Earlier this April, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC to represent the Ecological Society of America as a recipient of the Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award. This event provided me the opportunity to meet with my members of Congress to discuss my research and the benefits of federal investments in the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other science agencies.
While strolling around the Tidal Basin to observe the annual cherry blossom bloom, I was taken aback by the grandeur of the Washington Monument and was reminded of the insight of our Founding Fathers. In his first annual address to Congress, George Washington believed that knowledge was the surest basis of public happiness and advocated that “there is nothing which can better deserve [our] patronage than the promotion of science.” Whether I was meeting with the offices of fiscally conservative representatives or progressive senators, I was left with the impression that both valued scientific research. It is my hope, having shared my research along with other students in my field, that our members of Congress will be more inclined to support a federal budget that increases funding to the NSF. By continuing to support the NSF, they can be assured that the United States will continue to fuel scientific innovation and educate the next generation of scientists.