The student-run Harvard Science Policy Group makes a pilgrimage each year to Washington, D.C., to meet with scientists who work in and around the federal government. The goal of the trip is to help students understand how science informs policy and to learn about related career options for PhD-level scientists. In the past, the group has met with scientists throughout the executive and legislative branches.
When we started to organize this year’s trip, just a week after President Trump’s inauguration, we weren’t sure what to expect. At that time there were rumors of a gag order at the Environmental Protection Agency and mass departures at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Given the president’s anti-science campaign rhetoric, which has continued since he took office, we thought that government scientists might reply to our emails by saying, “Sorry, we can’t meet with you. We are too busy looking for new jobs.”