More than 8,500 scientists, engineers, journalists, parents, children and other science enthusiasts from over 50 countries gathered for the AAAS Annual Meeting February 11-15 in Washington. With the theme of "Global Science Engagement” and 135 symposia across 14 tracks, topics ranged from international collaboration to Radiolab.
STPF hosted a session about the fellowship program, a networking event, and an exhibit booth. Our folks were on site in full force: 16 fellows plus 16 staff spoke with prospective applicants at our exhibit booth; and 29 fellows moderated or made presentations in a scientific session. Following are highlights from some of those sessions.
For full Science coverage of AAAS 2016, check out their meeting page.
Cover of Mark Largent’s book.
Mark Largent, 2011-12 Executive Branch Fellow at the National Science Foundation, co-organized and spoke at a popular session, “A War on Science?,” that examined three hot-button issues -- vaccines, GMO’s, and climate change. “Some claim these issues demonstrate “anti-science” among some people,” said Largent. He and the other speakers “problematize the notion that anyone who takes a position counter to the one commonly held by scientists is inherently ‘anti-science.’ We assert the slur ‘anti-science’ is both inaccurate and undermines productive public deliberation."
Tweet from February 12, 2016.
“Initially, I proposed ‘Engaging LGBT Scientists in the U.S. and Abroad’ to convene experts on researching LGBT populations,” said Arthur Fitzmaurice, 2013-15 Executive Branch Fellow at the National Science Foundation. “As I did more research, I discovered major obstacles to this kind of work, so I decided to step up and lead the conversation. As a fellow at NSF, I encountered opposition to including LGBT students and researchers in broadening participation programs. And, as a prospective foreign servant, I have been warned of threats against LGBT foreign service officers and advised not to build a career overseas. I am motivated to work against intolerance and to create new roads of opportunities for LGBT persons like me who are told we are not welcome to use our talents in many parts of the world.”
Matthew Garcia at AAAS 2016.
"Meeting Global Climate Goals with Energy Education” was organized by Matthew Garcia, 2011-13 Executive Branch Fellow at the Department of Energy, to underscore the “huge potential” that energy and climate education have in mitigating the negative effects of climate change, and highlight some of the work the U.S. is doing in energy and sustainable education such as the Junior Solar Sprint.
Students participate in the Junior Solar Sprint in Littleton, Colorado in 2011. | Dennis Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
"AAAS brings together some of the brightest scientists in the world,” said U.S. National Park Service Principal Climate Change Scientist, Patrick Gonzalez, 1998-2000 Executive Branch Fellow at USAID. His session allowed him to talk about how human climate change in national parks is melting glaciers, raising sea level, killing trees, and causing other impacts. “If the world does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, continued heating could increase the vulnerability of plants, wildlife, physical features, and cultural resources in the globally unique US national parks.”
“Many renewable energy technologies are driven to higher levels of deployment by the trends in the international energy markets. So a realistic look at the international policy dynamics that currently exist, as well as an informed discussion on where those policies could grow to be, is a great way to continue the conversation on actionable solutions to climate change,” said Subhashree Mishra, 2014-16 Executive Branch Fellow at the Department of Energy (DOE). That is why she, David Rench McCauley, 2014-16 Executive Branch Fellow at DOE, and Abigail Watrous, 2012-13 Executive Branch Fellow at DOE, organized The Global Energy Landscape: 2050 and Beyond.
Speakers at "Global Science to Protect our Global Farm" demonstrated the importance of transatlantic, cutting-edge science to address international disease threats to global food systems. “We hoped to inspire others to form transatlantic collaborations in addressing global problems,” said co-organizer Stephanie Pearl, 2015-16 Executive Branch Fellow at the Department of Agriculture.
AAAS is already looking ahead to AAAS 2017 in Boston. The theme is “Serving Society through Science Policy” and the deadline for session proposals is April 22. Submit proposals here.