Today is a review kind of day.
Our organization is migrating from one web platform to another, which means we have to carefully think about what web content for the Center makes it over to new site: what issues do we want to highlight, what internal and external information do we need to link to, what ways do we need to update how we talk about our work, especially in light of our workplan for the coming year? I reviewed and provided feedback on what our Webmaster had prepared for the website migration and am excited to see how it all turns out.
The next item to review is promotional material we are developing to welcome new members to our Science Network. In addition to its internal staff scientists, analysts and engineers, UCS has, for over 20 years, engaged scientists and technical experts in academia, industry and government to develop policy solutions to our issues areas: nuclear security, transportation, climate, energy, food and agriculture. This network now consists of more than 18,000 members. In the last two years, under the umbrella of the Center, we had devoted additional dedicated resources to the Science Network to expand and diversify its membership and train and engage our members more comprehensively. As an example, my colleagues are organizing a webinar later this afternoon for our members entitled, ‘Science and Policy: Using your expertise to influence the policy making process,’ and one of speakers is a physicist, a former intern with the Center, who now works for a US Senator and therefore has some real-life experience to share with our attendees.
In particular we’ve found that early career scientists are much more willing and excited about building their skills and applying them to outside their labs and field sites. I routinely get asked to speak at career panels informing graduate students and post-graduate fellows about pathways to non-academic careers; the UW-Madison life sciences day I wrote about in my introductory blog is one such example. I also represent UCS in a coalition of scientific societies and universities thinking about systematically improving engagement of scientists and engineering in policy.
As part of the expansion of our Science Network, we are developing a welcome packet for new members who my colleagues in outreach mostly recruit at scientific conference. I reviewed the packet for overall content and utility before it goes to our Executive Director for a final approval.
The final document I reviewed today is an analytical and informational product we are developing on food policy. For the past three months we’ve had a superb research associate work on this project. The idea for the toolkit is a follow on from a public forum we held in Minnesota this May on food system reform. We have an urgent problem at our hands: our current agriculture policies incentivize the production of processed junk foods at the cost of healthier options. These wrongheaded policies have driven a chronic disease epidemic fueled by poor diets, and even worse, socioeconomic and minority populations are more vulnerable to misinformation campaigns by food companies while simultaneously suffering from a lack of equal and affordable access to healthy foods. The food policy toolkit is our attempt to explain the national, regional, and local policy landscape, and their influence on food access, to people who would like to participate in improving healthy food availability in their communities.
The food policy toolkit is in the home stretch. In the past few weeks, we have written, re-written, reviewed, re-reviewed, and gone back and forth with the reviewers, editors, and the designer on several iterations of it. Today, we reviewed and finalized the layout for it and now it’s off to the printers! We’ll be officially releasing the toolkit on Food Day, October 24, and have ambitious plans of putting it in the hands of individuals who need it and connecting them with local scientists and public health professionals. I’m confident in the potentially high impact of the resultant product.
The other things I did today: discussed potential speakers for a series we run for the scientists and analysts at UCS; attended a training on our research search tools, including LexisNexis; and happily discovered a copy of the quarterly journal published by the French National Center for Scientific Research in my mailbox. A couple of months ago, a colleague and I met with two French researchers and the science attaché at the French embassy where they invited us to author an article on the state of scientific integrity in the US Government. The journal issue I found in my mailbox included our article. My first French publication!
Long and productive day…now off to Yoga on the esplanade.