Ann Merchant, Deputy Executive Director, Office of Communications at the National Academy of Sciences, discusses some of the important work the Academy has accomplished through the years.
Merchant’s work is heavily focused in the planning of a variety of engaging science communications events, and the management of unique and interesting outreach programs that combine to contribute to a dramatic increase in overall public understanding of science.
Merchant discusses the origin of the National Academy of Sciences way back in 1863, created under the authority of President Abraham Lincoln’s administration with the goal of utilizing scientists and engineers to help guide policy initiatives in regard to important scientific endeavors and achievements. From the creation of the national park system to the prevention of smoking on airlines, the National Academy of Sciences has been instrumental in shaping American policy.
Merchant discusses some of the important issues that they are facing currently, such as those in health and medicine. From long term health to the culture of health, the National Academy of Sciences is working toward improvements in a myriad of areas. As Merchant states, they are constantly releasing new studies on medical issues and diseases, exposures, and other issues that provide important scientific information and guidelines that can help to promote good health. Nearly every day they are releasing new information, which keeps them busy, but the work is important.
The Deputy Executive Director talks about how their many reports and videos are released, and how some of their information is translated into multiple languages to truly best serve an increasingly diverse population. Merchant states that it is most important to circulate information that people need in a form that they can grasp easily and thus make the most use of it for their lives. And that was the goal in Lincoln’s time, and it is still the goal today, to help as many people as possible by enriching their knowledge base with important and useful information, which subsequently affects policy for the betterment of society as a whole.