Alumni Panel: Science Center Celebration (Oct. 20, 2018)

October 25, 2018

The Science Center opening celebration kicked off with a panel of four alumni reflecting on their time at Amherst College. Shirley Tilghman, president emerita and professor of molecular biology and public affairs, Lewis-Sigler Institute, Princeton University moderated the discussion.

Transcript of Alumni Panel: Science Center Celebration

- And now it's my great pleasure to introduce our trustee, our friend and an eminent biologist who used to be President of Princeton University, Shirley Tilghman.

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- Great, so the other three of you of course did study science here at Amherst. So as you think about what Harold just said, how did studying science at Amherst affect how you thought about where you were gonna go next? Who wants to start?

- Heading down the road I'll take that on. So the courses I took here were just seminal in my development as a scientist, in particular the courses that I took in philosophy, the philosophy of science in particular was a fantastic course that made me go every time I encountered something, question what's the link between observation and reality and so I've made a career out of questioning other people's assumptions about the link between observations and reality. The other thing I want to say is picking up on your point about the symbolism of this place. It's a little disturbing for me today. I missed the comparable dedication to the Mural Science Center but I was here when the first group of students including me moved in and everything that's been said about this place we said about that place. I assume it was said about this place because I wasn't in the equivalent meeting and I'm glad to have a chance to be here. And picking up on what Biddy said, I'm pretty sure that some of you are are in my bedroom from my junior year because that structure is no longer here but anyway, having an office in the Mural Science Center overlooking the Holyoke range, part of the life of the mind with this elite group of physics professors and elite group of students made me feel appreciated in this college full of English majors and AM study majors that indeed I was doing something worthwhile. So its symbolism is important.

- So I guess to sharpen my question for both Kim and Julie is did it matter to you that you were at a liberal arts college as opposed to at a place where everybody was studying science?

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- For me, it was tremendously important to be in a school with the excellence of the faculty here and in particular, I think we'll get to this later but I would say my senior advisor under whom I wrote my senior thesis taught me how to write and that and I of course was taking English classes and political science but to write scientifically and not have it be technical is something that has really served me and I think enabled me to be not just a scientist but a leader in science because I understand why am I phrasing this question and we really worked on it and it was required to be embedded where everyone else was posing those questions so crystal clear but you had to integrate that into your scientific approach that it was not separated from the rest of a liberal arts education. The way in which I thought of myself as a scientist was as a person who was a liberal arts first and foremost within that then I was a math major. But I had to state my hypothesis and formulate it and write these 50-page math thesis which I then compiled on the VAX of Seeley Mudd but I learned how to write in tech which has also served me well but it was about really this full integration and that was particularly important to me. My father's a high energy theoretical physicist and I would see people kind of saying, oh you're a physicist and then this sort of glaze over of like you must be smart. I think it really compelled me to want to be a scientist where people would then say oh and what do you work on and you know and actually try to engage and have science be part of how we talk about our lives.

- That wonderful answer leads me to point out that when I think maybe all but Julie attended Amherst. Every student was required to take at least one science course and as we now know, there is an open curriculum now at Amherst and so it is possible luckily not many of the students actually take advantage of this but it is possible to graduate having not taken a course in science. Is that a mistake? Are students sort of missing an opportunity to learn a new way of thinking that perhaps is not being represented in the rest of the curriculum? Brad you come from a University where that would be impossible to accomplish. MIT is not gonna let that happen.

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- Kim it looked like you wanted to respond as well.

- Sure I currently teach in a doctoral program right now that's aimed at developing the next generation of public health leaders. So our doctoral students take a curriculum in public health, the science of public health as well as a parallel curriculum in leadership management, communication and strategy and increasingly what we're finding is that the kind of problems our students are interested in solving and I think this is the case with Amherst students as well, there is no one single discipline that can provide the answer or the pathway. One needs to have expertise as well as conversational capacity across different disciplines and to know what you can trust, what are the reasonable sources of information but also how to build those bridges and increasingly in the world we're in right now, I think it's incumbent upon scientists to also develop the capacity to speak to the public and to think about novel ways and accessible ways for very complex ideas to enter into everyday dialogue. One reason that health policy is often something that people do have strong opinions about it's because it's a kind of kitchen table issue. People talk about it over the kitchen table and I think there are many critical scientific issues that could have that same status if there was a greater pathway for people to be able to participate in the conversation and feel that their ideas might also receive uptake by scientists who were actually conducting research.

- Harold.

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- And I want to come back to the role that the senior thesis plays in just a minute but I want to just follow up this line of discussion for a minute and sort of flip the coin a little bit and that is to say that we are living right now in a country where it appears that the level of science literacy is shockingly low. I think surveys routinely show that 40% of people who respond to surveys claim that they do not believe in Darwin's theory of natural selection and in evolution. We have a growing population of people in this country who will not vaccinate their children because of a fear that the vaccines cause autism, despite the fact that there have been many scientific studies that show that that is not the case and I think Brad has already alluded to one of the most shocking failures of scientific literacy which is the fraction of people who despite scientific consensus, do not believe that climate change and global warming is happening. So the question I want to pose to the four of you is the question of whether we as scientists are doing enough to broadly educate the public about these scientific issues, about the nature of discovery about what it means... The difference between a theory, a hypothesis and a proof for example. Are we doing enough or is it even our responsibility? Harold you spend a lot of time thinking about this.

- I do and I think there's no doubt that we are not doing enough and hence the results we're seeing and that's we're not doing the right thing because we haven't been very clever about defining what we mean by scientific literacy. It clearly does not mean knowing a lot about all fields. I know a little bit about Brad's field but not a whole lot and he's reciprocated saying he doesn't know a lot about ours but I think the point that you're getting at is the critical and that is the nature of the scientific process, the way in which you go about getting information that approximates the best we know about natural phenomena, the ability to learn how to how to approach evidence and to know what the limits of scientific understanding are. These are the things we need to teach. It's often difficult to do that. When I go out on the hustings to try to tell people about the science that I do, my colleagues do. They say well how when are we going to cure cancer and that's not teaching scientific literacy and so I think it's time for us to reevaluate what it means to try to inculcate a sense that the public understands what scientists do. We don't really transmit that in effective ways. It's not enough to send your graduate students out to tell their neighbors what's going on at their medical center. It's a bigger problem than that.

- So say that one of the challenges is the incentive system within universities as well. Certain kinds of academic work is valued in a very different way and public education is not really at the top of that list. So at Harvard over the last couple of years, there's been a real effort to think about what it means to engage scientists at an early stage of their careers during graduate training in thinking about civic engagement and to build that into the process of communicating their research passions and their research findings. But again, until some of the incentives in the academic world are aligned with that, it's going to be difficult for that to be other than a side project or an incidental part of the work that people do.

- One other point here and that is it's hard to avoid preaching to the converted. So if Julie is advertised as being on the podium in Bethesda, her colleagues will turn up, other people who are already scientifically inclined will turn out. The real problem resides in elementary and junior high schools and even high schools because the teaching of science is not at the quality level it should be in those schools in fact we don't pay teachers enough to get people who know science to work in the public education system and that's where the solution is not going to be achieved by having us go out and give occasional talks to the public. We have to do more and pay more attention to the question of how we educate our young people.

- There was a very well-known and effective study that was conducted about now I guess 10-15 years ago called Rising Above the Gathering Storm which was a report from the National Research Council about the future of science and the role it plays in our national well-being and one of those shocking statistics in that was that 67% of physics teachers in high schools across America do not have degrees in physics and the substantial number had never taken physics in college. So if you wonder about why the level of science literacy is problematic, there's one place where you can begin. Brad you were gonna add something.

- Yeah I want to take a slightly different point of view. We're talking as the elders of the tribe here about what we can do to get more converts but there's another place where Amherst can make a real difference and I think does make a real difference and I'll speak from personal experience. I have a daughter who was a science major here. She was a joint major in geology and in English. She is now teaching English in a high school in North Woods, Maine, an area which is in the Rust Belt, the paper industry has been destroyed and what she told me is that the critical thinking that she learned as a scientist, she is passing on to her English class. So things like how do you evaluate a source of information. And so this is the way that you know we as scientists can leverage our scientific capabilities by having students which Amherst is pretty good at and maybe we can encourage these students to go and influence the next generation. So in education we can make a real difference that maybe as scientists per say, we can do.

- Yeah so I want to come back to the senior thesis. When we had our conversation on the phone, I was not at all surprised when all four of my colleagues here, told me that they had done a senior thesis here at Amherst and it had been a really transformative experience. So I'd love to hear you talk a little bit about that experience but I'd also like you to reflect on whether if it's such an important experience, why don't we require all students to do a senior thesis? Julie do you want to start? So you can start with the first part.

- Yeah I mean... The faculty are really special here. I remember coming back and having lunch with a bunch of faculty. I think I had come back to give some talk in some someone's class I'm just hearing them talk about the students and they all knew the students by first names and so and they cared about these students and they knew what classes they had taken and what they were gonna recommend for the next semesters. So I don't think it's absolutely required to write a senior thesis because the level of caring here of the faculty it's not that you have to commit to being in this person's lab and only then will they know your name and who you are. It happens. It's inculcated into the entire process but I guess from that, I was obviously slightly terrified of writing a senior thesis in math but I really wanted to do it. I was fortunate actually to write with David Cox. I would have been very happy to write with Dan Vallerman too and loved Norton Starr who was my advisor. All of these people they mean so much to you that I don't think you've needed as a way to have a faculty member invest in you. It's really about your own intellectual development and are you at a point at Amherst when you want to do that. And so I do think it is something that should be strongly encouraged and maybe there even in some way that we could have some sort of capstone project if you didn't because it was a squeeze. If in my junior year I thought oh really, I've been committed to being a math major but really I like this biology and I need to take these film studies classes, so maybe this squeeze is putting that as all of your time as a senior and maybe that's something that you could do at a different time but maybe there's some intermediate of a capstone if we want to say because I think it is about the intellectual development and having someone who commits to that with you.

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- [Shirley] Brad.

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- I'm gonna take a slightly different tack on this problem. Ever since we've had our discussion on the phone, I've been thinking about why my thesis was so important to me and I mentioned at the time that it allowed me to have a close relationship with Bill Pritchard who's still an active member of the English faculty I'm happy to say and it allowed me to dine out for many many years on discussions of Charles Dickens and The Murder of Evil, a title that I'm sure my wife is cringing in the audience but you'll hear more about but as I thought about it, one of the things that really struck me as an important byproduct of the thesis experience, was an experience which I have to say parenthetically I don't think everybody has to elect. I think you can have close relationships with faculty and learn all these other things without doing a thesis but I remember initially when I said I was gonna do a thesis that the way I thought about doing a thesis was to say am I gonna do with thesis on Shaw or Chaucer or Dickens or Shakespeare and I chose Dickens, got some advice from Dan Mott and some other folks and I sat up in my room on Valentine Hall and I read many long novels and it was I really doing a thesis at that one. I was reading long novels and then going down to Valentine Hall and having lunch. I really was doing a thesis I had developed a question. I read a lot of novels, I noticed that the good characters were weak, that the interesting powerful characters were evil and yet things worked out in a good way in these novels. How did that happen? What was the narrative device that allowed good to conquer evil when evil was stronger than good? And how would that play out in Dickens' life and I learned from that that the scholarly experience is one of reading a lot and thinking but you don't think productively until you have a question and I find this true in my own life now as a faculty member with students and postdocs who are trying to do experiments. What is your question I say to them You can measure RNA levels and 15 different cell lines. What is the question and that is what drives knowledge and that is what makes theses work.

- I think that's a wonderful description. I want to turn a little bit to thinking about this wonderful new building and I think Bob in his comments mentioned that this is one of the rare examples of a science building that is really meant to accommodate a broad range of sciences as opposed to a single science. I think we heard I think from both Andy and Biddy at one point in their comments and I believe this deeply and I have told my friend John Middleton this on many occasions that I don't think you can be a great liberal arts college if you are not taking science seriously. If science isn't sort of at the center and integral to at least a good fraction of the curriculum. But a word that that has come up occasionally in our conversation and I want to explore it further which is this sense that another reason why you would never want to now have sciences in utterly separate entities is because science has become so interdisciplinary. And so Julie I know that you work in a field that's extraordinarily interdisciplinary. In fact I think all of you do, truth be told. What does it take to really function well in an interdisciplinary environment and what advice would you give all of these people at Amherst as they think about taking this building that is designed to be that way and really making it happen?

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- Yeah it certainly strikes me the vocabulary becomes really important if you're going to build interdisciplinary teams that can speak in a fluid way amongst one another.

- Yeah but it's like an organic chemistry class. You go down to sort of synthesize down to basic principles. So for myself as a math major, I love logic but that means I can work really well with a hospital epidemiologist because she is asking the question what is the likelihood that these two patients came in carrying the same multi drug resistant organism versus the probability that there was a transmission in my hospital? That's a mathematical question that is... And so there are a lot of ways that if we really understand what are the questions people are asking that translates and she may see that as a word problem and I may see it as a Sudoku puzzle but it's the same thing.

- So Harold you spend a lot of time trying to stimulate that kind of work both at the NIH and the NCI. I mean how are you thinking about it today?

- I have an instantaneous withdrawal reaction to the use of a buzzword like interdisciplinary. Nevertheless as Julie and I know, it is an integral part of the way we do science together but the college has to think about is how do you promote the right kind of interdisciplinary work and the first thing you do is you get people to know each other and get them side by side in a building like this where they can mingle and feel that if you were biologist, you can find a nice person who's approachable as a computational biologist but this can never work as a top-down command as you can't say you're all in this building, now you've got to be interdisciplinary. So what works is having questions, scientific issues that can only be solved by people working together and like Julie and perhaps different domain. I find that my need for statisticians, for computational biologists, informatics people, folks who build certain kinds of devices from looking at mutations and large number of cancer samples working with clinicians, these are things that happen. One of the things that I find reassuring is that in some sense, the narrow definition of a discipline is unraveling a bit and a lot of people who might have thought of themselves as a computational scientist who can write software suddenly realize they're really bioinformatics. that they're using their computational skills to interpret biological problems and those of us who do cancer genetics begin to think of ourselves with people who know something about the computational process even though we can't write the software. So we become overlapping, not so much colliding disciplines but I think it is the underlying issues that can only be solved by a multiplicity of approaches that eventually leads to the kind of work that we all want to see happen.

- Brad what about Earth Sciences?

- Well I think Earth Sciences are like other sciences but I want to make a comment beyond Earth Sciences. I don't think this is a very deep and profound question. I think it's it's... It's the field of--

- Sorry. I'll try to do better.

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- What you don't want to do as someone who ran a government granting agency, you don't want to say here's a grant for disciplinary work because then what happens is the people write a grant proposal that will satisfy your fairly immature criteria. They'll get the money and they may not do what you want them to do so I think, it's got to be driven underneath from people interacting from questions being raised, not by saying we've got to have interdisciplinary programs.

- Yeah I think we're in agreement This is a grassroots movement. Not something you impose from the top down.

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- You're raising a very important point that's not gonna be obvious to the people outside of this business. In my own field for example, we need statistics, we need bioinformatics. Sometimes people who have those skills and bring that discipline to the problem are not given adequate levels of credit. People who come in and give you statistical verification of what you think the answer is. It was your question, your experiment. That's got to change and that the skills of collaboration are a vital element in all this in allocating proper credit and that's gonna bring us to another issue, you want to bring up of how teams work.

- Yes how do teams work and do we have the right incentives in place in our scientific laboratories and universities and colleges that would encourage people to think about doing asking a really exciting question that's going to require a large team in order to be solved. Harold you've run an institution, Memorial Sloan-Kettering that presumably, was very interested in setting up the incentives well.

- I think this is a really deep issue right now and because it's not just a place like Memorial Sloan-Kettering, any academic institution now has the challenge of hiring, promoting, honoring people based on their individual contributions and we haven't yet in fact I would say many of us especially in the biomedical world. I'm not sure how it is in your world Brad but we are too dependent on what are perceived as the accolades that indicate that somebody's succeeding, publishing a paper in nature, being the first author or the last author. We have not learned to incorporate team science into our evaluation process for academic success. I know my colleagues in the audience, Peter Barrack is in the English department here and he is of course appalled when he hears about the way in which promotions and appointment committees work in the sciences in the institutions I've been associated with because someone who's a humanist or an artist is evaluated on their individual contributions, the books that they written, the arts they've created is evaluated by a group of peers. When we sit down in certain institutions to evaluate who's doing well, we say how many first author papers in nature and science have been written and that is the wrong way to go and that's work that we as a scientific community need to deal with if we're going to practice what we do preach which is that teams are important.

- So I want to give the audience time to ask their questions but I want to end with a question that I think even Brad will agree is a good question.

- [Brad] Give it a try.

- And it's actually a serious question which is that the scientific enterprise has been slow to welcome in women and people of color and it strikes me at Amherst, in a community that has done so much to create a broadly diverse student body and is working very hard to create an equally diverse faculty and staff that this is an issue that Amherst could very well lead in and I'm just curious how you're thinking about what Amherst could be doing to ensure that when a group is sitting at the next Science Building, we're not still bemoaning the fact that women and persons of color are underrepresented.

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- Yeah, Kim.

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- I just want to say a couple of things more about what Kim was getting into and that is the need to recognize the problem and define it and it has been a chronic problem and many of us have been saying for 20 or 30 or 40 years that we're failing to give opportunities that are adequate and... To women and to minority groups in science and what we need I think and Amherst has taken the first step in a really important way of having a lot more minority students at Amherst than they had before but you also need to acknowledge that there are lots of problems today at the individual levels, systemic level and counter those with powerful programs and the one that I continually come back to is one that Shirley is also very familiar with. The Meyerhoff Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where minority students are brought in and are told this is tough and you've got to learn to study in certain ways, maintain and work together and you're gonna get help but breaking into systems that have not been welcoming for many years, requires a sustained effort that's special. You can't just be there and absorb it and do it because there are too many other things that provides you pathways to success and if you're gonna make it in science, certain things have to be done in the way people study, the way they get into laboratories, the way they're mentored that allow a place like UMBC to produce a lot of PhDs and MDPhD's more than other schools do and we can learn from that.

- Absolutely. Brad.

- I just want to say that I think this is one of the most important questions which is facing us now.

- Thank you. Thank you Brad. I feel so much better.

- I don't think you need to worry about the answer to that but a lot of people do. This is a really serious question. I haven't been struck with the seriousness of this question for the last 20 or 30 years but for the last 10 I have and I have nothing useful to say other than my great hope and my belief is that Amherst College is taking the lead on this and will continue to be a major player in solving this problem and I think it's absolutely fundamentally important that we do that.

- Absolutely. So we have microphones that will be available to those who would like to ask the committee questions. We have a question right here in the front if we could get and then we have one at the back and then we have two over... We are going to have lots of questions. All right. But I saw your question first, all right.

- Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. My question picks up on some of the themes that you were just discussing. So my observation is that there's a potential tension that's playing out at Amherst and at other college campuses between the desire for students to figure out where they're going to specialize and go deep in a specific area with the idea of having breadth and exploration and being able to take advantage of a liberal arts education. It played out even to some degrees when I was here almost 30 years ago and so some of what you're highlighting is for non-scientists to feel like it's safe to take physics or chem or even computer science and I think that many of the societal pressures that students face, prevent them even here from being able to explore and I don't believe that the answer is to force it through a core curriculum but I'm curious to what extent you see that playing out and then how you think about making the exploration of science safe for non-scientists.

- I'm not sure we're exactly the right group.

- Shirley, you may be. University president.

- To asking that about Amherst but I can tell you that in my own experience is it was critically important certainly at Princeton I can tell you that we create science courses that were not dumbed down so it was not to to teach pablum science but where there was a question, a question that could really activate the creativity and the interest of students and could then be sort of probed in a way that revealed to them the nature of the scientific method and so the goal was not for that student to end the semester with 27,000 facts about that science, but to leave that semester saying, I really now I understand how Brad goes about asking questions about what is going on in tectonic plate movement. In my experience, that's the right answer to your question.

- Again to the sort of problem centered inquiries. So I know that other schools perhaps at Amherst as well courses that are focused on statistics for social justice for example may draw a different group of students. They are learning the same statistical approaches but the problem may be focused on a set of issues that traditionally has been approached perhaps outside of the sciences and now we're saying, we need to combine science and sociology etc if a change is going to be made. I think another way to approach this.

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- We have a question in the back.

- Thank you a question of observation and a challenge. My name is Larry Young, I'm a colleague of both Brad and Kim. I went from Amherst College as a physics major in the class of 1956 really 1956. Our physics this is pre Merrill, we were taking physics in fair weather, learned a tremendous amount not only from the physics faculty but at lunch at Valentine and the interdisciplinary conversations among the students was formidable and went on to MIT and I'm a chaired professor in astronautics and the Harvard MIT program now. What's the challenge? What are we missing? Remember back to the earliest days and CP snow two cultures at a scientific society and how separate we are, we haven't made much progress there and we look at the US Congress and the absence of scientific training and acumen among the people who are running our government to distribute and distributing the funds. How well do you remember that going up with your hat in your head and getting a lot of contributions. We used to have, this is going back to my undergraduate days we had a MIT combined planned program here at Amherst College and with others where are you one would spend three years at the liberal arts college, two years at MIT. Put together technology with liberal arts. I think that despite all the good words, we are not making great progress on the introduction of technology into the education which we call a liberal arts education. So for my friends on the Amherst faculty, keep up that fight. We cannot I think turn our backs on these bright students we have around here and let them say well I don't have to know that. I'll hire somebody.

- There may not but I suspect everyone on this panel agrees with your sentiments of the importance of what you're saying is the ideal of a liberal arts education and I think that's exemplified by the commitment of the college to this building today.

- I just want to say one thing also. I agree about the importance of the tables in the dining hall. Sharing this liberal arts experience with your colleagues in English and American Studies. I think that it's a crucial part of the education of all involved

- Yes.

- Hi, so I'm not in college yet but I've been thinking about wanting to go into STEM. So what would your advice be for young people especially young girls who are thinking about going into STEM?

- You're the youngest girl up here. The future is bright and for me, I especially think I still feel like I do come back to... I have very thorough quantitative skills and training that I got here at Amherst and that means that I really feel like there's a role for me. So I think it's a great option and I don't think of it as a purely technical skill. I mean I really think that it's an integrated part of who I am that I really love large data sets and analog data analysis. And it's the same way that I like to organize all my computer files and all my spices at home. It's just like you know it is what I'd like to do. I really like to organize things and data to me is one of those things. And so I think it's some place in which we are breaking down barriers. I do think that you know when Kim talks about the implicit bias I'm sitting there and I'm like I'm gonna sit at the head of the table because I called this meeting and I am the one doing the analysis and so I feel like it's really given me a voice and a role and a great career that's let me really enjoy my intellectual life and also given me opportunities to meet amazing people.

- Can I just offer one other piece of advice that I often give. The best way to discover whether you really want to be a scientist is to get into a laboratory as quickly as you can and there's lots of evidence that say that particularly for women, that the earlier you can have a positive research experience the greater the likelihood you will actually stay in STEM. So wherever you end up going to college, what I would do is try and begin to develop what your taste is and the kinds of scientific questions that might really engage you and then find a faculty member who would be willing to take you into his or her lab and give it a try. I think it's the very very best test and then I would really follow Harold Varmus' advice and that is when when you're told something, always ask why. How do you know that? Why do you say that? In other words always be kind of digging below the surface of the facts that often get confused with the process of science and then really test your guard about whether the kind of questions that you hear being asked in that particular science are questions that you could imagine waking up in the morning thinking about and going to bed at night thinking about because if you're a scientist, that's what you do.

- And I would just add to that that if you have that lab experience and if you're waking up and going to sleep thinking about a problem that motivates you, the other thing that can be very very helpful is to really think about the kind of advising and mentoring you're receiving and is someone sponsoring you. Are they putting you forward for the kinds of experiences that you'd like to have? Do you have the kind of relationship where you can say I'd like to go here to this meeting? Is that something you want me to do as well and then the experience that Amherst is having right now of providing so many more internships for students during summer is absolutely critical. There's a fair amount of evidence that shows particularly for women who in science who have a sponsored internship or postdoctoral experience that network of relationships that they develop through the sponsored internship is really really critical, not just the experience they have at school but also with those who are practicing science in industry or in the government.

- We have another question over here.

- I work in the medical field and you mentioned the vaccine issue and one of the things that's really troubling to me is how science has become political and things get framed in the context of conservative or liberal views and I'm just curious as they're more as leaders in the scientific field that we can get away from this and frame things go back to science and make things not about your political views but more about fact?

- Harold. You've had a lot of experience in this.

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- Another question. Yes. Yeah.

- Hi, I wanted to return to a theme that's related to several that have come up but it's the question of the intersection between public policy and science and communication and science and looking on the scientist side of it and returning to that question of how beyond the intrinsic value of an intimate liberal arts education, how scientists can have what they need to really be able to succeed in terms of public policy and communication beyond their depth in their field and I'm wondering I don't know if anyone on the panel or anyone else in leadership here can speak to whether Amherst is able to provide for faculty and students anything beyond that intrinsic value of the liberal arts education. I'm familiar with you mentioned the radio journalism program that your daughter does at another institution. I'm aware that Allen Alder offers for scientists and science faculty, communication training. There are many things out there. Is there anything that Amherst is able to do at this point now that we have this exquisite science facility just to return to the magic of why we're all here to help those students and faculty thrive in terms of communicating what they do.

- Catherine do you want to respond to that? Just because a the Catherine Epstein, the Dean of the faculty who would know the answer to that question.

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- Just another dimension of this too I think is the education process for scientists of understanding how public policy actually works. In other words I think there are many places in the process where influence can be exerted but if you aren't sure how to do that or the value of participating in public commentaries or public comments, I think you're not likely to see that as part of your repertoire of activities. So I think in the civic engagement project that I mentioned that Harvard Medical School is among others is sponsoring, they're trying to build in just a better understanding of where the inflection points that scientists can participate in trying to shape public discourse.

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- Alright, thank you very very much. So Shirley and Julie and Kim and Brad and Harold, thank you so much for talking with us this afternoon.