It’s the Fourth of July! What Could be More Patriotic Than Serving on a Science Advisory Board?

June 29, 2017 | 10:58 am
Scott Hamlin/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (Flickr)
Andrew Rosenberg
Former Contributor

Earlier this month, I wrote about my experience serving on various federal science advisory boards and committees. In that post, I encouraged my fellow scientists to consider taking on this challenging but rewarding task. A lot has happened over the last two weeks that makes this even more important.

Just this week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its call for nominations for the EPA Science Advisory Board, the Clean Air Science Advisory Council, and several subcommittees. At the same time, as my colleague Genna Reed has written, there has been an ongoing, intense controversy about the Trump Administration’s handling of these important groups, which provide independent science advice to the EPA and other agencies. In essence, the agency is seeking to change the membership of the boards and even, perhaps, to make them less independent from regulated industry. That would be a real mistake.

What can scientists do?

The EPA Administrator does have the authority to appoint scientists to the advisory boards, as do other heads of agencies such as the Department of Interior, NOAA, and the FDA. But it would be a shame if they could use the excuse that they didn’t have that many applicants outside a narrow community of scientists.

Are you a scientist with expertise in the fields described in the call for nominations? The notice for just the Science Advisory Board states,

The SAB Staff Office is seeking nominations of experts to serve on the chartered SAB in the following disciplines as they relate to human health and the environment: analytical chemistry; benefit-cost analysis; causal inference; complex systems; ecological sciences and ecological assessment; economics; engineering; geochemistry; health sciences; hydrology; hydrogeology; medicine; microbiology; modeling; pediatrics; public health; risk assessment; social, behavioral and decision sciences; statistics; toxicology, and uncertainty analysis.

The SAB Staff Office is especially interested in scientists in the disciplines described above who have knowledge and experience in air quality; agricultural sciences; atmospheric sciences; benefit-cost analysis; complex systems; drinking water; energy and the environment; epidemiological risk analyses; water quality; water quantity and reuse; ecosystem services; community environmental health; sustainability; chemical safety; green chemistry; homeland security; uncertainty analysis; and waste management.

That’s a lot of disciplinary expertise needed. And even more fields are requested for the other boards, including:

So why not put your name forward? I am sure many outstanding scientists are willing and able to contribute. If you are an expert who has currently or recently served with SAB or CASAC, the nomination/self-nomination form is here. If you haven’t served before, you can nominate/self-nominate here. The deadline for submissions is July 27.

So sit out in the summer sun, watch the fireworks, feel patriotic, and put your name forward to serve as a science advisor. It is a patriotic thing to do, and we will all thank you. Happy Independence (for Science too) Day.