AAAS Pacific Division meets this week at SOU

SOU to host 100th annual meeting of the AAAS Pacific Division

(Ashland, Ore.) — Leading West Coast scientists with gather in Ashland Tuesday through Saturday, June 18 to 22, when Southern Oregon University hosts the 100th annual Pacific Division Meeting of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Organizers are putting a unique, grassroots spin on the conference by encouraging visiting scientists to enjoy the area’s cultural and recreational amenities, and by offering opportunities for community members to be involved in the event. The public is welcome to attend the meeting’s opening reception and plenary session on Tuesday afternoon and evening, and everyone is invited to a “science pub” event on Wednesday evening at three Ashland pubs and restaurants.

Anyone may attend the full, four-day schedule of lectures, workshops and presentations by signing up for the conference and paying a $35 registration fee. Membership in the AAAS is not required.

The program for this year’s meeting is intended to mix scientists with the interested public in discussions about science, with an emphasis on the environment and climate change. There will be an invitation-only symposium at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Room 161 of the SOU Science Building on the role of scientists in advocating for local and regional climate policy; a talk at 8:45 a.m. Thursday in the SOU Music Building on “The Honey Bee as a Model for Reverse-Engineering a Brain;” and a town hall-style meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday in Room 207 of the Science Building on the climate future for Oregon wineries.

Tuesday’s public opening reception, from 4 to 6 p.m. in SOU’s Schneider Museum of Art, will feature an exhibit of works from various artists that are “inspired by science.” The opening talk that follows at 6 p.m. in the adjacent Art Building’s Meese Auditorium will be about “Freeing the Klamath River.”

Topics for the “science pub crawl” from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday will include the social, economic and political impacts of climate change at the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant; “Fires!” at Harvey’s Place Restaurant & Bar; and a “Climate Change Poetry Jam” at Oberon’s. About 10 to 20 scientists participating in the AAAS conference will be present at each of the Ashland pubs to engage with the public in informal conversations.

A full schedule of the meeting’s events is available online.

The four-day AAAS conference is expected to draw between 250 and 350 participants, with a fifth day on Saturday reserved for educational field trips and visits to various local venues or attractions.

The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, with about 120,000 members in more than 91 countries. It publishes the journal “Science.”

The organization’s Pacific Division serves more than 30,000 members in California, Hawaii, Idaho, western Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, and most other Pacific Basin countries.

The division was recognized by the AAAS in 1912, and has held annual meetings almost year since 1915 – meetings were not held in 1918 because of World War I, or in 1943-45 because of World War II. The group has met three times previously in Ashland, most recently in 2010.

The AAAS Pacific Division is led by Executive Director James Bower, in an arrangement with SOU. Bower, a computational biologist who has served as a faculty member at Cal Tech and University of Texas, moved to Ashland four years go and accepted the AAAS post following the retirement of former executive director Roger Christianson, an emeritus biology professor at SOU.