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Naomi Oreskes has a question for scientists that many have been asking themselves already: should they speak up on politically sensitive topics, or should they let the facts of their research speak for themselves? In her plenary address at the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting, Oreskes said facts alone do not speak very well without context when it comes to issues such as climate change. Scientists should consider themselves as sentinels, she said, responsibly raising the alarm to government officials and others about what the data show and even offering possible solutions to science-based problems.

The characteristics of gun violence, risk and protective factors, prevention, gun safety technology, and the influence of video games were identified as key research priorities by a committee of the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, chaired by AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner.

“The complexity and frequency of gun-related violence combined with its impact on the health and safety of the nation’s residents make it a topic of considerable public health importance,” Leshner said.

Advances in DNA science have helped exonerate more than 270 people in the United States convicted of crimes they did not commit. But with biological evidence available in only a small percentage of court cases, research is needed to improve non-DNA forensic tools, experts told a recent meeting at AAAS.

DNA testing is being more widely used from the start of criminal investigations, a development that should help reduce wrongful imprisonments, said Kenneth Melson, acting director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.