Mission Statement

Science Debate asks candidates, elected officials, the public and the media to focus more on science policy issues of vital importance to modern life. As a registered 501(c)(3), Science Debate is nonpartisan. We encourage everyone to ask their candidates to discuss and debate their science and technology policies for the well-being of our nation and society. All donations are tax-deductible.

Science Debate was founded during the 2008 U.S. election in response to the near absence of science and technology topics in the presidential debates and in the campaigns. Within weeks of its founding, people and organizations from across the political spectrum signed the following petition:

"Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth, we call for public debates in which the U.S. presidential and congressional candidates share their views on science and technology, health and medicine, and the environment.""

Supporters included prominent institutions such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the U.S. National Academies, as well as political strategists ranging from John Podesta, President Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, on the left to Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker, on the right.

In 2008, then nominees Senator Barak Obama and Senator John McCain agreed to participate in an online “debate.” The candidates’ answers to “The Fourteen Top Science Questions Facing America” were shared widely online and published in the journal Nature. In 2012, a similar endeavor was undertaken with President Obama and then Republican nominee Governor Mitt Romney. Scientific American published the responses and rated them based on current scientific understanding at that time. In both years, the candidates' answers made nearly 850 million media impressions.

In 2016, all four major candidates: President Donald Trump, Senator Hillary Clinton, Governor Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein responded in writing to “Twenty key science questions facing America.” Science Debate is currently expanding to foster public and media engagement on science policy issue as we build our efforts for the 2018 elections and beyond.

Matthew Chapman, President Matthew is an accomplished filmmaker, author, and journalist. He has written and directed five independent movies, most recently The Ledge starring Charlie Hunnam, Liv Tyler, Terrence Howard, and Patrick Wilson. His books include Trials of The Monkey - An Accidental Memoir and 40 Days and 40 Nights Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities On Trial in Pennsylvania. He has also written for Harper’s Magazine, the Huffington Post, and National Geographic, among others. He is a noted speaker on the importance of science and science education, a passion that arose partly from his ancestry as a great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin. Contact Matthew at Matthew@sciencedebate.org.

Sheril Kirshenbaum, Executive Director Sheril works to enhance public understanding of science and improve communication between scientists, policymakers and the public. She has authored two books and her writing appears in popular publications such as Bloomberg and CNN and scientific journals like Science and Nature. Sheril has been a 2015 Presidential Leadership Scholar, a Marshall Memorial Fellow, a legislative Fellow in the U.S. Senate and a Next Generation Fellow through the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law. She speaks internationally about science communication and has appeared at events like TEDGlobal and Cuidad de las Ideas. Sheril currently hosts "Our Table" at Michigan State University. Contact Sheril at Sheril@sciencedebate.org.

Alan Conceicao, Project Manager Alan is Project Manager at Science Debate. He also works as administrative assistant for the Holtom-Garrett Program in Neuroimmunology at the University of Michigan. Alan previously acted as the project manager for the Study of Latinos - Investigations of Neurocognitive Aging (SOL-INCA), successfully managing a national, multi-center observational study and co-authoring peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts. He also serves as the Vice President of the East Lansing Economic Development Corporation. Contact Alan at Alan@sciencedebate.org.

Ryan Johnson, J.D. is a shareholder at the law firm of Fredrikson & Byron, P.A. He is an internationally recognized lawyer for entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators in the health care, medical device, life sciences, and health information technology industries. He frequently lectures and advises clients about issues emerging from the intersection of law, science, and technology. Ryan is a serial social entrepreneur who has founded several organizations designed to enhance the public’s support and understanding of science. Ryan serves on the boards of the Northstar Science Film Festival and ScienceDebate.org. He also serves as vice-chair of the American Bar Association's Science and Technology Committee.

Jayde Lovell is the CEO of ReAgency Science Marketing, and host of ScIQ, the science show on The Young Turks Network in New York City. Jayde also directs video news production at the New York Hall of Sciences, and in 2015 was a winner of “The Next MacGyver” television production competition by the National Academy of Engineering. Her client list includes NASA, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Science, Academic Ventures Exchange, USDA, and the American Institute of Physics. Jayde was named in Anthill’s ’30 Under 30,” has appeared with President Obama at SxSW in Austin, Texas, lectured on science marketing at NYU & Yale, has given speeches to Google and YouTube, and hosted live TV at Harvard University.

Science Debate was cofounded in 2007 by Matthew Chapman, Shawn Otto, Sheril Kirshenbaum, Lawrence Krauss, Chris Mooney, and Austin Dacey.

Kumar Garg helped shape science and technology policy for the Obama Administration for nearly eight years, serving in a variety of roles in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). He led the Obama Administration’s efforts to bolster science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, including the Educate to Innovate campaign. As a senior leader at OSTP, Kumar supervised a team of twenty staff with portfolios ranging from biotechnology, entrepreneurship, space, advanced manufacturing, broadband, nanotechnology, behavioral sciences, the Maker Movement, digital media, prizes and broader innovation policy. He was involved in policy-development, implementation and communication of a wide range of science and technology issues, including more than twenty-five Presidential events.

Neil E. Grunberg, Ph.D., is Professor of Military & Emergency Medicine, Medical & Clinical Psychology, and Neuroscience, Uniformed Services University (USU) School of Medicine; and Director of Research & Development, USU Leader and Leadership Education and Development program, Bethesda, Maryland. He is a medical psychologist, social psychologist, and behavioral neuroscientist. Dr. Grunberg earned baccalaureate degrees in Medical Microbiology and Psychology from Stanford University (1975); M.A. (1977), M.Phil. (1979), and Ph.D. (1980) degrees in Physiological and Social Psychology from Columbia University. Dr. Grunberg educates healthcare professionals for the Armed Forces and Public Health Service and scientists for research and academic positions. His research focuses on behavioral medicine, stress, drug abuse, and leadership.

Ann Merchant has worked in marketing and communications for more than 20 years and is currently the Deputy Executive Director for Communications at the National Academies in Washington, D.C. Her work at the Academies primarily revolves around planning a variety of science communications events and managing innovative outreach programs that, together, contribute to increased public understanding of science. She was instrumental in launching the Science & Entertainment Exchange, a program of the National Academy of Sciences that seeks to connect entertainment industry professionals with top scientists and engineers.

Michael Halpern is deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He works to promote solutions that ensure government decisions are fully informed by scientific information, and that the public understands the scientific basis for those decisions. He also oversees efforts to enable scientists to more effectively engage the public. Michael blogs regularly in The Guardian and has appeared in scores of national and international media outlets, including the Associated Press, The Boston Globe, CNN, National Public Radio, NBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Michael holds a B.A. in sociology and communication studies from Macalester College.

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November 20, 2018
Inside Higher Ed

"The Grad Activist: Resources for Science Advocacy"

Outside of my lab work, I’ve spent the last year learning about community organizing and advocacy as a satellite organizer for March for Science. Learning about advocacy has given me a sense of community outside of my lab group that I didn’t think I’d find in graduate school—we marched together, registered new voters, and now it’s time for to decide as an organization what comes next. In doing so, I’ve been looking at the excellent work other science advocacy groups have done for inspiration. If... Read more.

January 23, 2018
Big Think

"10 quotes on scientific issues from 2018 political candidates"

Science Debate, a nonpartisan organization which seeks to get candidates, elected officials and the public to discuss vital science policy issues, has released some answers to its 10 Science and Technology Questions for 2018. The mission of Science Debate, as stated by its Executive Director Sheril Kirshenbaum in Scientific American, is to prepare politicians “to meet the 21st centuries greatest challenges on day one.“ Science Debate believes... Read more.

December 2017
Inquiring Minds

"Getting Politicians to Talk About Science"

We talk to Sheril Kirshenbaum, executive director of Science Debate (sciencedebate.org), a nonpartisan organization that asks candidates, elected officials, the public and the media to focus more on science policy issues of vital importance to modern life. Listen here.

October 23, 2017
FOX5 New York

Matthew Chapman and Sheril Kirshenbaum are trying to get all candidates for public office to answer 10 questions about science.

November 17, 2016
Times Higher Education

"Trump agenda must not endanger what makes US HE strong"

The presidential election continues to dominate the conversation on US campuses as students, faculty, administrators and others attempt to interpret an outcome that few had anticipated.

At my own university, there is palpable anxiety resulting from the divisive rhetoric of the campaign, especially around the rights of groups defined by race, ethnicity, gender and...
Read more.

November 1, 2016
Scientific American

"Science? In the Elections?"

Many of the greatest challenges the U.S. faces in coming years—from climate change to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria—require scientific expertise to develop workable solutions. For the past eight years, nonprofit organization ScienceDebate.org has spearheaded a grassroots effort to push presidential candidates to discuss these issues, which are every bit as important to America's future as international affairs or tax policy. This year the campaigns of the Democratic... Read more.

September 30, 2016
L.A. Times

"How science would fare under a Clinton or Trump administration"

In a presidential election season dominated by talk of birth certificates, tax returns and email servers, science has rarely made headlines. But that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. On the contrary, policy decisions made by the next president will influence the future of the planet and all its inhabitants for years to come.

That’s why ScienceDebate.org — an effort supported by dozens...
Read more.

September 25, 2016

"Behind The Push To Hold A Presidential Debate on Science-Based Issues"

This week’s debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is the first of three the candidates will engage in before the November election. As in years past, each debate will be broadly aimed at one of three single subject areas—domestic policy, the economy and foreign policy.

For the last several election cycles, a consortium of Nobel Prize winners and American...
Read more.

September 13, 2016
The New Yorker

"Twenty Science Questions for Donald Trump"

I just lost what I thought was a sure bet. For the past two Presidential election cycles, my colleagues and I at ScienceDebate, supported by nearly every major science organization in the country, have asked the candidates to answer a series of questions about science and technology policy, in recognition of the fact that these matters will ultimately present the most important challenges to the next President. The questions range from health to education, energy to the environment, and security... Read more.

September 13, 2016
Science Magazine

"Clinton and Trump stay true to form in talking about science"

Ask Donald Trump (R) about climate change, and he’ll talk about “limited financial resources” and suggest that eradicating malaria and increasing global food production may be higher priorities for his administration. Ask Hillary Clinton (D) the same question, and she’ll spell out the key elements of her $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge... Read more.

August 17, 2016

"20 Science Questions For The Presidential Candidates"

Science and politics do not always make great bedfellows.

It's a topic we have explored a lot here at 13.7. As the past few decades have shown, science and technology have a potent power for rapidly shaping culture, for both good and ill. Unfortunately, our ability to deal with that power — and, as well, its...
Read more.

August 10, 2016
The Washington Post

"Challenge to presidential candidates: Debate about science"

Climate change. Mental health. Space exploration. Vaccinations. The health of the oceans. Antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

These are not the typical meat-and-potatoes topics of presidential debates. Often, the candidates and people who ask them questions skip...
Read more.

January 14, 2016
The Guardian

"Kids ask US presidential candidates to debate science"

Susanlyn Singroy thinks the candidates for US president should be debating science. The eighth-grader argues that the candidates are talking about money, religion and immigration, but rarely mentioning the science challenges impacting her future. Singroy says, If they talk about the big science issues, maybe they’ll actually do something about them.

Her point is well taken. The...
Read more.

August 12, 2015

"It's Time For Presidential Candidates To Talk About Science"

IWhen Charles Darwin set sail from Plymouth, England, on the HMS Beagle in 1831, the British biologist fell seasick almost immediately, and he remained nauseated for most of the next five years on that ship. Yet the journey, however arduous for Darwin, paid off for the rest of us in one of the greatest scientific theories of all time. After studying the South American coast for several years, Darwin made his way to the Galapagos Islands, where... Read more.

Individuals and organizations from across the political spectrum have signed the following petition:

"Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth, we call for public debates in which the U.S. presidential and congressional candidates share their views on science and technology, health and medicine, and the environment.""

"I support Science Debate because I do not believe that the overwhelming evidence on climate change should be a political tool. An informed populace is our greatest hope."
Kathleen Turner, Actor and Activist

"I support Science Debate because scientific issues inform almost all important public policy, from energy, to the environment, and from health to national security. Moreover, the economic engine driving modern civilization derives from technology based on fundamental curiosity driven research a generation earlier. Anyone running for high political office should care about these vital issues and should therefore have informed views about either how their public policy proposals derive from empirical knowledge, or who they can turn to for sound advice on these subjects. And the public needs to know if they are going to make an informed decision on who to vote for. This is central to the functioning of a healthy democracy."
Lawrence M. Krauss, Chair of the Science Advisory Committee

"As I’ve said time and again, we have to recognize there are roughly seven billion people in the world, half of whom make less than $2 a day. We cannot and would not want to compete with that. We have to compete at a higher level with a better equipped and skilled workforce than that of our global counterparts – and we do that by focusing on science, education and innovation. I’m confident that the same enthusiasm and coordinated effort that led to the passage of the America COMPETES Act will bring this debate to fruition. As Former Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee and the father of a 10-year old daughter, I understand we cannot allow our children to become the first American generation to inherit a lower standard of living than their parents. Ensuring our kids have the best education and jobs available to them is a challenge all of us must undertake."
Bart Gordon, Former Congressman (D-TN- 6) and Former Chairman, U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology

"If we are going to successfully tackle the problem of energy - broadly defined as providing sufficient energy to support higher standards of living for a growing fraction of the world's population without creating intractable conflict over resources or irreparable harm to our environment, then substantial advances in the state of the art in energy generation, distribution, and end use are required. It seems clear that the linked problems of energy, environment, prosperity, and national security are part of the political debate. It is less clear whether there is an understanding that while it is desirable to make full use of the best available technologies this by itself falls far short of what is needed. Without a significant and sustained effort in longer term research and development we will not have solutions that lead us to a desirable future. We need to hear the extent to which the candidates understand that solving the energy problem is a science problem of the first order."
Thomas Mason, Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

"The United States has long been the driving force behind many of today’s greatest scientific and technological discoveries and innovations. Our advances in medicine and engineering have ensured that we have one of the highest standards of living across the globe. But, more and more, our dominance in the marketplace has been undermined by our inability and unwillingness to fund education, research and development at competitive levels with other countries. America’s leaders already have the authority and the resources needed to stimulate and sustain a fertile scientific environment. Now they must demonstrate the willpower to lead, the open mindedness to inspire, and the generous spirit to support the advancement of cutting- edge knowledge for future generations of Americans and the world."
Donna Shalala, President, Clinton Foundation, Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services

"We are selecting a leader for a society dependent on science and technology and we have yet to show the slightest bit of curiosity regarding their views on any matters in either field. We have seen what seven years of negligence and disdain for science has done to American pre-eminence. This debate is not a science test meant to trip up the candidates—but a means for the electorate to make an informed decision regarding the candidate’s judgement and capacity to lead us in the 21st century."
Ann Druyan, Emmy Award-winning American write and Peabody Award-winning producer; CEO, Cosmos Studios

"It is astounding that for all the talk of the future and the bromides about “change” the presidential election has not so far focused on the agents of technological change on which America’s economic future depends."
Harold Evans, British-born journalist and writer, Editor of The Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981

Executive Director


We believe science is essential to a modern democracy and that politicians and voters should be better informed. Since 2008, we have persuaded every major presidential candidate to answer science policy questions and reached billions of people with their responses. With science and the environment under attack as never before, we want to expand and become more active between elections as well as during them. We are looking for an executive director who will capitalize on our unique reputation and relationships and make Science Debate an even more powerful and prominent advocate for a science literate electorate and government.


• Work with Science Debate board of directors to develop a strategic plan
• Cultivate donors and foundations
• Develop and expand a working board of directors
• Manage and carry out communications strategy, including website, press, social media and email correspondence
• Support and grow a coalition of scientific organizations who share our goals
• Create relationships with opinion leaders in business, media, science, and politics
• Represent Science Debate at major events and conferences
• Oversee financial compliance and all administrative recordkeeping


• Demonstrated ability to work with people who are experts in their fields
• Experience making complex issues accessible to the public
• Demonstrated ability to lead and grow emerging initiatives
• 5+ years experience in organizing, fundraising, campaigning, communication or related field
• Significant self-motivation
• Strong personal and project management skills
• Excellent written and oral communications skills
• Expertise with social media platforms
• Passionate about the importance of science to society

Job Location: Remote

Start Date: ASAP

Compensation: Competitive nonprofit salary commensurate with experience

To Apply: Please send cover letter, non-academic writing sample, contact information for two references, salary requirements and resume to info@sciencedebate.org with “Executive Director” as the subject.

Click here for PDF version of job description.

Partial List of Organizations

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
American Chemical Society (ACS)
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
Aspen Institute
Carnegie Institution of Washington
Council on Competiveness
Moms Clean Air Force
National Academy of Engineering (NAE)
National Academy of Medicine (NAM)
National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
NOVA Television Series
Science Friday, Inc
Scientific American Magazine
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
The Nature Conservancy
The Scientist Magazine
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Partial List of Individuals

Norm Augustine, Former CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation
Stephen Berger, Chairman and Founder, Odyssey Investment Partners
Adam Bly, CEO and Editor-in- Chief, Seed Media Group
Vinton G. Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google
Johnny Depp, Actor & Producer
Vern Ehlers, Former Congressman, (R-MI- 3)
Sir Harold Evans, Author, BBC Columnist, editor at large, The Week Magazine, former editor, The Sunday Times
Joel Fields, Executive Producer and Writer, The Americans
Ira Flatow, Executive Producer and Host, NPR’s Talk of the Nation: Science Friday
Bill Foster, Former Congressman, (D-IL- 14)
Newt Gingrich, Former U.S. Speaker of the House (R-GA- 6)
Charlie Hunnam, Actor, Screenwriter and Producer
Rush Holt, CEO, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Former Congressman, (D-NJ- 12)
Jay Inslee, Governor, State of Washington
Mae Jemison, President & CEO, Biosentient Corporation; NASA Astronaut 1987-93
Bill McKibben, American environmentalist, journalist and author - Senior Advisor and Co-Founder, 350.org
Marcia McNutt, President, National Academy of Sciences
Elon Musk, CEO & CTO, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), CEO & Product Architect, Tesla Motors; Chairman, SolarCity
Peter Norvig, Director of Research, Google Inc; Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence; Former head of Computational Sciences Division at NASA Ames Research Center; Awarded NASA Exceptional Achievement Award in 2001
Bill Nye, The Science Guy and CEO, The Planetary Society
Randy Olson, Marine Ecologist, Filmmaker, Flock of Dodos
John Podesta, Former White House Chief of Staff, President Clinton; CEO, the Center for American Progress
Nicholas Pritzker, Chairman and CEO, Hyatt Development Corporation
R.T. Rybak, Former Mayor, Minneapolis
David Schwimmer, Actor & Director
Kathleen Turner, Actor/Activist
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director, Hayden Planetarium
Harold Varmus, Former Director, National Cancer Institute and Former Director of the National Institutes of Health
Cynthia Wainwright, Former Corporate Philanthropist for J.P. Morgan Chase
Tim Walz, Congressman, (D-MN- 1)
Daniel Weiss, President and COO, Metropolitan Museum of Art