Members of the Stony Brook community traveled from campus to Washington D.C. on Earth Day, April 22 for the March for Science.
The March for Science was a nonpartisan event, celebrating science, research and public interest in the sciences. 40 undergraduate students, faculty, staff and Long Island community members traveled to the march to speak up against federal budget cuts to groups like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Health.
“Global warming is everyone’s problem. Every single animal has a purpose. Elephants have a purpose. They do the landscaping in the grasslands. The bees are going extinct, because of fertilizers,” Michele Alman, a veterinarian technician and animal advocate who learned of the march through a Google search, said. “I try to do things with a space of love when I advocate.”
NAG is a group of concerned scientists consisting of graduate students and professors who want to have a greater impact on the Stony Brook campus as well the local community. Several of the outreach programs NAG has conducted have attempted to get more undergraduate students to become involved in local voting, speak with Congressman Lee Zeldin and plan events like the bus trip. Some of the professors in the group also attend local rallies to raise awareness.
“The march was pretty good,” Lyl Tomlinson, a fifth year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience and a NAG member, said. “A lot more scientists appeared than I thought would. It was very energized.” The group received assistance with funding from Joseph Verardo, the treasurer of the Graduate Student Organization.
Thousands of people attended the main march in Washington D.C., but it was a global event, with 610 satellite marches happening around the world in countries such as Australia, Brazil, China and Nigeria.
Bill Nye, one of the co-chairs of the March for Science and a well-known science educator and TV personality, hyped up the crowd at the rally before the march.
“Science must shape policy,” Nye said to the crowd. “Science is universal. Science brings out the best in us… With an informed optimistic future, together we can — dare I say it — save the world!”
Costumed individuals attended the march in the pouring rain, representing all aspects of science. There were people in blown up dinosaur costumes trudging around and others who dressed as bees or bears in onesie pajamas. Then there were those who dressed up in full suit, makeup and wig as historical figures such as Nikola Tesla, or fictional characters who advocate for science such as Rick from the show Rick and Morty.
“I went to the New York City Women’s March,” Lara Franceschinis Tshering, a graduate student pursuing a masters in pharmacology and a NAG member, said. “Obviously, there were more people at the Women’s March, but it’s nice to see how many people showed up for science.”
The crowd chanted, “This is what a scientist looks like,” “Keep Earth cool,” “I believe in science” and “There is no Planet B” throughout the march. It was a calm and concerned crowd that marched from the Washington National Mall to Union Square, where marchers placed their signs on the gates in front of the White House.
“This was my second march in D.C.,” Jane Fasull, group chair for Long Island’s Sierra Club, Stony Brook alumna and retired computer science and math teacher, said. “I was born in a very healthy Long Island environment. I saw a deterioration happening, and I needed to do something. It’s like watching a dog about to be hit by a car. You can’t just sit back and do nothing, you have to at least scream.”
Fasull, who said she has participated in two marches in Albany, is organizing a bus to the People’s Climate Movement March for next Saturday, April 29. About seven buses from Long Island, and two from New York City are heading to Washington D.C. for the event, Fasull said. There will be sister marches as well, and there are still open seats on buses across Long Island, including on The Friends of Fire Island National Seashore bus.