Scientist Action and Advocacy Network

We are a New York-based group of scientists that partners with organizations that are creating positive social change.


Pro bono science

Our members are doctoral students, PhD-holding research scientists, and professors who donate their skilled labor and expertise to our partner organizations. We can help formulate questions that can be answered with data, analyze pre-existing data, and figure out how to act on the results. We can also serve as guides to particular domains of scientific knowledge.


Lobbying and outreach

We organize actions to encourage our elected officials to support both evidence-based policies and scientific discovery. We also promote candidates with pro-science platforms.

Current Partnerships

Currently, New York State and North Carolina are the only two states that prosecute all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, incarcerating them in adult jails and prisons, severely affecting their re-entry, rehabilitation, and social development. Raise the Age NY is a campaign that supports a comprehensive approach to raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York State.

We compiled the most current findings on adolescent brain development. The research shows that the adolescent brain is different from the adult brain; it is still under development, and very sensitive to life experiences. This means that the trauma induced by incarceration can have long-lasting effects. However, it also means that the adolescent brain should be particularly amenable to rehabilitation in programs that recognize the difference between adolescents and adults.

We delivered a statement on this topic to a joint committee meeting of the New York City Council. You can download the statement or watch it here:

You can download the full report or read it here:

The Metropolitan Council on Housing is a tenants' rights organization that has been fighting for safe, decent, and affordable housing in New York City for over 50 years. Every year, thousands of New Yorkers use the Council's telephone hotline or walk-in clinic to get assistance with their housing.

At ScAAN, we are helping the Council understand the people they serve in order to better address their needs. We are also producing reports that the Council can use in their campaigns to strengthen rent regulation laws.

Contact Us

Email us at or use the contact form if you are:
  • a scientist who wants to get involved
  • an organization that is interested in partnering with us on a project

Upcoming Events

To ensure access to the building, please contact us before coming to your first general meeting or working group.


William T. Adler

Will is the founder of ScAAN and a predoctoral fellow in the Center for Neural Science at NYU. He is passionate about building a network of volunteer scientists, and briding the gap between scientists and organizations working for the public good. Will is particularly interested in issues relating to criminal justice and electoral reform.

Wei Ji Ma, PhD

Wei Ji is an associate professor of neural science and psychology at NYU, where his research group studies human decision-making, perception, and working memory. He is the first author of an upcoming textbook on mathematical models of behavior. Wei Ji has long-standing interests in education policy, non-profit management, and science outreach. He is the co-founder and chairman of the board of the Rural China Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which aims to improve the quality of primary education in rural China through student-centered teaching methods, community-based content, and sustainable teacher professional development.

Jenn Laura Lee

Jenn is a predoctoral fellow in the Center for Neural Science at NYU. She is spearheading ScAAN's project with Raise the Age NY, providing scientific support for legislation that would raise the age at which juveniles are tried as adults in New York State. She is interested in working with public advocacy groups in general.

Leana King

Leana is a neural science student and researcher at NYU, and is interested in how good design can produce effective advocacy.

Silvia Lopez-Guzman, MD

Silvia is a predoctoral fellow at the Center for Neural Science at NYU, where she studies the connection between drug addiction and decision-making. She is interested in supporting advocacy groups fighting against juvenile incarceration, racial profiling, and the criminalization of drug addiction. She is working on an initiative to connect public defenders with scientific expert witnesses.

Milenna van Dijk, MSc

Milenna is a predoctoral fellow in neuroscience at the NYU School of Medicine. She is working on ScAAN’s Raise the Age project, and is also interested in supporting campaigns that work to restrict solitary confinement. Specifically, she is gathering research findings that demonstrate the trauma and long-term negative consequences of solitary confinement of juveniles and of juveniles being held in adult jails and prisons.

EG Gaffin-Cahn, MSc

EG is a predoctoral candidate in psychology at NYU. He is a promoter of open access and uncensored government-funded research. He is also interested in building the public's trust in science as a means to improving the long-term well-being of our society.

David Halpern

William F. Broderick

Owen Marschall

Andra Mihali