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Philanthropy at Work




2016-2017 AAAS LLI Fellows | AAAS

The Inaugural Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellows

Thanks to the generosity of AAAS donors, 15 scientists have spent the past year working to defuse the opposition to the fact that the climate is changing. At a time when evidence based decision-making is increasingly more essential, these scientists – who are fellows with the AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute – are exemplifying public engagement leadership by bringing their communication and content expertise to various audiences, including media, legislators, targeted public groups, and their own institutions.

The Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute, founded in 2015 in honor of CEO Emeritus Alan I. Leshner and funded entirely by AAAS donors, provides intensive public engagement and science communication training to leading mid-career scientists from an area of research at the nexus of science and society.



"It has to be a conversation, and it isn't an easy one." - Fellow Jeffrey Dukes | AAAS

Fellow Jeffrey Dukes met with community officials in northwest Indiana to discuss ways to apply rainfall and flooding data to policy. According to Dukes, many officials were eager to learn more about the data, but did not understand what exactly they needed to know for policy-making purposes.  As director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, Dukes hopes to create a means by which scientists and community leaders can work together to “build foundational thinking on both sides in order to meet in the middle.”



Fellow Melissa Kenney | AAAS

Melissa Kenney, assistant research professor in environmental decision support science at the University of Maryland and LLI Fellow, worked with students this summer to synthesize the challenges of community representatives in the Chesapeake Bay by reviewing existing reports and other documents. “We wanted to do our homework so we didn’t ask a lot of questions that were already answered,” Kenney said. She and her team are looking for “research gaps and science translation opportunities” to approach community leaders with processes and tools that will “facilitate evidence based decision-making.”

The 2017 fellowship cohort will focus on building dialogue about infectious diseases, like the recent Zika virus, the Ebola crisis, and their implications on global public health.

You can learn more about each of the fellows here.

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