Retired congressman, AAAS CEO Holt to lead panel on science and politics

October 04, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State community is invited to join a panel discussion featuring a scientist-turned-lawmaker and a group of leading Penn State researchers about the role of scientists helping to shape policy for a more sustainable future.

The discussion, "Scientist-Citizen: Science Policy in the Age of Promise and Peril," featuring Rush Holt, executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), will be held in the Freeman Auditorium in Penn State's HUB-Robeson Center at 7 p.m. on Oct. 13. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and Peter Hudson, director of Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences and the Willaman Professor of Biology, will join Holt.

Holt, who holds a doctorate in physics, was an assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, one of the largest alternative energy research facilities in the country, and also taught physics and science policy at Swarthmore College. He served for 16 years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New Jersey's 12th Congressional District.

Mann said that the current environmental challenges and the upcoming elections make the event particularly timely.

"Many of the leading challenges we face today as a civilization lie at the nexus of science and policy," said Mann. "As we approach our next presidential election, it is critical that these challenges be brought to the forefront of our political discourse. This forum provides an opportunity to do that right here at Penn State."

The panel discussion is presented by the Penn State Science Policy Society. The society is a graduate student-run organization that aims to educate students about the connection between their research and public policy and teaches them how to be advocates for their science.

Jared Mondschein, a doctoral student in chemistry and treasurer and former president of the Science Policy Society, said the group is hoping for a robust turnout of students.

"Events in recent years have shown us the impact that politics has on our ability to conduct cutting edge research," said Mondschein. "We are hoping that this forum provides an opportunity for the Penn State community, especially the students, who will be the future leaders and policymakers in science, to understand all aspects of this so that we can make an informed decision on Election Day."

Seth Borenstein, an Associated Press science writer who has written extensively about the environment and climate change, will moderate the session. Borenstein covers science, focusing on climate change and environmental issues.

For more information, visit the society's website at

  • Portrait of Rush Holt

    Rush Holt is the executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a retired congressman.

Last Updated October 07, 2016