Feb. 19, 2014

Cornell researchers share insights at AAAS

 Several Cornell researchers shared findings and insights from their respective fields at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Chicago, Feb. 12-17.

Citizen science can take science away from cultural fringes and foster its growth in mainstream society as an ongoing collaboration between the public and professional scientists, said Caren Cooper, research associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in a Feb. 16 presentation. Citizen science – public participation in gathering data for studies – can help solve the problem of public skepticism of research due to the limited communication between scientists and laypeople, she said.

A national effort to rethink how graduate students in science, technology, engineering and math fields are trained was the topic of a Feb. 14 panel that included remarks from Bruce Lewenstein, Cornell professor of science communication. He addressed the challenges of helping next-generation scientists recognize the “so what” of their science, how to equip them to share it with varied audiences, and how graduate education could be improved to this end.

The promise and perils of 3-D printing, and particularly the printing of electronics and other active, integrated systems, was the topic of a Feb. 14 talk by Hod Lipson, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and of computer science. Lipson covered the evolution of additive manufacturing technologies’ past, present and future as a series of milestones in humans’ increasing control over physical matter.

Michael Macy, theGoldwin Smith Professor of Arts and Sciences in the Department of Sociology and director of the Social Dynamics Laboratory, presented a paper titled “The Mesh of Civilizations in the Global Network of Interpersonal Communication,” Feb. 17. His research team has assembled one of the most complete global networks of social ties, derived from interpersonal Internet communication.

A massive, very dusty galaxy called AzTEC-3 is the second-most distant one of its kind known to humanity, said Dominik Riechers, assistant professor of astronomy, during a Feb. 16 lecture. This galaxy, which is only slightly younger than the 13.8 billion-year-old universe, is named after the AzTEC-millimeter-wave camera on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope – through which it was initially found. Riechers and other astronomers are learning to grasp how molecular gas plays a central role in “these often heavily obscured systems,” he said.