On January 21, 2017, an estimated five million people took to the streets across the globe as part of the Women’s March, with 408 marches in the US and 168 marches in 81 other countries. Three months later, on April 22, 2017, the March for Science drew another 1.07 million to marches and rallies in over 600 cities across the globe in what organizers describe as a non-partisan movement “inspired by a growing concern about the lack of science in policy and need to speak out.”
The momentum that drove them to the streets didn’t stay there, and 2018 has seen the highest number of first-time candidates who identify as women since 1994, as well as the highest number of scientists running for office in modern US history. More than 60 candidates with previous careers in STEM fields are running for federal office, and another 200 are running for state seats.
We’ve profiled a handful of these candidates below -- take a moment to celebrate their accomplishments with us, and read on to learn more about them, why they’re running, and how you can support them in their campaigns and at the polls.
The daughter of two FBI agents, Jess lists the values they instilled in her of loyalty, bravery, and integrity among the reasons for her commitment to service. After high school, she attended Smith College where she studied history and, after working for the state of Arizona for several years, pursued her master’s degree in Volcanology at California State University. In addition to her work as a geologist, in 2013 Jess and her husband founded Blueprint Earth, a scientific research non-profit organization. She has been featured on several Discovery Channel programs, including Trailblazers, and is involved in research for both The Discovery Channel and Science Channel.
Jess is running opposed to Steve Knight to represent California’s 25th district in Congress. Her grassroots campaign relies on the individual support of donors, and she has gained the attention of celebrities such as Patton Oswalt and Piper Perabo on Twitter. Phoenix was 17 and living in Littleton, CO at the time of the Columbine school shooting, and she has been vocal in her support of reforms that will prevent not only mass shootings but also domestic violence and suicides.
“Our economy thrives when we invest in our people and our planet. Trump and Knight both deny the science of climate change, which impacts our economy, health, and way of life. Their attacks on immigrant families, women’s rights, and healthcare coverage are offensive and damaging to the most vulnerable people in our society. I'm working to win the job of representing the people I care about and the places I love, and because everyone should have a bright today and a brilliant tomorrow.” - Jess Phoenix
Elaine DiMasi spent 21 years at Brookhaven National Laboratory before throwing her hat into the ring to represent New York’s 1st District in Congress. The longtime Suffolk County resident believes that the public should be served by those who have the same scope of experiences and interests, who live among them and can indeed represent them. Her work ethic was inspired by her grandparents, steel mill workers in Pennsylvania, and her candidacy reflects the respect for working citizens that they instilled in her.
DiMasi is running for the Congressional seat representing New York’s 1st District. She brings her engineering and biological authority to her candidacy, identifying clean energy among the pillars of her platform as a multiple-impact area to ensure safe communities, expand the availability of middle-class jobs, decrease dependence on other countries for oil.
“At the heart of every scientist is a commitment to facts, integrity, and truth. I begin this new journey after serving for 21 years as a National Laboratory Scientist on Long Island. Time after time I've seen how science and imagination connect us – and dare us to dream of what's possible. I believe if we harness that spirit, together we can be a force for good in the next great chapter of New York's first congressional district and our nation.” - Elaine Dimasi
Dr. Tran came to America, a refugee after being airlifted out of Vietnam in 1975 at the age of nine. She and her three siblings were reunited with their parents later that year in Oregon where they became farmworkers. Dr. Tran worked her way through high school before being admitted to Harvard, and then went on to medical school at Dartmouth Brown before completing her residency in Pediatrics at UCLA.
This pediatrician in Orange County, CA is running for a congressional seat in California’s 39th District. As a doctor, she believes that quality healthcare is a human right and supports legislation that preserves healthcare access for all Americans and is committed to fighting any proposed measures that interfere with women’s reproductive rights.
“I would not be where I am today without the love and support of my family, but also the open arms of a country which accepted me as a refugee, helped me get an education, and set me up with my shot at the American Dream. Now, I’m looking on in horror as the very pillars of that dream are eroding around us. I’m running for Congress to fight for the dream that this country has always represented to me, and to make sure stories like mine remain possible.” - Dr. Mai Khanh Tran
The daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Chrissy studied Engineering at Stanford on an ROTC scholarship before earning her MS in Technology and Policy from MIT. Among her professional accomplishments, she has served as an Air Force Reserve Captain, a COO, and a Chemistry Teacher.
Pennsylvania is the most populous state in the country without a woman in its delegation, and Chrissy Houlahan’s bid for the congressional seat in Pennsylvania 6th District seeks to correct this lack of representation in more ways than one. As a former COO of two Pennsylvania businesses, her first priority in Congress is to grow the economy through legislation that promotes a living wage, equal pay, job creation, job training, and improvements to economic security.
“I’ve raised my family in this district and know that these are not our values. We need to stand up and speak out against actions that threaten our core beliefs and priorities. We owe this to our children and to future generations so that they may realize their potential and change the world for the better. I never thought I would run for elected office, but service does not stop when you leave the Armed Forces. That is why I am running for Congress and ask for your support.” - Chrissy Moulahan
Aruna was 7 when she came to the US from India in 1972, the last member of her family to arrive. Her father, a mechanical engineer student, came to America first and saved enough money to bring his family one by one. After working her way through college, Aruna became a civil engineer.
Aruna has represented the 15th Legislative District in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2011 and is running now for the Congressional seat for Maryland’s 6th District. She chairs, co-chairs, and is a member of numerous House committees, including the 21st Century School Facilities Commission. She believes a robust economy requires an outstanding and affordable education and has vowed to expand our STEM education as part of her platform to help citizens reach their full potential and grow the middle class.
“The United States of America has given me much. It accepted me as her own, provided me with the opportunity to get an education, have a fulfilling career where I could give back to my community, raise a loving family, and represent the people of Maryland’s 15th Legislative District. I’ll never be able to pay back the countless men and women before me who gave their lives to fight for our democracy. I’ll never be able to thank my dad who passed away in 1999. But, I can pay it forward and give back to a future that I will never see. I don’t want to just open doors of opportunities, I want to knock the doors down, lift people up, and help every man, woman, and child to become who they were meant to be.” - Aruna Miller
Jacky Rosen is a 40 year Nevada resident and was the first in her family to graduate from college. The computer programmer has previously served as president of the state’s largest synagogue, Congregation Ner Tamid, where she led a team to construct solar arrays which decreased the synagogue’s energy bills by 70% and availed the saved funds to serve the community. She currently represents Nevada’s 3rd district in the US House of Representatives where she has introduced and passed bills that encourage young girls to explore careers in computer science and to push early childhood learning in STEM fields.
Congresswoman Rosen is running to replace incumbent Dean Heller in the Senate. While she didn’t envision political service early on in her career, she saw the need to step up to help those in her community and launched her 2016 campaign to represent Nevada’s 3rd district in the House. Seeing that the needs of Nevadans are not being served by Senator Heller, Rosen’s challenge follows her commitment to strengthening opportunities for the next generation and fighting back against political dysfunction.
“I became a computer programmer all those years ago because I liked being able to see a problem, work together, and find smart solutions. We can find smart solutions in Washington, too, but self-serving career politicians are perpetuating a system that’s broken by partisan gridlock and dysfunction. I understand the frustration Nevadans feel towards Washington, and that’s why I’m running for Senate: to fight for the families I talk to every day who have been let down and are ready for change.” - Jacky Rosen
At the age of three, Dr. Hiral Tipirneni came to the United States with her family. While she recalls initial struggle, her father ultimately secured a structural engineering role, and they settled in a Cleveland Suburb, where her mother, a social worker, planted the seeds of Dr. Tipirneni’s commitment to service. Dr. Tipirneni attended an accelerated competitive program at Northeast Ohio Medical University to earn her medical degree and served as Chief resident of University of Michigan’s Emergency Medical program before moving to Phoenix with her husband.
She is running for the Congressional seat representing Arizona’s 8th district in a special election. She cites her “problem-solving and team-oriented approach” among the skills she brings with her to achieve bipartisan support for issues including expanding Medicare, protecting retirement benefits, and improving care for veterans. The primary is February 27, 2018, and the special election will be on April 24, 2018.
“I believe in solving problems and improving lives, which is all about people, not partisanship. That’s what I did in the emergency room, and I’m running for Congress to do the same.” - Hirani Tipirneni
Molly Sheehan is many things: A medical researcher, developing battlefield and remote hospital ready blood substitutes; a cancer researcher; and a candidate running to represent Pennsylvania’s 7th district in Congress. After attending Haverford College, Sheehan moved to Uganda where her commitment to service earned her the Clarence and Lily Pickette Award for Quaker Leadership. After returning home, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in biophysics and biochemistry.
As a representative for Pennsylvania’s 7th District in Congress, socioeconomic justice is one of several issues at the fore of her objectives. Molly is committed to bringing her proven problem-solving approach to finding creative solutions in the lab with her to the Congress floor.
“We need a government where representatives work hard and speak loudly for their constituents, their friends and neighbors, not just take a back seat as their political party and big corporations drive. We need a government that supports our community by providing good public schools, quality healthcare for everybody and clean air and water. We need a Congress that uses real evidence, logic, and reason to make decisions, not just extreme ideologies.” - Molly Sheehan
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