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Villa-Komaroff, Nye, Hanna-Attisha
Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Bill Nye and Mona Hanna-Attisha are the honorary co-chairs for the March for Science. (AAAS / Bill Nye / Hurley Medical Center)

Lydia Villa-Komaroff and Mona Hanna-Attisha may not be as well-known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, but all three scientists strike the right chords after what has been a somewhat dissonant buildup for next month’s nationwide March for Science rallies.

Today organizers named Villa-Komaroff, Hanna-Attisha and Nye as the honorary national co-chairs for the March for Science, which is set for April 22. The main event will be in Washington, D.C., but more than 400 satellite marches are being planned in locales around the world, including Seattle.

Nye is the best-known of the trio, by virtue of his long-running role as a science advocate and explainer.

“Bill Nye the Science Guy” started out in the 1980s as a shtick for KING-TV’s “Almost Live” late-night comedy show in Seattle, but evolved into a nationwide PBS series for kids.

More recently, Nye has served as the executive director of the Planetary Society and a champion for climate policy, evolution education and other pillars of science that have found themselves under threat. He’s also gearing up for a Netflix show titled “Bill Nye Saves the World.”

In a statement, Nye stressed the social dimension of science.

“We march to celebrate science,” he said. “We celebrate science every day as we advocate, create and educate to advance our mission. … We march to inspire unity. When we explore the cosmos, we come together and accomplish extraordinary things.”

The buildup to the march has sparked debates among scientists, over how much the organizers should get involved in the political process and how they should address issues such as diversity and discrimination in science. Today’s report about the co-chairs on Buzzfeed stressed the movement’s “white-dude drama.”

Having Hanna-Attisha and Villa-Komaroff alongside Nye helps address the diversity issue: Hanna-Attisha is a first-generation Iraqi immigrant, while Villa-Komaroff is a Mexican-American who’s the co-founder of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, or SACNAS.

The two women also add scientific heft to complement Nye’s celebrity buzz.

Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich., and was among the first to raise the alarm over heightened lead levels in that city’s water supply. More than a year and a half later, Flint’s water crisis is continuing.

Villa-Komaroff is a molecular and cellular biologist who was part of the team behind the 1978 discovery that bacterial cells could be used to generate insulin. She’s also a co-founder and former CEO of Cytonome, a company that markets high-tech tools for cell sorting.

“Science, and our society, are stronger when the people doing science reflect our society as a whole,” Villa-Komaroff said in a news release.

Will today’s announcement turn the dial down on the white-dude drama surrounding the March for Science? Here are a few of the reactions on Twitter:

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