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An Urgent Message for Academy Members

An urgent message from our President & CEO

Published January 31, 2017

An Urgent Message for Academy Members

Dear Academy Members, and all concerned scientists and engineers:

Science, like society, benefits from the free flow of people and ideas not for the sake of diversity, but because it leads to better outcomes for all. And, in the case of scientific research, it leads to faster, better, more innovative solutions to the challenges we all face, regardless of our country of origin.

On Sunday, January 29th, a day of turmoil across the United States, the New York Academy of Sciences celebrated its 200th birthday. The Academy is unique in many ways, not least because it was founded on the notion that the best way for us to advance science was to bring together not only the researchers of New York City and the still young United States, but scientists from the world over. Within our first year of existence we already had a dozen international Members, and in the two centuries since then, we have built a global Membership that includes citizens of over 100 countries, among them 120 past and present Nobel Laureates, many of whom were themselves not only from outside the United States, but...more to the point...immigrants and refugees working inside the United States.

Today, our Membership includes both career scientists and young people who aspire to work in the sciences from across the globe, many of whom live in or come from the countries named in President Trump's Executive Order on Immigration. Our work to inspire the next generation of STEM innovators, no matter what background or country they come from, our efforts to partner with the United Nations, and 1,000+ other organizations to catalyze collective action to address our planet's global challenges...all of these initiatives rely upon the contributions of partners, volunteer mentors, and Members from around the world, including many immigrants living in the United States.

It is with concern for those Members and their families, as well as the future of scientific research and the society that relies upon it, that we join our colleagues who have expressed their opposition to the President's Executive Order, those who head institutions such as Columbia University, Rockefeller University, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as countless others in academia, business, and government who have made statements.

Among the Academy's proudest moments are the decades our Members spent upholding the rights of scientists, engineers, and doctors who were imprisoned for political reasons. Russian physicist Andrei Sakharov stopped first at the Academy upon arriving in the US after his release from the gulag because he wanted to thank our institution for playing a crucial role in his release. Academy Members were unrelenting in ensuring that knowledge and collaboration continued to flow throughout some of the most challenging years of the 20th century.

For all these reasons, the New York Academy of Sciences cannot overlook a threat to the free flow of knowledge and people in the service of humanity.

And we are prepared to do something about it. Within the next few months we hope to announce a groundbreaking new initiative to support immigrant scientists, engineers and students who may feel endangered by the political winds sweeping this nation and the world. Please watch this space for more information...

If you would like to be involved in this effort, or simply wish to be notified when we have more information to share, please click here.

Ellis Rubinstein
President and Chief Executive Officer
The New York Academy of Sciences