As most SIAM members are aware, science policy decisions greatly affect the state of scientific research. Hence, SIAM plays an active role in advocacy for federal support of mathematical and computational science research. SIAM conducts a wide range of activities to ensure sound scientific policy in the society’s priority areas and the research community’s interests.
Through its Committee on Science Policy, SIAM helps influence congressional legislation and federal programs related to applied mathematics and computational science, meets with relevant federal agency leaders and policymakers to better understand the research climate, and provides input on issues of concern to the SIAM community.
SIAM members are indispensable in this effort to safeguard the interests of the field. Community involvement and advocacy holds decision-makers accountable and ensures continued support for programs and policies vital to the discipline.
The scientific community’s successful push to preserve graduate student tax benefits is a recent example. When the House-passed bill threatened to tax tuition waivers used by graduate students to offset educational costs, students across the country staged walkouts and protests. This motivated several Republican House members to urge that the provision be excluded from the bill’s final version.
Over 60 scientific and engineering societies sent a letter to Congress opposing the tuition waver tax, emphasizing that the proposition would increase the financial burden on graduate students and hinder the pursuit of STEM degrees. Several organizations also issued action alerts encouraging members to implore their representatives to uphold the tax-exempt status of graduate tuition waivers. Ultimately, the provision was eliminated from the Senate version of the bill, which was signed into law by President Trump at the end of 2017.
In order to keep members informed and engaged regarding important issues affecting the discipline—and offer guidelines on how they can take action—SIAM provides timely information to the community via the science policy electronic mailing list.
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