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Will they or won’t they? What science groups are saying about joining the March on Science


The upcoming March for Science, set for April 22nd, is creating a buzz in the scientific community. The march arose as a grassroots reaction to concerns about the conduct of science under President Donald Trump. And it has spurred debate over whether it will help boost public support for research, or make scientists look like another special interest group, adding to political polarization.

Now, the leaders of many scientific societies are mulling whether or not to formally endorse or take a role in the event. ScienceInsider is calling around to see where they are coming down on the issue, and will be updating this list periodically.

Here’s a rundown of what we know:

Say they are supporting the march

  • The American Society for Cell Biology is “pleased to support [the march] development and has been working with march organizers,” reads an ASCB post updating its members on Trump’s first week in office. ASCB is based in Bethesda, Maryland, and has about 9,000 members.
  • The American Sociological Association in Washington, D.C. has endorsed the march in a statement on its website. (More than 13,000 members)
  • Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, supports a “march for science, not necessarily against anything,” says Jamie Vernon, communications director for the organization, which is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Sigma Xi has been helping connect grassroots march organizers with science leaders. They have also been helping Sigma Xi members across the country learn about sister marches in their area. (More than 110,000members)

Say they are thinking about it, but no decision yet

  • AAAS (publisher of ScienceInsider).  “It is exciting to see people so enthusiastic about science and the use of evidence in policymaking, and we are inspired by the grassroots nature of this movement,” Andrew Black, AAAS’s chief of staff wrote in an email to organization staffers. AAAS executives are in touch with march organizers, he added, but are still thinking about any role. “In the current political climate, we must calculate very carefully the possible ramifications of AAAS’ official endorsement or participation in an effort like the one being discussed.” (About 100,000 members)
  • The Optical Society in Washington, D.C. (more than 20,000 members). “We are still considering at this time if or how we will get involved. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the news for planning updates,” Rebecca Andersen, OSA’s public relations director wrote in an email.
  • The American Society of Plant Biologists in Rockville, Maryland. “Although we have a date and a compelling mission statement, there’s a lot that has yet to be worked out,” noted ASPB Chief Executive Officer Crispin Taylor in an email. “That said, to the extent that the march organizers maintain their emphasis on a positive and apolitical message regarding empirical science and its role in decision making, I expect that, at a minimum, ASPB will support the participation of its members in the march.”
  • The American Institute of Physics in College Park, Maryland (more than 120,000 members). “We simply do not know much about this march yet,” wrote AIP Chief Executive Officer Robert Brown in an email. But he noted that AIP staff is “free to exercise their free speech by participating in this demonstration as individuals.”
  • The American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C. (more than 157,000 members). “The American Chemical Society is impressed with number of individuals who have already voiced their support for science and the march — it is a testament to the grassroots organizing power of social media. ACS is currently seeking to gain greater insight into the goals and messaging of the march to determine if there is an appropriate role for the Society,” reads a statement from ACS.


“At this point, we are not engaged with” the march, says a spokesperson for the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States, a non-profit research organization based in Fairbanks, Alaska.

So far no organizations have explicitly come out against the march. But American Institute of Physics Chief Executive Robert Brown suggested in an email that any “inflammatory demonstrations will cause negative retaliations.”

March organizers have yet to present a detailed mission statement and official leadership team, and Sigma Xi’s Vernon thinks most organizations will hesitate to take a formal position until that happens. 

Source: Science Mag