When President Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, he pledged to “restore science to its rightful place” in the U.S. government. And true to his word, the president promptly staffed his cabinet with distinguished scientific leaders, liberated embryonic stem cell research from the Bush era restrictions, and released a memorandum on “scientific integrity” intended to reverse the kinds of problems seen in the Bush years.
Since those days, however, the “scientific integrity” agenda does not seem to have filtered through the federal government as hoped. And according to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times, some scientists are having problems in this administration when it comes to speaking with the media, or having their research results properly handled by their superiors.
To put these developments in context, Point of Inquiry called upon Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists. As Grifo explains, claims that the Obama administration is behaving like the Bush administration did on science are absurd. However, the administration must do more to deliver on President Obama’s pledge to restore science to its “rightful place”—and move swiftly to address reports of scientific discontentment.
Francesca Grifo is a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and an expert in biodiversity conservation, and heads up UCS’s Scientific Integrity Project. She has testified before Congress about scientific integrity and is widely quoted in the press on the topic. Prior to joining UCS, she was at Columbia University where she ran the Science Teachers Environmental Education Program.