Scientific research provides an important set of information that elected officials may utilize when making policies. While science may not be the only consideration for which a policy-maker accounts when making a decision, it is crucial that we equip them with  information to weigh all consequences and benefits of decisions to better serve constituents. Scientists play an important role in the policy making process by simply producing data and making that information publicly accessible, but scientists also have the opportunity to share their research findings directly with candidates.

At a bipartisan, midterm candidate forum, scientists had the opportunity to share their research with local candidates running for Missouri State Representative positions and engage in conversation about how scientists and policy makers interact. The Boone County candidate forum featured three scientists working on research relevant to Missouri’s communities and natural resources.

At a U.S. Senate Debate Watch Party, scientists whose research directly impacts the state of Missouri will have the opportunity to provide brief presentations before the debate. The scientists will discuss how their research interfaces with policy as well as explore implications for creating sustainable agricultural and food systems.

Meet our Boone County Scientists

Andrew Mallinak
M.S. Candidate | Natural Resources – Human Dimensions of Natural Resources


Drew grew up in Tennessee and completed his B.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries at the University of Tennessee. He moved to Missouri in 2016 to work on a master’s project in the School of Natural Resources focused on human dimensions of wildlife. This past summer, he completed an international research fellowship in Uppsala, Sweden and has traveled extensively overseas. His master’s research focuses on community perceptions of vacant lots in select St. Louis neighborhoods.

Omonseigho Esangbedo Talton
Postdoctoral Research Fellow | Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health


Omonseigho is half Nigerian, half Gambian. She has lived in Missouri for 11 years, receiving her bachelors from Truman State University and completing her Ph.D. at the University of Missouri where she is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the department of ObGyn and Women’s Health. When asked why she was interested in participating in the Watch Party event, Omonseigho said, “I’m always looking for ways to share the relevance of my work to new groups of people, and showing them how it affects them directly.” Her twitter handle is @omonsetweets, and she encourages you to follow her.



Kathleen Hatch
Ph.D. Student | Natural Resources

Kathleen grew up in New Hampshire. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Wheaton College in Massachusetts before moving to Missouri eight years ago to pursue a master’s degree in Soil and Environmental Science. After finishing her master’s Kathleen worked in teaching and research positions at the University of Missouri, and started a Ph.D. program three years ago. She is currently working towards her degree in the MU School of Natural Resources, studying atrazine breakdown by switchgrass rhizosphere compounds. At the candidate forum, she will be sharing a presentation titled, “Naturally Enhancing Degradation of Pesticides Before They Get Into the Water.”

Sarah Clements
Ph.D. Student | Natural Resources

Like Kathleen, Sarah is also from New Hampshire. In 2016, Sarah graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from the University of New Hampshire. She moved to Missouri last year to pursue a Ph.D. in the School of Natural Resources at University of Missouri. Sarah’s current research focuses on better understanding shorebird habitat and behaviors in order to improve management in Missouri. Her presentation is titled, “Shorebird Diversity, Ecology, and Management in Missouri and Beyond.”

Why is Sarah interested in presenting as part of the candidate forum? “I think it’s really important to make science accessible to everyone. Even though research is relevant and useful for members of the general public and policy makers alike, there is often a disconnect between groups, and these types of events help bridge those gaps.”

Troy Rowan
Ph.D. student | Animal Science

Troy grew up on a cattle ranch in Bedford, Iowa. He received a B.S. in Biology from Creighton University (Omaha, NE) and is now in his 3rd year of a Ph.D. here at Mizzou in the Division of Animal Science. His research focuses on finding ways to match cattle genetics to certain regional environments across the United States. Troy will present on “SHOW ME the Beef (Research)! Science Driven Approaches for Improving Cattle in Missouri and Beyond.”

Why did Troy choose this line of work? “I love my research because it is used directly by beef producers across the world (including my family)!”

Meet our St. Louis Scientists

Sarah Coffin, PhD and ACIP
Associate Professor| St. Louis University College of Public Health and Social Justice
Dr. Coffin is an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Social Justice at St. Louis University. Dr. Coffin received her PhD in City and Regional Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Coffin’s research examines brownfields, community development, local economic development, sustainable built environment, and urban manufacturing.

Jaime E. Flores Ruiz, MD
Instructor| Washington University of St. Louis Division of Medical Education
Dr. Flores received her medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico’s School of Medicine. Dr. Flores is an Instructor of Medicine in the Division of Medical Education at Washington University in St. Louis.

Zuleyma Tang-Martinez, PhD
Professor Emeritus| University of Missouri St. Louis Department of Biology

Dr. Tang-Martinez received her PhD in Zoology from the University of California—Berkeley. Dr. Tang-Martinez worked in the Department of Biology at University of Missouri St. Louis. She is now professor emeritus. Dr. Tang-Martinez’s research focuses on the social behavior of animals, with an emphasis on the mechanisms, development, and function of vertebrate social behavior. A second area of interest is dispersal, particularly as it relates to social structure and organization. Both of these topics are crucial to our understanding of evolution and to conservation efforts. A third and new area of research is the behavioral ecology of the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa)