March for Science Speech by Dr. Marino Resendiz, April 14, 2018

My name is Marino Resendiz and I am Mexican-American chemist working at the University of Colorado Denver, and have been involved in science and research for 20 years. First of all, I want to thank the organizers for the invitation and for providing this amazing platform in the name of the scientific enterprise at a local and global level. Allowing me to be a part of this movement, in this critical time for our planet, is something that I will always cherish and that motivates me to keep growing as a scientist and as a person. It also asserts my desire to inform and clarify on the way in which science is often times perceived and I also understand of the need to promote ways in which we can use science to have a positive impact on our society, partly by teaching and educating ourselves and others. I have the firm believe that everyone can play an instrumental role in shaping science policy by voting and staying engaged, which is sure to have an impact on our communities. We, as part of this society have a voice that needs to be heard, a voice that can in fact dictate the decision making of our local and state representatives; we have the right to demand for support on issues that are of interest to us, whether is climate change, the use of pesticides in our foods, alternate energy sources, new advances in medicine, or the great need in diversifying the STEM fields, among many others.

Dr. Marino Resendiz, University of Colorado, Denver
Dr. Marino Resendiz, University of Colorado, Denver

As you all know, we recently got encouraging news about increases in federal funding directed towards science and technology, thus enabling the continuation or start of projects in various areas. While this is excellent news and represents a step in the right direction, our responsibility to keep up the pressure on our representatives and demand continuous support grows. It is important to remember that as of last year, the white house’s original budget proposal would have significantly decreased budgets for EPA, Department of Agriculture, and NIH, agencies that ensure we have clean air, water, and foods; that ensure that the drugs we take are safe, and that advance research to prevent and cure diseases. Therefore, we need to be on the front row, and fighting to ensure that our voices are heard. In addition, much progress needs to be made in several other areas, for example 1) we need to amplify the role of science in public policy and need people with scientific backgrounds making decisions that are based on evidence-based findings; 2) we need to engage the general public in the scientific enterprise and I believe that, as scientists, we have the responsibility to educate and inform our communities at large; and 3) we need to diversify the scientific community and therefore the advocates for science. The STEM fields throughout need to get more diverse, the leadership in science recognizes this problem, yet the numbers do not show an equal representation at any level. To reach our full potential for innovation and productivity in the country, we depend on contributions from diverse groups, only then will we be able to tackle the complex issues that we will face over the next decades.

I briefly want to share with you a little about myself in hopes to illustrate the need to diversify STEM as a way to address issues that affect communities from minority groups; and advocate for support in this enterprise irrevocably. I want to emphasize the impact that chemistry has had on my life and would like to make a point on how science, if truly diverse, can have an impact not only on climate, technology, or health among many others, but also within our communities. I am the first one in my family to complete an advanced degree and am fortunate to teach and carry out research at CU Denver, something that I love and value. While, throughout my 20 year career there have been a number of mentors in scientific aspects, there is a lack of diversity and people that share my experiences and interests, and as a consequence a lack of advocates towards issues that directly affect my community. It is, in part, because of the absence of representation from these groups that minority and indigenous peoples are left out of the Speech March for Science 2018 Resendiz – CU Denver

decision-making. Yet, these communities, our communities, are the hardest hit by health disparities, for example: people of color are more likely to live near toxic waste plants, oil refineries, and superfund sites in the US; 96 % of genome studies are based on people of European descent, and these studies are the foundational research for many pharmaceutical products that are administered to the general population; or, Latinos are 15 % more likely than whites to be obese and 65 % more likely than whites to be diabetic.

Therefore, I want to finalize by reinstating the core principles that I fully support and that I want to encourage you to think about and act so that we see real change can be enacted and that we ensure that the next generations enjoy the benefits of science: