WASHINGTON — Leading science communicators will share their latest strategies on how to capture the coveted attention of young students, the public and policymakers to strengthen the scientific enterprise. They will speak at the 248th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, taking place Aug. 10 to 14 in San Francisco.
The talks on science communication are just a handful of the meeting's nearly 12,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
"Today, people are inundated by a constant flow of information, making it hard for any one voice or group to cut through the noise," says Tom Barton, ACS president. "But getting the public, policymakers and young students to understand the critical value of science to human health and the environment is non-negotiable. We must stay on top of the best ways to get the message out."
To further this mission, two symposia and one workshop have been organized for the ACS meeting. One symposium, "Advancing chemistry and communicating chemistry: Looking around and looking ahead with Bassam Z. Shakhashiri," will celebrate and feature the former ACS president, a dedicated chemist and champion for science communication. It will also feature Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and journalism professor Deborah Blum; Alan Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and many others.
"I am gratified that the symposium features prominent chemists and noted communicators," says Shakhashiri. "I highly value their participation as they address and explore the future of the chemistry enterprise and its connection and relevance to societal progress and improvement."
Organized by Chemical & Engineering News and the ACS Office of Public Affairs, the workshop and the other symposium are part of an event called "Communicating science to the public." The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science will lead the workshop, and the symposium speakers will cover policy, education, media and video outreach.
Details are as follows:
Advancing chemistry and communicating chemistry: Looking around and looking ahead with Bassam Z. Shakhashiri
This symposium will take place Monday, Aug. 11, in the Moscone Center, South Building, Esplanade Ballroom 304, from 8 a.m. until 5:15 p.m.
Communicating science to the public
The 3-hour workshop, led by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, will take place Sunday, Aug. 10, in the Hilton Union Square hotel from 9 a.m. to noon, and will repeat again from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are required to participate.
The half-day symposium will be held Tuesday, Aug. 12, in the Moscone Center, North Building, room 133, from 1 to 4:50 p.m. The symposium will be followed by a reception honoring the 5th anniversary of the Chemistry Ambassadors program in the Moscone Center, South Building, Esplanade Ballroom 306, from 5 to 6 p.m.
Many scientists and organizations, including ACS and the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, lead the way to expand the public's understanding of science through the media, better education and direct outreach. But, Shakhashiri says, more scientists need to take part in these efforts.
"Science and scientists are playing a major role in addressing the scientific and technological challenges of the world's humanitarian crises, such as malnutrition and the spread of deadly infectious diseases," Shakhashiri says. "But our role doesn't end there. As responsible citizens, we must convey what we do to a broader audience, so they understand that solutions to these problems are achievable with support and collaboration. We have the capacity to succeed, but we must also help develop the public and political will to take action."