Thursday, July 21, 2011

ASTC 2011 speakers include Jane Lubchenco of NOAA, Owen Gaffney of IGBP & science writer Michael Specter

Hosted by the Maryland Science Center, the annual conference of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) will take place October 15–18.

Jane Lubchenco, appointed by President Barack Obama to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has been confirmed as a featured speaker at the 2011 ASTC Annual Conference in Baltimore. Lubchenco holds a doctorate in ecology and has received a MacArthur (“Genius”) fellowship, among many other professional honors. She has studied marine ecosystems around the world and is one of the world’s most highly cited ecologists.

At NOAA, Lubchenco is focusing on the agency’s highest-priority initiatives and believes that “with the best science as our guide, NOAA can revive our fisheries and the economies they support, advance the next-generation geostationary and polar-orbiting weather satellites, and enhance NOAA’s diverse portfolio of climate services that are vital to the national effort to manage and mitigate climate change.”

Owen Gaffney, director of communications at the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), Stockholm, Sweden, has been confirmed as a featured speaker at the 2011 ASTC Annual Conference in Baltimore. The IGBP, a project of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, is one of four international programs coordinating global-change research. A respected science journalist, Gaffney was previously head of publications at the Natural Environment Research Council in the U.K., where he edited the award-winning magazine Planet Earth and launched the online news site www.planetearth.nerc.ac.uk. He has written for the BBC’s Focus magazine and the AAAS journal, Science.

Gaffney is currently directing communications for the conference “Planet Under Pressure: New Knowledge Toward Solutions,” to be held in London next March in advance of the United Nations summit on sustainable development, “Rio +20,” scheduled for June 2012. The conference will outline the latest research on the state of the planet and discuss a new contract between science and society. These two events will help launch a ten-year research initiative on global sustainability.

Michael Specter, a New Yorker staff writer who often explores science, technology, and public health issues, has been confirmed as a featured speaker at the 2011 ASTC Annual Conference in Baltimore.

Since joining the staff of the New Yorker in 1998, Michael Specter has written about the global AIDS epidemic, avian influenza, malaria, the world’s diminishing freshwater resources, synthetic biology, and the debate over the meaning of our carbon footprint. In his 2009 book Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives, Specter argues that the public’s growing mistrust of the institution of science has led to a war on progress. His views are rigorously researched and highly challenging.