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They said it in signs:  

"America's Dark Age — 2017-?"

"Science is not a liberal conspiracy."

"Beer, Coffee, Wine, MTN Dew. Thanks Science!"

"Girls Just Want to Do Science."

Thousands of sign-carrying Utahns turned out Saturday to join many thousands more around the world to march in support of science. They gathered here at City Creek Park on North Temple and walked up the hill to the state Capitol for even more sign waving, slogan chanting and speeches.

Under attack from deniers of human-caused climate change and with President Donald Trump threatening budget cuts and frequently citing "alternative facts," the march aimed at bolstering science — and keeping federal research dollars flowing.

And since it also was Earth Day, signs bore these slogans: "Make Our Planet Great Again," "Protect Wild Utah" and "Save the Earth go Vegan."

Nickie Nelson carried a sign that read, "I Trust Science Not Trump." 

"It's a reference to the administration and the president himself who says things that are demonstrably not factual," said Nelson, who had a 35-year career in the aerospace industry as a system engineer.

She said she attended the march to support science findings that are vetted by peers and published so others can critique them.

"There's just too many people these days that can't accept what's really happening in the world," Nelson said.

Naveen Nagarajan, a post-doctorate fellow at the Mario Capecchi Lab at the University of Utah, said he and others were rallying to defend funding for their genetic research.

Nagarajan said his research focuses on a gene primarily found in brain cells that controls the immune aspect of the nervous system. Research in mice suggests that the absence of the gene is linked to obsessive compulsive disorder in humans, he said.

"We are here for the march to support our community with the request that we need more funding to do our science," Nagarajan said.

While scientific progress is incremental, he said the hope for his research is that someday it might produce treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder and related behaviors.

Mario Capecchi, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2007, was clearly the star of the Capitol steps rally, beginning his short speech as the crowd chanted "Mario, Mario."

After the sound system cut out for a short time, Capecchi cited a number of breakthroughs in medicine that treat common diseases and spoke about how science solves environmental problems.

"However," he said, "I'm dismayed often by how little science has penetrated our thinking."

Scientists are partly to blame for failing to adequately communicate what their profession is about, he said.

Brigham Daniels, a law professor at Brigham Young University, sought to connect science and religious faith.

"I am a person of faith," he declared, then told how his wife was treated for cancer by a team of doctors steeped in cutting-edge science, a team he felt was an answer to his desperate prayers.

"As a person of faith, I am embarrassed that others would use their faith to deny empirical findings of science," Daniels said.