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Inspired by Beauty: AAAS Caribbean Division to Explore Science and Sustainable Design

The AAAS Caribbean Division will convene 22 September at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in San Juan for a day-long conference that explores the lessons that scientists can learn from architects and other designers.

The event is expected to bring together dozens of architects, art historians, and researchers from many fields for a rich program on important lessons of sustainable design. The conference theme, “Science and Sustainable Design” was chosen to complement the theme for the AAAS Annual Meeting in February 2013, “The Beauty and Benefits of Science.”


[PHOTOGRAPH] Luz V. “Lucy” Conception de Gaspar[Courtesy Abel Baerga-Ortiz]
Luz V. “Lucy” Conception de Gaspar | Courtesy Abel Baerga-Ortiz

“The principles of sustainability in the design of buildings, structures, molecules and even new life forms will require an ongoing conversation between designers, scientists and engineers,” said Caribbean Division President Abel Baerga-Ortiz, an assistant professor in the university’s Department of Biochemistry. “With this necessary dialogue in mind, we will seek to explore the application of concepts borrowed from sustainable design in science and engineering.”


The day-long meeting will also include a remembrance of Luz V. “Lucy” Conception de Gaspar, the pioneering Puerto Rican science teacher, mentor, and long-time secretary-treasurer of the AAAS Caribbean Division who died earlier this year.


[PHOTOGRAPH] Fernando Abruña[Courtesy Abel Baerga-Ortiz]
Fernando Abruña | Courtesy Abel Baerga-Ortiz

The meeting will be held at the recently renovated and retrofitted School of Nursing on the Medical Sciences campus, which dates to the 1950s. Scientists, educators, students, and the public are welcome to attend and participate, without charge. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. on the day of the conference; the proceedings are expected to close at about 5:30 p.m.


Puerto Rican architect and environmental advocate Fernando Abruña will deliver the keynote address of the conference, on the topic “Science and Sustainable Design.” Abruña, a professor at the UPR School of Architecture, has been described as the father of green architecture in the Puerto Rican islands. His sustainable living spaces are characterized by conservation, recycling, and energy efficiency. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this year named him to its National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology.

Following Abruña’s address, participants can choose from three concurrent, 90-minute sessions:

  • “Science Inspired by Beauty”: José M. Rivera from the UPR Department of Chemistry will lead a panel discussion featuring scientists from the fields of zoology, ecology, chemistry, and nanotechnology whose research is influenced by concepts of shape, symmetry, and aesthetics. Rivera is a professor of organic chemistry and a member of the Puerto Rico Institute for Functional Nanomaterials.
  • “Building for Science”: Architect Frances Lugo will lead a conversation with the architects and designers who were involved in the recent construction or renovation of research facilities in San Juan, including the School of Nursing, the Puerto Rico Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Biomolecular Sciences Building.
  • “Art in Science in Art”: This session, intended for middle and high school students, will explore how artists can use scientific concepts in their work. The discussion will be led by specialists in art history from the acclaimed Museum of Contemporary Art in San Juan.

The afternoon at the Caribbean Division conference will feature a graduate student poster session, culminating in the presentation of the annual Robert I. Larus Award for the winning poster.

The AAAS Caribbean Division was founded in 1985 to create a hub for AAAS members in all of the islands and countries in the Caribbean region, from Venezuela up through the Dominican Republic and Haiti to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

Most of the division’s members live in the Caribbean region, but anyone who is a member of AAAS can join. AAAS has three other regional divisions: the Pacific, with a charter dating to 1914; the Southwest and Rocky Mountain Division, founded in 1920; and the Arctic, founded in 1951. 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 division.

Lea este artculo en español.

See a summary of the program for the 2012 annual meeting of the AAAS Caribbean Division.

Learn more about the AAAS Caribbean Division and the three other AAAS regional divisions—Pacific, Arctic, and Southwest/Rocky Mountain.


Edward W. Lempinen

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