Clearly, pursuing new scientific knowledge for its own sake is not enough. Too many people remain unconvinced of the reality of climate change and unconcerned about other urgent problems such as water scarcity and disappearing species. Scientists, engineers and educators must effectively communicate science in order to accelerate the pace of positive change worldwide.
Strategies for influencing public perceptions about science-based challenges were the focus of a lively, interactive event that took place during the 2012 AAAS Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada. A panel of experts, moderated by award-winning journalist Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, offered insights for communicating about climate change, the world’s increasing human population, evolution and more. The event, featuring audience surveys and online feedback, also included Hans Rosling’s unique demonstration of global population trends. (Read about the association’s other communication and public engagement efforts.)
International research collaboration is also a key to leveraging science in the service of society. Science diplomacy, in particular, can speed advances, even amid tense governmental relations, as shared research goals help to build a bridge between nations. AAAS in 2012 demonstrated the promise of this basic principle by dispatching delegations to Iran, North Korea, Myanmar and Cuba, and by launching a new online publication, Science & Diplomacy. In Iran, for example, which is known for advances in medical and stem cell research, former AAAS President and Nobel laureate Peter Agre joined AAAS Senior Advisor Norman P. Neureiter for meetings with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others. “It is a strategy of engagement,” Neureiter explained to popular WAMU-FM radio show host Kojo Nnamdi after the Iran trip. “You find common issues in science that you can work on.” (Listen to the 25 June 2012 WAMU-FM broadcast featuring Norm Neureiter.)
Scientific discovery is increasingly an international, multidisciplinary enterprise. At the same time, finding innovative ways to sustain more and more people in the 21st century will require a diversity of ideas from many regions. Read more about the association’s international work during 2012.
The AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowships, dating to 1973, were established to bring scientific expertise to bear on the U.S. policy-making process. Today, more than 2,500 alumni of the program are making meaningful contributions to global challenges, too, including efforts to combat hunger, disease and ecological threats. AAAS S&T Policy Fellows have provided crucial data in support of the Endangered Species Act, for example. They have also participated in a federal task force on climate change adaptation, worked on a recovery and reconstruction project in Haiti, and helped to establish a digital research library for Iraqi scientists. Alumni of the program have risen to high-impact positions in Congress, the White House, the State Department, USAID, federal agencies, research universities and non-governmental organizations.
The Science Policy section of this report offers more information on the S&T Policy Fellowships as well as the association’s many other government- and policy-related programs. Those ongoing activities include a highly effective Research Competitiveness Program that promotes economic progress by helping universities, state agencies and other institutions translate ideas into commercial services and products. Communicating the connection between research investments, innovation and job growth also remains a primary goal for AAAS science policy and government relations staff. In 2012, AAAS provided authoritative, unbiased analyses of federal R&D funding trends, and organized events to inform public discourse on topics such as water conservation, climate change and agricultural advances. The four geographic divisions of AAAS convened regional meetings on topics including sustainable design and human health issues in the Arctic.
Project 2061, the association’s renowned science-education reform initiative, and experts like Shirley Malcom of AAAS Education and Human Resources are working to improve U.S. science education. The association’s efforts to promote science literacy — encompassing new assessment tools, lesson plans and scholarships for teachers, plus major networking events and presentation opportunities for early-career researchers — are described in the report’s section on improving Science Education. An update on Science Careers, our comprehensive online resource for science job seekers and employers, has also been included there.
The Science family of journals, published by AAAS, continued in 2012 to convey original, peer-reviewed research with potential to improve human welfare. Pioneering studies of H5N1 avian influenza set the stage for the development of anti-virals and vaccines, which will be essential in the event of a pandemic. Other research and news articles published by Science, Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling advanced our understanding of drug-resistant malaria in Southeast Asia, HIV-AIDS in America and key genetic mechanisms that could lead to more robust, productive rice crops.
We gratefully acknowledge the efforts of many researchers who are both achieving and communicating life-changing discoveries. With your help, AAAS will continue to play an important role in building a global knowledge society for the 21st century.
— Nina V. Fedoroff and Alan I. Leshner
Board of Directors (2012-2013)
Nina V. Fedoroff
Pennsylvania State University, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)
William H. Press
University of Texas at Austin
Phillip A. Sharp
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
David Evans Shaw
Blackpoint Group LP
Chief Executive Officer
Alan I. Leshner
Bonnie L. Bassler
May R. Berenbaum
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Stephen L. Mayo
California Institute of Technology
University of Texas at Austin
Julia M. Phillips
Sandia National Laboratories
Sue V. Rosser
San Francisco State University
David D. Sabatini
New York University Langone Medical Center
Inder M. Verma
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Alan I. Leshner
Chief Financial and Administrative Officer
Center for Science, Policy and Society Programs
Edward Derrick, Chief Program Director
Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy
Norman Neureiter, Director, and Senior Advisor, AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy
Education and Human Resources
Shirley M. Malcom, Director
Executive Office Affairs
Gretchen Seiler, Director
Colleen Struss, Director of Finance and Chief Legal Officer
Alison French, Chief Human Resources Officer
Vaughan Turekian, Chief International Officer and Director, AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy
Richard Hays, Chief Information Officer (2012)
Michael Savelli, Chief Technology Officer (2013)
Office of Government Relations
Joanne Carney, Director
Office of Public Programs
Ginger Pinholster, Director
Office of Publishing and Member Services (OPMS)
Beth Rosner, Publisher and Director of OPMS
Jo Ellen Roseman, Director
Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-Chief (2012)
Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief (2013)
Monica Bradford, Executive Editor
Colin Norman, News Editor (2012)
Tim Appenzeller, News Editor (2013)
American Association for the Advancement of Science
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Dates: 13-17 February 2014
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