Hey, Congress: Scientists Are Coming for Your Seats

By Michael Dhar

From commanding eight nuclear reactors to building a telecom infrastructure in Central America, the experiences of U.S. political candidates have gotten more interesting of late. A wave of political hopefuls with science-y backgrounds may soon bring fascinating experiences and vital knowledge to the country’s governing bodies.

Famed astrophysicist and science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson once lamented that most members of the U.S. Congress are lawyers, with few STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) representatives. “Where are the engineers? Where’s the rest of … life?” he asked in 2011 on the HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

The last year has seen hundreds of new candidates try to answer Tyson’s question. More than 450 candidates with STEM backgrounds are running at all levels (local, state and federal), including 60 at the federal level, according to estimates from 314 Action, a group that supports such candidates. The organization has helped train 1,400 STEM professionals in campaigning, with another 35 to 40 completing trainings this past weekend in Chicago. 

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