Vulcanologist Jess Phoenix never expected to be involved in politics. Until recently her life revolved around science—traveling the world to study different volcanoes and running an educational nonprofit. But the environmental record of the Trump administration has motivated her to run for Congress.
"These guys are basically gutting every environmental protection that existed," Phoenix says in Episode 284 of the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast. "It's a trend we have to stop now. We can't let this continue."
Phoenix is one of a growing number of scientists who are running for public office, spurred on by the group 314 Action, which helps teach scientists how to organize a political campaign. There's a growing recognition among them that too many elected officials are ignorant of basic science, and that the only solution is for scientists to get in there and do a better job.
"The science candidates are going to be in favor of things that are scientifically proven to work," Phoenix says. "That's the one thing that unites all of us."
She also has one advantage that sets her apart—the support of Star Trek actors like Tim Russ, Robert Picardo, and John Billingsley, all of whom have appeared in her campaign videos. "John saw the correlation between my positions about issues and the Star Trek universe," Phoenix says, "and how the ideals of Gene Roddenberry's future matched up with what I wanted to fight for."
She says that as a vulcanologist, Star Trek references are a fact of life, since pretty much everyone she meets makes a joke about her studying Vulcans. Her standard response is to give the Vulcan salute and say "live long and prosper."