Composite image of the fifteen 2020 Scientist Sentinels.

Meet the Scientist Sentinels!

By Amanda Stanley

Apr 3, 2018


Minute Read


We are thrilled to announce the scientists who will be part of the Scientist Sentinels: Civic Engagement & Leadership program! The goal of this new program is to build a network of empowered, mutually supportive leaders who are working to advance the role of science in society, inspire their peers, and support evidence-based decision making at the local level and beyond.

We were amazed at the interest in this program, reflected in the number and caliber of applicants. It’s clear that there is an appetite for more training and support on how to engage both as a scientist and as a constituent. The fifteen chosen Sentinels are exceptional both in terms of the breadth and depth of their scientific achievements, and in their desire to engage with society. They will be joined at the retreat in Seattle by five Science and Democracy Fellows, supported by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

This program is not just about identifying talented and motivated individuals – it’s about building a community. We know that it’s hard to step up into leadership roles and dedicate time and energy to work on challenging, and often politically polarizing, issues. Last year, we saw over a million people come together to March for Science. We marched “for the ability of scientists to share their science with the public free of political interference; for evidence-based decision-making; for the contributions of science to our health, safety, and prosperity; and for science as a fundamental way of understanding the world.”  But as we all know, the march was just the first step. This program is one way we can support scientists in the marathon that follows.

We’ve shared in the past the value of building networks of scientists for mutual encouragement and inspiration, and how bringing scientists together across disciplines, career stages, geographies, and identities adds incredible richness and depth to the training experience. Participants learn as much from each other as they do from us through these opportunities. That’s why we look for scientists who are generous mentors, and who will take what they learn and share it with their communities and beyond.

Ultimately, this program is about transformational change, both individually and collectively. It’s about helping the participants see themselves as effective leaders, who think big and have the skills they need to make their vision a reality, who can communicate effectively across difference, and who have the resilience to sustain their leadership for the long haul. But it’s also about creating a network of scientists whose collective spirit thrives beyond the program period, providing drive, energy, and purpose both for this group and for those they engage with. We all need a community of support to help us carry on. We’re so excited to introduce this group to each other, and see the changes they make, both in themselves and in the world.

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