Demonstrators Take to the Streets in Support of Science -By Daniela Hernandez in New York and Betsy McKay in Atlanta April 22, 2017 5:05 p.m. ET

First ‘March for Science’ part of movement among researchers toward greater public activism

On Saturday, April 22, tens of thousands across the world attended more than 500 March for Science rallies. At the New York march, scientists, professors and Trump supporters shared their views. Photo: Matt McDonald/ The Wall Street Journal

As Diana and Brendan Sun waited for a subway Saturday in New York, they carried signs urging people to “thank a scientist” if they had ever used a cellphone, computer, or television or taken medicine for diabetes, a cold, or high blood pressure.

The mother and son were on their way to the first March for Science, one of a number of rallies intended to defend perceived global attacks on science. The demonstrations—led by scientists and originally proposed online—are part of a movement among researchers toward increased public activism. The Suns were among the tens of thousands who attended the more than 500 rallies world-wide.

Among the movement’s goals: to push for evidence-based legislation and to communicate to the public the social and economic impacts of scientific research. Dr. Sun, a dermatologist, and her son also hoped to change the public’s perception of scientists, who have long been portrayed as villains in movies and books like “Frankenstein,” they said.

Anna Parker, a masters student in zoology attending the march in Laramie, Wyo., said she hoped the march would spark conversations among people of different political leanings about the role science has in local communities, including its part in job creation. She said she fears the proposed cuts to research funding will limit her ability to work as a scientist.

“I’m not going to be marching against Trump. I’m going to be marching for science,” Ms. Parker said. “I hope that comes through.”

Representatives for companies participating in the march had a similar view. “We see it as a great opportunity to get out and showcase science…and its contributions to humanity,” said Gene Kinney, the president and chief executive of Prothena Corp., a biotech company focused on disorders like Parkinson’s disease. The therapies the company is developing, he said, are based on years of basic research. About half of its 100 employees expressed interest in marching in Dublin and San Francisco, where Prothena has offices, according to Dr. Kinney.

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