Friday, January 02, 2009

Science Friday launches the Year of Science

Ira Flatow interviewed me this afternoon live on his NPR show, Science Friday (the segment should be available tonight), from New York, as the first story of the new year, talking about 2009 as the Year of Science. We only had less than 10 minutes, but a lot of people must have been listening. I started getting calls and emails within minutes of hanging up the phone. New registrations to COPUS - the organizers of the YoS activities - started rolling in all afternoon.

I just logged on after dinner tonight and found my in box stuffed with more groups signing on from all over the country as well as from Mali, Australia, and Guatemala. I saw at least a few Arizona organizations signing up among the participants.

It's energizing to see and hear the interest in engaging the public about science. Judy Scotchmoor, the co-founder of COPUS, and Sheri Potter, our effervescent program leader, are in Boston tonight for the opening of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology annual meeting on Saturday. Ira Flatow (left) and science writer Carl Zimmer (right, he blogs at Discover magazines The Loom) are featured presenters in a special session to formally launch 2009 as the Year of Science. Sheri told me this afternoon that what was going to be a rather intimate event is mushrooming in attendance. SICB says registration for the conference is up 20% with the YoS events creating a great sense of excitement.

What's my role in all this? Well, in the summer of 2005, Judy and I wrote a short white paper on the need for improving public understanding of science, at the urging of the National Science Foundation. They funded a small workshop that led to formation of COPUS, where I continue to serve on the steering committee. Some influential members of the science community suggested COPUS take the lead in organizing 2009 as a year to celebrate science and the group jumped at the idea.

Judy is the driving force behind the new Understanding Science website, whose roots are in the highly successful and popular Understanding Evolution site. Understanding Science officially goes public next Tuesday but Carl Zimmer is the YoS guest blogger for January and describes some of what he's discovered already in the site.

1 comment:

  1. I heard you, Lee -- at least for the last half of your conversation. Nice work!