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AAAS Forges Alliance with Science & Technology Australia

Australia’s farmers rely on the European honeybee to pollinate the bulk of their crops, but parasitic bee mites hosted by the Asian honeybee pose a threat to the pollinators. Australia’s scientists are working to control the mites. | Nick Pitsas

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia’s leading scientific organization, pledging to foster collaborations to enhance the role of science, technology, engineering and mathematics on the global stage.

The agreement stems from a meeting last spring between representatives of Science & Technology Australia and leaders of AAAS in Washington, D.C., where both sides explored pursuing opportunities of shared interests, including cooperative efforts to address international science policy issues.

AAAS CEO Rush Holt said there was no better time for cooperation.

“The United States and Australia span the globe geographically and our two organizations span all the STEM disciplines between us,” Holt said. “In science and diplomacy, there’s much work for us to cooperate on, for example we both want to extend diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Holt praised the agreement for allowing the two scientific organizations to “advance science not just in our own countries, but around the world.”

Emma Johnston, the president of Science & Technology Australia, said cooperation between Australia and other influential global partners was paramount for the future health and well-being of the country.

“Science, technology, engineering and mathematics transcend national boundaries and provide a common language and common quest for humanity to extend our understanding of the universe, define big challenges and pose evidence-based solutions,” said Johnston.

“Global challenges are mounting: in the equitable provision of reliable energy, food and water security, in population health, biodiversity protection, cyber security and the prevention of catastrophic climate change.”

Johnston said science and technology can provide solutions to such challenges and will allow both organizations “to provide a united voice in the support and promotion of science.”

The agreement paves the way for joint activities, exchanges and collaborative initiatives to bring the Australian and U.S. STEM sectors together.

“We have the potential to learn from each other and amplify the voice of scientists and technologists across the globe,” Johnston said.

Beyond working to expand diversity among the STEM workforce, Johnston said the alliance seeks to “improve job security and shore up support for curiosity-led research and the rapid translation of scientific and technological discoveries.”

[Associated image: An Australian scientist works with blackberry plants as part of research into the biological control of blackberry infestations. | David McClenaghan]