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AAAS Pacific Division to Meet in Boise with a Rich, Diverse Program

The AAAS Pacific Division will convene in Boise, Idaho, from 24-27 June with symposia, lectures, and field trips that span the fields of science and hold strong appeal both for researchers and the public.

The division’s 93rd annual meeting will feature presentations that explore space travel, forensic psychology, Western ecological issues, and the connection between science and the arts. And there will be a series of field trips to explore the landscapes and human cultures of Western Idaho.

The State Capitol building in Boise, Idaho

This year’s meeting will be held alongside of the 67th Northwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Registrants for the AAAS meeting will also get access to the full ACS program, including symposia on cancer research, the nuclear fuel cycle, nanotechnology, and new insights on science education. In addition, the program features a number of lectures and discussions that are open to the public, without charge.

“It’s an amazing program, and the location is fantastic,” said Pacific Division President Robert Chianese. “It really reflects the diversity that is so important to AAAS. Science education will be an important focus—AAAS is always really supportive of young scholars and students pursuing science careers, and many of them will be making presentations. And it will bring AAAS together with the ACS, while creating exciting opportunities for the public to enjoy a major science meeting.”

The AAAS and ACS meetings will be co-located at the Boise Centre on the Grove, located in the heart of Idaho’s historic capital city. An estimated 700-800 registrants are expected for the two meetings.

In the past, Pacific Division members have welcomed meetings with other scientific organizations, said Executive Director Roger Christianson. “It gives attendees access to so much more,” he said. “They get to see things they wouldn’t normally see. It’s going to bring the two groups together in a way that creates an interesting synergy.”

Under the theme “Science Informing Outcomes,” the AAAS meeting will feature 16 symposia. Among the highlights:

  • Long-Term Space Flight and Health. Featuring former NASA astronaut Barbara Morgan, the symposium will explore the effects of microgravity on physiological systems including cardiovascular, balance, musculoskeletal, and vision.
  • The Forensic Psychology of Women Death Penalty Cases. Considering crimes torn from recent headlines, the symposium includes presentations that examine psychological issues related to the 12 most recent women death penalty cases. Another symposium will look at the forensic psychology of lone-wolf terrorists.
  • Responses of Sagebrush-Steppe Ecosystems to a Changing Climate. Rapid climate change driven by humans’ greenhouse gas emissions is expected to warm temperatures and change precipitation in arid and semi-arid lands of the American West. The dynamic could have worldwide ramifications, as arid ecosystems cover more than a third of Earth’s land surface.
  • Science-Themed Fiction. This symposium will look not at science fiction, but instead at the general connections between literature and science and the use of science by fiction writers. The symposium, organized by Chianese, is likely to consider astronomy, cosmology, biology, ecology, genetics, medicine, mathematics and other fields as they are treated in both historical and contemporary fiction.

Other symposia will cover a range of topics: mathematics; the development of biofuels from cellulose; and old diseases that emerge in virulent new strains.

In a free public lecture, AAAS Pacific Division President Robert Chianese will discuss a just-published monograph—Art Inspired by Science: Imaging the Natural World—which documents the art exhibit at the 2010 Pacific Division meeting.

The meeting will also include a number of field trips. One will take participants on a day-long visit to the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Another will explore the Bruneau Dunes and Observatory on the expansive Snake River Plain, with the later portion of the trip focused on using the observatory’s equipment to view the sun and other celestial objects.

Boise is home to the largest concentration of Basques per capita outside the Pyrenees Mountains, and a joint ACS/AAAS field trip on Monday 25 June will tour the Basque Museum, the only such museum in the United States, and the associated Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga Boarding House, which from 1910-1969 served as a home and social center for Basque immigrants as they transitioned into the community.

That night at 8:00, John Bieter, an associate professor of history at Boise State University (BSU), will deliver a lecture, “Aukera: A History of the Basques in Idaho.” The lecture, in Boise Centre’s Summit Room, will be free and open to the public.

While members of the public are welcome to register for the full meeting, there are number of other free presentations that do not require registration.

On Sunday 24 June at 6:30 p.m., a AAAS/ACS panel will formally open the meeting with a panel discussion, “When Science and Policy Meet: Marriage or Divorce?” The panelists will examine both successful and failed efforts at this important relationship.

On Tuesday at 12:15 p.m., Greg Hampikian, BSU professor of biological sciences and criminal justice, will deliver a public lecture in the Summit Room, “Correcting DNA Errors: From Amanda Knox’s Wrongful Con­viction to Sexual Assaults in Georgia.” Hampikian’s work has been covered in a variety of national publications and broadcasts, including Science, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Fox News, and ABC’s Nightline.

Chianese, professor emeritus of English at California State University-Northridge, will deliver the annual Pacific Division presidential address at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. His address will focus on a just-published monograph—Art Inspired by Science: Imaging the Natural World—which documents the art exhibit at the 2010 Pacific Division meeting in Ashland, Oregon. [Read the full text of Chianese's address, “When Art Connects with Science.”]

Sivaguru Jayaraman, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at North Dakota State University and winner of the 2012 Sigma Xi Young Investigator Award, delivers a public lecture at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, “Learning from Nature: Bio-mimetic Supramolecular Photocatalysis.”

AAAS’s four regional divisions—Pacific, Arctic, Caribbean, and Southwestern and Rocky Mountain (SWARM)—serve as regional networks for scientists, organizing meetings on regional issues and promoting publications from scientists active within the division.

The Pacific is the oldest AAAS regional division, with its charter dating to 1914, followed by the Southwestern and Rocky Mountain Division (1920), the Arctic Division (1951), and the Caribbean Division (1985).

The Pacific Division includes more than 30,000 AAAS members from California, Hawaii, Idaho, western Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, and all other countries bordering or lying within the Pacific Basin, with the exception of mainland Mexico south to Panama.

All AAAS members in good standing, and who reside or work within the specified boundaries of a regional division, are automatically included as members of that regional division.


See the program and get other information on the 2012 AAAS Pacific Division meeting in Boise, Idaho

Learn more about the AAAS regional divisions—Arctic, Caribbean, Pacific, and Southwestern/Rocky Mountain.