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Science Iowa minutes

October 18, 2022

4 p.m.


Call to order


Present: President Dan Chibnall, treasurer Ruth Henderson, secretary Tom O’Donnell. Director Maurine Neiman joined about five minutes into the meeting.


Welcome members and ask if they have agenda additions – Dan Chibnall


Approve the minutes of the July 13, 2022, meeting. See:


Approved unanimously. 


Treasurer’s report – Ruth Henderson

See attached. Balance as of September 30: $2,414.81 in checking, $120 in savings.

We received our Whole Foods grant of $1,699.25; it was supposed to be $1,750. Ruth is unsure about the discrepancy. No checks are outstanding. 


New business


Old business:


2023 Science Festival Trail update – Ruth Henderson


Ruth said West Des Moines Parks and Recreation will soon send a packet regarding our reservation. We’ll have to pay the $400-plus rental fee. Our date is June 18. It’s Father’s Day, which may be a plus. She has sent the date to the participating organizations to put it on their calendars. There’s little to do right now since it’s so distant. Ruth isn’t sure about a target date to start publicity.

Ruth also is thinking about what organizations we might want to talk to about partnering with us. We’ve discussed the Friends of Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge. 

Tom suggested partnering with the Science Center of Iowa. They would be able to help us get corporate backing since they have experience with that and staff that do that. He said we want to be careful with who we get as corporate sponsors. Dan has contacts there. We may want to avoid Corteva, for example, because activists are opposed to some of their policies.

Ruth suggested Kemin Industries. Tom said that as far as he knows they have no controversies surrounding them.

Dan will contact the Science Center and the Drake South Central Iowa STEM hub. They may have some ideas and connections with companies.

Maurine said the Darwin Day organization she helps lead hasn’t made a systematic effort to gain corporate support but has gotten help from Integrated DNA technologies in Coralville. They also partnered with banks and local movie theaters to show science-related films. But most of the support came from University of Iowa entities. Integrated DNA has been generous and focused on sustainability, but has been purchased by Danaher, a global science company. Tom said the company should be fine with supporting us since we’re largely nonpolitical. Maurine suggested Tom contact Sarah Yeoman ( at Integrated DNA about support. Maurine said to user her name and say that she thought Yeoman was the relevant person to contact regarding funding potential.

Ruth noted that there are biotech companies in the Ames area that we might tap. She suggested Kaitlin Higgins might have ideas. 

Ruth suggested NewLink Genetics. Tom noted that the company has struggled int he past. He suggested Boehringer Ingelheim which has a large facility in Ames.

Dan asked how early publicity might look. Ruth said we need to start earlier. We had success in getting onto community calendars. Tom said having a corporate sponsor would help.

Maurine said Darwin Day tries to get posters out and use social media at least a month before the event. They update the website when they identify speakers. They have contacts at Iowa Public Radio try to get interviews on their programs. Social media is important and advertising on campus. Darwin Day has easy access to many venues and advertising at a university that a small nonprofit like Science Iowa may not have. They lean heavily on the university. 

Tom suggested that a speaker, one that appeals broadly to kids and adults, may be one idea to attract an audience. There are lots of folks working in entomology, botany, astrophysics, etc. that could fit the bill. Maurine suggested Julia Meachan at Des Moines University. She’s a paleontologist who studies fossils of carnivores that fall into caves during the Ice Age. Her work is appealing to adults and kids: Https://

2022 candidate survey – Tom O’Donnell


Tom noted that we’ve had more success this year than ever, with around 24 candidate responses – still only about a tenth of the total candidates, but far better than in the past. Notably, that includes candidates for U.S. Senate, the leading race this year. We’ve gotten publicity via a Des Moines Register op-ed and a piece on the Bleeding Heartland blog. Social media has gone well, with many people sharing our posts. Tom hopes that our success will lead more candidates to respond now and in 2024.


Meeting with March for Science – Tom O’Donnell


Tom emailed Ingrid Paredes about appearing on their podcast. She has offered no time or date.


Use of Whole Foods grant – board.


Dan said that since we talked about bringing in a speaker, maybe we could use some of the grant for that. Tom suggested we keep it for the next year’s science festival trail, which could include paying an honorarium. Most agreed. 


Tom suggested we have a retreat for planning; Dan suggested doing it at Darwin Day in Iowa City in April. Maurine noted that she would be occupied shepherding speakers, etc. that weekend. We’ll continue to consider the matter. 


Adjourned at 4:34 p.m.

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