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UHC Research Professor Speaks at 2018 March for Science

"We cannot wait for people to seek out science to inform policies."

Jana Hirsch MES PhD speaks at the 2018 March for Science in DC

April 17, 2018

The March for Science returned to D.C. for its second year this past weekend, this year featuring Jana Hirsch, MES, PhD, assistant research professor at the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative (UHC) and the Dornsife School of Public Health

Dr. Hirsch has built her career studying the links between environment and health outcomes, such as built environment, food access, transportation and other barriers and opportunities to improve health in cities. Her research is aligned to the mission of the March for Science: to support science for the “common good” and "evidence-based policies for the public’s interest." 

As research professor at the UHC, Dr. Hirsch is involved in a number of research projects that aim to impact policy, address social determinants of health and achieve equity. A self-described “urbanophile,” she is especially interested in building equity in urban areas. 

“The creation of healthy communities must be equitable to ensure that all people have a chance to live healthy lives… more needs to be done to ensure that everyone has a healthy place to call home.” Dr. Hirsch said in her remarks. “Changes occur within dynamic, interactive systems.” 

First conceived as a subreddit thread response to the removal of references to climate change from the White House’s website in January 2017, the March for Science evolved from one person’s idea to a movement. This years’ March for Science included a wide range of diverse speakers, including patient and DACA advocates, graduate students, scholars, scientists across disciplines. In her remarks, Dr. Hirsch noted the importance of reaching across disciplines and professions.

“Building communities through healthy environments requires translation of science… Speak about your work to people outside of your fields; set aside funds in your grants for community and policy dissemination. We cannot wait for people to seek out science to inform policies. Bring the science to them.” 

Last year, the March for Science brought out over 1 million marchers, but according to Caroline Weinberg, interim director for the March for Science, the goal for the 2018 event wasn’t to top last year’s numbers. Instead, the goal was to keep the conversation going about embracing science across communities and informing policies. She explained in an interview with The Washington Post that “a huge part of our focus is making sure people continue to be empowered to create change throughout the year and all around the country.”

In keeping with that focus, hundreds of satellite events were held throughout the world, including here in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia March for Science was focused on promoting scientific thinking, amplifying scientific voices and championing evidence-based policies. Hundreds of marchers attended the event in Thomas Paine Plaza. It was hosted by the newly formed Philadelphia Science for Action, an “independent organization that grew out of the effort to plan the initial Philadelphia March for Science.”

The 2018 March for Science in D.C. was streamed live and is available to view in its entirety on YouTube. Dr. Hirsch’s remarks, which begin at the 2:29:30 mark, are also featured in the embedded video below.