annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) takes place in Boston from 16 - 20 February. This year's theme is "Serving society through science policy" and will bring together thousands of researchers, policymakers, science journalists and other curious individuals from all over the world.
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) is organising three sessions during the event.
All times are local.
Nuclear Forensics to Combat Terrorism | Friday 17 February | 8:00 - 09:30 Room 203 (Hynes Convention Centre)
The 2016 Nuclear Security Summit emphasized the need for further progress to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear and radioactive materials. Political will must be translated into regulatory frameworks supported by scientific tools to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear security events. Given that nuclear terrorism is global and nuclear security events are often cross-border, international efforts are indispensable. Nuclear forensics plays a key role in this process by providing information on nuclear material, including type, origin, date of production, and intended use.
While core capabilities in nuclear forensics should be available in all countries, some states have more advanced capabilities than others for characterizing illicit nuclear material. International efforts aim to make core capabilities and rapid and reliable support to law enforcement available in many countries, but a thorough characterization of illicit nuclear material requires cutting-edge methodologies and science that is not available everywhere. Partnerships between leading nuclear forensic laboratories are important for consolidating characteristic parameters (i.e., describing the material and providing hints to its history), identifying new ones, and ensuring credible and defensible nuclear forensic conclusions. This session presents results and challenges in nuclear forensics outreach and networking and explores their importance to law enforcement, regulators, and policymakers.
Organiser: Klaus Mayer, European Commission, JRC Moderator: Michael Curry, U.S. Department of State Speakers The Rise of the Rest? High-Impact Science in a Multipolar World | Friday 17 February | 15:00 - 16:30 Room 310 (Hynes Convention Centre)
Since World War II, the United States has been the leading producer of high-impact science. Over the past decade, however, the U.S. share in the global production of high-impact papers has declined compared to Europe and China. Some people welcome the increasing competition for scientific leadership and argue that the world stands to gain from it. Others insist that a cooperative model offers many benefits, especially for addressing global challenges.
Within this context, this discussion session will consider some of the central science policy questions of our time: How can countries improve the quality of their scientific output? What is the impact of these trends on their innovation potential? Should nations bolster specific subjects to maintain their competitive position and should they seek to create strategic specializations? What are the costs and benefits of competition for scientific excellence, and what can we gain from collaboration in a rebalancing world order?
Organiser: Koen Jonkers, European Commission, JRC Moderator: Frederique Sachwald, France Ministry of Higher Education and Research Discussant: Yuko Harayama, Japan Council for Science, Technology, and Innovation Speakers Making Sense of an Abundance of Knowledge to Inform Policymaking | Saturday 18 February | 15:00 - 16:30 Room 202 (Hynes Convention Centre)
A particular challenge for policymakers today is the abundance, not the scarcity, of knowledge. In 1998, the socio-biologist E.O. Wilson saw the need for synthesizers of knowledge "to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.” Using scientific evidence to effectively inform policy requires better coordination of both the supply and demand of policy-relevant knowledge.
This session considers different approaches to addressing these challenges: “knowledge and competence” centers, one-stop shops where the most important questions and answers can be identified and co-created by policymakers and scientists; “what works” centers that analyze the evidence base to determine what is and is not known to work in practice; and international systematic reviews, a rigorous approach to synthesizing the knowledgebase on a policy-relevant topic. After introducing these approaches, speakers will consider the lessons learned, merits, and transferability of these different, but complementary, approaches.
Organiser: Milena Raykovska, European Commission, JRC Moderator: Dominique Brossard, University of Wisconsin, Madison Discussant: Paul Rübig, European Parliament Speakers