Last month, we announced our annual Got Science? Champions: folks who stood up for science in 2015, often despite serious threats to their careers and reputations. Among our five winners, we asked you to pick your favorite. Hundreds of you responded.
While some of you threw up your hands and said you couldn’t possibly choose among our strong slate of candidates—Katie Gibbs, Richard Pan, Irma Muñoz, Eric Schneiderman, and NOAA—there was a clear winner: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
You were thrilled that his office is taking steps to investigate ExxonMobil, to determine whether the company knowingly deceived its shareholders and the American public by financing climate change-denying lobbying groups, while being aware of the risks to investors—and the planet—posed by their products. So are we.
Plus, the vote came even before today’s report that California Attorney General Kamala Harris is now following suit, opening another state investigation into ExxonMobil’s deception about climate science to the public and its shareholders—and whether the company’s actions could amount to a violation of law.
NOAA’s brave stand against anti-science bulling, Katie Gibbs’ role in restoring freedom of speech for scientists in Canada, California State Senator Richard Pan’s move to protect children from preventable diseases, and Irma Muñoz’s grassroots activism in low-income communities were also inspiring to many.
We encouraged you as well to send in your favorite science champion of 2015 who wasn’t among our nominees, and we received scores of write-in candidates. Topping that list were:
- Your teachers. Many of you wrote in to name an esteemed graduate school advisor, or a favorite fifth-grade science teacher who inspired a love for botany—the “unheralded thousands working in the trenches,” as one respondent described them.
- Neil deGrasse Tyson. “He has the ears and eyes of the world upon him and has done a wonderful job of supporting science at every turn,” wrote another.
- Pope Francis. As one member rightly noted: “His words about environmental responsibility carry a great deal of weight with a great many people.”
I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to send in your choices and comments. All of us at UCS relish the opportunities we have to recognize and support the public defense of science. All courageous individuals and institutions providing education, access, and information are our partners in science. It’s our hope that someday, while the findings of individual scientists will continue to be scrutinized and challenged (as they should be), the importance of independent science will be universally accepted.
Congratulations to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and to each of this year’s Got Science? Champions.
Support from UCS members make work like this possible. Will you join us? Help UCS advance independent science for a healthy environment and a safer world.