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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

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 3

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.

Venus Dillu, Assistant Professor in Department of Physics, School of Basic Sciences and Research, Sharda University
Ravindra Kumar Sinha, Professor of Applied Physics, Delhi Technological University, India
R. Bhattacharyya, Emeritus Scientist, National Physical Laboratory, India
Harmeet Kaur, Science Teacher for students with special needs
Bhagirath Kumar Lader, Chief Manager (Business Information System) at GAIL (India) Ltd.

11:00 a.m.

Schrodinger’s Scientific Process

Concurrent Session 2 of 3

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.

Heather M. Grossman, MS, Methodist Health System - Clinical Research Institute
Anne Murray, PhD, Methodist Health System - Clinical Research Institute
LaToya Thomas, DHEd, MHA, LSSGB,CHPE, Methodist Health System - Clinical Research Institute
Jennifer Burris, MD, Methodist Medical Group

11:00 a.m.

Students Advocating for Science, Technology and Human Rights

Concurrent Session 3 of 3

In this workshop, students will learn about how to effectively advocate for policies and actions that protect the rights of scientists, engineers and health professionals, and everyone’s human right to science.

12:30 p.m.


On-Demand Science and Technology Showcase

Student E-Poster Sessions

12:45 p.m.

Keynote Address: Lesley Iaukea

More information coming soon.

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

Is it time to reconsider policies regulating informed consent in the twenty first century? This panel will convene a collaborative and engaged discussion with social scientists and biomedical scientists who study political science, human rights law, bioethics, and vaccinology, with an emphasis on the role of institutional review boards (IRBs) in the race to find a vaccine for coronavirus. 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.

Trisha Phillips, Ph.D., Rice University
Scott Desposato, PhD, UC San Diego

James E. K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D., President and CEO, Meharry Medical College (invited)
Kimberly A. Mealy, American Political Science Association
Alison Renteln, PhD, University of Southern California

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 3

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.

Dorothy J. Phillips, PhD, Director-At-Large, ACS Board of Directors
Alicia Ely Yamin, Senior Fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics (PFC) at Harvard Law School (invited)
Tracey Crowe, Chief of Staff and Director of Internal Programs, Sustainable Energy for All (invited)
Joan F. Brennecke, Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering, McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin (invited)

3:15 p.m.

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

Concurrent Session 2 of 3

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.

Coline C. Dony, Senior Geography Researcher at the American Association of Geographers
Emily Fekete, Social Media and Engagement Coordinator at the American Association of Geographers

Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Raymond Dickson Centennial Professor of Geography at the University of Texas at Austin, and is 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 3

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.

Dhruva Kothari, MD, Medical Director at Commonwealth Community Care (CCC) and Medical Director and co-founder of ED2Home, CCA’s hospital at home program
Wendy Skelton, PA-C, MPAS, Clinical Director at CCC

Holly Sabo, Director of Primary Care Operations and Strategy at CCC
Hema Pingali, third-year medical student at Harvard Medical School and a research intern at CCC

4:45 p.m.


On-Demand Science and Technology Showcase

Student E-Poster Sessions

5:00 p.m.

“Ask Me Anything” Discussions and Networking

Join one of these informal discussions to learn from thought leaders and find colleagues who share your interests.

Topics to be Announced

6:00 p.m.

Adjourn for the Day

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