WASHINGTON, March 1 – Today, as voters in 14 states answer the question of who they want to be their party’s nominee for president of the United States, The Science Coalition (TSC) asked students, researchers and faculty at four universities a different question. Why should science matter to our presidential candidates?

The inaugural Q&A sessions at Boston University, Florida State University, Northern Illinois University and Stony Brook University, kick off an effort by The Science Coalition and its 64 member universities to call attention to the need to maintain America’s leadership in scientific discovery and innovation. The initial answers, compiled into a brief video, reflect the challenges facing the nation, as well as what people hope for the future.

“The world has changed. … Science is now center-stage and the politicians need to be paying attention,” said James Elsner, Chair of the Department of Geography at Florida State University.

“New infectious diseases are cropping up on a regular basis and they are threatening the United States and the world,” according to John Connor, an associate professor of microbiology at Boston University.

“The number of children with autism is increasing and science holds the key to reversing this trend,” said Andrew Lee, a senior psychology major at Stony Brook University.

“[Science] helps us determine who we are friends with … who our enemies are, who the people who need us are,” said Audrey Casserleigh, Director of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program at Florida State University.

“Because 14 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year and we need better diagnostic tests and treatments to help them,” according to Ruchi Shah, a Stony Brook University student studying biology and journalism.

“Engaging in scientific research, particularly for undergraduates, inspires innovation and discovery,” said Renique Kersh, Director of the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning, Northern Illinois University.

“Without new scientific insights … we will never get to Mars or beyond,” said Dan Gebo, a primatologist at Northern Illinois University.

“Our nation’s investment in science give us our competitive edge,” according to Elise Morgan a professor of mechanical engineering at Boston University.

All of these videos and those of other respondents are available at www.ScienceMatters2.me.

The presidential candidates’ positions on support for scientific research and their commitment to America’s research enterprise are eminently relevant questions. While the United States has long led the world in scientific discovery and innovation – and reaped the benefits of that leadership – other nations are catching up. According to recent data from the National Science Board, China and other Asian nations have been investing aggressively in R&D and higher education over the past decade while the rate of U.S. investments has lagged. While other nations are working to create an innovation dividend, strict spending caps that limit U.S. investments in science risk creating an American innovation deficit.

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, The Science Coalition will ask people why science should matter to the presidential candidates and ask the candidates to tell voters their plan for ensuring strong, consistent federal funding for scientific research. Watch for new videos and updates by following @SciCoalition and #ScienceMatters2016.

The Science Coalition is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization of the nation’s leading public and private research universities. It is dedicated to sustaining strong federal funding of basic scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, spur innovation and drive America’s global competitiveness. Learn more at www.sciencecoalition.org.

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