ASTC 2022: What's Next

Alan J. Friedman
Science Center Dialogues

ASTC 2022 Annual Conference
September 12–15, 2022
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

“Preparing the Public for Future Pandemics: Fostering Collaboration Between Research and Engagement”

Tuesday, September 13, 2022
9:30 am ET

The vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus represent a milestone in scientific history as the shortest time from the identification of a novel virus to the development, testing, and mass distribution of a vaccine.  At the same time, the adoption rates for the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines have presented stark lessons in the need for greater public understanding of, and engagement around vaccine safety, efficacy, and impact. Scientists around the world are building on this success to prepare for the next pandemic and are striving to have future vaccines in 100 days—or less—but this timeline will only help if public uptake quickly follows. Therefore, as researchers, health professionals, and innovators are investing in the science and technology required to combat the next pandemic, it is equally important that science engagement professionals ensure that the public is empowered  to learn about, participate in, critically evaluate, and ultimately benefit from, those medical advancements. This session will explore the collaboration that is possible between researchers and science engagement professionals to ensure the scientific establishment, societal institutions, and individuals are all equally prepared for the next pandemic. 

The Alan J. Friedman Science Center Dialogues are conducted in memory of and tribute to the founding director of the New York Hall of Science, Queens. The session is presented in the spirit of the commitment Alan had to the science-center field and the issues and interests that were reflected in his own writings and presentations over the years.

Erica Kimmerling, PhD (dialogue moderator and discussion catalyst), is ASTC’s Senior Advisor for Science Engagement Policy and Partnerships, and a national leader on strategies for public engagement with science and strengthening the connection between communities and the research enterprise. In her role with ASTC, Erica leads a portfolio of activities designed to build capacity for public engagement with science. Before coming to ASTC, she completed a Hellman Fellowship in Science and Technology Policy at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences working on the Public Face of Science Project. In this role, Erica was the lead drafter of the project reports Perceptions of Science in America, Encountering Science in America, and The Public Face of Science in America: Priorities for the Future. She is a co-founder of the STEM education program BiteScis, which pairs educators with graduate students to design lesson plans inspired by research and grounded in science education standards. Erica completed a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering as a NIH Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Tufts University in 2016. Her academic research focused on designing new approaches for the three-dimensional culture of human kidney cells in order to gain a better understanding of kidney development and disease. Throughout graduate school she was an organizer for ComSciCon, a national series of communicating science workshops organized by graduate students for graduate students.

Jayatri Das

Jayatri Das, PhD (@JayatriDas), is the Chief Bioscientist at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jayatri has led exhibit development of both Your Brain, a national award-winning exhibit about the neuroscience and psychology of the human brain, and SportsZone. She also leads The Franklin Institute’s programming initiatives about materials science, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and other areas of emerging science and their impact on our everyday lives. Jayatri earned her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University and conducted postdoctoral research in biology at the University of Pennsylvania, investigating the biochemical processes that allow living things to adapt to different environments (and hunting for wild fruit flies from Florida to Canada along the way). Prior to joining The Franklin Institute, Jayatri held a Science and Technology Policy Fellowship at the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. In 2016, she was honored with the American Alliance of Museums’ Nancy Hanks Award for Professional Excellence. Jayatri serves on the board of The STEM Project and is an invited Fellow of the Center for Neuroscience & Society at the University of Pennsylvania.

Paul Duprex

Paul Duprex, PhD (@10queues), is Director of the Center for Vaccine Research, Jonas Salk Chair for Vaccine Research, and Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. Duprex serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of General Virology, which is published by the Microbiology Society, and a senior editor of mSphere, published by the American Society for Microbiology. Duprex is an expert in measles and mumps viruses and studies viral spillover from animals to humans, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic. Since COVID-19 emerged, Duprex has appeared as a subject matter expert in television, radio, and print news outlets. Duprex’s team began working with live SARS-CoV-2 virus in February 2020, immediately helping to validate a PCR-based COVID-19 test developed by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Duprex’s team has been focused on understanding how the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates to create new viral variants, including Delta and Omicron, which the World Health Organization declared variants of concern. With collaborators at Carnegie Mellon University, he is working on improving vaccine delivery systems that can more safely and effectively reach remote parts of the developing world.

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