Special Edition: Dear Mister President

SITN Election Special Edition Cover Image Trump-01

It’s hard to escape the constant coverage of this year’s election. We’ve all heard plenty about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and Donald Trump’s wall, but we know very little about what the candidates think about scientific issues. Notably, there was not a single question about climate change in any of the four presidential or vice presidential debates. And even when the candidates do touch on issues related to science, it rarely leads to the kind of fact-driven discussion that these issues deserve (is a Trump’s wall really going to solve the opioid crisis?).

So we asked our colleagues, fellow Harvard graduate students in scientific fields, what they want to tell our next president. Some wanted to take a broader look at how we interact with science in this country: Why should the government fund research on fruit flies and bacteria viruses? How is international collaboration allowing for groundbreaking discoveries? And is our sensationalist reporting of bioethical issues misleading?

Others zeroed in on specific issues that are current topics of policy discussion: What does science say is the best way to treat opioid addiction? Is nuclear power a viable alternative energy source? Will giving the EPA the power to regulate new consumer chemicals adequately protect the public? And how can the science of gender inform laws like the recent “bathroom bills”?

Finally, some wanted to focus on the development of new technologies that will impact our future: Can geoengineering be used to combat climate change? How can we use the growing abundance of medical data to provide better healthcare? And what happens when we start to mine materials from asteroids?

This is by no means a comprehensive list of scientific topics that we think our president and our fellow Americans should understand. Instead, we aim to provide evidence-based investigations of a subset of the science-related topics that affect our lives, our laws, and our future. We hope you enjoy learning about scientists’ perspectives on these issues, and we encourage you to vote on November 8th!

October 25, 2016

Happy reading,
SITN Editorial Staff

Basic Science


Emily Low

Interview with a Bioethicist

Untitled design

Caitlin Nichols

Big Science

View of the side of the ATLAS experiment during construction in Nov. 2006 ATLAS Experiment © 2016 CERN

Tomo Lazovich

Science of Gender

Katherine J. Wu

Nuclear Power


Jordan Wilkerson

Chemical Safety

Chemical Safety Cover figure

Cory Gerlach

Opioid Crisis


Christopher Gerry

Healthcare Policy


Dan Tarjan

Asteroid Mining


Andy Greenspon


Figure 1: Schematic of some geoengineering ideas, including both solar geoengineering (e.g. aerosols in the stratosphere, giant reflectors in orbit) and carbon sequestration (e.g. grow trees, pump liquid CO2 into deep sea/rocks). (Source: Keith 2001)

Katie Dagon

Special thanks to…

The editing team: Eryn Blass, Sachin Bhagchandani, Alix Chan, Vivian Chou, Mary Gearing, Steph Guerra, Jonathan Haefner, Susi Jakob, Adam Riesselman, Jessica Sagers, Yutong Shan, Aditi Shukla, Kevin Sitek, Kelsey Tyssowski, Jordan Wilkerson, Katherine Wu

The graphic editors: Tito Adhikary, Rebecca Clements, Michael Gerhardt, Krissy Lyon, Anna Maurer, Shannon McArdel, Mike McArthur, Daniel Utter, Alexandra Was, Brad Wierbowski