UW News

February 5, 2004

UW scientists prominent at Seattle AAAS meeting

News and Information

This year’s American Association for Advancement of Science meeting Feb. 12–16 in Seattle includes nearly 90 University of Washington faculty and students as lecturers, symposium organizers and speakers, and as a participant in the first “Town Hall” meeting sponsored by AAAS as part of the meeting.

“The annual meeting of the AAAS is one of the best and most comprehensive science gatherings available anywhere, and provides an excellent overview of the most exciting recent developments across the whole array of scientific fields,” says Alvin Kwiram, UW vice provost for research emeritus who’s had a number of roles in this and past AAAS meetings.

This is an event that brings leading scientists and science policy makers to Seattle from around the nation and the world. Each annual meeting tries to provide some “local flavor,” and features significant scientific advances from institutions in the region. At this meeting there will be a number of symposia featuring speakers from the UW, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington State University, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute and other research institutions.

The subjects selected by AAAS for this year’s four in-depth, two-day seminars, and the UW participants, give a flavor of the wide-ranging nature of the meeting:

• “Nanoscience and Nanoengineering” has a section on controlling chemical transformations at the nanoscale that includes chemistry professor Charles Campbell as a speaker.
• “Vaccines in the 21st Century” has epidemiology professor Laura Koutsky speaking about progress and problems, and Harborview’s King Holmes moderating a session on “HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Challenges and Hope.”
• In “Networking Proteins for Biology and Medicine,” biochemistry professor Trish Davis speaks, as part of the section on organs and organisms.
• “Leading Edge Issues in Science and Mathematics Education,” includes two speakers from the UW: engineering dean Denice Denton is in the session concerning science professionals in the service of K-12 education and education professor John Bransford is speaking with a group interested in integrating technology with cognitive science to improve the assessment of learning.

Along with the seminars, the AAAS program offers symposia, plenary and topical lectures and, according to information from AAAS, serves as a forum for researchers who want their work to have impact across the disciplines of science and among lay citizens, sparking collaborations and new avenues of research.

“AAAS draws its members from all fields of science and engineering, as well as from the lay public,” says AAAS CEO Alan Leshner. “Our annual meeting reflects this inclusiveness, it gives the scientific community an opportunity to disseminate its work, while providing members of the public with a sense of the impact of science and innovation on their daily lives.”

Leshner, together with UW oceanographer John Delaney, who is program director of Project Neptune, the goal of which is to wire up an entire tectonic plate off our coast, and Oregon State University’s Jane Lubchenco are panelists for the first AAAS Town Hall Meeting. The event, “Oceans for Everyone,” focusing on marine science issues affecting Puget Sound, Pacific Northwest and the nation, will be Feb. 15, 2 to 5 p.m., at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Room 2A/2B. It is open to the public but pre-registration is required because seating is limited, see http://www.aaas.org/meetings/MPE_07_TownHall.shtml

Fourteen topical lectures, two by UW faculty, “feature the best and brightest of the world’s scientific, engineering and technology communities,” according to AAAS. Chemistry professor Larry Dalton speaks Feb. 13 on “Electro-Optics for the Next Generation Information Technology, Sensing and Defense Applications.” Oceanography associate professor Deborah Kelley will talk about the hydrothermal vent field unlike any other seen, which was discovered in 2000, in the Feb. 13 lecture “Discovering New Ecosystems: The Lost City Hydrothermal Field.”

 More than 100 symposia are scheduled. Kwiram, for example, organized a daylong symposium on 21st century photonics, photonics being the transmission of information by light, rather than by electrons.

Information about other symposia, registration costs and forms can be found at:

The extensive participation by UW faculty is recognition that they are some of the leading practitioners in the world, Kwiram says. “The AAAS symposia are carefully designed and screened to feature leading scientists from around the nation and the world.”