Reporting from the 2012 AAAS General Meeting

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the largest general scientific society in the world and is the organization that publishes one of the most reputable scientific journals – Science Magazine, with an impact factor of 31.36 in 2011. The 2012 AAAS General Meeting is being held from February 16 to 20 in Vancouver, Canada. The meeting covers a broad spectrum of topics ranging from climate change to renewable energy, from gene therapy to biodiversity, and from food safety to scientific communications. Here I want to highlight some of programs at the meeting that I found very inspiring:

  1. Student session aids. Undergraduate and graduate students can sign up to serve as session aids and get free registration. Each session aid is assigned 2-5 sessions with a total of ~7.5 hours of work load. The duties include time keeping, loading speaker’s presentation, getting tech support when there is technical problems with audio or video, etc.
  2. President’s address. The current President of AAAS  Dr. Nina Fedoroff gave an extraordinary overview of her scientific career path. She managed to complete undergraduate education as a teen mom and got inspired by Barbara McClintock (who was later awarded a Nobel Prize) during her graduate years and eventually grew into a leader scientist serving as a Professor at multiple institutions as well as the National Science Board of the US.
  3. Career Development Workshops. I attended one of the workshops entitled “Sharing Science: Presenting Yourself and Your Work”. During this 90-minute-long interactive workshop, exercises and instructions were given on how to convey your research to a general audience in 90 seconds in plain language. Attendees worked in groups to  practice and critique on one other’s mini-speech and were encouraged to practice talking about it at home until you make it simple enough that your grandma would understand it.
  4. Family Science Days. Over the weekend, families with children of all ages have the opportunity to come to the meeting and learn everyday science through different interactive demonstrations provided by various public outreach programs and organizations. The exhibition hall has been packed with eager kids and their parents who learn together with their children.

    A scientist showing a girl how solar panel powers a wind mill.

I’ve been going to seminars that are not only related to my graduate research, but also those that cover topics in education, healthcare, medicine, and energy. I have been learning so much about different disciplines in Science and the different approaches the scholars take to make our earth a better place. I was also able to get to know some great human beings who not only do great science, but also promote human well-being through collaborative efforts. (If you are intersted, Google these names: )Hans Rosling, Mike Lazaridis, Michael Hayden, just to name a few) It has been a great conference and I’m going to enjoy the rest of it!

For more news on the 2012 AAAS General Meeting, visit http://www.aaas.org/.