Photo of Edward Carson, Bethany Kersten and Haasita Akkala in front of U.S Capitol Building

Students attend workshop in Washington, D.C., meet with Congressional offices

Three Case Western Reserve University students recently represented the institution at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering Workshop in Washington, D.C.

Representing CWRU were Edward Carson, a PhD student in biomedical engineering; Bethany Kersten, a PhD student in chemical engineering; and Haasita Akkala, an undergraduate student in biology and medical anthropology.

Alongside students from around the country, the students participated in the workshop, which was designed to empower them with ways to become voices for research throughout their careers. The participants learned from science policy and advocacy experts about the role of science in policymaking and the federal policy-making process. They were introduced to the structure and organization of Congress, the federal budget and appropriations process, and tools for effective science communication and civic engagement. 

The workshop concluded by giving the students an opportunity to formulate a set of points together to take to Capitol Hill and discuss with congressional offices. The CWRU students met with the offices of Sens. Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance, and Reps. Marcy Kaptur, Dave Joyce, Shontel Brown and Max Miller. They advocated for further federal support for Northeast Ohio graduate and postdoctoral trainees (including the new Cleveland Biomedical Trainee Alliance), clean nuclear energy, and addressing regional and national health disparities.  

Carson, Kersten and Akkala were met with positive feedback. Staffers for Rep. Kaptur requested the students continue participating in discussions on Capitol Hill to further STEMM for Ohio trainees and the growing Ohio STEMM economy.  

The students have continued interfacing with Congressional offices and are working to bring what they’ve learned back to CWRU to translate their new skills to have a continued positive impact for the greater campus community.