Friday Action Item: Get involved with a scientific society

In the wake of the recent U.S. election, we at *The Molecular Ecologist wanted to better use the site to help organize our community’s support for scientific inquiry and science education under an administration that may be quite unfriendly to them. One small thing we thought we could do is highlight “action items” every week. Look for these “Friday Action Item” posts for ideas about specific things you can do to support science — from calling Congress to helping crowd-fund a cool new research project. Got a suggestion for a future Action Item? E-mail and tell us all about it!*
This week’s action item: get involved with a scientific society. Even in the days of science blogs (ahem) and preprints, scientific societies are the glue that holds together communities of experts on topics as broad as all of science, or as narrow as a single taxon. Societies provide research and travel funds for graduate students and early career scientists, organize training and conferences, and generally help us be, well, social. In many cases, they’re also advocates for scientific work in their respective fields — lobbying (yep) government for research support, and offering expertise where it connects to specific policy.
Probably most of our readers are members of at least one society — good fits for molecular ecologists can include the hyper-generalist American Association for the Advancement of Science, or more societies more focused on ecology, evolution and genetics, like

(These are, obviously, a list drawn from the TME team’s personal interests … please feel free to nominate some more in the comments!)
If you’re a member of any societies, your action item for the week is to find out how to be more useful to that society, and do that. Maybe just take the time to vote in the leadership election instead of letting reminder e-mails pile up. (Hey, it’s a chance to vote on something where every candidate has the necessary expertise.) Maybe add your name to the list of potential volunteers for conference organizing or governance work. Maybe donate a membership to a graduate student who needs an extra push, or has more urgent priorities for their TA stipend.
If you’re not a member of a society, then your action item for the week is to pick one and join it. You’ll probably earn discounted, or free, publication fees in a journal relevant to your interests and preferential rates for at least one conference you should be attending anyway — and you’ll be supporting the broader scientific effort of your closest colleagues.

About Jeremy Yoder

Jeremy B. Yoder is an Associate Professor of Biology at California State University Northridge, studying the evolution and coevolution of interacting species, especially mutualists. He is a collaborator with the Joshua Tree Genome Project and the Queer in STEM study of LGBTQ experiences in scientific careers. He has written for the website of Scientific American, the LA Review of Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Awl, and Slate.
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