Addressing a State of Disunion
The US travel ban strikes at the collaborative heart of science
Charlotte Barker |
The prevailing theme of this issue is collaboration – from the growing analytical community of Africa, to Spanish and Finnish researchers teaming up to turn back time, to innovative academic–industry partnerships. In fact, collaboration could be mooted as a key theme of almost any issue of The Analytical Scientist, and indeed our sister titles in ophthalmology, drug manufacture, pathology and translational science. A few scientists may find teamwork challenging (see John Griffiths’s toe-curling stories of authorship acrimony), but most would agree that collaboration and exchange of ideas is the lifeblood of science.
So it’s not surprising that news of President Trump’s ‘travel ban’ – an executive order restricting travel to the US of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries – was greeted with dismay by many in the international scientific community (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6).
US universities, pharma companies, engineering firms and non-profits are a melting pot of nationalities. Now, thousands of scientists and engineers may find themselves unable to attend conferences or visit loved ones overseas for fear of being deported on their return. Labs are unable to welcome students, new employees or collaborators from the seven countries, nor meet them at the many international conferences held each year in the US.
Though the executive order has now been blocked by the US courts, Trump remains determined to see the ban reinstated.
Over 42,000 academics have signed a petition against the ban, including 62 Nobel Laureates (1). Some 180 US STEM organizations issued a joint letter condemning the executive order, and laying out the myriad ways it would harm science in America (2). The letter states: “Scientific progress depends on openness, transparency, and the free flow of ideas and people, and these principles have helped the United States attract and richly benefit from international scientific talent.”
As a supporting science, analytical chemistry is, by its very nature, collaborative. Milton Lee says, “That’s how you get creativity – by building up ideas together” – and anything that disrupts the free flow of ideas can only be bad for science.
What’s your view on the ban? Have you or your colleagues been affected? Get in touch at [email protected].
- Multisociety Letter on Immigration. Available at: bit.ly/2jx4HEe
- Academics Against Immigration Executive Order. bit.ly/2jI3khW
- JM Levin et al., “US immigration order strikes against biotech”, Trade Secrets Blog, Nature Biotechnology. Available at: go.nature.com/2ljXm7o
- Science Undivided. bit.ly/2l8kbxT
- Freedom of Science Network. bit.ly/2kkUMgF
- March for Science. bit.ly/2l0Vbp3