Stand Up for Science: Signs of the Times

On Sunday, February 19th, hundreds of scientists and their supporters gathered at Stand Up for Science, a demonstration in Boston’s Copley Square outside the building where the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) was holding its annual meeting. The rally’s goal was to protest what participants called a “direct attack” on science funding and research by the new administration in Washington D.C. Photographs of the rally, featuring the assembled crowd and its sign-holding participants, were widely published widely in mass media outlets and posted on social media accounts. As one community organizer, Melissa Byrne recently noted, “Good protests always have to think about how they look.” And while scientists have organized and participated in demonstrations in the past, this recent event seemed to signal a heightened awareness of the roles photography plays in communicating the centrality of the sciences in our everyday lives and how the future is shaped. With hundreds of thousands of scientists and concerned citizens pledging to participate in marches on the National Mall and worldwide on May 22nd, Earth Day, the increased role photographic imaging now plays in advocating for the sciences will be worth watching.