SCIENCE COMMUNICATION AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

AAAS shares information about scientific advances and promotes scientific knowledge among diverse audiences worldwide. Each year, AAAS hosts the world’s largest general-science meeting, attracting researchers, policymakers, journalists and families. Year-round, AAAS shares information on the latest advances with media, provides communication training and resources to scientists and engineers, and promotes research-practice collaboration across disciplines and borders. 

AAAS Annual Meeting Encourages International Collaboration

The first detection of gravitational waves, made possible by an international collaboration involving thousands of scientists, and efforts to minimize the effects of the Zika virus were just some of the news-making research presented at the 182nd AAAS Annual Meeting held 11-15 February in Washington, D.C. 

Addressing many of the world’s challenges will require cross-border collaborations, said AAAS President Geri Richmond during her presidential address. Richmond, a chemist and former U.S. Science Envoy, said international research collaborations can be created on a more equal footing by building trust and listening to the problems and solutions people want in their own countries. Additionally, she said scientists in developing countries must be included alongside researchers from developed countries when working on global issues. “It’s important that we have a variety of voices, a variety of backgrounds and a variety of cultures in order to come up with these solutions,” Richmond said during the meeting opening

Researchers gave news briefings on the need for governments to prepare for food shortages due to weather-related crop failures, which are expected to become more common due to climate change; the potential for cancer tests using salvia; and the dangers of alternative tobacco products. Hundreds of additional research presentations, seminars and symposia on a wide range of science topics were attended by nearly 10,000 people from 60 countries.

10,000 People 60 Countries

The 182nd AAAS Annual Meeting was held in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of additional research presentations, seminars and symposia on a wide range of science topics were attended by nearly 10,000 people from 60 countries.

Leshner Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement Focus on Climate Change

The inaugural class of Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellows promoted public engagement on climate change issues. The 15 mid-career climate scientists selected to become fellows received training in science communication, public attitudes about climate change and engaging with policymakers. They also developed and implemented a public engagement plan in consultation with their home institutions. 

For one of her public engagement projects, Leshner Fellow Kirstin Dow, a geography professor at the University of South Carolina, helped organize a climate resilience conference for the Carolinas that encouraged feedback and participation by community stakeholders. Dow said that the program’s training taught her how to avoid divisive topics like the causes of climate change, and instead “engage those who need to prepare for public safety and the impacts of pattern changes in the weather.”

The Leshner Leadership Institute fellows program was founded by CEO Emeritus Alan I. Leshner, and is funded through philanthropic gifts given in his honor.

15 Climate Scientists

The 15 mid-career climate scientists selected to become fellows received training in science communication, public attitudes about climate change and engaging with policymakers.

Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion Brings Science to Seminaries

While many people have questions about the theological implications of science and scientific research, few religious leaders have training in science. To fill this gap, the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion launched the Science for Seminaries program, which concluded a three-year pilot at 10 seminaries in 2016. The program helped professors at participating institutions, which represented a wide variety of Christian religious traditions, incorporate relevant science into at least two core courses. Each institution also organized at least one campus-wide event to explore the relevance of science to theological education.

The program also matched seminary professors with practicing scientists to find relevant research and the most effective ways of conveying it to students. Seminaries chose a wide range of science topics to explore, including cosmology, genetics, neuroscience and paleontology, said Jennifer Wiseman, director of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion. By the program’s end, more than 116 courses in the pilot schools had been revised and at least 77 related events took place. The program also offered summer retreats designed to engage new seminary professors beyond those from the pilot schools.

Trellis: Promoting Collaboration and Community Engagement

Trellis, an online platform that fosters science communities and collaborations, named its first class of AAAS Community Engagement Fellows and celebrated its second year of operation in December. The fellows receive training and learn from their peers about enhancing collaborations among scientists, during the course of the one-year pilot program. The fellowship helps fill a growing need for science community engagement leaders, said Lou Woodley, director of community engagement for Trellis.

EurekAlert! 20th Anniversary

The online science news service EurekAlert! celebrated its 20th year of informing reporters around the world about the latest research news. Brian Lin, director of editorial strategy for EurekAlert!, and Joy Ma, editorial content manager for EurekAlert! Chinese, traveled to Asia to discuss communication of scientific advances to and from the region, which is experiencing a dramatic increase in research. In December, EurekAlert! awarded four fellowships to assist the participation of early-career science journalists from China and India at the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting. Nearly 12,000 registered journalists use the EurekAlert! site to access embargoed journal articles and news releases.

12,000 Journalists

Nearly 12,000 registered journalists use the EurekAlert! site to access embargoed journal articles and news releases.