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Science: A stepping stone to politics

9:00AM, August 7, 2018
Doing Science

Science can be a good stepping stone into the political arena. Through science fairs, participants can gain important communication and public speaking skills. Conducting scientific research can teach patience, persistence, and how to overcome failure with grace. Moreover, a passion for science may easily translate into a political focus.

Below, read about four alumni of Society for Science & the Public science competitions who have gone on to political careers.


Daniel Biss, a Society alum, ran for governor of Illinois in 2018.Daniel Biss

Earlier this year, Daniel Biss (Intel STS 1995; Intel ISEF 1995) ran for governor of Illinois.

Daniel is a former professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago. When he started working as a math professor, Daniel says it was his dream job, but eventually he became frustrated with where our country was headed under George W. Bush. He wanted to do something and joined John Kerry's presidential campaign.

Fast forward to 2018. Daniel has now been involved in politics for several years, serving in the Illinois Senate since January 2013.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic primary in New York City's 14th district in a historic upset.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

This past June, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Intel ISEF 2007) defeated Representative Joseph Crowley, a 19-year incumbent who ran unopposed for 14 years. She won the Democratic primary in New York's 14th district in a historic upset.

Alexandria also competed in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2007, winning a second place prize with her project on the anti-aging effect of antioxidants on roundworms. It's how she got an asteroid named after her!

Robert Sarvis discussing his research at Westinghouse STS 1994.

Robert Sarvis

Robert Sarvis (Intel STS 1994) is an attorney and software developer. In law school, he was the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the NYU Journal of Law & Liberty. Robert was also a grand prize winner in Google's Android Developer Challenge.

In 2011, Robert ran as a Republican for the Virginia Senate, but lost to Democrat Dick Saslaw. In 2013, Robert was the Libertarian Party of Virginia's nominee for Governor of Virginia. In the 2014 midterm election, Robert was the nominee for the U.S. Senate.

Robert placed fourth in Westinghouse STS 1994 for a theoretical math project studying lattices.

Westinghouse STS 1985 finalist Michael Fiedman showing his project to Representative Schumer.

Chuck Schumer

Charles "Chuck" Schumer (Westinghouse STS 1967) is a U.S. Senator from New York.

He has served as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the House Democratic Policy & Communications Committee, the Joint Economic Committee, and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. Currently, Chuck serves as the minority leader and Democratic Caucus Chairman.

Chuck competed in Westinghouse STS 1967, and has met with Science Talent Search finalists over the years while he has served as a Senator and Representative.

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