AAAS Leadership

Led by Chair Nina V. Fedoroff, CEO Alan I. Leshner and the board of directors in 2012,
AAAS fulfilled its mission to “advance science and serve society” through a variety of programs and initiatives.

Leadership Letter

Portrait of Nina V. Fedoroff

Nina V. Fedoroff
AAAS Chair (2012-2013)
Distinguished Professor of Biosciences at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia;
Evan Pugh Professor in the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Pennsylvania State University

Portrait of Alan I. Leshner

Alan I. Leshner
AAAS CEO and Executive Publisher, Science, Science Translational Medicine and
Science Signaling

Scientific evidence tells us unambiguously that global climate change is real and happening now, and it is related to human activities, yet there is still a disconnect between the facts and some people’s beliefs. Warmer temperatures have already affected corn, wheat, rice and soybean yields, which decline by roughly 10 percent in response to each additional degree of heat. And yet the world’s food supply needs to double as the human population pushes toward 9 billion by mid-century. Crops engineered to resist drought and pests suggest a way to feed hungry people while protecting natural resources. Sadly, unfounded public fears about modified foods have persisted. Meanwhile, farmland all over the world has succumbed to overuse, drought and wildfires.

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.)

AAAS workshop participants in Dubai discussed ways to promote broader cooperation between scientists working in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan. (See Biosecurity In The BMENA Region) [Oliver Jackson Photography]

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
Princeton University

May R. Berenbaum
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Stephen L. Mayo
California Institute of Technology

Raymond Orbach
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

AAAS Management

Chief Executive Officer and Executive Publisher
Alan I. Leshner

Chief Financial and Administrative Officer
Phillip Blair

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

Juli Staiano, Director

Education and Human Resources
Shirley M. Malcom, Director

Executive Office Affairs
Gretchen Seiler, Director

Colleen Struss, Director of Finance and Chief Legal Officer

Human Resources
Alison French, Chief Human Resources Officer

International Office
Vaughan Turekian, Chief International Officer and Director, AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy

Information Technology
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

Project 2061
Jo Ellen Roseman, Director

Science Editorial
Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-Chief (2012)
Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief (2013)
Monica Bradford, Executive Editor

Science News
Colin Norman, News Editor (2012)
Tim Appenzeller, News Editor (2013)

Association Information

Association Headquarters
American Association for the Advancement of Science
1200 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20005 USA
Tel: 202-326-6400

AAAS Annual Meeting
Dates: 13-17 February 2014
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Find an archive of past meetings.

AAAS Centers
Supporting science and engineering capacity, careers, public engagement, science diplomacy, science policy, sustainability and more.

Electronic Resources

Find breaking AAAS news and membership information.

Science Journals
Science, Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling.

Science Careers
Look for career advice, how-to information and more.

Read breaking research news in multiple languages.

Make a Gift

Be a catalyst for change—donate online.


Advance science, serve society, and read Science, too.