Building through trials: New science policy chapter formed in the midst of COVID-19

May 02, 2020

COVID-19 has been the focus for almost two months now; amid the disruption, there has been positive news. A burgeoning science policy student group has emerged at the University of Cincinnati, and members have found ways to engage while keeping in mind social distancing guidelines. Two of the group’s founding members, Paige Greenwood and AJ Adejare, graciously penned responses about their efforts in carving out a space for science policy in their community.

What goals does your chapter have?

One major goal for our chapter is to be officially recognized as an organization on the University of Cincinnati’s campus. In the interim, we plan to continue to recruit using social media and mass emails to graduate students during this social distancing period. We have been able to accomplish a mass-call to Senator Brown and Portman, as well as Congressman Chabot on addressing the COVID-19 crisis in our community with our current members. 

We are also planning on addressing voter equity during this pandemic and the importance of science in the upcoming election. We want to bring in policy experts via a webinar series to inform us about science policy careers and how to use our scientific expertise to address legislators during the policymaking process.

Editor’s note: Paige, in particular, has recently participated in the 2020 Election Initiative, publishing an op-ed in The Cincinnati Herald, on COVID-19’s impact on the local public school system.

You started your group right around the time COVID-19 was affecting the U.S. How has that changed your approach to reaching out to folks and coming up with events?

We have had to use platforms such as Zoom and WebEx to have our meetings with our members while adhering to social distancing. This has allowed us to brainstorm upcoming events and discuss current issues that have affected our laboratory productivity because of the COVID-19 crisis. To get the information out about our mass call we used our personal social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to recruit students within the Cincinnati area. We have also leaned on WhatsApp as a way to have rapid communication and information dissemination. Although we chose to start our organization during the pandemic, it has not stopped our drive but rather emboldened us to support our community and peers that are affected by COVID-19.

How can folks follow what your chapter is up to?

Since we are in the process of having our organization officially recognized on campus, we also aim to create a Twitter and Instagram account. Stay tuned! In the meantime, we can be contacted through our Gmail, ucscipol@gmail.com.


 

 

Paige Greenwood (left) is a 4th-year Neuroscience Doctoral Candidate at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Her research focuses on the role of socioeconomic status on the behavioral and neurobiological correlates of reading for school-age children at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. She became interested in science policy through her science outreach by teaching elementary school children of color about neuroscience in Cincinnati Public Schools. She aims to understand how she can use her neuroscience background to advocate for educational reform for marginalized and low-income communities.

 

AJ Adejare (right) is a 4th-year Biomedical Informatics Doctoral Candidate currently at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.  His informatics research focuses on looking at disparities such as racial disparities in dialysis patients' preferences and values for treatment options. His interest in policy sparked from a health policy course he took in the second year of his doctoral program.  Since then he works to understand the policy and how said policies can disproportionally affect science, minorities, medicine, and the combination of the three.  

 


 


If you’re interested in joining the National Science Policy Network, we have many resources and tools available to new students and chapters. There is a public primer to get your group started,  a reading list of science policy texts, and our NSPN AirTable for a collection of science policy and science communication-related information. Signing up is easy through our network portal, scipolnetwork.org, where you can find out more about our chapter microgrants, additional resources, and community networks to get you and your chapter plugged in! Contact contact@scipolnetwork.org for further questions.


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