The 2011 AAAS Meeting in DC

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | February 17, 2011 12:32 pm

It’s that time of year once again… The annual AAAS meeting is upon us. This is my favorite conference because I get to visit so many friends from different communities in media, policy, and science.  In a few hours I’ll be flying up to Washington, DC and I’m particularly excited for 2011 because it’s been my first year serving on the Program Committee. There will be so many fantastic panels and discussions and I love the interdisciplinary nature of the meeting.

For more information, visit the website. This year’s theme is Science Without Borders, which:

integrates the practice of science, both in research and teaching, that uses multidisciplinary approaches to problem solving, crosses conventional borders, and takes into consideration the diversity of investigators and students. The program will feature sessions with strong scientific content across many science and engineering fields.

On Saturday at noon, I’ll be introducing topical speaker Samantha Joye who will discuss “Offshore Ocean Aspects of the Gulf Oil Well Blowout.”

You can browse the program here. With that, I’m off to the airport… See you in Cap City!

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The AAAS on Cuccinelli Probe: Scientific Disagreement and Controversy Do Not Imply Fraud (Duh)

By Chris Mooney | May 19, 2010 7:15 am

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is now the latest organization to instruct Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli in how science works. In particular, I liked this aspect of the AAAS board statement:

Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations simply for providing scientific results that may be controversial or inconvenient, particularly on high profile topics of interest to society. The way to resolve controversies of this nature is through scientific review and additional research.

In the majority of cases, scientific disagreements are unrelated to any kind of fraud and are considered a legitimate and normal part of the process of scientific progress. The scientific community takes seriously their responsibility for policing scientific misconduct, and extensive procedures exist to ensure the credibility of the research enterprise. Unless founded on some openly discussed evidence of potential misconduct, investigations such as that targeting Professor Mann could have a long-lasting and chilling effect on a broad spectrum of research fields that are critical to a range of national interests from public health to national security to the environment. Unless more clearly justified, Attorney General Cuccinelli’s apparently political action should be withdrawn.

That’s right–the AAAS just called Cuccinelli’s investigation “political.” It is, of course–but them’s fighting words from the leading U.S. scientific society.

But of course, sometimes fighting is really, really necessary. This is one of those times.

Attacks on Climate Science Now "Completely Out of Hand"

By Chris Mooney | February 20, 2010 10:32 am

This is one of the main stories here at the AAAS meeting in San Diego:

SAN DIEGO—A symposium organized here at the last minute by two of the world’s most prominent scientific organizations addressed recent attacks on an increasingly beleaguered climate science community. The panel met in the uncertain aftermath of the release of e-mails stolen from prominent climate scientists and critiques of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The panel of academics was convened by National Academy of Science President Ralph Cicerone, in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW), which is holding its annual meeting here. At a time when the biggest headlines on science have been over the flaws or legitimacy of climate science, said Cicerone, recent skirmishes over climate research “have really shaken the confidence of the public in the conduct of science [overall].” He cited a number of recent polls, which show a “degradation” in the respect of the public for science in general.

Climate researchers have taken the biggest hit. They are feeling the brunt of what IPCC author Chris Field has described as a “feeding frenzy” since the November e-mail release. “The situation is completely out of hand,” said Texas A&M climate scientist Gerald North. “One guy e-mailed me to say I’m a ‘whore for the global warming crowd.’ ” His PowerPoint presentation included a slide quoting conservative talk show host Glenn Beck: “If the IPCC had been done by Japanese scientists, there’s not enough knives on planet Earth for hara-kiri that should have occurred.”

I get the sense that scientists and their institutions are so concerned over what has occurred in the past few months that there are going to be very real changes made, so as to ensure that better defenses of science are mounted in the future. It will be very interesting to watch what develops on this front…

Science And Technology in Society

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 30, 2009 10:59 am

I’m back from the 2009 Science and Technology in Society Conference in DC where I really enjoyed meeting so many terrific graduate students interested in pursuing science and policy. I was there to discuss my career path–which admittedly, isn’t something I planned as a scientist turned radio DJ turned policy wonk turned blogger and author.  I emphasized the benefits of an interdisciplinary education and reminded everyone there are many ways to pursue a career in science.  The best advice I have echoed the message of the morning’s keynote address by James Turner, former Chief Counsel to the Committee on Science and Technology: Follow your passion.


Here I am on the career panel with Todd LePorte of George Mason University and Debra Mathews of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. The conference was a wonderful opportunity to explore the myriad of intersections between science, policy, and society and we should be having these conversations as often as possible.

I also moderated a thought-provoking graduate student panel on education where I was extremely impressed with the presentations–so much so, that every morning this week, I’ll be highlighting a panelist’s topic and posing a related question to readers from the discussion that followed. Here’s what we have to look forward to:

Tuesday: Megan Anderson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The science in the News: A Useful Tool or Distracting Target in the Pursuit of Scientific Literacy?

Wednesday: Christine Luk, Arizona State University

Engaging Women in Science and Technology Policy-making: Beyond the Paradox of Under-representation of Women

Thursday: Fei Guo, Southeast University, Nanjing, China, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Absense of Engineering Ethics in China and its Solutions: An STS Perspective

Friday: Reynold Galope, Georgie State and Georgia Tech

Defining a Comparison Sample to Measure the Effect of Institutional Factors on Highly Creative Scientific Research: Issues and Options

As you can see, a very interesting mix of subjects that will be fun to discuss here…


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