New Horizons in Science

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New Horizons in Science 2018 Program

DC Sunday Session 1

Humans have big brains. So what?

14 Oct 2018 -
8:45am to 10:00am

If comparative studies of the human brain have a mantra, it might be “size matters.” And indeed, our brain’s remarkable size explains many of the unique behaviors and capabilities of our species. Yet Chet Sherwood, who has spent his career studying primate brain evolution, wants to find answers to questions that size doesn’t explain.

Chet Sherwood

professor and chair, Department of Anthropology, and codirector of the Mind-Brain Institute, George Washington University
codirector, National Chimpanzee Institute

Preventing violence against women and girls: What is the role of science?

14 Oct 2018 -
9:00am to 10:00am

Mary Ellsberg began international epidemiological studies documenting violence against women and girls as a public health problem more than three decades ago, and today her group is recognized by the World Health Organization as setting the standard for safe and ethical research on this sensitive topic.

Mary Ellsberg

professor of global health and international studies and director, Global Women's Institute
George Washington University

DC Sunday Session 2a

The Wild West of stem cell therapy

14 Oct 2018 -
10:05am to 11:05am
Science + Science Writing
human embryonic stem cells

Twenty years ago, in November 1998, human embryonic stem (ES) cells were introduced to the world. Derived in a nondescript laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, the master cells of human development sparked immediate hope for an inexhaustible supply of cells for therapy to potentially treat conditions such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injury, and other disorders.

Paul Knoepfler

Department of Cell Biology & Human Anatomy, Genome Center, Comprehensive Cancer Center & Institute for Regenerative Cures, University of California Davis School of Medicine

Peter Marks

director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research
U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Terry Devitt

director of research communications
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Wounds, plants, and poisons: Zooming in on cellular processes to solve problems on the farm and battlefield

14 Oct 2018 -
10:05am to 11:05am
Molecular biology

Akos Vertes is a chemist and inventor driven to understand how important biological processes work within individual living cells. How are novel chemical and biological weapons metabolized? How do plant-symbiotic bacteria, such as the rhizobia that infect the roots of soybeans, fix nitrogen from the air? What is the role of the microbiome in wound healing?

Akos Vertes

professor of chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology
George Washington University

DC Sunday Break 1

DC Sunday Lunch

DC Sunday Session 4

DC Sunday Break 2

DC Sunday Session 5a

Discovery, retraction, and crisis: How and why press reporting on science matters

14 Oct 2018 -
4:00pm to 5:00pm

Drawing on research from the Science of Science Communication project, Kathellen Hall Jamieson will share new content analyses of the ways in which the mainstream press makes sense of scientific discoveries in general and controversial science in particular. She will also reveal the results of experiments showing how various press narratives about science affect public trust in this way of knowing.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson

professor, Annenberg School for Communication
director, Annenberg Public Policy Center
University of Pennsylvania

Troubled intersections: Police violence, gentrification, and HIV/AIDS prevention

14 Oct 2018 -
4:00pm to 5:00pm
Social science

Lisa Bowleg’s work takes her to urban neighborhoods where HIV continues to take a heavy toll among unemployed and/or unstably housed black men. In Washington, D.C., even as the epidemic eases elsewhere, more than 16,000 persons are living with HIV/AIDS.

Lisa Bowleg

professor of applied social psychology
Department of Psychology, George Washington University; director, Social and Behavioral Sciences Core, D.C. Center for AIDS Research

DC Monday Session 2a

Dams in Amazonia: A developing climate threat

15 Oct 2018 -
9:35am to 10:35am

Hydroelectric power is widely accepted as a climate-sparing solution to burning fossil fuels. And under the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries can get "carbon credits" for building dams as a supposed path to clean energy development. But the construction of massive dams now under way in the vast Amazon region of Brazil, Philip Fearnside has shown, is likely to worsen rather than relieve climate change.

Philip Fearnside

research professor, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia
Manaus, Brazil

From no return: The Slave Wrecks Project and the 221-year journey of the Slave Ship São José

15 Oct 2018 -
9:35am to 10:35am

Of all the shipwrecks that have been pulled from the sea by archaeologists, only one, the São Jose, is a slave ship. And yet scholars have now documented more than 38,000 slave ship voyages, and at least 1,000 slave ships are known to lie beneath the seas. 

Stephen Lubkemann

associate professor of anthropology, international affairs, and Africana studies, George Washington University
director of the Diaspora Research Program, George Washington University;
research associate, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture

DC Monday Break 1

DC Monday Session 3

Apollo plus 50: The past, present, and future of the space program

15 Oct 2018 -
10:50am to 11:50am
Science + Science Writing
The year ahead brings a series of golden anniversaries for Project Apollo, including Apollo 8's first round-the-moon mission in 1968 and the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Now the moon is taking center stage once again in America's human spaceflight program, with Mars looming as a long-range goal. An all-star panel will reflect on the Apollo legacy and how our space odyssey will be different this time around. 

Harrison Schmitt

Apollo 17 astronaut
former U.S. senator, R-N.M.
associate fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
member of the National Space Council Users Advisory Group

Scott Pace

executive secretary, National Space Council
former director, Space Policy Institute,George Washington University

Valerie Neal

space history curator
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

DC Monday Lunch

DC Monday Session 4

Autism research: New questions about the developing brain

15 Oct 2018 -
1:00pm to 2:00pm

The young but rapidly growing field of autism studies is generating a steady stream of fundamental questions about the development of brain connectivity before and after birth. Kevin Pelphrey is looking at some of these questions through new lenses.

Kevin Pelphrey

Carbonell Family Professor and director, Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute
George Washington University

DC Monday Session 5

The Amazon in crisis

15 Oct 2018 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
Science + Science Writing
Amazon river

The Amazon biome includes more than 25% of the known plant and animal species on Earth and more than 60% of the remaining tropical forest. It is also home to 385 indigenous groups, as well as an estimated 100 uncontacted tribes. These communities are locked in land-rights struggles as the building of dams, roads, mines and oil wells continues, possibly pushing the Amazon to the brink of ecological collapse.

Philip Fearnside

research professor, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia
Manaus, Brazil

Sabrina McCormick

associate professor, Milken Institute School of Public Health
George Washington University

DC Monday Break 2

DC Monday Session 6

Climate science on trial

15 Oct 2018 -
3:15pm to 4:05pm
While the public closely watches how government leaders are responding to climate issues, away from the headlines the science of climate change is being litigated through lawsuits filed at the state and federal level. Industries are suing to block regulatory action, while public-interest groups are suing to force action. Sabrina McCormick analyzes this action to see how science is being wielded as a tool for action or dismissed by judges as unsettled or irrelevant. Can sea-level rise be claimed in a suit against a coal-fired power plant? She’ll provide an update on the legal waterfront. 

Sabrina McCormick

associate professor, Milken Institute School of Public Health
George Washington University

DC Monday Session 7

Chemical exposures and consumer health: The case of uterine fibroids

15 Oct 2018 -
4:05pm to 4:55pm
Environmental health

Phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals are widespread in food packaging, cosmetics, personal care products, and even household dust, breast milk and drinking water. Ami Zota’s work has documented many of the pathways of exposure to these substances, which have been linked to cancer and developmental and reproductive disorders. Some of the linked health problems are markedly more severe among vulnerable populations, but it can be hard to tease out the role of environmental chemicals from among many health stressors.

Ami Zota

assistant professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health
George Washington University

DC Monday Session 1a

A detailed X-ray map of the galactic plane

15 Oct 2018 -
8:30am to 9:30am
New telescopes and space-based instruments and computational power have given astronomers ever better eyes on the sky field, driving the field forward into a true “multimessenger” age when a fuller, ever more detailed picture of the universe can be painted.

Chryssa Kouveliotou

professor of astrophysics
director, Astronomy, Physics, and Statistics Institute of Sciences (APSIS)
George Washington University

Differential privacy: Science provides researchers and census-takers a better way to protect personal data

15 Oct 2018 -
8:30am to 9:30am
Can the privacy of individual data truly be protected? When it comes to most of the personal information collected from Internet users, the answer at the moment may be no. And in the world of research data — health and social science studies — several proposed ways of protecting personal data have left individuals vulnerable to “re-identification” within data sets.

Cynthia Dwork

Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science, John A. Paulson School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, Harvard University
Radcliffe Alumnae Professor, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
distinguished scientist, Microsoft

DC Sunday Session 3a

Kilauea: High-tech observation gives scientists a look inside a restless planet

14 Oct 2018 -
11:30am to 12:30pm
Natural disaster

This spring, one of the most active volcanoes on our planet began a dramatic eruption. Fissures opened up beneath homes on the island of Hawai’i as Kilauea’s crater collapsed, releasing rivers of lava into the sea. Tourists were banished with warnings that “refrigerator-sized boulders” could fly into the air as the summit caldera deformed with explosions of debris and ash.

Rick Wessels

remote sensing geophysicist, Volcano Disaster Assistance Program
U.S. Geological Survey

Weird science: Case studies in communicating quantum physics

14 Oct 2018 -
11:30am to 12:30pm
Science + Science Writing

As quantum computers transition from academic curiosities to marketable products, more journalists and communicators are grappling with the underlying science.

Chad Orzel

associate professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Union College, Schenectady, New York

Christopher Monroe

Distinguished University Professor & Bice Seci-Zorn Professor
Joint Quantum Institute
Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science
University of Maryland

Emily Edwards

director of communications and outreach, the Joint Quantum Institute
University of Maryland
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