News: AAAS 2008 Annual Meeting News Blog
2008 AAAS Annual Meeting Promises Onslaught of Breaking News Headlines
The AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass.—set for 14-18 February, 2008—is expected to draw some 9,000 or more attendees from 60 countries to explore "Science and Technology from a Global Perspective." This year's theme, set by AAAS President and Nobel laureate David Baltimore, is especially timely as some 33 million people now live with HIV/AIDS, many children worldwide suffer from malnutrition, and another 22 million under the age of five are overweight.
The 2008 AAAS Meeting promises to yield an array of research news headlines, thus helping to convey science, technology, and engineering issues to the public, in keeping with the Association's non-profit mission. By late January, advance press registration for the 2008 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass., was the largest yet, suggesting that last year's record-high for press coverage of America's largest general science conference could potentially be surpassed this year.
By 28 January, 967 registrants had indicated their plans to cover the 2008 AAAS Meeting. Of those press registrants, some 600 were reporters, freelancers, editors, and producers, with the rest being public information officers, and science journalism professors and students. By comparison, the final tally for total press registration to the 2007 AAAS Meeting in San Francisco, Calif., was 935. Total press attendance in 2008 in Boston might reach 1,100, taking into account "no-shows" as well as "walk-in" press registrants. (Read more about how AAAS engages the public, through service to reporters who communicate science.)
The "Olympics of Science Conferences"
Sometimes described as "the Olympics of science conferences," the AAAS Meeting in 2008 includes a Davos-style global health panel, featuring the executive director of UNAIDS, plus a leading tuberculosis researcher and the president of the United Nations Foundation. Other sessions at the AAAS Meeting will focus on malaria in Africa, and the latest studies of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and cancer.
Also on the 2008 program is a town hall-style forum on childhood obesity; an appearance by His Excellency Paul Kagame, president of the Republic of Rwanda; and 30 news briefings on topics ranging from baseball, to the health of the world's oceans, to the Mars Rovers.
"The global perspective of our meeting focuses attention on the power of science and technology as well as education to assist less developed segments of world society while also improving cooperation among developed countries and spurring knowledge-driven transformation across scientific disciplines," said AAAS President David Baltimore, who serves as the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology and president emeritus at the California Institute of Technology.
This year's AAAS Meeting will feature more than 150 symposia as well as lectures and poster sessions that cover global health and food production, climate change and energy, ecology and resource management, public communication and public policy, space science, and world security and stability, said Barbara Rice, Meeting director and associate director of the AAAS Office of Public Programs.
Specific news highlights from the AAAS Meeting are expected to include:
The first-ever global map of human impacts on oceans
Updates on the prospects for past life on a watery Mars
Animal cloning insights from leading authorities
Advances in cancer prevention as well as autism treatment
Studies of poverty's impacts on the brain
Statistical methods to rank Coco Crisp of the Red Sox, and other baseball players
Strategies for preventing black-market trafficking of nuclear materials
New connections between air pollution and hardening of the arteries
Antarctic invaders, disappearing sharks, and imperiled coral reefs
And much more.
Significant discussion at the 2008 Meeting also is likely to focus on AAAS' decision to join forces with Science Debate 2008 (www.sciencedebate2008,), a coalition of leading scientists and others who are calling on U.S. presidential candidates to participate in a national debate on issues related to science, technology, and the economy. See http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2008/0124science_debate.shtml.
Childhood Obesity Event
The free town hall on "Understanding Obesity and Childhood Nutrition," set for Sunday, 17 February, from 1:15 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. in the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Grand Ballroom, Salon E-G, was organized for K-12 teachers, school health professionals, middle-school students, scientists, policy-makers and others.
Featured speakers will include the Honorable Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston; America's "walking guru," Mark Fenton; Boston Public Schools Wellness Coordinator Jill Carter; and leading Boston-area researchers such as Christina Economos of Tufts University and Steve Gortmaker of Harvard University, plus Philip James, head of the International Obesity TaskForce (IOTC) and other research luminaries. For more information, see http://www.aaas.org/obesity.
Also during the town hall, AAAS will unveil "SmartFoot," a new online learning game that prompts players to dance on interactive floor pads. The first 300 K-12 professionals to register for the town hall will receive free copies of the Planet Health curriculum book.
Finally, audience members will take part in instant polls designed to reveal the Boston community's attitudes on key health questions. Free on-site registration for the childhood-obesity town hall opens at Noon at the Marriott, outside the Grand Ballroom.
Family Science Days
Free Family Science Days—scheduled for 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, 16-17 February in the Hynes Convention Center, Second Floor, Hall D—will include hands-on activities and stage shows for families, children and young adults. To attend, the public should plan to pick up a free badge first in the Hynes Convention Center, Second Level, Hall C Lobby.
The 2008 Family Science Days lineup features Danny Forster from the popular television show Build It Bigger (Science Channel); inventor Saul Griffith, co-creator of HowToons; demonstrations on how to create a snowstorm and how to build a robot at home; and the answers to why a NASCAR team can't reach Victory Lane without understanding the science behind materials traveling at speeds up to 200 mph. AAAS is partnering with local area universities, museums and others to host Family Science Days. For a complete listing, see http://www.aaas.org/meetings, "Family Science Days."
Public Science Day—Meet Spiderwoman
AAAS reaches out to local schools, too, as part of the AAAS Annual Meeting and the association's cradle-to-grave support for science careers. This year's AAAS Public Science Day, open to all and promoted to schools, will invite participants to meet a "real-life spiderwoman." Greta Binford is an assistant professor of biology at Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Ore., who studies spiders and their silks and venoms. She has been featured in The New Yorker and on National Public Radio's Science Friday, and was set consultant for the movie, Spiderman. Her AAAS presentation will feature species that are native to the Boston area.
Public Science Day will take place Thursday, 12:30 p.m.—1:15 p.m. at the Sheraton Boston, Second Floor, Back Bay A-B. For a video demonstration on milking a spider, visit http://www.lclark.edu/dept/public/binford07.html.
Free Public Lectures
Baltimore will provide his AAAS Presidential Address, a free public event, on Thursday, 14 February at 6:30 p.m. in the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Fourth Floor, Ballroom E-G. Joining Baltimore on stage will be His Excellency Paul Kagame, president of the Republic of Rwanda. To attend the free AAAS lectures, the public should plan to pick up a free public badge first at the Hynes Convention Center, Second Level, Hall C Lobby.
Additional free public lectures are planned at the same time and place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Speakers will be pioneer and global philanthropist Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation; Nina Fedoroff, who serves as the science and technology adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and Nicholas Negroponte, mastermind of the "One Laptop per Child" initiative.
In addition, a Davos-style global health panel is planned for Monday, 18 February at 8:00 a.m. in the Hynes Convention Center, Third Floor, Rooms 302-304. AAAS President Baltimore will moderate this all-star session, featuring HIV/AIDS expert Jim Yong Kim of Harvard; UNAIDS executive director Peter Piot; and Timothy Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation and Better World Fund.
A host of topical lectures also will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 12:30 p.m. until 1:15 p.m. in the Hynes Convention Center, Third Floor. For details, see http://www.aaas.org/go/lectures/.
HISTORY: The first AAAS Annual Meeting took place in 1848 in Philadelphia, Pa. Past meetings have featured such notables as U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; Microsoft's Bill Gates; the science ministers of the European Commission, Germany, the United Kingdom and Hungary; Nobelists Sherwood Rowland, Leon Lederman, Wolfgang Ketterle and many others.