Visiting Scholars Program: A Click Away to Enrich AAAS’ Mission

AAAS visiting scholar Ray Arnaudo visited the Falkland Islands as a delegate on a scientific mission to help the local government create policies to protect the region’s biodiversity such as King penguins at Volunteer Point on East Falkland Island. | Ray Arnaudo

AAAS, the world’s largest general scientific organization, is stepping up its efforts to attract visiting scholars to work with the association in its programs that engage topics as varied as science diplomacy, nuclear disarmament issues and science education.

The organization has long hosted visiting scholars at its Washington headquarters to amplify and assist in its mission to advance science for the good of society. Visiting scholars have joined AAAS through collaborative efforts with other scientific organizations and institutions and through established relationships with AAAS personnel.

AAAS recently created an online system that will allow prospective scholars to more easily apply and propose projects, more quickly surface potential contributions to AAAS programs and facilitate onboarding of the scholars. The initiative promises to formalize the program and more broadly elevate it across the scientific community.

 “The idea to formalize the program is really to make it more known that AAAS does this and is a place where we welcome visitors to exchange ideas and to provide mutual advice,” said Tom Wang, chief international officer and director of the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy.

Wang’s department currently houses three visiting scholars and he hopes to attract more under the new system. “There are a lot of people doing interesting thing outside of AAAS,” added Wang. “Being able to have daily contact with someone who is thinking about some of these issues in new ways just enriches the environment.”

The benefits of hosting visiting scholars are varied, both for AAAS and the scholars themselves.

Ray Arnaudo shared his knowledge about Antarctic policy during his tenure as a AAAS visiting scholar and used his State Department experience to help advise AAAS on ways to protect the South Atlantic’s biodiversity. | Ray Arnaudo

Take Ray Arnaudo, a retired civil servant who has over thirty years’ experience with the State Department in science policy affairs where he focused on ocean and polar policy. He is one of the scholars working in the Center for Science Diplomacy.

Arnaudo has served as an advisor to AAAS on international affairs and has produced two papers for the quarterly AAAS publication Science & Diplomacy. He says that his affiliation with AAA has allowed him to continue to pursue his policy interests. “Having a spot in Washington at AAAS has made it easier for me to do things,” said Arnaudo. “I was attached, and that helped me greatly.”

Charles Weiss, the first Science and Technology Adviser to the World Bank and former director of Georgetown University’s Science, Technology, and International Affairs (STIA) program, also is a visiting scholar at the Center for Science Diplomacy. At the same time, he is writing an introductory book on STIA programs and has shared his knowledge with AAAS members and staff by chairing forums and giving lectures on the emerging field. .

Another visiting scholar with the Center for Science Diplomacy is Pierce Corden, who served as the director of administration for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization’s Preparatory Commission from 2001 – 2007, and more recently taught courses on U.S. disarmament challenges at American University. At AAAS, he has organized workshops, presentations, and symposia on nuclear energy and disarmament issues and has mentored interns on these issues.

Sandra Blumenrath of Howard Hughes Medical Institute is working with AAAS’ Education and Human Resources department as a visiting scholar. She is a science education fellow at BioInteractive, HHMI’s educational media arm, where she works with other scientists and educators, as well as videographers and artists, to develop educational resources for classroom use. She is currently advising AAAS on Science in the Classroom, an initiative for educators that provides them with student-friendly annotated scientific papers.

Eun Ju Kim, has joined AAAS’ Education and Human Resources department from Korea. She will assist in collaboration with the Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science & Creativity, an organization analogous to AAAS in Korea, in an exchange of ideas about science communication and education.

Similarly, Naohiro Takhashi, chief of the Japan Science and Technology Agency Center for Science Communication’s Strategic Innovation Program, a program analogous to AAAS’ Center for Public Engagement, will be visiting in January 2017 to exchange ideas about how to improve science communication.

“These visiting scholars help us directly by sharing their knowledge, as informal advisors, but also more broadly by making AAAS a place for new and important ideas,” says Wang. “This new system will be a way for us to promote AAAS as a dynamic place for thought leadership.”

Those interested in visiting at AAAS are encouraged to visit the new Visiting Scholar webpage at There they will find information on what AAAS is seeking, and how to apply, as well as a frequently asked questions page.

[Associated image credit: Ray Arnaudo]