Ask the Scientists

March 26, 2017

Our first public event, Ask the Scientists, was held on Sunday, March 26 at the Suffolk Y JCC. We were supported by Action Together Long Island (ATLI), a group that works to bring about change through awareness and activism. Our goal was to begin to build communication between scientists and the community. We wanted to hear questions and concerns from our friends and neighbors about science-related issues so that we, the scientists, can help address them.

We watched a wonderful short video called "Science Fuels Humanity" created by SciAll It describes how science underlies nearly every part of modern life, and how each of us engage with it every day.

We covered many topics and we'd like to highlight some of the main discussion here. We didn't have time to get to all of the questions, but we are working to get answers to those we didn't get to and to provide links to valuable resources on our website in the near future

If you still have questions we haven't answered, feel free to email them to scienceadvocacyli@gmail.com. Our team of scientists is happy to answer them!

  1. The process of science
    • Scientists constantly evaluate evidence, which continues to change and improve with new technologies.
    • Conclusions may change depending on new supporting evidence.
    • Science is self-correcting over time.
  2. Politics & science
    • Call your representatives about issues that you're worried about. To find your representatives' contact information, click here.
    • There is a critical need for research funding.
    • Think about how science impacts you directly.
    • Support basic research from the top-down (privately funded research institutions) or from the bottom-up (STEM education in schools).
  3. How to evaluate reliable information
    • Improve communication between scientists & the public.
    • Learn how to identify reliable information & misinformation: determine if the article is peer-reviewed, look at multiple sources, check references, and even contact the authors with questions.
    • Remember that funding sources must always be disclosed, and even privately funded research undergoes rigorous peer-review process by experts and continues to be evaluated by scientists in the field long after publication.
    • If it looks like 'click-bait' — it probably is!
    • Call out unreliable information being shared on social media.
    • Always think critically, especially when extremely strong words are used (this is "catastrophic!" or this is the new "cure" for cancer!)
    • Remember a lot of fields are very complex — sometimes the experts are in agreement but many times they are not. There is a huge body of literature for many subjects, so one single paper may not be enough to draw conclusions from.
    • SALI will work to compile a reliable list of resources.
    • Ask a lot of questions — reach out to your friendly neighborhood scientists :-)

Meet the Panelists

Dr. Miriam Fein

Dr. Miriam Fein

Reviews Editor at Genes & Development, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Ashley Aleksey

Ashley Aleksey

Analytical Chemist at Truetox Labs LLC. Conducts chemical analyses of drugs of abuse and therapy.

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Brandon Ashinoff

Doctoral student in the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham, UK. Studies the brain mechanisms involved in controlling attention and how they change with age.

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Dr. Jaclyn Novatt

Assistant Professor at Long Island University School of Pharmacy. Studies drug resistance in HIV and how to improve science education.

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Casey Giordano

High school earth science / biology / chemistry teacher. Worked for the EPA, FEMA, and as a field geologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for natural disaster emergency response.

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Abraham Kohrman

Doctoral student at Stony Brook University. Studies how cells move between different tissues in the body, an important process for the immune system and for the spread of cancer.

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Dr. Russell Burke

Professor of Biology at Hofstra University. Community ecologist researching vertebrate wildlife of Long Island.

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Dr. Sarah Gross

Associate Professor of Biology and Curriculum Director of the Bioscience Program at Farmingdale State College. Conducts research on the life cycle of herpesviruses.

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Dr. Michael Feigin

Post-doctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Studies pancreatic cancer.

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Emilis Bruzas

Doctoral student in the Watson School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Studies the connection between the immune system and relapsing breast cancer.