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Marshall faculty and students organizing weekend March for Science

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Following over 400 other cities across the world, Huntington will be home to one of the many science advocacy marches taking place on Earth Day, Saturday. The marches are an effort to show solidarity and support for science and scientists in a climate that threatens the profession with budget cuts and the tearing down of government agencies.

“Scientists are everywhere,” said Jonathan Day-Brown, an assistant professor of psychology at Marshall who has been helping to organize the march in Huntington alongside Marshall student Kinsey Mason.

“We’re not just guys in lab coats doing experiments. We’re actually out there,” Day-Brown said. “We are your meteorologists. We are working for the Fish and Wildlife Division. We do a variety of things, like your medical professions.”

Day-Brown said the message of the march is about “trusting science, and it’s about trusting evidence, and that we are just like everyone else. We just do science.”

“I think this comes down to that a lot of folks don’t know what it means to be a scientist. It can be a very broad term,” Day-Brown said. “There are all kinds of people who are scientists.”

Day-Brown said the march is to help show that science is a positive thing.

“There is so much science around you,” Day-Brown said. “If you drive a car, think about the science that goes into it. Think about the clothes you wear, and the science that goes into that: the chemistry behind the dyes and the different fibers. All of that is based on scientific investigations.”

Day-Brown cited concerns with science being undervalued in the current political climate as one of the reasons for the march.

“There are a number of us who are concerned about decisions that are being made at the local, state and federal level that are not being based on science,” Day-Brown said. “When they’re not based on science, you’re going to make bad decisions. You’re going to make decisions that are not good for people’s health, not good for their well-being and not good for their future.”

The march will begin at Huntington’s Heritage Station at 5 p.m. and will make a circle around Third and Fifth Avenues. Marches for Science will also take place across West Virginia in places like Morgantown and Charleston. The main march will take place Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Huntington’s event will feature guest speakers such as Marshall professor Frank Gilliam and Day-Brown himself, as well as the local chapter of the Women’s March which will be highlighting prominent female scientists.

“I thought that maybe I could have a bigger impact at the local level,” Day-Brown said, discussing his decision to stay in Huntington to help organize the local march. “I could try to reach folks that I know, people who see me in the community. Then they realize that ‘Oh, this is the guy who I’ve seen at the grocery store, he’s a scientist. Maybe I can ask him about that.’”

Day-Brown said another hope for the march is to get kids excited about the sciences.

“I think a lot of kids don’t know, at least when I was a kid I didn’t know, when my parents told me ‘you can be a scientist,’ well what’s a scientist? What does a scientist do?” Day-Brown said.

“Hopefully people will see us and get excited,” Day-Brown said. “Marches like this are great, but I think what’s important is what we do the next day.”

Day-Brown said he hoped for “a good showing, so we can say ‘there’s a lot of people interested in science here, we need to continue funding for science research, we need to continue funding scientific education at all levels.’”

Austin Creel can be contacted at creel17@ marshall.edu.

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