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Cornell Heads to D.C. for Science March, Sustainability Summit

Grad students
Graduate students banded together at the Big Red Barn on April 11 to create signs for the upcoming Science March in Washington. Robert Barker/University Photography.

Alumni and faculty will share ideas on conservation and climate change April 21-23 at the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Summit, while students and faculty will ascend Capitol Hill on April 21, and walk in the national Science March on April 22.

The university’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future is a major sponsor of the Smithsonian Institution’s Earth Optimism Summit – a first-time gathering of thought leaders, scientists, environmentalists, artists and civic leaders – at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, April 21-23.

Four Cornellians will participate in panels at the summit on April 21. Drew Harvell, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, is featured on the “Human Health and the Planet’s Health” panel. The panel “Doing More Using Less” includes Todd Cowen, professor of civil engineering and the Kathy Dwyer Marble and Curt Marble Faculty Director of Energy at the Atkinson Center, and Jeff Weiss ’79, co-chair and managing director of Distributed Sun and beEdison. David Lodge, the Francis J. DiSalvo Director of the Atkinson Center, will discuss how new technology can help humanity track invasive species, pathogens or poachers at the panel “CSI: Earth.”

The summit begins with a livestreamed plenary panel, “Opening Our Minds,” featuring Cornell President Emeritus David Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian. That panel, moderated by journalist Andrew Revkin, also features the International Space Station crew.

The Atkinson Center will host a booth (free and open to the public) at the Reagan Building atrium, where visitors can pet a cute beagle, listen to a whale chorus and gain perspective on the environment. It will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 21-22, and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 23.

The beagle, Cannon, was born by in vitro fertilization at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2015. The IVF breakthrough opens the door for conserving endangered canid species. The whale recordings from smart buoys are used for the Right Whale Listening Network, courtesy of the Lab of Ornithology. Discover how insulation – which includes your clothing – works by taking a thermal selfie. Get more than a shred of detail by watching demonstrations of the Fiberizer, the recycling textile device created by Tasha Lewis, assistant professor of fiber science and apparel design. 

Science March

More than 200 graduate and professional students will travel by bus to the April 22 Science March.

Arriving in Washington on Friday, April 21, several dozen Cornell students will attend the communication workshops presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They will spend the afternoon learning to describe and articulate their research. This trip is organized by graduate students Sabrina Solouki and Charlotte Levy of the student group Advancing Science and Policy.

Other Cornell students will ascend Capitol Hill that afternoon for meetings with Senate and House representatives of their home districts. In the evening, alumni and students will gather for a networking dinner in Washington. Mark Bayer ’92, former chief of staff for Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Melanie Stansbury, M.S. ’07, a professional staff member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, have been invited to speak on how to engage in science policy.

For the Saturday morning Science March, Cornellians will gather at Hancock Park, at C Street and Seventh Street SW, at 9:30 a.m. The park is located about a block south of the Smithsonian’s Hirschhorn Museum. Cornell’s Advancing Science and Policy students will return to Ithaca late Saturday night.

Another bus full of Cornell students will depart for the Science March at 2 a.m. on April 22. This bus was organized with students, faculty and staff by Taryn Mattice, chaplain for Cornell’s Protestant Cooperative Ministry. Bruce Monger, lecturer in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, will lead this bus, which will return late Saturday night.

The following weekend, there will be two Cornell buses for the People’s Climate March in Washington on April 29. Mattice will lead one bus, and Sarah Brylinsky of the Sustainability Office will lead the other.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.