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Buffalo joins global Marches for Science

An estimated 1,000 people turned out to Delaware Park Saturday to advocate for scientific organizations and science-based policies. It was one of hundreds of marches across the globe.

Jonathan Sessler, who has undergraduate degrees in biology and chemistry and a master's degree in evolution, ecology and behavior from the University at Buffalo, said there are "plenty of" opportunities to work in the sciences locally. The problem, he said, is the funding.

"Now with the National Science Foundation, the funding is getting cut and everything like that. It's huge," Sessler said. "I remember when I was young, watching all those TV shows funded by the National Science Foundation and those are getting cut like crazy and education in general. Luckily people are standing up for it, like this, where people are saying, Hey, you can't do that.' People are realizing it's not just affecting a few people in the corner. It's affecting everyone."

Todd Fiore, who has a degree in Biomedical Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Biomedical Sciences degree from the University at Buffalo, said there seems to be an anti-science movement gaining momentum recently.

"I think there's been a common feeling in the science community that things are getting really bad fast. We stopped trusting our scientists, our professors, our chemists. There seems to be a very strong conservative bias on things," Fiore said. "We have a new bill introduced that spends $54 billion on the military, when we already spend more than the next eight countries combined. But then the National Institutes of Health, the National Endowment for the Arts even, the EPA - all of these things are being systemically slashed. So it's great to see this kind of response."

Douglas Hsu, who has a bachelor's degree in biotechnology from the University at Buffalo, came to the United States from Taiwan seven years ago because he said the sciences can "help humanity." He wants to work in a medical field, either locally or across the globe.

"I think people around the world nowadays have a more, stronger opinion about science, that science really can help people improve their lives, increase their quality of life, help them cure some illnesses," Hsu said. Buffalo "needs to improve a bit. Not as much people are getting the information needed, but right now, after the march and movements around the United States, I believe people are getting more educated and recognizing science as more advanced and important."

Kerri Pickard-Depriest went to school for environmental studies and now works for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation headquarters in Buffalo.

"I'm here because I believe the foundation for many of the future decisions are really based on the factual aspects of science," she said. "We have a lot of things that are going on in our environment. We have a lot of things that are going on in health care and social issues and a lot of that has foundations in science and, if we can start there, then we can find a common ground."

Pickard-Depriest said it is not a partisan issue or a national issue. It is a global issue on which there is no better time to advocate for than on Earth Day.

"When we're talking about Earth Day, we're talking about celebrating the entire planet and being global citizens," she said. "So to have something as far-reaching as science, which is a common language that crosses political, social and cultural boundaries, I think it's important to have those two coincide."

Tobias Depriest, 12, said he and his classmates are learning about the periodic table in school. His favorite chemical element is H2O. He also likes being close to nature in the woods and joined the march with his mother because he is concerned about global warming.

"It was important for me to be here because if we can solve global warming, then we can save the planet for future generations," he said.

Find more photos of the Buffalo march on Facebook.