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AAAS Science, Technology and Human Rights Conference 2020: Day 1 Program

This year's virtual conference brings together human rights leaders from around the world, academic researchers across different disciplines, scientists and engineers who work in private industry, government officials, members of impacted and vulnerable communities, and students in science, engineering, human rights, health and law. Together we share progress made towards building effective partnerships between the scientific community and human rights communities, identify and evaluate potential future actions, and develop collaborative, multidisciplinary approaches to the most urgent human rights challenges ahead of us.


Thursday, October 22


All times on this agenda are in Eastern Time.

9:00 a.m.

Welcoming Remarks

Sudip Parikh, AAAS CEO and Executive Publisher of the Science family of journals

9:15 a.m.

The Human Right to Science

Plenary Panel

The United Nations adopted an authoritative definition of the right to science earlier this year. Panelists, experts in the right to science, will reflect on what excites them about this important milestone toward realization of the right in practice. “Participation” and “access” are central to the right and vital in the context of global health challenges old (tuberculosis and HIV) and new (COVID-19). The “precautionary principle”, as understood in the context of the right, has implications for research involving “controlled substances”. Finally, by shining a spotlight on scientific freedom, the right to science speaks to core values held by the scientific community and essential to robust and functioning democracies.

Gisa Dang, Treatment Action Group
Rebecca Everly, Committee on Human Rights, National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine
Marco Perduca, Science for Democracy
Jessica M. Wyndham, AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program

10:45 a.m.

Recognizing the 2020 Student Essay Competition Winners

Graduate Winner

The Search for a COVID-19 Vaccine: Is It Time for a Human Rights Approach to Scientific Development?

Malwina Wójcik, University of Bologna

Undergraduate Winner

Genetic Surveillance of Uighurs in Xinjiang: Ethnicity, Sovereignty, Crime, and Human Rights

Morgan Steelman, Princeton University

Honorable Mention

Rectifying the Lack of Protection for Environmental Refugees in International Law: The Escalating Reality of the Climate Crisis

Abigail Kleiman, Barnard College

Highlighting the Student E-Poster Sessions

The Student E-Poster Session during this conference is an opportunity for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level students to share their original research at the intersection of science, technology and human rights.

11:00 a.m.

How to Ensure Participation of the Differently-Abled in Natural Sciences Education and Research

Concurrent Session 1 of 4

Differently-abled students and professionals constitute a significant proportion of people engaged in natural sciences education and research. It is difficult for the differently-abled persons to fully participate in school and college science laboratory experiments and use advanced research facilities and laboratory equipment. This workshop aims to highlight and address these challenges faced by differently-abled students, scholars and researchers and address the timely need for the differently-abled population in specific areas of concern.

R. Bhattacharyya, National Physical Laboratory, India
Venus Dillu, Sharda University
Harmeet Kaur, Science Teacher for students with special needs
Bhagirath Kumar Lader, GAIL (India) Ltd.

Ravindra Kumar Sinha, Delhi Technological University, India

11:00 a.m.

Schrodinger’s Scientific Process

Concurrent Session 2 of 4

Everyone has a right to benefit from scientific progress through the implementation of evidence-based health practices. Now, in a climate of instantaneous publication we find ourselves in a scientific process revolution. The ethical conundrum then is how to balance the desire to provide quality medical care through evidence-based practices without compromising healthcare systems. The panelists will initiate a dialogue with session attendees on ways to improve dissemination of research that will aid future scientific endeavors and improve medical practices for all.

Jennifer Burris, Acute Care Surgeon, Associates in Surgical Acute Care, Dallas,TX
Heather Grossman, Methodist Health System, Dallas, TX
Anne Murray, Methodist Health System, Dallas, TX
LaToya Thomas, Methodist Health System, Dallas, TX 

11:00 a.m.

Student Advocacy for Imprisoned Scientists

Concurrent Session 3 of 4

Fatima al-Halwachi, Daughter of imprisoned Bahraini engineer Khalil al-Halwachi
Adam Braver, Roger Williams University
Ariza Karaketova, American University of Central Asia
Clare Robinson, Scholars at Risk
11:00 a.m.

Ask Me Anything

Voting Technologies and Evidence-Based Election Procedures

Concurrent Session 4 of 4

Duncan A. Buell, University of South Carolina
Steve M. Newell, Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues, AAAS

12:30 p.m.


On-Demand Science and Technology Showcase

Student E-Poster Sessions

12:45 p.m.

Keynote Address Lesley Iaukea

Human Rights, Ethics, and Climate Change in this time of COVID-19.  

Introduction by Keri Iyall Smith, Associate Professor, Suffolk University

Lesley Iaukea

Lesley Iaukea is a Kanaka Maoli Wahine that comes from the Island of Maui, Hawai‘i. She holds two Master’s degrees in Pacific Islands Studies and American Studies and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in her last semester at the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa campus. Her focus is on Native Science through ancestral knowledge, relocation secondary to climate change, and marginalized communities. She is a member of Rising Voices Center for Indigenous and Earth Sciences at NCAR and works with other scientists and native community members for a collaborative approach in bringing together different perspectives/philosophies for solutions in climate change and dynamics to sustainability.

1:30 p.m.


On-Demand Science and Technology Showcase

Student E-Poster Sessions

1.45 p.m.

The Ethics of Human Challenge Trials in the Age of Covid-19: A Framework for Consideration and Collaboration

Plenary Panel

This panel will convene an engaged discussion with social scientists and biomedical scientists who study political science, human rights law, IRBs, bioethics, and vaccinology, with an emphasis on the race to find a vaccine for COVID-19. What ethical and human rights questions should be answered as scientists pursue human challenge and other vaccine trials? How do scientists and policy makers balance the public health need to find a vaccine as quickly as possible with the need to protect the individuals involved in the trials and others who may be affected by the trials? What are the implications of modifying the standard practices of testing and expediting the approval process? What are the political and public policy implications of these decisions? Speakers will address a range of ethical, political, and policy debates about what constitutes proper regulation of biomedical innovations.

The interdisciplinary approach taken by the panel can serve as an action-model for increased collaborative discussions between social scientists, biomedical scientists and policy makers on topics of great import to society. One desired outcome of this collaboration and panel discussion will be the production of a working model for cross-disciplinary, collaborative problem-solving that has implications for future public health policy decisions.

Pamela Bjorkman, California Institute of Technology
Alison Dundes Renteln, University of Southern California
Kimberly Mealy, American Political Science Association
Jonathan Moreno, University of Pennsylvania
Seema Shah, Northwestern University

3:00 p.m.


On-Demand Science and Technology Showcase

Student E-Poster Sessions

3:15 p.m.

The Physical Sciences, Human Rights, and the SDGs

Concurrent Session 1 of 4

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) provide a framework for achieving a sustainable planet. This workshop will explore the impact of science on human rights and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on three goals: Good Health and Well-Being, Affordable and Clean Energy, and Climate Action. Outcomes from this workshop will include actionable lists of activities addressing a portion of the SDGs with a heavy consideration for human rights implications.

Lori Brown, American Chemical Society
Derek M. Griffith, Vanderbilt University
Mary Kirchhoff, American Chemical Society
Emily Lewis, VEIC
Dorothy J. Phillips, American Chemical Society

Robert C. Wingfield Jr., Fisk University

3:15 p.m.

Ethics and Human Rights While Working in the Fast-paced Geospatial Research Environment of COVID-19

Concurrent Session 2 of 4

Researchers are navigating a fast-paced scientific inquiry process in the hopes of helping to advance global public understanding of this pandemic. Rapid funding mechanisms are made available to the scientific community, and their research tends to be heavily reliant on geographic data collection from emerging geospatial technologies. At what cost are we are advancing science in times of immediacy, such as COVID-19, and of abundant personal geographical data? In this workshop, organizers are asking participants to reflect on whether the fast-paced research inquiry process is “slow enough” to allow consideration for questions on ethics, human rights, and collective rights of places. Participants in this workshop will be guided in thinking critically on three major areas of inquiry that deserve further discussion to find a good balance between rapid and slow research and to find a compromise between global safety and individual rights.

Ranu Basu, York University
Coline C. Dony, American Association of Geographers
Emily Fekete, American Association of Geographers
Junghwan Kim, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, University of Texas at Austin and Past President of the American Association of Geographers

3:15 p.m.

Intensive Primary Care for the Vulnerable Dual-Eligible Population

Concurrent Session 3 of 4

The “dual-eligible” chronically disabled and frail elderly comprise a uniquely vulnerable population in the US, particularly in health care. These are the 12.2 million Americans who are dually eligible to Medicare and Medicaid. They have the greatest medical and social needs in the country, with high rates of chronic disability, mental illness, substance use disorder, multiple medical comorbidities, low income status, homelessness, and food insecurity. For these individuals, comprehensive medical care is essential to being able to thrive in the community for as long as possible. In health care, however, these individuals are disenfranchised, face discrimination, and receive poor quality care. Commonwealth Care Alliance is a community-based health plan that delivers health care to over 37,000 dual-eligible individuals in Massachusetts. CCA’s founders have been innovating care delivery for this population since the 1970s, with a focus on patient autonomy, the “dignity of choice,” and independence at home. Over the last 40 years, CCA clinicians have developed a specialized expertise in caring for patients with disabilities and multiple chronic conditions. A core principle is delivery of comprehensive primary care both in the office and, importantly, in the home. In our panel, we will explain why it is crucial for health care to deliver more equitable, comprehensive care to complex care populations in order to empower them to live their best lives from a human rights perspective. We will offer CCA as one example of how such an approach can be accomplished.

Sigrid Bergenstein, Commonwealth Community Care Boston
Dhruva Kothari, Commonwealth Community Care and ED2Home
Jamal Lee, Commonwealth Community Care Boston
Hema Pingali, Third-year medical student at Harvard Medical School and a research intern at CCC
Holly Sabo, Commonwealth Community Care Boston
Wendy Skelton, Commonwealth Community Care Boston

3:15 p.m.

Ask Me Anything

Holding Up a Mirror to Sustainability: Eliminating Racism through the 2030 SDGs

Concurrent Session 4 of 4

David Livert, Penn State University, SPSSI Representative at the United Nations
Corann Okorodudu, Rowan University (Emerita), SPSSI Representative at the United Nations

4:45 p.m.


On-Demand Science and Technology Showcase

Student E-Poster Sessions

5:00 p.m.

Ask Me Anything

The Youth Movement for Climate Justice

Concurrent Session 1 of 3

Jerome Foster II, OneMillionOfUs

Ask Me Anything

Career Pathways for Scientific Researchers at Human Rights NGOs

Concurrent Session 2 of 3

Brian Root, Human Rights Watch

Ask Me Anything

Career Pathways in Human Rights and Humanitarian Response in the Private Sector

Concurrent Session 3 of 3

Rhiannan Price, DevGlobal Partners

6:00 p.m.

Adjourn for the Day

See you tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time!

7:00 p.m.

Student Meet Up

Ellen Platts, University of Maryland
Caroline Schuerger, Case Western Reserve University
Mehrgol Tiv, McGill University