- 10 newly elected scientists are representing Americans in the 116th Congress.
- Eight of the new-comers are Democrats and two are Republicans.
- Here's what these engineers, doctors, and other scientists want to do in 2019.
The 116th Congress was sworn in on Thursday, with 10 new scientists in the ranks.
Many of the incoming science experts on the Hill hold medical degrees, have worked in healthcare, or have an intimate understanding of topics like nuclear energy or climate change. It's a major boost in the science credentials of the US governing body, which still has only one PhD scientist and one PhD mathematician among the 535 members.
While there are no additional PhDs on this list of new-comers, the doctors, engineers, and energy wonks who joined Congress bring knowledge of science, technology, and healthcare.
"Scientists are essentially problem-solvers," Shaughnessy Naughton, president of 314 Action, a nonprofit political action committee dedicated to recruiting, training, and funding scientists and healthcare workers who want to run for political office, previously told Business Insider.
She said the new science-minded politicians will change the political conversation in Washington and "bring a much more nuanced and productive conversation to the healthcare debate," while at the same time taking on environmental issues, cybersecurity, and election integrity.
"Who better to be tackling these issues than scientists?" she said.
Here's the list of new science whizzes representing Americans on the Hill:
Computer programmer Jacky Rosen is one of Nevada's two Democratic female senators. The former Congresswoman from the state's 3rd District helped her suburban Las Vegas synagogue install a new solar array. Rosen says that cut the congregation's energy bill by 70%.
Source: Business Insider
Industrial engineer Chrissy Houlahan, an air force veteran, represents Pennsylvania's 6th District. Houlahan, who used to teach high school chemistry, said she'll focus on making healthcare more affordable.
Ocean engineer Joe Cunningham, who squeaked out a victory in South Carolina's coastal 1st District, wants to protect the coastline from offshore drilling.
The 36-year-old told The Post and Courier that he's "pumped" to get to work in DC and end the government shutdown.
"People in the 1st Congressional District have sent me up here to extinguish those flames of partisan hatred and political divide as opposed to pouring kerosene on it," he said.
Biochemical engineer Sean Casten once founded a waste-energy recovery company with his father. "I've spent 20 years of my life trying to do something positive about climate change," Casten told ABC7 Chicago as he arrived in Washington to represent Illinois' 6th District.
Casten added, "That goal doesn't change because I have a different job, it's just given me a different set of tools to do it."
Registered nurse Lauren Underwood, who now represents Illinois' 14th District, told ABC7 Chicago that she has already authored two provisions related to #MeToo and #TimesUp.
Underwood was a senior adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama.
Source: ABC News
Nuclear engineer Elaine Luria joined the US Navy when she was 17 and spent 20 years operating nuclear reactors as an engineer and Navy commander. She now represents Virginia's 2nd District.
Luria told Virginia's ABC13 News that she's focused on climate issues like sea-level rise and flooding, and also wants to push for more affordable healthcare.
Pediatrician Kim Schrier, the first female doctor in Congress, is committed to bringing down the cost of prescription drugs and protecting people with pre-existing conditions, like herself. She represents Washington's 8th District.
"I've learned that our medical system is really medical non-system," Schrier, who has Type 1 Diabetes, told ABC News. "It is absurd in this country our health care depends on whether we won the employer lottery."
Dentist Jeff Van Drew had been a New Jersey state senator since 2008, and now represents the state's 2nd District in Congress. He has previously sponsored legislation to help children with dyslexia, preserve farmland, and stop offshore drilling.
He said his biggest focus on Capitol Hill will be bringing more jobs to New Jersey.
Kevin Hern, who represents Oklahoma's 1st District, is one of the two new Republican scientists in Congress. Hern is a former aerospace engineer and businessman who is taking the House seat that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine used to hold.
Hern is a vocal Trump supporter who wants to expand the US-Mexico border wall and repeal the Affordable Care Act. He owns 10 McDonald's restaurants around the Tulsa area.
The other Republican scientist elected to Congress is doctor John Joyce, who'll represent Pennsylvania's new 13th District. Joyce said he wants to help Pennsylvanians who can't afford health insurance, and protect Medicare and Social Security benefits.
Neither Rep. Joyce nor Rep. Hern received support from 314 Action, but Naughton said that's not because the PAC is fundamentally Democratic.
"I would love to see the Republican scientist that could win their primary on a pro-science agenda. Bring me the unicorn," she said. "It's a shame, and it's not a statement about science, it's a statement about what the Republican Party has come to tolerate within their ranks, and even on their platform."