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AAAS Southwestern Meeting in Tulsa Explores Science Without Boundaries
The 2009 AAAS Southwestern and Rocky Mountain Division Annual Meeting will convene in Tulsa, Oklahoma., on 28 March for four days of events including a two-part special topic symposium on the climate and ecology of the Cross Timbers and South Great Plains.
The meeting—to be held on the campus of the University of Tulsa—will feature symposia on rainforest natural history, motor speech disorders, and alternative energies; along with student poster sessions and science communication workshops.
David Nash, executive director of the division, said this year's meeting will emphasize the importance for science to transcend traditional boundaries.
"The largest problems facing society are so large and burdensome that no one scientific discipline, institution, or research method can find solutions," said Nash. "This year's meeting is going to show why scientific collaboration is vital to the scientific process."
The meeting will feature two special addresses: the SWARM Presidential Address by Niall Shanks, professor in the history and philosophy of science at Wichita State University, Kansas, entitled "Centuries of Darwin and the Darwinians," and the John Wesley Powell Memorial Lecture by science essayist Carl Zimmer entitled "What is Life?: An Ancient Question Meets Twenty-First Century Science."
Last year's meeting was attended by more than 500 people—a mix of professors, professionals, teachers, and students from most of the states in the SWARM region, as well as a number of states outside the SWARM region, and even several foreign countries.
Nash said that the regional meetings offer good opportunities for early-career scientists to present at a scientific conference due to their informal settings and smaller numbers of attendees.
Richard Weibl, director of the AAAS Center for Careers in Science and Technology, will be leading a session at the meeting geared towards high school students who will be presenting posters at the meeting and another for graduate students. In both cases the workshop will focus on navigating the many pathways to a career in science.
Weibl said that his workshops will show participants the many information resources that AAAS and Science Careers have to help them navigate their own pathways to a science career.
"Too many high school and college students thinking about pursing a career in science falsely assume the only process is a narrow pathway of options—earn an undergraduate degree in science, go to graduate school and earn a Ph.D., and then pull together a couple of postdocs," said Weibl. "This isn't the only way to become a scientist."
The four regional divisions of AAAS—Pacific, Arctic, Caribbean, and Southwest and Rocky Mountain (SWARM, for short)—serve as regional networks for scientists, organizing meetings on regional issues and promoting publications from scientists active within the division.
SWARM is the second-oldest division, with origins dating to 1920, followed by the Arctic Division in 1951, and the Caribbean Division in 1985. The Pacific Division's charter dates to 1915.
The SWARM Division currently has more than 14,000 members from Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana (east of the Continental Divide), Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming; the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Sonora; and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
All AAAS members in good standing and who reside within the specified boundaries of a regional division are automatically considered members of that regional division. In addition, a AAAS member in good standing can request membership in any of the four divisions by notifying the division president. Non-AAAS members may attend the regional division meetings.
Those who attend the SWARM meeting also will be able to take advantage of special AAAS membership offers.
11 March 2009