Throughout 2021, the American Association for the Advancement of Science played a pivotal role in disseminating accurate information about COVID-19, informing policy with scientific evidence, fighting systemic barriers in STEMM and pursuing environmental sustainability, among many other efforts – as chronicled in the AAAS 2021 Annual Report, released today.
2021 saw “science once again taking center stage as the world responded to societal and public health challenges,” said Claire M. Fraser, chair of the AAAS Board of Directors in 2021 and director of the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Sudip S. Parikh, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of the Science family of journals, in introducing the report.
The year saw challenges and opportunities for the scientific enterprise: The evolving COVID-19 pandemic saw outbreaks of new variants along with new protections against serious disease, with Science publishing research about the first antiviral drug and widespread availability of vaccines. Amid increasing political and social polarization and isolation, policymakers and communicators equipped themselves with evidence-based strategies. Longstanding systemic inequities in the sciences persisted, but the ongoing fight to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and justice continued. And against the backdrop of a new report on the dire effects of climate change across the globe, communities implemented sustainable solutions at the local level.
Among AAAS’ impacts throughout 2021:
- AAAS’ SciLine service, which aims to improve scientific accuracy in news coverage, connected more than 650 reporters in 46 states with scientists. More than 300 requests came from reporters covering the COVID-19 pandemic.
- AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows brought their scientific expertise to the federal government, contributing to pandemic-related policies by organizing vaccine distribution to U.S. diplomatic missions and urging use of the U.S. Defense Production Act to manufacture rapid COVID-19 tests.
- The AAAS Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues delivered scientific evidence to policymakers in 2021. The EPI Center reached more than 638 attendees from 48 states through workshops on the synthetic chemicals found in the drinking water consumed by millions of Americans known as PFAS. The center also summarized evidence on the risks of internet voting for 216 decision-makers in key states.
- The AAAS SEA Change program, which works with universities and colleges to transform cultures and policies to support diversity, equity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine, welcomed new charter members in 2021, bringing the total number of educational institutions committed to advancing DEI to 26.
- AAAS IF/THEN Ambassadors, women in STEM who serve as high-profile role models for middle school girls, completed more than 90 different public engagement projects. Ambassadors were rendered in 120 3D-printed statues – the largest exhibit of statues of real women ever assembled in one location.
- Speakers from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy launched a new initiative, “The Time is Now: Advancing Equity in Science and Technology Ideation Challenge,” at AAAS’ 46th Annual Forum on Science & Technology Policy.
- AAAS’ Center for Science Diplomacy launched the Ambassador Interview Series, interviewing ambassadors representing seven countries on four continents posted in Washington, D.C., on international science and science diplomacy topics.
- The AAAS Local Science Engagement Network connected scientists in several states with their own elected representatives. Missouri LSEN, which now includes nearly 500 scientists and science advocates, has served as a resource on issues in the state including climate change.
- A newly renamed award, the AAAS David and Betty Hamburg Award for Science Diplomacy, honored a pair of trailblazers in science diplomacy.
- AAAS released its second annual report on our efforts to ingrain DEI in the scientific enterprise, following up on demographic trends of AAAS/Science career-enabling functions. Among the findings: In 2021, 67% of the incoming AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows were female and 28% were researchers from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
- AAAS Members, including a leading scholar studying environmental racism and a marine biologist using dance to communicate her work, continued their ongoing work to advance science and serve society.
Read the full report at https://annualreport.aaas.org/.