In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

May 9, 2017

Mayo Clinic Resident Turns De Facto Activist in the Name of Science

By In the Loop

Dr. Joy Hughes's passion for science and science education recently led her to organize a "March for Science" event in Rochester to help inspire a greater appreciation for science and the scientific process among the general public.

Growing up in rural Mississippi, Joy Hughes, M.D., never really saw herself diving into the world of political activism. What she did envision herself doing, however, was becoming a scientist, thanks in large part to her father. "My dad bought a telescope, and he would take us outside to look at the stars every night," Dr. Hughes tells us. "He'd talk to us about astronomy and the science behind it, and that helped spark an interest in science and technology for me."

Today, as a general surgery resident at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, Dr. Hughes has turned that interest into a career. Her husband, a neurosurgery resident at Mayo Clinic, is also in the field. "We live science every day," Dr. Hughes tells us. "Day in and day out, I'm using science and technology while also learning other scientific, evidence-based things from my colleagues here. So there's the science for you right there."

Because of that, Dr. Hughes was concerned when she began noticing a trend in science-related media stories. Many of those stories, she says, weren't portraying the benefits of science as accurately as she believed they could be. "I thought we were approaching a point where there was some definite manipulation going on, and that was alarming to me," she says.

So alarming, in fact, that Dr. Hughes tells us it drove her to become politically active for the first time in her life. In April, she organized a "March for Science" event in Rochester to coincide with the national "March for Science" movement.

"I wanted to do something to inspire enthusiasm for science and for the integrity of the scientific process," she says. "I also wanted to help build bridges between local scientists and the scientific community, and those people who aren't exactly in scientific professions but who still value the scientific process for what it is, which is a systematic way to find the truth."

According to the Rochester Post-Bulletin, the local march attracted approximately 1,000 supporters, including a number of physicians and scientists, some wearing white lab coats to make their roles known. The end result was "a pretty well-organized and extremely safe event."

It also turned out to be extremely educational for its primary organizer. "I think it was a worthwhile endeavor," Dr. Hughes says. "It was a little bit exhausting, to be honest with you, but definitely worthwhile."

You can read more about Dr. Hughes' efforts to raise awareness about science education here. Then, leave us a comment below before using the handy social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.


Tags: Dr. Joy Hughes, Employee Stories, March for Science

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