The Seattle Forum on Science Ethics & Policy

Current FOSEP leaders: Renee Agatsuma, Cyan James, Bish Paul, Abigail G. Schindler, PhD, Corey Snelson, PhD, Christopher Terai. (James and Schindler are the main authors)

FOSEP logoFounded by Melanie Roberts in 2004, the Seattle Forum on Science Ethics and Policy (FOSEP) brings distinguished speakers to campus, builds community science literacy, and trains future leaders in science policy and advocacy. While there can be a dearth of opportunities at the university level to educate scientists in policy, advocacy, and communication, FOSEP aims to explore the intersection of science and society and to educate its members to become future leaders and innovators. At FOSEP we provide unique leadership opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and support developing leaders in learning to better communicate advances in science and technology at the University of Washington and its partner institutions.

FOSEP-led discussions and lectures are a place where students, professionals, and community members of all levels can exchange views on issues as diverse as food policy, health care, and astronomy. Sequestration and continued budget cuts to federal research funding are an increasing concern among FOSEP participants. In response, we have held discussion groups regarding sequestration and science funding, have encouraged our 300+ members to contact their elected officials, and have allied FOSEP leaders with ASBMB and ASPET’s science policy and advocacy activities.

While we are determined in our fight for sustained and sufficient funding for basic research, the squeeze of sequestration is already being felt at UW, reaching deep into the budgets of long-established research programs and into the lives of young scientists in training. Continued budget cuts and funding uncertainty create a deeply discouraging environment for basic research, and we are specifically worried about the tolls these restrictions will take on young scientists in training. To help prevent the impending “brain drain,” FOSEP members will collaborate with ASBMB during the fall of 2013 to develop ways to advocate for biomedical funding at the state and local levels. Likewise, we are planning a full year of discussion groups, invited speaker lectures, and science outreach events in order to continue working towards the wider goals and mission of FOSEP.

To improve the impression of science in culture and the support of scientific research among taxpayers and policy makers, scientists must engage in effective communication and participate in policy discussions. At FOSEP we will continue to hold events where citizen scientists can mingle with academic scientists and discuss the policies that affect us all. We’ll keep pushing for open dialogue about science policy and for training to make ourselves better communicators and more competitive researchers. We’ll keep fighting for the future.

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