AAAS 2009 News & Notes


AAAS, Europe Build Engagement with S&T Policy, Cooperation Plans

ISPRA, Italy—The landscape is familiar to science policy experts on both sides of the Atlantic: To address serious global problems and to take advantage of important future discoveries, they will have to work effectively with elected officials and members of the public who have complex and sometimes conflicting values and interests.

Ambitious plans. Roland Schenkel (left), director-general of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, and AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner signed a three-year agreement to pursue cooperative efforts on a range of S&T issues.
Ambitious plans. Roland Schenkel (left), director-general of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, and AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner signed a three-year agreement to pursue cooperative efforts on a range of S&T issues.

Nearly two dozen S&T policy leaders and stakeholders from Europe and the United States gathered here recently to explore how they can navigate that landscape to make their policy advice more effective. During a day of candid dialogue organized by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and AAAS, participants shared concerns and strategies for a time of global economic and policy challenges involving science and technology.

Public values and other social and economic considerations are as important as science in policy-making, the participants said. The key will be to build trust through integrity, transparency, and deeper engagement with policy-makers and the public. And on familiar issues such as climate change or issues arising from newer fields like neuroscience and synthetic biology, participants argued it is crucial for scientists to serve as honest brokers in assessing potential benefits and risks.

“What a unique setup,” said JRC Director-General Roland Schenkel, who presided over the meeting with AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner. “Twenty-two brilliant and experienced leaders coming from the scientific community, policy-makers, industry, and NGOs from both sides of the Atlantic, sitting together in a small room for a day, engaging in a lively, open debate without any taboos, and coming up with recommendations on the do’s and don’ts in providing science-based advice to policy-makers. It was a truly remarkable experience.”

The high-level dialogue at the JRC campus north of Milan was emblematic of promising new efforts by the European Commission (EC) and AAAS to enhance the European-U.S. science cooperation that has endured for centuries.

This fall, the EC’s delegation in the United States, the embassy of Sweden, and AAAS have organized a series of discussions in Washington, D.C., on adaptation to climate change.

For the longer term, AAAS will undertake a pair of three-year EC projects. One, dubbed BILAT-USA and led by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency, will address key issues of trans-Atlantic importance in workshops and symposia and encourage American participation in cooperative research. The second, Link2US, will be led by AAAS with a goal of raising awareness in the European research community about cooperative opportunities in the United States.

The 27 October “Trans-Atlantic Science for Policy Workshop” in Ispra, where the EC’s first research site opened 50 years ago, was the first of a two-day AAAS-JRC engagement expected to yield long-lasting impact.

The discussion leaders were Patrick Cunningham, chief scientific adviser to the Irish government; Robert Madelin, EC director-general for health and consumer protection; John Vassallo, Microsoft vice president for European affairs; and Kerstin Niblaeus, senior adviser to Sweden’s minister of environment. Among other participants were Marja Makarow, chief executive of the European Science Foundation; David Goldston, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council; Vittorio Prodi, a member of the European Parliament; and Eugene B. Skolnikoff, professor emeritus at MIT.

The next day, in Brussels, Leshner delivered the inaugural lecture in an annual series planned by the JRC before an audience of more than 350 people, including top EC officials, science and technology leaders, business executives, and students.

In introducing Leshner, Janez Poto?nik, European commissioner for science & research, envisioned a relationship based on “healthy competition” and strategic cooperation.

“Partnership is crucial if we are to succeed in tackling the undeniable, shared problems of climate change and energy, or food and security,” Poto?nik said. “We can—and we must—build a strong and longstanding relationship as international partners.”

Leshner struck similar themes. Even as the United States and Europe join to solve grand challenges, he said, they must build global support for consistent standards on science education, research, and ethics. And, he added, they should share insights on building constructive engagement with the public.

“High-quality science now is going on all over the world,” said Leshner, the executive publisher ofScience. That underscores the “tremendous need and opportunity for us—the European Commission and the United States—to collaborate on integrating the global scientific community so that we can all take advantage of the benefits.”

After the address, Leshner and Schenkel signed a three-year agreement under which AAAS and the JRC will pursue cooperative efforts on a range of initiatives, with an initial focus on nuclear security issues.


AAAS, Kavli Name Science Journalism Award Winners

A radio broadcast on probability told through a tale about a drifting balloon, a newspaper series on the impact of a devastating genetic disease on a family in rural Montana, and a group of gracefully written stories about genetics and evolution are among the winners of the 2009 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards.

Large Newspaper—(Circulation >100,000): Carl Zimmer, The New York Times, for “Now: The Rest of the Genome,” “10 Genes, Furiously Evolving,” and “Blink Twice If You Like Me,” 11 November 2008, 5 May 2009, and 30 June 2009.

Small Newspaper—(Circulation <100,000): Amie Thompson, Great Falls (Montana) Tribune, for “Lethal Legacy” (series), 21-23 June 2009.

Magazine: Gary Wolf, Wired, for “Barcode of Life,” October 2008.

Television—(Spot News/Feature Reporting, ? 20 minutes): Julia Cort, NOVA scienceNOW, for “Diamond Factory,” 30 June 2009.

Television—(In-Depth Reporting, >20 minutes): Doug Hamilton, WGBH/NOVA, for “The Last Extinction,” 31 March 2009.

Radio: Jad Abumrad, Soren Wheeler, Robert Krulwich, WNYC Radiolab, for “A Very Lucky Wind,” 15 June 2009.

Online: Lisa Friedman, ClimateWire, for “Bangladesh: Where the Climate Exodus Begins” (series), March 2009.

Children’s Science News: Douglas Fox, Science News for Kids, for “Where Rivers Run Uphill,” 23 July 2008.

The 2009 awards are the first given under a new endowment by The Kavli Foundation, which has ensured the future of a program that was established in 1945. The endowment has allowed expansion of the television category to include two awards for the first time.

Independent panels of science journalists select the winners of the awards. The winners for each category will receive $3000 and a plaque at the 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego in February.


Additional Candidates for AAAS Annual Election

The following candidates have been added to the ballot for the 2009 election of AAAS officers. Members registered in more than one section will receive ballots for elections for each section they are enrolled in. For a list of other candidates, please see AAAS News & Notes in the 25 September 2009 issue of Science.

In response to member requests, AAAS will be offering the opportunity to vote either by mail or via a Web balloting system for this year’s election. The online option will provide AAAS with the opportunity for better communication during the election and make it more convenient for members to cast ballots. Detailed instructions for using the online option will be provided to all members.

Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences

Chair Elect: Otis Brown, Univ. of Miami; Walter F. Dabberdt, Vaisala

Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Mary Anne Carroll, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor; William D. Collins, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Electorate Nominating Committee: James H. Butler, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory; John W. Farrington, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Ray F. Weiss, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Russell R. Dickerson, Univ. of Maryland, College Park


Chair Elect: Cynthia J. Burrows, Univ. of Utah; Vicki Grassian, Univ. of Iowa

Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Scott Rychnovsky, Univ. of California, Irvine; Ron Raines, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Electorate Nominating Committee: Klavs Jensen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Viresh Rawal, Univ. of Chicago; Timothy P. Lodge, Univ. of Minnesota

Council Delegate: Jeanne Robinson, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Al Sattelberger, Argonne National Laboratory; John Lowe, JL3Pharma LLC; Clark Landis, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison; Jack Norton, Columbia Univ.; John Hartwig, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Dentistry and Oral Health Sciences Chair Elect: Carolyn W. Gibson, Univ. of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine; Gary Armitage, Univ. of California, San Francisco Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Kenneth Yamada, National Institutes of Health; Richard Lamont, Univ. of Florida Electorate Nominating Committee: Dennis Mangan, Univ. of Southern California; Anne George, Northwestern Univ.; Mina Mina, Univ. of Connecticut Health Center; Mark Lingen, Univ. of Chicago Industrial Science and Technology Chair Elect: Nominees to be announcedMember-at-Large of the Section Committee: Nominees to be announced Electorate Nominating Committee: Nominees to be announced Information, Computing, and CommunicationChair Elect: Vinton Cerf, Google; Lewis Branscomb, Harvard Univ. Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Maja J. Mataric, Univ. of Southern California; Walter Warnick, Office of Scientific & Technical Information, U.S. Dept. of Energy Electorate Nominating Committee: John Peha, Carnegie Mellon Univ.; Jon Eisenberg, The National Academies; Tom Pyke, U.S. Dept. of Energy; Maureen Kelly, Consultant Linguistics and Language Science Electorate Nominating Committee: Kirk Hazen, West Virginia Univ.; Jean-Pierre Koenig, SUNY Buffalo; Don Ringe, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Joe Salmons, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Societal Impacts of Science and Engineering

Chair Elect: Rachel Levinson, Arizona State Univ.; Jeremy Sugarman, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Susanna Priest, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas; Howard Gobstein, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities

Electorate Nominating Committee: Richard Johnson, Arnold & Porter LLP; Donna Nelson, Oklahoma Univ.; Anne Fitzpatrick, Dept. of Energy


A Call For Nominations

AAAS members may suggest nominees (including themselves) for president-elect and the Board of Directors for election in the fall of 2010. For a list of this year’s candidates, see AAAS News & Notes in the 25 September 2009 issue of Science; for a list of current Board members, go to Please send the suggested nominee’s curriculum vitae no later than 15 January 2010 to Gretchen Seiler, AAAS Executive Office, 1200 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC, 20005. Suggested nominees will be considered by the AAAS Committee on Nominations at its winter meeting.