UCSD Turns Out at Second March for Science

Ryan Maher/The Triton

Thousands gathered at Waterfront Park on Saturday to take part in San Diego’s second March for Science. Among those in attendance were speakers, advocates, and marchers from UC San Diego.

The March was intended to be a successor to last year’s March for Science. It seeks, according to its primary website, “to hold our elected and appointed officials responsible for enacting equitable evidence-based policies that serve all communities and science for the common good.” It took place alongside hundreds of similar demonstrations around the world, with the principal event located in Washington, D.C.

Proceedings consisted of speeches and presentations, a march, and an expo featuring dozens of scientific, entrepreneurial, and political organizations.

Representatives of UCSD were present among speakers, expo organizations, and marchers.

Ryan Maher/The Triton

Ryan Maher/The Triton

Featured UCSD speakers included Professors Rob Knight and Jeffrey Severinghaus, graduate student Alyssa Griffin, and Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment & Teaching Excellence (CREATE) representative Alberto Vasquez.

“Don’t believe that you can wait until it gets bad to take action,” warned Dr. Severinghaus, a paleoclimatologist. His speech, “Science Shows that Fossil CO₂ is a Timebomb, with a Hundred-Year Fuse” discussed how the oceans’ ability to absorb greenhouse gases is cushioning the world from much of global warming’s worst effects, and how these gases must eventually be released.

Mr. Vasquez, a UCSD-educated biologist, STEM Engagement Specialist, and advocate for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, gave a speech entitled “Boundaries as a Point of Contact, not a Point of Separation.” It emphasized the necessity of investing in youth of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, and of presenting the sciences as tangible, egalitarian phenomena that anyone could perceive and embrace.

“We’re not sure what tomorrow may bring,” said Mr. Vasquez. “But one thing is for sure: when we talk about policy, we know–we know–that science and data have a place in that conversation.”

UCSD was also present among the expo booths. Among them was Science Policy, Advocacy and Communication (SciPAC) at UCSD, tabled by PhD students Nina Gao and Gina Powers. According to Powers, the group seeks to, “equip [scientists] with tools to advocate for science, [particularly toward] non-science people.”

SciPAC formed last year to combat the widespread ignorance of scientific understanding among public policymakers. “We really want to change how our legislators think [about science],” said Gao. “Because to them, it’s just numbers on paper. To us, it’s our livelihoods.” She also hopes that her fellow scientists can glean some communication experience from the organization. “I think all scientists should have a base-level understanding [of public advocacy]. A greater goal [beyond merely saying], ‘No, I’m just gonna do my science and someone else can tell people about it.’”

Among the marchers taking to the streets were UCSD students.

Katherine Hernandez, a third year Warren student, is a member of the Ecology, Behavior and Evolution Club who came out to show solidarity. “I think the speakers were really great,” she said. “Bringing us together, especially in a community [like] San Diego…We’re going to be affected really early on with water rise. As Californians, we know what it is to care about our environment.”

Ryan Maher is a Staff Writer for the Triton.