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UC San Diego Researchers Participating in ‘Olympics of Science Conferences’ Feb. 18-22 in San Diego

The future of stem cell research, how poor sleep influences drug use in adolescent social networks, understanding genome instability in cancer cells, and how computer science is being used to solve the nation’s most pressing health and environmental “grand challenges” are just a few of the topics that more than 20 UC San Diego researchers will discuss Feb. 18-22 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) at the San Diego Convention Center.

The AAAS meeting, America’s largest annual general scientific conference, is expected to draw as many as 8,000 attendees from 50 countries. The theme of this year’s meeting is bridging science and society, and will emphasize how the research of scientists and engineers is leading to improved medical treatments, better understanding of climate change, and technological advances that are improving the quality of life for humankind.

A global array of 3,000 free-drifting profiling floats that measures the temperature and salinity of the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean allows, for the first time, continuous monitoring of the temperature, salinity, and velocity of the upper ocean. All data from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Argo project are being relayed and made publicly available within hours of collection. Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography

“UC San Diego’s unique environment encourages collaborative research across traditional academic departments, and it is at these intersections of disciplines where many new breakthroughs are being made,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, co-chair of this year’s meeting with Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs. “At this important scientific conference, our researchers will explain how they’ve been able to translate their discoveries into real-world applications that improve society.”

Fox will join AAAS President Peter Agre at 10 a.m. Feb. 17 as guests on the popular KPBS radio talk show “These Days” hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh. They will discuss the importance of scientific and engineering research and scientific literacy to society.

A full schedule of talks, workshops, tours and news involving UC San Diego researchers at the conference can be found at

Two UC San Diego researchers will give important topical lectures:

* A Feb. 19 topical lecture by Steffanie Strathdee, associate dean of Global Health Sciences in the Department of Medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, is titled “Infectious Diseases Have No Passport: Battling HIV, TB, and STDs on the Mexico-U.S. Border.” Strathdee, an infectious disease epidemiologist, has spent two decades focusing on HIV prevention in underserved, marginalized populations in developed and developing countries. Since 1994, she has published more than 325 peer-reviewed publications on HIV prevention and the natural history of HIV and related infections.

* A Feb. 21 topical lecture by Larry Goldstein, director of UC San Diego’s Stem Cell Research Program, professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, is titled, “The Future of Stem Cell Research.” Goldstein is actively engaged in pursuing the promise of research with human embryonic stem cells, which are pliable, generic cells from the early embryo that scientists can convert into the body's specialized cells to study basic biological processes, disease, and organ regeneration. His research aims to help identify the cause of Alzheimer's disease and to better understand cancer and Huntington's disease.

The 287-million-pixel HIPerSpace wall at Calit2 UC San Diego is the highest-resolution display system in the world. Here, researchers analyze satellite images of Mongolia as part of a project to use non-invasive technologies to find the lost burial site of Genghis Khan. Photo by Erik Jepsen/Calit2.

Key individuals from the San Diego Science Festival, which include UC San Diego faculty members and staff, will participate in an AAAS workshop at 1:30 p.m., Feb. 19, which is designed to encourage participants to share experiences of successful science festivals, including those that have been held in San Diego, Cambridge, Mass., and St. Louis, Mo. The workshop will explore how science festivals may be helpful in extending the reach of informal science communication to more communities.

AAAS, in collaboration with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, also is sponsoring a companion two-day conference at the aquarium Feb. 17-18. The meeting, Promoting Climate Literacy through Informal Science, will provide updates on climate research from top scientists in the world as well as discussions on improving public understanding of climate science and communicating with public audiences.

About 50 Journalists attending the AAAS meeting are also participating in a tour on Feb. 17 of research laboratories at UC San Diego and the nearby Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

For more information, go to

Rex Graham | Newswise Science News
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