Blog

Inspiring Science

I am delighted to be here in Washington, D.C., as ASTC’s interim CEO. As I write this, after just 10 days in the office, I am enthused and excited about the many opportunities for ASTC members to inspire young people and incite change. I was lucky enough to join two recent events that stand out.

On May 16, I was at the UN Forum on Science, Technology, and Innovation in New York City with Walter Staveloz, ASTC’s director of international relations, who had arranged for a side event entitled Women, Girls, and Science: Contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Understanding how we can collaborate globally, learn from one another, and effect change is always inspiring.

The younger participants were especially impressive, one completing her training as a doctor and the other still in high school. They are breaking new ground and bringing their energy and enthusiasm. Maria Bilal of Australia from G(irls)20—a Canadian-based, globally active social enterprise that cultivates a new generation of female leaders—spoke for the UN Major Group for Children and Youth. G(irls)20 aims to eradicate the unconscious bias that prevents girls from pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by creating a global awareness campaign, as well as a wide range of other actions. Maria herself is a great role model and also talked about her personal experiences as a medical student in Australia and here in the United States.

High school student Daria Cirnatiu spoke about her experience as an ambassador with Montréal Science Centre for the World Biotech Tour, which is building a global network of individuals to inspire the next generation of scientists. Daria herself is an inspiring ambassador, passionate about biotechnology and on the way to a great career. It was a privilege to hear from them and all the other participants who are making a difference throughout the world. Find out more and see the presentations here.

On June 7, I took part in an informational webinar on using the GLOBE app to track mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases—our topic for the Global Experiment as part of the second International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD) on November 10, 2017. (You can watch the webinar recording here.)

With the help of NASA, citizen scientists young and old all around the world can start tracking mosquitoes, identifying the species, and, through data mining, linking these results to NASA’s information on rainfall, humidity, etc., see how these factors impact mosquito-borne diseases. At the same time, participants will be learning how to eradicate mosquito breeding sites, so this international program could have a substantial impact on health.

This will be a long-term program, as mosquitoes are (sadly) not confined to one day and their breeding seasons vary around the world. Science centers globally are increasingly looking at the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and exploring how we can be part of attaining them. This project definitely relates to SDG #3: Good Health and Well-being. We all can join now—there’s no need to wait—so I encourage you to visit the ISCSMD Global Experiment webpage, sign up, and join me in getting exploring.

I hope to see you all in San Jose at the 2017 ASTC Annual Conference, October 21–24. If you have ideas or if there is something you would like ASTC to consider or do, whether for conference or in general, please get in touch with me at gthomas@astc.org.

Thank you for this opportunity and my best wishes.