Stacie has been at Research!America for nine years. She is now transitioning to operating her own business, where she will continue working on science and health policy in her home state of Alabama.
What will you be doing in your new position? Fortunately, I will continue the work I have been privileged to do on behalf of Research!America but with a more local focus. With University of Alabama at Birmingham as the largest employer in the state, Alabama and the southeast has the opportunity to become a research and development powerhouse. My goal is to make any contribution I can to increase Alabama’s R&D competitiveness nationally and globally.
What is the most challenging part of what you do? Getting stakeholders in research to come together and push in one direction is always challenging. If united, the research advocacy community can achieve almost anything.
When did you first become interested in advocacy? When I was in graduate school, I watched several congressional briefings on embryonic stem cell research. Watching these made me realize that Congress must have a hard time understanding these complex scientific issues. There was a clear need for a more diverse range of voices for science and I wanted to help my peers speak out about the value of their work.
At the same time, I was watching many brilliant and highly trained young investigators struggle to get funding for their research. I figured if there was more money allocated to research, more transformative ideas could get funded, benefiting all of us.
I decided that instead of complaining, I would get out and do something about it. I knew Washington, DC was the place to get the national experience I needed to really make a difference back home.
What advice do you have for someone interested in advocacy and/or outreach? I know the hardest step is getting started, so you just have to get involved, even if only a little bit at a time. You can start by volunteering outside of the lab. Being an advocate will be easier if you’re involved in your community. You have to be proactive and make advocacy a priority. And, you may have to make some hard choices. I had to leave research and overcome the stigma of doing so and also move across the country where I didn’t yet have a job. But when action meets vision, you can get a lot done.
We thank Stacie for sharing her experience and advice, both for this article and through her time at Research!America. We wish Stacie the best of luck and know she will be successful!