Although many politicians invoke scientific studies to support their views, scientists are often reticent to become involved in politics.
Heidi Arjes, PhD, a Stanford postdoctoral fellow in bioengineering, was once among that crowd – staying out of the political fray, even as climate change deniers, anti-vaccine advocates and people dismissing the problems of antibiotic resistance challenged the value of evidence-based thought and action. Restrictions on funding for scientific research proposed recently were the final straw. Arjes explained in a Stanford News article:
Recent events have shown scientists that we need to stand up, be more vocal and do more outreach so that people learn more about science. We want to make science accessible, so people aren't afraid of it and so they realize how valuable it is for everyday life.
To show her support for science, Arjes plans to join the March for Science in San Francisco on April 22, and she will be sporting some very special headwear. Inspired by a hat that featured prominently in the Women’s March, she used her knitting prowess to create what she calls the “resistor hat” (#ResistorHat). The beanie features a circuit diagram with a battery and three resistors.
“I wanted something that, on its own, could be a really good science hat that represents physics and engineering. I also like the double entendre with the resistor. It's a nice, subtle message,” she said.
Arjes has combined her dual passions for science and knitting for years, mostly in the form of celebratory pieces that commemorate her friends’ PhD defenses (a uterus hat, for example). For the march, she has upped her game, co-organizing Project Thinking Cap (#ProjectThinkingCap) and helping to run the March for Science – Official Knitting and Crafting group on Facebook. She has also designed several more science-themed knitting patterns (a dozen of which are freely available at her website) for computer science, meteorology, archaeology and medicine, among other fields. There are patterns for hats, headbands and armbands. In consideration of non-knitters, she also made a fabric version of her resistor headband, which people can make themselves out of pre-printed fabric or order in finished form.
In the march and beyond, she hopes her hard work encourages more conversations between scientists and non-scientists. Who knows what both sides could learn from a conversation that starts at “Cool hat”?
Previously: In latest Dean’s Lecture, The New Yorker writer urges scientists to share their stories and Science gets political: The March for Science
Photo by L.A. Cicero