In Research!America's recent Your Congress-Your Health poll, Americans were asked whether or not they could name a living scientist. 65% said they could not, and another 18% were unable to accurately name a living scientist.
That's a total of 83% of Americans who probably don't know that a scientist lives in their neighborhood, works in their building, or teaches their children. I'm glad to see our top contenders in the Coolest Scientist Ever! Championship (vote in the sidebar!) are the #1 and #2 ranked responses - even though Albert Einstein is no longer a living scientist. But, as a country, I think we can do better.
In other questions on the Your Congress poll we saw overwhelming support for research among Americans. Your friends and neighbors, family and colleagues, bus drivers and nail technicians really want more research. And they should know who's doing it.
So take some time this week to introduce yourself as a scientist to someone. If you aren't a scientist, hang out with a scientist friend and encourage them to introduce themselves to others as a scientist.
Write to your members of Congress and encourage them to fund more science. Ask them to get on the record about where they stand on research.
America is a country by the people and for the people, so it is only when we the people start to make science a higher national priority that our elected officials will follow and help make the United States a country where innovation, research, science, and the people behind it are recognized as valuable.