Meeting News: Wearable Sensors, Organ Regeneration, Policy and More

During the Annual Meeting's Family Science Days, parents and children are invited to join the meeting and engage in hands-on science activities. | Carla Schaffer/AAAS

Regenerating organs for patient transplants, research and policy questions for “smart” vehicles, advances in the fight against cancer, and voter participation in elections will be discussed in Austin, Texas at the 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting, the world’s largest general scientific conference.

Free public lectures on the International Space Station and the need for scientists to communicate more than facts in an era of fake news, plus sessions on the brain function of “super-agers,” wearable sensor technology, and science-informed responses to climate change promise news at the conference.

Register Now

Registration for credentialed journalists and public information officers can be found online via the AAAS Annual Meeting virtual newsroom on EurekAlert!. For all other meeting participants, general registration is also online. Discounted advance general registration will end on Jan. 24.

During February 15-19 in Austin, Texas, the 184th AAAS Annual Meeting will offer free public lectures and hands-on fun for families, as well as an array of scientific and technical sessions for registrants. AAAS — publisher of the journals Science, Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, Science Advances, Science Robotics, and Science Immunology — anticipates up to 10,000 attendees at its first Annual Meeting to be held in Austin.

Two free Family Science Days — 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, February 17-18 — will feature hands-on science-learning activities, plus a jam-packed “Meet the Scientists” speaker series designed especially for middle- and high-school students. Events will take place at the Austin Convention Center.

The theme of this year’s conference, “Advancing Science: Discovery to Application,” was organized by AAAS President Susan Hockfield, president emerita and professor of neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We must work together with renewed energy across the full spectrum of the scientific enterprise — and across the sectors that advance it,” Hockfield said. “Academia, government and industry all perform critical roles in moving ideas into innovations. Robust, sustained investments across the full spectrum of the scientific enterprise are essential for developing products that improve the human condition and drive economic growth.”

AAAS President Susan Hockfield will kick off the Annual Meeting press breakfast and deliver the meeting's opening plenary lecture. | ES Tech Archive/Alamy Stock Photo

As the first woman and first biologist to serve as president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2004-2012), Hockfield highlighted the importance of building diversity all along the talent pipeline. She fostered cross-disciplinary, cross-institutional and cross-national initiatives, among them the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the MIT Energy Initiative and the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center, and she co-chaired the White House’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. She avidly advocates increasing interactions across the academy, industry and government. In her research, Hockfield was among the first scientists to apply molecular biology to neuroscience, using monoclonal antibodies to study brain structure and development. She demonstrated that early experience leads to lasting changes in the molecular structure of the brain and discovered a gene involved in the spread of brain cancer cells into healthy brain tissue.

Free Public Lectures

The meeting will officially kickoff on Thursday, February 15 with the AAAS president’s lecture at 6:00 p.m. at the Austin Convention Center.

On Friday, February 16 at 5:15 p.m., astronaut Ellen Ochoa, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, will discuss “The International Space Station: A Laboratory in Space.”

At 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, February 17, geneticist Cori Bargmann, president of Chan Zuckerberg Science, will present “The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: Accelerating Science.”

On Sunday, February 18 at 5:15 p.m., atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, will discuss “When Facts Are Not Enough.”

Science News Opportunities

Highlights from the meeting will include these and many other breaking research news topics:

  • Voter registration and participation in elections
  • Wearable sensor technology
  • Maintaining brain function as we age
  • Discovering Earth-like planets
  • Treating cancer with new immunotherapies
  • Artificial intelligence and policy for “smart” vehicles
  • Tracking and analyzing asteroids
  • Regenerating organs for patient transplants
  • Perception of gender identity via speech cues
  • And much more.

Reporters can contact AAAS to receive advance information about two-dozen embargoed press briefings and related social events for credentialed newsroom registrants.

The news briefing lineup will kick off Thursday, February 15 with a reporters-only press breakfast hosted by AAAS President Susan Hockfield, followed by the release of new research from the journal Science.

Meet the Scientists During Family Science Days

Free AAAS Family Science Days — scheduled for 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, February 17-18 at the Austin Convention Center — will include hands-on activities and stage shows for families with children, teenagers, and young adults. To attend, register in advance online. Walk-in registration is also available on-site.

Family Science Days participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Program a robot
  • Take a virtual tour of the International Space Station
  • Make a bioart design
  • Create a greenhouse
  • Make music with a do-it-yourself guitar and drum set
  • Design a pollination station
  • Meet scientists and engineers.

Scientific Program for Registrants

In addition to free public offerings, registrants to the AAAS Annual Meeting will be able to sample a diversity of symposia, seminars, and lectures covering more than 120 topics encompassing engineering and technology; communication, language and culture; climate and the environment; medicine and health; physics and astronomy; science education; and more.

Topical lectures will include discussions on the responsibility of the scientific community to address sexual harassment by Meg Urry of Yale University; solutions to the opioid crisis by Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the future of science in Africa by Thomas Kariuki of the African Academy of Sciences; forensic science and the law by federal district judge Jed Rakoff; music for brain health by Nina Kraus of Northwestern University; the violence of migration by anthropologist Jason De León of the University of Michigan; and more. The  meeting program is online.

[Associated image: Carla Schaffer/AAAS]