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Scientists and Engineers Gather “In Real Life” to Share and Learn

Thousands gathered in Seattle last month around a theme of “Envisioning Tomorrow's Earth” to consider ways that science and technology can respond to challenges from both nature and the built world. This program at the AAAS 2020 Annual Meeting was ambitious and eye-opening with discussions around topics ranging from how studying sea lions can lead to better practices for human health to how recent developments in composting of human remains can alter death rituals.  

The meeting is a major event also for the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships (STPF) program. Each year, STPF sends staff and fellows to learn, present, network and enjoy the company of passionate scientists and engineers from around the world.

  • Eight fellows presented flash talks about their fellowship experiences on the Expo Stage -- including one original song! View the video here.
  • 12 scientific sessions and workshops featured or were organized by fellows.
  • 15 fellows brought the STPF story to life in a standing-room-only event, “So You Want to Be an S&T Policy Fellow?,” and at the STPF Live in the Lounge event.
  • 40 fellows participated in an alumni-only session designed to provide ways they could continue to engage in science in policy through fellow-led projects.
  • 300+ attendees, fellows and their “closest friends” attended the Science Policy Networking Mixer – an annual event that brings the best and brightest science policy minds together for an evening of connecting and camaraderie. 

An engineer and a scientist discuss their work
Image: Kat Song/AAAS

Fellows Goli Yamini and Wynn Meyer sing about their “cross-agency love story” in which Yamini representing NSF and Meyer representing NIH are working across agencies on a joint project to launch new research and training programs in data science and artificial intelligence for the benefit of human health. 

The STPF alumni-only session featured presentations by Gillian Bowser, Colorado State University; Michael Fernandez, AAAS EpiCenter; Christa McDermott, Portland State University; and Ali Nouri, Federation of American Scientists. Bowser spoke about collaborative work among academic institutions that teach science policy. Fernandez introduced the fellows to the AAAS Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues (EPI Center) – a newer initiative designed to deliver clear, concise, and actionable scientific evidence to policymakers and other decision-makers. A sustainability program to prevent food waste in Portland, Oregon was the focus of McDermott’s comments. And Nouri spoke about the Day One Project, a nonpartisan effort to galvanize the science and technology community to develop 100 policy proposals for Day One of any future presidential administration.  

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Fellows connect at an STPF alumni-only session. | Kat Song/AAAS 

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Tweet about a popular session -- “Shaping STEM Policy without Changing Careers: Local Government Opportunities” -- that featured STPF alumni fellows Nicholas Anthis, Arti Garg and Kendra Zamzow. | Kat Song/AAAS 

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Fellow Sarah Rovito sponsored by IEEE-USA tweeted about her presentation on being a fellow in the legislative branch.

Mark your calendars for the 2021 Annual Meeting, “Understanding Dynamic Ecosystems,” February 11-14 in Phoenix! Submit session proposals here by April 16. 


Kat Song

Senior Marketing & Communications Manager

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