Free Your Mind at EB2014

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Scientific conferences have a way of taking something that is inherently fun and exciting and dragging the life out of it. Between the endless menagerie of talks, posters, workshops, discussions and networking events, it becomes nigh impossible to maintain that sense of exhilaration that exists when you first set foot inside the conference center.

Instead of accepting that scientific meetings are a necessary evil, to be endured rather than enjoyed, try to look at a conference as a chance to take part in some activities that you wouldn’t normally get to do. If you happen to be coming to EB2014, ASBMB is offering a wide variety of opportunities for you to break out of the normal conference routine, and, you know, have some fun:

Outreach poster session

Aspirnauts

The Aspirnauts- stars of the 2013 ASBMB Outreach Poster Session

Have you heard the word “outreach” and been unsure what it means? Get a better sense by checking out our special science outreach-themed poster session, directly following the ASBMB Opening Lecture on Saturday April 26. Sponsored by the ASBMB Public Outreach Committee, the session will feature posters from ASBMB members showing how they do outreach, describing the different events and activities with which they are involved. Oh, and there will be refreshments.

 

 

 

Science communication workshop

Want a chance to practice not talking like a scientist? Come to our workshop “You Can’t Say That on Television (or to Congress, or to students)” on Monday April 28 at 12:30 PM and get insight and advice from a panel of expert science communicators who will work with you directly to improve your communication skills. We’ll have bloggers, policy wonks and education experts, all at your disposal.

 

Science café

FoldIt logo

On Monday April 28 at 7:30 PM, swing by Southpaw Social in the heart of the Gaslamp District  to take part in our public science café, “Game Changer: How a Computer Game Can Turn You Into a Real-Life Hero.” Brian Koepnick from the University of Washington will lead an interactive, hands-on exploration of FoldIt, the video game that doubles as protein structure research. We’re opening the doors to all comers, so don’t be surprised to find yourself sharing a computer with someone with absolutely no scientific background. How’s that for a different conference experience?

Of course, we still encourage you take in all the science you possibly can during the meeting. But if you do ending up having even a small craving to try out something unique, come join us for our outreach events and re-discover why you came to love science in the first place.

 

For more about special events at EB, visit: http://www.asbmb.org/Meetings_01/2014mtg/2014AnnlMtgProgInfo.aspx?specialevents=t

To learn more about the ASBMB Public Outreach Committee, visit: http://www.asbmb.org/PublicOutreach/

Social Science

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How should science be taught in the 21st century? In this month’s ASBMB Today, authors Morgan Thompson, Jon Beckwith and Regina Stevens-Truss argue that, in contrast to the traditional siloed approach, modern training in science requires perspectives that incorporate public discourse and consider the societal context of scientific research. Their solution is the Science and Social Justice Project, a joint collaborative between Kalamazoo College and Harvard Medical School that “seeks to identify, connect, and coordinate scholars doing science and social justice teaching and research.”

The idea of applying such an inclusive approach to scientific training is one that is gaining traction throughout the scientific community. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of the Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture program, has argued that science communicators should be involved in research projects from beginning to end, in an effort to bring broader social, ethical and political perspectives to experimental design and interpretation. Meanwhile, collaborations that address the overlap between scientific and societal issues have become more common and more formalized. Numerous institutions now feature such programs, including Princeton University’s Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy and the Stanford University Program in Law, Science & Technology.

Without Borders Conference

As the Science and Social Justice Project grows, the project leaders hope to get more and more scientists involved in their effort. A major step will be the WITH/OUT — ¿BORDERS? Conference, held September 25-28, 2014. The conference will create “conversations on emerging epistemologies, radical geographies, critical solidarities, and transgressive practices that transcend and theorize across disciplinary and academic/activist borders.”

The role of science within popular culture is rapidly expanding. Ensuring that upcoming generations of scientists and non-scientists are able to freely converse and navigate between their respective areas of expertise will improve not only science, but society as a whole.