March for Science: Murray State professor speaks out in the name of science

By Joel Polarek, Contributing writer

Evolutionary Biologist and Murray State professor Laura Beckers spoke Saturday at the Paducah satellite March for Science inspired by the Washington, D.C. March for Science.

Beckers focused on the relevance of role models who respect and understand the importance of science, funding for research and what it means to do science and consume it intelligently.

“Science matters,” she said. “Science is the vehicle by which we progress and achieve dreams as a society. Science saves lives, seeks the truth, develops new technologies and cures.”

In an email correspondence, she continued her explanation.

“Not only am I a scientist with my own research program, but I am also in the business of training young scientists,” Beckers wrote. “I want to do all I can to ensure that our society continues to respect and support scientific exploration.”

One of the ways she says the march helps to that end is to “humanize” scientists.

“It’s my hope that by speaking at the march, people will see that I am a female scientist, a mother, a teacher and the friendly girl next door,” Beckers wrote.

She added that there was a lot of talk about the march in the Biology Department.

“I was hoping that we would organize a march in Murray, but it didn’t come together,” Beckers wrote. “Fortunately, Paducah is a short drive from here and I’m hopeful that I’ll see lots of my MSU [sic] colleagues and students there.”

According to the March for Science website, marchers believe “scientific inquiry serves the common good, and it is the duty of all political leaders and policymakers to apply science in their decision-making.”

Beckers agreed with this need for change in the way politics looks at science.

“The current administration has taken several steps signaling a lack of interest in making science a top priority in the US,” Beckers said. “I hope that through the march, more people (scientists and science-supporters) will become more active in the political process and demonstrate that the population of the country has different priorities.”

The March for Science planned for our nation’s capitol had inspired 400 satellite marches in cities across the world. The local march, organized by Paducah Progressive Action, is 1 of 4 science marches planned in Kentucky.

Brittney Nelson, sophomore from Owensboro, Kentucky and Biochemistry major attended a march in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nelson said the marching brings current issues to light and brings more clarity to what the march represents and why these scientists, professors and students are participating.

“I am a science major and what’s going on with the EPA and President Donald Trump’s campaign really upsets me, and I thought marching would really get across the message that students are standing for science as well.”

“Scientists and evidence-based policy making are under attack, and people have taken notice,” according to a release from Paducah Progressive Action. “Budget cuts, censorship of researchers, disappearing datasets and threats to dismantle government agencies are harming us all, putting our health, food, air, water and jobs at risk.”

The group says it is time for people who support science to take a public stand and be counted.

“The March for Science is the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies and governments,” according to the March for Science website.

Anyone interested in learning more about future March for Science events can go to www.MarchforScience.com.

At the close of her speech, Beckers said, “Science is hard, but it’s worthwhile. If we don’t celebrate it and make the benefits clear, then we risk losing future generations.Be good role models for science.”