Interview with Eric Lumsden
Written by Phallon Perry
Many scientists enjoy research, experimentation, and educating others on scientific advancements and procedures. But not all scientists aspire to have careers in academia. SNAC is a student organization that stands for Scientists for Non Academic Careers. This group was designed to be an outlet for students to find alternatives to research. It was started by a small group of students that wanted to be a resource for others that had similar sentiments about their roles as scientists. Eric Lumsden is one of the first members of the group, which has been around since December of 2016. Their mission is to improve the transition into non-academic careers by engaging local industry leaders, advocating for advancement of university training and building a network of colleagues and mentors in the science community.
Through his work with SNAC, Eric met a few students that shared his passion for science policy and together they started an organization called SOAP, Student Organization for Advocacy and Policy. This group not only allows but encourages participants to get active and seek out opportunities to become advocates for science. This past March, Eric and other members of SOAP went to Washington, D.C. with the National Science Policy Group and had the opportunity to lobby with aids from the United States Senate, along with Congressman Elijah Cummings, and Senator Chris Van Hollen. Together they advocated for research and science in general. Eric says that he wanted people in Washington to know that what happens on Capitol Hill effects scientists and researchers and that student groups such as SOAP are interested in the decisions that are being made.
When thinking about next steps once he completes his Toxicology Ph.D, Eric is not entirely sure which route he will take. He is passionate about continuing advocacy work, and would like to expand SOAP so that they offer opportunities to host debates and other ways that will allow them to effectively communicate the needs of scientists. It is his dream shape policy and to be able to help policy makers understand science better.