply voting for pro-science candidates.

“I think that we need to all take very seriously our role in putting our democracy back on track,” Naughton said.

“The biggest takeaway [of the lecture] is that every single one of us should get involved in political advocacy however we can and that science really matters to every aspect of life,” said Charlotte Roach, an undeclared freshman at Mount Holyoke. “So it’s all of our collective responsibility to do what we can to defend science.”

Through her work in 314 Action, Naughton remains motivated and determined to improve the country through forming a more STEM-based government.

Said Naughton, “There is a real motivation to better humanity through science, and I think that is an important story we need to tell.”

Will Mallas is a Collegian correspondent and can be reached at wmallas@umass.edu.

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