Big Day for Science on Capitol Hill

Team of three from UC Riverside heading to D.C. to advocate for National Science Foundation Funding

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – It’s a big day in the academic research world. The day students and faculty members from all around the United States travel to Washington D.C. to advocate for funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF). And three of the University of California, Riverside’s finest will be joining them.

The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Advocacy Day is on April 29. It’s an annual event on Capitol Hill that focuses on the importance of federal investments. Throughout the day, NSF-supported researchers from UC Riverside, UC Merced, and UC Santa Barbara will be on Capitol Hill meeting with members of the California delegation, calling for a strong investment in NSF. That evening, UCR researchers will exhibit their work at the CNSF reception on Capitol Hill.

From UCR, associate professor of mathematics Julie Bergner and two undergraduate students, Sarah Belknap and Alanah Evans, will be attending. The three will focus on the challenges and needs of transfer students, as well as financial aid. As a professor, Bergner says her experience with transfer students has helped her realize how difficult the transition can sometimes be. Not only are those students dealing with the transition to a new campus, they are dealing with the transition of lower to upper division classes.

“My idea was to help these students make both of these transitions. [That would] give them an introduction to the material that they will be seeing in their upper-level coursework here, and also help them navigate the different math major tracks and what courses are good to take for each,” she explained.

Belknap and Evans are transfer students themselves, and Bergner said the two have been helpful in understanding the needs of transfer students. “I was surprised but pleased to be asked to attend because I am a pure mathematician, working on fairly abstract problems. I think it is important to advocate for support for this kind of work because it often gets overlooked in favor of more applied research,” Bergner said.

The group will also take time to meet with the congressional offices of Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Representatives Mark Takano, Raul Ruiz, Ken Calvert, Paul Cook and Pete Aguilar.

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