Oh, look. We’re supposed to be impressed with All the Candidates With Science Backgrounds Who Just Got Elected. I condensed down the list; there are 21 with “science backgrounds” out of the 435 in the US House of Representatives, and when you look closely, the list has been padded quite a bit, mainly because journalists (and the general public) don’t have a very good idea of what science is.
- Lauren Underwood (D) Nursing and public health
- Joe Cunningham (D) Ocean engineer & attorney
- Elaine Luria (D) Nuclear engineer
- Chrissy Houlahan (D) Engineering degree
- Jacky Rosen (D) Bachelor’s in Psychology
- Sean Casten (D) Molecular biology and biochemistry
- Kim Schrier (D) Pediatrician
- Ami Bera (D) Clinical medicine
- Jerry McNerny (D) Mathematics, engineering
- Tony Cardenas (D) Electrical engineering
- Ted Lieu (D) Computer science
- Raul Ruiz (D) Medicine, public health
- Dan Lipinski (D) Mechanical engineering
- Brad Schneider (D) Industrial engineering
- Bill Foster (D) Physics
- Steve Watkins (R) Army engineer
- Martin Heinrich (D) Mechanical engineering
- Jeffrey Van Drew (D) Dentistry
- Paul Tonko (D) Mechanical engineering
- Chris Collins (R) Mechanical engineering
- Kevin Hern (R) Engineering
Not to disrespect them at all, but engineering and medicine are not science. It’s also hard to argue any more that any Republican is actually pro-science, given that the party is a deranged mob of science denialists right now.
So I’d actually say only four (in blue) actually have science backgrounds — the others have backgrounds more in applied science (Again, that’s not a bad thing at all). Foster and Casten in particular have advanced degrees in physics and biology, respectively, and have definitely earned the acknowledgment.
The others, though, are also important, because they’ll at least contribute to a more favorable attitude towards science in congress. But I don’t think it does them any favors to inflate their credentials or misrepresent them. Nursing and medicine and engineering and dentistry are all demanding and credible disciplines without pretending they’re something they’re not.