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From the Lab to the Ballot

A handful of researchers in the US have been spurred to run for office, according to the Los Angeles Times. They hope that their backgrounds in data will appeal to voters and show that they are prepared to be policymakers and problem-solvers.

"Our skill set works: We analyze complex information and make it understandable to people," says Kathie Allen, a physician who is running for Congress in Utah.

Rush Holt, a physicist and former member of the House of Representatives, tells the LA Times that he's heard from more researchers contemplating running for office than before. "I tell them there's no magic to running for office — that if they do it, it'll be the hardest thing they've ever done," adds Holt, who now leads the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The LA Times notes that a group called 314 Action helps train Democrats with science backgrounds in the ins and outs of seeking office — such as tips on developing a message, going door-to-door, and raising money.

"There were so many things I wanted to do to help in this community," says Phil Janowicz, a former chemistry professor at Cal State Fullerton and congressional candidate. "Teaching chemistry only went so far."

Michael Eisen has also announced his bid for the US Senate.