We recently sat down with Shaughnessy Naughton, President & Founder of 314Action.org, as part of our Born Seekers campaign. Shaughnessy encourages scientists to seek public office where they can impact critical issues – from climate change to cybersecurity.
Q: What made you fall in love with science? Was there something that sparked your initial interest?
My first curiosity was probably with nature. Growing up along the Delaware River, I spent a lot of my childhood exploring the woods and the natural world, and my curiosity about science really grew out of that. Learning how things work at that level was incredibly interesting and intriguing to me.
Q: Tell us about what you’re working on now.
I founded an organization to get more scientists into elected office. We work with scientists across the country to encourage them to run for school board, the state legislature, up through the federal level, help then get elected and connect them with the greater scientific community. I was a breast cancer researcher and a chemist, and I ran for Congress myself. I discovered that we have a real lack of people with scientific and technical backgrounds in elected office - so I founded 314 Action to encourage more scientists to go beyond just advocacy and get involved in electoral politics. When you look at some of the biggest issues facing our country, whether it's climate change, nuclear weapons, cyber security, or protecting the integrity of our elections, who better to solve these problems than scientists and engineers?
Q: What does it take to become a successful scientist?
To become a scientist, you must have a drive for knowledge, curiosity, as well as creativity in your problem solving.
Q: Can you describe your experience as a woman in science? What is it like being a woman in your field?
As a woman pursuing a career in the sciences, there are challenges. There is often a lack of role models, people that look like you in your profession. The only way we're going to change that is to get more women to pursue careers in STEM fields.
Q: What advice would you give the next generation of female scientists?
Take those blinders off and know that you are your own role model.
I often speak to young women and girls thinking about careers in the sciences, and what I try to remind them is that they can do this, they can be the future and be the future role models.
Q: What do you think makes you a Born Seeker?
I consider myself a Born Seeker because as a leader you look to solve problems. I saw that we don't have enough diversity, and certainly not enough scientists in elected office, and I'm trying to change that.