The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Pacific Division will convene in Boise from June 24-27 with presentations and field trips that span the fields of science and hold strong appeal for researchers, science students and the public.
Among the highlights will be a discussion featuring former NASA astronaut Barbara Morgan; explorations of criminal psychology in a dozen high-profile cases; and a look at how the warming climate is changing sagebrush-steppe ecosystems in Idaho and beyond.
The division's 93rd annual meeting will be held at the Boise Centre on the Grove, located in the heart of Idaho's historic capital city. The meeting will be held alongside of the 67th Northwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Registrants for the AAAS meeting will also get access to the full ACS program, including symposia on cancer research, the nuclear fuel cycle, nanotechnology, and new insights on science education. [http://www.snakeriveracs.com/Norm%202012/program.html]
An estimated 700-800 registrants are expected for the two meetings. In addition, the program features a number of lectures and discussions that are open to the public, without charge.
The AAAS meeting features 16 symposia in all. Among them:
- Long-Term Space Flight and Health: Morgan and other speakers will explore the effects of microgravity on physiological systems including cardiovascular, balance, musculoskeletal, and vision.
- The Forensic Psychology of Women Death Penalty Cases: An examination of psychological issues related to 12 recent cases. Another symposium will look at the forensic psychology of lone-wolf terrorists.
- Responses of Sagebrush-Steppe Ecosystems to a Changing Climate: Rapid climate change is expected to warm temperatures and change precipitation in arid and semi-arid lands of the American West. The dynamic could have worldwide ramifications, as arid ecosystems cover more than a third of Earth's land surface.
- Science-Themed Fiction: This symposium will look not at science fiction, but at astronomy, cosmology, biology, ecology, genetics, medicine, mathematics and other fields as they are treated in historical and contemporary fiction.
Other symposia will cover a range of topics: mathematics; the development of biofuels from cellulose; and old diseases that emerge in virulent new strains.
"It's an amazing program, and the location is fantastic," said Pacific Division President Robert Chianese. "It really reflects the diversity that is so important to AAAS. Science education will be an important focusAAAS is always supportive of young scholars and students pursuing science careers, and many of them will be making presentations. And it will create exciting opportunities for the public to enjoy a major science meeting."
The meeting will also include a number of field trips. One will take participants on a day-long visit to the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Another will explore the Bruneau Dunes and Observatory on the expansive Snake River Plain, with the later portion of the trip focused on using the observatory's equipment to view the sun and celestial objects in the night sky.
While members of the public are welcome to register for the full meeting, several free presentations do not require registration:
- Sunday June 24 at 6:30 p.m., a AAAS/ACS panel will open the meeting with a panel discussion, "When Science and Policy Meet: Marriage or Divorce?" The panelists will examine both successful and failed efforts at this important relationship.
- Monday June 25 at 8 p.m., John Bieter, an associate professor of history at Boise State University (BSU), will deliver a lecture, "Aukera: A History of the Basques in Idaho." The lecture will be held in Boise Centre's Summit Room.
- Tuesday at 12:15 p.m., Greg Hampikian, BSU professor of biological sciences and criminal justice, will deliver a public lecture in the Summit Room, "Correcting DNA Errors: From Amanda Knox's Wrongful Conviction to Sexual Assaults in Georgia." Hampikian's work has been covered in Science, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Fox News, and ABC's Nightline.
- Tuesday at 8:30 p.m., Chianese delivers the annual Pacific Division presidential address. A professor emeritus of English at California State University-Northridge, he will focus on a new monograph"Art Inspired by Science: Imaging the Natural World."
- On Wednesday at 12:15 p.m., Sivaguru Jayaraman, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at North Dakota State University and winner of the 2012 Sigma Xi Young Investigator Award, delivers a public lecture, "Learning from Nature: Bio-mimetic Supramolecular Photocatalysis."
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