Pasadena Woman Leads Organizing Efforts For LA’s Huge March for Science Rally and Expo This Weekend

“Last year’s event was about organizing. This year’s event is about mobilizing,” said Jennifer Wheeler

Published : Friday, April 13, 2018 | 5:11 AM

Last year the March for Science Rally and Expo in downtown LA attracted over 50,000 scientists, students, families, and more across SoCal who marched in solidarity to raise awareness about the importance of science on a global scale, and this year, the event is focusing less on marching and more on mobilizing the scientific community at large.

Lead organizer and Pasadena woman Jennifer Wheeler of the LA Alliance for Science is working to produce an extensive expo along with rally that will feature speeches on topics ranging from the role of science in fighting problems like climate change and gun violence to the importance of diversity in the science.

“Last year’s event was about organizing. This year’s event is about mobilizing,” said Jennifer Wheeler, managing director of the LA Alliance for Science. “Our march brought Angelenos together and got them excited about fighting for science. After a year of harmful legislation, budget cuts and censorship, we need to keep that fire burning.”

Wheeler says the various budget cuts and rhetoric around what she describes as alternative facts is what prompted scientists to get out of their labs and ready to march the first time around last year.

“Since then, we’re seeing more of that legislation, more censorships, and scientists being ignored and silenced. So if another big event, another march for science can help boost the voices of scientists and science enthusiasts even for just one day, that’s definitely worth it,” said Wheeler.

The LA Alliance for Science is a team of over 25 dedicated volunteers with diverse backgrounds and expertise—from organic chemistry to business management. The group is launching local programming and partnerships throughout the year focused on science education and communication.

The second annual March for Science Rally and Expo is an initiative of the the organization that works to reverse the trend of potential environmental catastrophe, according to its website.

“It was a really, really great kick off for national movement, but this year, we really want to kind of step back and focus on building the community around science in LA,” said Wheeler.

The event will feature local scientists, advocacy groups, educational institutions and local businesses doing great work and we want to connect people who care about science and give them resources to get involved further, according to Wheeler.

The focused sessions will feature short talks from experts on the following themes: What Everyone Needs to Know about Science; How to Get involved in Policymaking; Environmental Justice: Can You Make a Difference? ; and inspiring the Next STEM Generation in LA.

“Pasadena is a town with a lot of scientists so I think that absolutely that will hopefully resonate in that way for the Pasadena community specifically,” said Wheeler.

This year, we’ve had a little more time to think about it and we really wanted to put our focus into programming so that people can not only have resources, not only get fired up for one day, but given the tools to learn more about science all year round as well as fight for science and evidence-based policies all year round. So we’re really hoping to have more mobilization this year,” explained Wheeler.

Currently confirmed speakers include: Dr. Laura Danly, astrophysicist and curator; Kevin de León, California Senate president pro tempore; Malik Ducard, global head of family and learning at YouTube; Dr. John Fleming, climate scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity; Dr. Carlos G. Gutiérrez, chemistry professor at Cal State LA; Dr. Mona Patel, physician and pediatrics professor at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Jess Phoenix, volcanologist; Dr. Tepring Piquado, neuroscientist; Yadira Valadez,TECHNOLOchicas ambassador and computer scientist.

The second annual March for Science Los Angeles rally and expo will take place on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 9:00am in Pershing Square Park in downtown Los Angeles.

The event will feature informational booths from local organizations and universities throughout the park. From 11:30am-4:00pm, Nerdist’s Science Editor Kyle Hill will emcee interactive demos, science-inspired entertainment and a series of focused sessions on the stage.

Partners of this year’s event include Nerdist, the Women’s March LA Foundation, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Inquiry and the Society for Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. The LA Alliance for Science is a project of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

For more information, go to www.laallianceforscience.org.