Researchers react to the election of Donald Trump

Scientists consider what a Trump presidency will mean for research.

lawrenceLawrence Krauss is a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University and a public science advocate. He is a cofounder of ScienceDebate, a campaign for a presidential debate on science, tech, health, and environmental issues.

“During much of the night I have tried to imagine any positive outcome resulting from this election. I cannot see any at this point. Fundamental Research, dealing with climate change and the environment, nuclear weapons treaties, international relations, women’s rights, health and welfare, and more generally, public policy based on empirical reality, all have been dealt a blow.”


tedTed Scambos is the Lead Scientist for the National Snow and Ice Data Center's Science Team.

"Climate change will continue to prove that it is real, with or without an active research program. The ice will continue to melt back; the Arctic Ocean will continue to open. And so really there is nothing that can be done to stop more people from being convinced as time goes on. Moreover, entrepreneurs will not be restricted, and our new President appreciates entrepreneurs. New solutions and mitigations will continue to emerge. What will suffer is our insight into connections, causes, and our ability to forecast the worst events and trends. And that lack will, eventually, push the US toward a renewed active program of research.”


karlaKarla Cunningham researches terrorism and other forms of extreme violence.

“Donald Trump enters the presidency with a populist mandate but without the policy credentials of his predecessors. It is unusual for so many leading figures and thinkers in political science, public policy, foreign policy, economics, the military, and science to concur on the unfitness of a person to be president. However, he was duly elected and he enters with GOP control of both Congressional houses. His capacity to pursue his political agenda will be significant. Whether Trump populates his administration with experienced national security advisors and demonstrates a willingness to listen to his intelligence establishment will determine the future. The rhetoric on a Muslim litmus test is particularly concerning in my field as it has the potential to alienate key Arab allies in the Middle East and feed the radical worldview of groups like ISIS. Only time will tell whether the bluster and extremism of the election will settle into a more informed and tempered policy environment.”


scottScott Huettel is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. His research focus is economic and social decision-making, and he has called for new models for predicting voter behavior.

“The act of voting is not simply a decision; it is a signal. When they cast their ballots in the 2016 US presidential election, many voters signaled their disaffection with the US political system, their distrust of one or the other candidate, and even their affiliation with their social group. The election’s outcome throws down a gauntlet in front of political scientists, cognitive scientists, and even campaigns themselves: how can we incorporate those signals to gain a better understanding of what motivates voters?”




Robert Egge is Chief Public Policy Officer of the Alzheimer's Association.

“During the primary race, when an Alzheimer's Association advocate asked Mr. Trump his plan he said Alzheimer's would be a 'top priority'. We are looking forward to working with his administration to end Alzheimer's, our nation’s most expensive disease. We are also hopeful, because so many of our leaders in Congress are excited to continue to work in a bipartisan way to advance public policies that will improve the lives of those living with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers.”

sanderSander van der Linden is a social psychologist at the University of Cambridge and Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab.

“Much of the Trump campaign has been based on spreading misinformation, fear, and out-group prejudice. Yet, most people are not rushing to the voting polls with their cost-benefit analyses; they are largely voting based on how they feel. The larger lesson for psychology here is that we have not sufficiently attempted to truly understand what is going in most people’s minds, what they are thinking, why they are thinking this way, and how people ended up being so divided on fundamental social issues. After World War II, there was a massive increase and interest in the study of social psychology; people wanted to better understand why and how humans are capable of thinking, supporting, and doing terrible things in extreme circumstances. I don’t want to say that history repeats itself, but in moments like these, it may seem as if we are still struggling to do exactly that.”


atibaAtiba Ellis is a professor at West Virginia University and conducts research on voting rights law, particularly the exclusion of voters on the margins.

“The election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency signals a fundamental shift regarding the federal government’s role regarding the right to vote. The first major place where this affect will show is in Trump’s ability to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat. Presumably this appointment will be a conservative who could limit further the legal doctrines related to voting rights. A Trump Administration and a Republican-controlled Congress would not be inclined to re-enact Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (which would mandate federal supervision of states that violated minority voting rights) or pass added legislation to make it easier to vote. Consistent with his positions regarding voter fraud in the primaries, a Trump Justice Department could revive the focus on prosecuting voter fraud despite its virtual nonexistence and supporting election integrity-policies like voter identification laws that may further dissuade voters at the margins from participating.”

angelinaAngelina E. Castagno
is a professor of educational leadership at Northern Arizona University. She has written about the need to educate against racism and whiteness.

“Unfortunately, this result should come as no surprise. Amidst the many questions of what we should tell our children, there are clear answers: while this is devastating, it is not uniformly devastating. We will all be haunted by the election of Trump, but our undocumented, Black, Brown, Red, Queer, Muslim brothers and sisters will be especially targeted. Women and girls, and low income communities as well. Educational researchers, educators from early childhood centers through graduate programs, and all of us working in the areas of equity and justice, must continue to engage strategic, rigorous scholarly projects that not only highlight the Trump effects on youth and communities, but that also offer immediate and sustainable ways to rise up and speak truth to power.”


curt-goering_4Curt Goering is Executive Director of the Center for Victims of Torture

“Although we face a new world following the presidential election, the Center for Victims of Torture will not waver in our commitment to heal the wounds of torture and the trauma of war on individuals, families and communities. CVT has extended rehabilitative care to survivors of torture and war atrocities for 31 years, and our work in the United States, Africa and the Middle East carries on today and every day. The outcome of this election strengthens our resolve to end torture worldwide. While we were horrified by the extreme pro-torture and anti-refugee rhetoric employed by the Trump campaign, we look forward to working with and educating the next administration. Torture is illegal, immoral and utterly ineffective: CVT will not be shaken in our resolve to ensure that it is never the policy of the United States to torture human beings.”

Featured image courtesy of Gage Skidmore