Valerie Horsley, a professor of molecular and cell biology at Yale University, never had much interest in politics.
“Scientists are generally not social animals,’’ she said. “I think it’s a big step for us to get involved.”
Horsley said she once made calls for the Obama presidential campaign and pressed for greater access to child care and other issues at Yale but generally stayed away from the political realm.
Then 2016 happened. “I saw that science was under attack,’’ Horsley said. “The election kind of thrust me into politics.”
Horsley, a 41-year-old Democrat from Hamden, is making her first run for elective office. She is seeking her party’s nomination for state Senate in the 17th District, a seat currently held by Republican George Logan.
Horsely is one of a growing number of candidates with scientific background seeking office at all levels of government, according to 314 Action, an EMILY’s List-style activist group that supports scientists running for office.
“Too often, legislators choose to ignore science in favor of convenient beliefs or intuition,’’ the group states. “We are committed to electing more leaders who will use their training as STEM professionals to influence policy-making. Evidence-based reasoning should be the foundation of legislation related to issues like climate change, and gun violence.”
Horsley, a tenured professor at Yale, teaches undergraduate students and runs a lab that studies wound healing in the skin. She has received money from Connecticut’s stem cell initiative and said she would advocate for greater public investment in bioscience should she win election to the Senate.
“The industries that are going to grow the state’s economy are healthcare, bio science and clean energy and our expertise is needed,’’ Horsley said.