Dr. Babak Parviz, an electrical engineer and a vice president at Amazon, is one of two new appointees to the American Association of the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) board of directors. Parviz will serve a three-year term through February 2025 as one of four appointed directors. The AAAS constitution allows for the Board to appoint additional directors to share expertise outside of what the elected directors provide.
For Parviz, the journey to AAAS comes from his engagement with the field of engineering. “I really consider myself an engineer with extreme interest in selfishly learning science so I can do engineering,” he joked in an interview with AAAS.
His interest in engineering started back when he was a kid. “From very early, maybe fifth grade, sixth grade I thought I wanted to be an engineer, an electrical engineer,” he said, noting that he had science teachers who helped him develop his interest in physics.
He went on to study engineering in college; while he was a postdoctoral fellow in chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard, he began to see the links between different scientific fields. “That was…a very intellectually vibrant environment. So that also showed me the power and beauty of chemistry, and what happens in [the] molecular world and how those things interface with the biological world,” he noted.
“I’m super excited about it,” he said about joining the AAAS Board of Directors. “Because I think…the mission of AAAS which is advancing science and engineering in the society is probably one of the most important things that I can think of today that anyone can do. So if I can play a very tiny part in advancing this, I’ll be very happy and be very delighted to contribute as much as I can.”
In the interview with AAAS, Parviz emphasized the role of the scientific community in responding to emergent challenges.
“Whether it’s climate issues, manufacturing issues, whether it’s transportation issues….all of those are intimately related to our scientific enterprise and engineering enterprise,” Parviz noted. “And I would say despite all the imperfections that science has – we know that it doesn’t have all the answers, we know that sometimes science and scientists make mistakes and they have to course correct – despite all the imperfections, it’s the best thing that we have today to guide us in how we deal with the natural world.”
Parviz emphasized that he wants the scientific community to move towards greater inclusivity while also strengthening the bonds between industry and science.
“I do firmly believe that we have to make sure the tent of science is large and as inclusive as possible,” he said. “We have to meaningfully act in that direction. And I do believe actually the more we connect industry and academia the more both of them become stronger so they can amplify each other, they help each other and together they can move the world towards a better place.