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2006 AAAS Annual Meeting: “Grand Challenges, Great Opportunities”
ST. LOUIS — From efforts to prevent “the next New Orleans,” to the search for habitable planets, from evolution on the front line and global health challenges — including infections, anti-aging therapies, obesity, childhood lead exposure and nicotine addiction — the 2006 AAAS Annual Meeting promises a wide range of breaking-news headlines.
America’s largest general science conference also offers free family science activities and public lectures by leading scientific experts.
Set for February 16-20 in St. Louis, the AAAS Annual Meeting offers an unsurpassed technical program for scientists, educators, policy-makers and reporters, as well as public events for families and job-seekers. The meeting is expected to draw some 9,000 individuals from roughly 60 countries, including hundreds of journalists.
Free Family Science Days — scheduled for 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday in the America’s Center exhibition hall — will include Segway Human Transporter demonstrations by the St. Louis Science Center; Monsanto’s MySci Science Van, which invites youngsters to crawl through a simulated limestone cave; the AAAS Kinetic City Super Crew’s interactive work stations; and much more.
In addition, nearly 200 scientific sessions for general registrants and reporters at this year’s AAAS Meeting will focus on “Grand Challenges, Great Opportunities,” a theme established by AAAS President Gilbert S. Omenn, professor of Medicine, Genetics, and Public Health at the University of Michigan.
AAAS was founded in 1848, and the first AAAS Annual Meeting took place that year in Philadelphia. Past meetings have featured such notables U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; Microsoft’s Bill Gates; author Michael Crichton; the science ministers of the European Commission, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Hungary; Nobel laureates Ralph Cicerone, Sherwood Rowland, Leon Lederman, Wolfgang Ketterle and others.
Today, AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, a non-profit association serving 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, reaching 10 million individuals. AAAS also publishes the journal Science, which has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world and an estimated total readership of 1 million. It fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. Membership is open to everyone.
Read All About It!
For more AAAS news from the 2006 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Mo., click here.
This year, poverty is among the many “grand challenges” to be addressed at the Annual Meeting. Researchers will discuss efforts to increase cassava productivity, for example. They also will explore why floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters hit the poor hardest, and discuss Millennium Development Goals to cut global poverty and hunger by 50 percent between 1990 and 2015.
On Sunday, February 19, a private half-day event for St. Louis-area teachers will address the challenges of teaching evolution and providing high-quality science education, despite efforts to insert non-scientific views into science classrooms.
And, a mathematics seminar titled “Beyond Pi” will describe “Million-Dollar Mathematics” — the surprise offer by the Clay Mathematics Institute of $1 million each for the solution of seven major unsolved mathematics problems.
Highlights of the 2006 AAAS Annual Meeting are:
AAAS PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS
AAAS President Gilbert S. Omenn, professor of Medicine, Genetics, and Public Health at the University of Michigan, will kick off the 2006 AAAS Annual Meeting by delivering his Presidential Address at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, February 16, in the Renaissance Grand Hotel. The AAAS Presidential Address is free and open to the public.
One of America’s most prominent health and science experts, Omenn has dedicated his career to translating scientific advances into public policy, advancing public understanding of science, and developing new science leaders. Early in his career, he recognized the potential of genetics for treating and preventing disease.
At the University of Washington, Omenn applied genetic approaches
to brain-and-behavior studies, prenatal diagnosis of genetic disorders,
and variation in susceptibility to environmental agents. He bridged
gaps between policy and practice in analyzing environmental health
risks, and helped create programs on public health genetics and health
promotion for older adults. He also pioneered large-scale cancer chemoprevention
trials, and worked to advance understanding among judges, lawyers,
scientists and ethicists.
In 1997, Omenn became chief executive officer of the University of Michigan Health System, where he helped revitalize the institution through programs for faculty recruitment, bio-informatics, clinical research and more. In 2002, he resumed his faculty role in proteomics, focusing on the discovery of biomarkers for earlier diagnosis of lung cancers.
OTHER CELEBRITY SPEAKERS
In addition to Gilbert S. Omenn, a host of other luminaries will provide free public lectures at the 2006 AAAS Annual Meeting. The Chief Technical Officer of iRobot Corp., Rodney Brooks, who is also the Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and Panasonic Professor of Robotics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is set to provide a Monday morning lecture. And, Ursula Goodenough, Professor of Biology at Washington University, St. Louis, will address evolution, science education and the natural world. Pamela Matson, the Chester Naramore Dean, School of Earth Sciences, Stanford University, is expected to tackle efforts to reconcile the needs of people and the environment in the 21st century.
Peter Agre, 2003 Nobel Laureate in chemistry and now vice chancellor for Science and Technology at Duke University Medical Center, in 1991 discovered long-sought "channels" that regulate and facilitate water molecule transport through cell membranes, a process essential to all living organisms. This discovery ushered in a golden age of biochemical, physiological, and genetic studies of these proteins in bacteria, plants and mammals, and fundamental understanding of malfunctioning channels associated with many diseases of the kidneys, skeletal muscle and other organs.
Plenary lectures by Omenn, Agre, Goodenough and Matson will take place Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, respectively, at 6:30 p.m., in the Renaissance Grand Hotel. The lecture by Brooks is planned for Monday at 8:30 a.m. in the same location.
From mid-day Friday 17 February through Sunday 19 February, the AAAS Meeting will include free career-skills workshops, such as a short course on interviewing skills and another session on career transitions for scientists. These events will take place in the America’s Center, Exhibits Hall. Click here for more information.
For reporters, the 2006 AAAS Annual Meeting promises 30 press briefings, plus additional press breakfasts and networking opportunities. Specific headlines from the AAAS Meeting will remain strictly embargoed until the time of each event. But, in general, broad topics to be addressed during press briefings will include, for example:
- The latest predictions on Sun-like targets that could harbor worlds
suitable for life — based on findings from a network of some
350 radio antenna dishes called the Allen Telescope Array, plus
other research tools.
- New studies of California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta,
which some have called “the next New Orleans,” the U.S.
region most likely to suffer catastrophic levee failures and flooding,
unless floodplains experts can quickly apply lessons learned.
- Anti-aging news, including recent genetic and molecular biological
research that has uncovered gene manipulations that slow the aging
rate in yeast, nematodes, fruit flies and mice.
- “Weird dinosaur science” updates from legendary Jack
Horner of Bozeman, Montana’s Museum and a half-dozen other
- Recent obesity findings based on animals given reduced-calorie
diets, both with and without a simultaneous increase in exercise
- Health news related to autism, nicotine addiction, seafood safety,
lead exposure and children’s IQ and more.
- An all-star cast of speakers who will address “Evolution on the Front Line” during a half-day event for teachers, scientists and policy-makers. Speakers will range from Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) and the Vatican’s Chief Astronomer, the Rev. George Coyne, to Linda Froschauer, president-elect of the National Science Teachers Association, and Emmy-award winning TV show host Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet’s “Corwin’s Quest.”
14 February 2006