The University of British Columbia community has come out in full force to take part in the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general scientific gathering in the world.
Forty-two UBC researchers are part of 42 academic symposia, lectures and seminars – nearly a quarter of this year’s academic program. Thirteen are participating in official press briefings and sharing new research, and 23 are involved in public events – at the AAAS Family Science Days this weekend, during the “Meet the Scientists” open house at the Canadian Pavilion throughout the conference, and in the Canada Foundation for Innovation Dialogues at UBC Robson Square public lecture series this month.
More than 8,000 researchers, journalists, policymakers and science communicators from 60 countries will attend the meeting, known as the “Olympiad of Science” from Feb. 16-20 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. This marks the first time the conference has been held in Vancouver. Delegates are participating in more than 170 academic symposia, lectures and seminars to share the latest research in diverse disciplines such as astronomy, fisheries, sustainability and zoology.
“The AAAS annual meetings have long been a forum for the world’s top scientists to meet and discuss issues that impact our planet – from climate change to food and energy security, to global disease prevention,” says UBC President Prof. Stephen Toope, who is co-chair of the meeting’s Local Organizing Committee.
“Family Science Days, media outreach and a series of public lectures are included as part of AAAS’s mandate for public education and science advocacy,” says Toope, who will welcome meeting delegates, along with AAAS President Nina Fedoroff and Local Organizing Committee Co-Chairs, Simon Fraser University President Andrew Petter and Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics Director Neil Turok, at the opening ceremony on Feb. 16.
In addition to participating in the academic programming at the conference, UBC is offering AAAS media registrants a pre-conference tour of the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability – North America’s greenest building – and the Beaty Biodiversity Museum and Research Centre – home to Canada’s largest blue whale skeleton exhibit and more than two million research specimens, and sponsoring the International Delegates Reception on Feb. 18.
UBC partnered with the Canada Foundation for Innovation to deliver four public lectures in the weeks leading up to the conference. The Canada Foundation for Innovation Dialogues at UBC Robson Square series featured Canada’s top experts in brain imaging, regenerative building design, child behaviour development and quantum computing.
The University has also launched a special website (aaas.ubc.ca) showcasing UBC’s involvement in various aspects of the conference and breaking news from the academic symposia. Additional media resources available on the web site include AAAS-related stories, including a behind-the-scenes look at organizing the conference, by Ginger Pinholster, AAAS Director of Public Programs, and photographs of UBC researchers.
Also on the web site are three new videos featuring UBC sustainability research by John Robinson (North America’s greenest building), Jack Saddler (Biofuels: Rushing Mother Nature) and Stephen Sheppard and David Flanders (Visualizing climate change), all of whom are participating in the AAAS meeting.