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Anticipation Builds for AAAS Meeting

19 January 2012


Are we swimming in sick seas? What kinds of beneficial technologies and industries are we creating through the changing state of the Arctic Ocean? And what does it mean for the security of our water? Are there new approaches to controlling the death march of HIV/AIDS in developing countries? Why might quantum technologies revolutionize communications? What is the planet's energy future? And then there's the question around neuroscience applications in the criminal justice system – you could call it the real Criminal Minds. All of these are global issues that require clever science and international collaboration to find pathways to the future – and all are on the agenda at the 2012 AAAS Conference in Vancouver.

From February 16-20, 2012, in Vancouver, BC, Canada's head astronaut Steve Maclean, RIM founder and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis and other luminaries throughout the science, technology and education spectrum will join Canada's smartest researchers as they engage in solutions with over 8,000 of the world's leading scientific minds from more than 60 countries at the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) annual conference – the first time in 30 years that it has been held outside the US.

Dr. Alan I. Leshner, Chief Executive Officer of the AAAS, the world's largest multidisciplinary scientific organization and executive publisher of the journal Science, highlighted Canada's scientific leadership: "The world's best scientific brains will be coming to Vancouver next month to present their latest discoveries and breakthroughs on everything from climate change impacts on the Arctic to breakthroughs in digital media. This is the first time in more than 30 years that the AAAS Annual Meeting has been held outside the United States, and Canada – as a global science, research and innovation leader – was a very easy choice," said Dr. Leshner.

"Through our government's science and technology strategy, we are ensuring that Canada is a premier destination for the world's top researchers," said Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear. "Hosting the AAAS conference provides an unprecedented opportunity for Canadian researchers to connect with their global peers to discuss important discoveries and innovations that will benefit us all."

The Canadian co-chairs of the AAAS Conference are Simon Fraser University's President, Andrew Petter, University of British Columbia's President, Stephen Toope, and Perimeter Institute's Director, Neil Turok.

"AAAS have chosen an extremely timely theme for their 2012 Conference: 'Flattening the World: Building the Global Knowledge Society'," said Neil Turok. "Science, technology, engineering, and education and their wise application will be critical factors determining our course into the next century. Collaboration will be vital, both in advancing and sharing knowledge, so that we can successfully navigate the future. I expect many new global partnerships will be cemented at the conference."

"The 2012 AAAS Annual Meeting is an extraordinary opportunity to showcase Canadian leadership in science and policy," says Prof. Stephen Toope, UBC President and Vice Chancellor, and co-Chair of the 2012 Annual Meeting. "Researchers at UBC and across the country are committed to addressing the complex issues of our time, many of which are deeply rooted in science. This conference provides a powerful platform for collaboration and communication amongst scientists, policymakers, the international media, and members of the public."

Said SFU's Andrew Petter, "The AAAS Conference is a must for scientists, academics and science journalists from around the world, and provides an opportunity to showcase outstanding science taking place across Canada. Also, with events like the AAAS Family Science Days, some of the region's best science is being made accessible and fun for families, students, and teachers."

Mr. Richard T. Lee, MLA (Burnaby-North) and Parliamentary Secretary for Asia Pacific, announced that the BC Innovation Council will fund membership in the AAAS for 200 BC students, including passes for them to attend all of the sessions at the Vancouver conference.

"Science affects our everyday lives – whether it's the oceans we fish, the diseases we conquer or the digital media breakthroughs that allow us to communicate better. The more young people we have experiencing the excitement of science and scientists, the more we can encourage the innovation that keeps BC and Canada growing and strong," said Mr. Lee.

The 2012 AAAS Conference will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre from February 16-20.

--From a Canada@AAAS news release, January 19, 2012


For more information about the AAAS Conference program visit For updates on the Canada Pavilion and a list of Canadian presenters visit  Follow the conference on Twitter @AAASmtg.

The Canadian Partners of AAAS:
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and over 30 partners which include federal departments and agencies, academia, non-profit organizations, and industry, are working to demonstrate at this year's AAAS meeting how Canada is contributing to solutions on complex global issues.

About AAAS:
AAAS is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.