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Learning to Advocate for the Future of Scientific Research

Published on 19 March 2019

The American Physiological Society (APS) has selected Alicia Pate, Ph.D., assistant professor of anatomy and physiology at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, as one of its two Early Career Advocacy Fellows for 2019. The two-year fellowship aims to engage early career investigators in advocacy activities and provide them with skills to become long-term advocates for scientific research.

As a fellow, Pate will travel to the Washington, D.C. area, where she will complete advocacy training with members of the APS Science Policy Committee (SPC). She will also visit Capitol Hill with SPC members and APS staff to speak with members of Congress, educate lawmakers on the basic science within legislation and advocate for scientific research funding.

“I applied for this fellowship because it’s a great fit for me,” Pate said. “In my role as a teacher, I am well versed at taking complex scientific terminology and information and mainstreaming it, which I feel could benefit a lot of legislators who are looking at legislation involving basic science principles.”

During her fellowship, Pate will also be paired with a mentor from the APS Science Policy Committee who will help guide her through the process of developing a project that is tied to public policy and scientific funding.

“As scientists, we’re not trained to do this type of advocacy work,” Pate said. “We are trained to write grants, but not to go to Capitol Hill and speak with legislators in their language. My hope is that this fellowship will help me learn how to be successful in advocating for scientific funding.”

Pate hopes to bring the skills she gains through her fellowship back to the College to help students learn how to advocate for basic scientific research.

“I would love to start an advocacy group on campus and be the faculty advisor,” Pate said. “It would be great to see more advocacy for basic science research at the College.” 

Pate’s fellowship will also give her the opportunity to present her current research on neuropeptides at the APS Experimental Biology meeting in April.

“Through this fellowship, Dr. Pate will well represent the science community at the national level, advocating for scientific research and education,” said Richard McCall, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Basic Sciences and professor of physics at the College. “She will bring a lot of energy to this important position and represent the College well.” 

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