An Open Letter to President-Elect Trump and the 115th Congress*

We, the undersigned science faculty at Occidental College in Los Angeles, write out of concern for the future of science in the United States of America. President-elect Trump has denied the widespread scientific consensus on climate change and, regionally, the California drought, has propagated scientifically debunked beliefs regarding vaccines, has expressed a willingness to sharply limit free expression as a constitutional guarantee, and has displayed a penchant for disregarding facts in favor of rumor and hearsay.  Vice President-elect Pence has denied the widespread scientific consensus on evolution.  Moreover, the President-elect and some of his appointees have endorsed racism, misogyny, ableism, anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric, and religious bigotry.  Regardless of political views, such positions and conduct violate our collective work as scientists and core principles as science educators in a liberal arts context where innovation, free expression, and diversity are valued.  At this time, we reaffirm and share the values and aspirations we hold in common.

We affirm the following principles:

  • We unconditionally reject every form of bigotry, discrimination, hateful rhetoric, and hateful action, whether directed towards one’s race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, citizenship, political views, socioeconomic status, veteran status, or immigration status.
  • We aspire, in our roles as scientists, mentors, and instructors, to eliminate barriers to the participation in science of talented people from groups that currently are underrepresented in science, in order to ensure that tomorrow’s scientific community is more diverse, vibrant, and effective.
  • We endorse Occidental’s values of open, respectful discourse and exchange of ideas from the widest variety of intellectual, religious, class, cultural, and political perspectives.
  • We uphold the principles of the scientific method, of evidence- and reason-based inquiry. Science is not a special interest; it is not optional. Science is a vital ingredient in how we as a society analyze, understand, and solve the most difficult challenges that we face.

For any member of our community who may feel fear, oppression, or discouragement, our doors are open and we are ready to help. We pledge to work with all members of our community – students, faculty, staff, and administrators – to defend these principles today and in the times ahead.

We urge the Trump Administration to:

  • select only well qualified scientists and others who respect the vital role of scientific knowledge in decision-making for positions of authority in agencies that fund and regulate science;
  • provide adequate resources to enable scientists to conduct first rate research in the Nation’s interest, including with international collaborators domestically and abroad; and
  • preserve public policies, including immigration, welfare, and educational policies, that make available to the widest possible cross-section of tomorrow’s scientists an excellent , affordable, and safe education from preschool through post-doctoral studies, because talent exists everywhere.

* This statement draws, with permission, on the text of a statement by MIT faculty at

Signatories [endorsements collected through January 17 were mailed to Trump, Pence, McConnell, Schumer, Ryan, and Pelosi; some others are included below]

The undersigned endorse this statement as individuals, not as representatives of the institution or department.

Renee Baran, PhD                   Department of Biology

Gretchen North, PhD              Department of Biology

Elizabeth Braker, PhD             Department of Biology

Cheryl Okumura, PhD             Department of Biology

Clinton D. Chapman, PhD       Department of Psychology

Marcella Raney, PhD              Department of Kinesiology

Nancy K. Dess, PhD                 Department of Psychology

Margaret Rusmore, PhD        Department of Geology

Shana Goffredi, PhD               Department of Biology

Anne Schell, PhD                     Department of Psychology

Andrea Hopmeyer, PhD          Department of Psychology

Aleksandra Sherman, PhD      Department of Cognitive Science

Brian Kim, PhD                        Department of Psychology

George Schmiedeshoff, PhD   Department of Physics

Alan Knoerr, PhD             Department of Mathematics & Cognitive Science

Andrew Shtulman, PhD           Department of Psychology

Carmel Levitan, PhD               Department of Cognitive Science

Daniel Snowden-Ifft, PhD       Department of Physics

Justin Li, PhD                           Department of Cognitive Science

Whitney Tsai                           Department of Biology

John McCormack, PhD            Department of Biology

Chelsea Muñoz Williams        Department of Biology

Lynn Mehl, PhD                       Department of Kinesiology

Jonathan Williams, PhD          Department of Biology

Karen Molinder, PhD              Department of Biology

Amanda Zellmer, PhD             Department of Biology

Jeffrey Cannon, PhD                   Department of Chemistry

Derek J. Ross, MS                       Department of Chemistry



Contact: Nancy K. Dess, PhD, at