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In Two Letters, Scientists Appeal to Trump

In two separate letters, the heads of more than two dozen scientific societies and some 2,300 researchers, organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, urge President-elect Donald Trump to draw upon scientific expertise in policy making.

In the past, Trump has called climate change a 'hoax' and has said he would abandon the Paris climate agreement, and some of Trump's choices in the past few weeks to fill key roles in his administration appear to underscore those beliefs and have worried some researchers, the Huffington Post notes.

The letter from the directors of 29 scientific societies — including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Coalition for the Life Sciences, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, and Rescuing Biomedical Research — call on Trump to name a science advisor. The letter-writers add that they would be happy to meet with Trump or his transition team to offer some suggestions as to who he could appoint to the position. In the current Obama administration, John Holdren, who has a background in aerospace engineering and theoretical plasma physics, the Huffington Post notes in a separate article, fills that role.

"This senior-level advisor can assist you in determining effective ways to use science and technology to address major national challenges," the letter from the scientific societies to the President-elect says. "Moreover, this individual can coordinate relevant science and technology policy and personnel decisions within the executive branch of government." 

At the same time, the Union of Concerned Scientists organized a separate letter with some 2,300 signatories, including Caltech's David Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University's Carol Greider, and Harold Varmus from Weill Cornell Medical College, to appeal to Trump to maintain "high standards of scientific integrity and independence."

It also, though, is "a shot across the bow," Mark Harkins from Georgetown University tells Buzzfeed News.

The UCS letter-writers say they would "engage with and closely monitor the actions of the Trump administration and Congress. We will continue to champion efforts that strengthen the role of science in policy making and stand ready to hold accountable any who might seek to undermine it."