ASTC 2021 Annual Conference

General Sessions at ASTC 2021

The ASTC Virtual 2021 Annual Conference featured several plenary sessions to bring the community together. Read about the speakers and view the recordings below.

Opening Session

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Join conference participants to kick-off the ASTC Virtual 2021 Annual Conference. Hear from ASTC members from around the world, celebrate our work as a field, and learn all about the 2021 conference experience.

Mindfulness Session

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Mindfulness in Museums: Sharing Coping Skills During Stress & Change”

During this extended period of extreme stress and constant change the community has been facing for the past 18 months, we motivate and model an example of how to help staff weather these challenging times. This special session is presented by the Cincinnati Museum Center and the University of Cincinnati, which partnered to offer staff a respite and build resistance during COVID with a series of sessions to share meditation, breathing techniques, and the science behind mindfulness.


Elizabeth Pierce is President and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has been a key member of CMC senior leadership team, driving financial success through robust museum admission revenue, OMNIMAX films and blockbuster special exhibitions.  Pierce has developed deep collaborations with many community partners. She guided the successful Union Terminal sales tax campaign in 2014. Elizabeth oversaw the restoration of Union Terminal, continues to drive the future development of CMC exhibits and programs, and works in partnership with the president and board of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Early in her career, Elizabeth gained experience in the photo archives department of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.; public program development at The Corcoran Gallery of Art; special events and fundraising at The National Endowment for the Arts and the Chicago Children’s Museum. She stepped outside the museum industry for a period of time gaining strategic communications skills, community engagement and media relations expertise. She holds a Masters of Museum Studies/Administration and American Studies from The George Washington University.

Sian Cotton, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, founding director of the University of Cincinnati (UC) Center for Integrative Health and Wellness and UC Health Integrative Medicine and was recently named the Turner Farm Foundation Endowed Chair.  A Professor in the Departments of Family and Community Medicine and Pediatrics, Dr. Cotton has an active research lab with ongoing clinical studies focusing primarily on mindfulness-based interventions and integrative medicine practice-based research. In 2007, Dr. Cotton was awarded a K23 career development award by the National Institutes of Health to examine the role of spiritual coping and health-related quality of life in adolescents with a chronic illness. A former Board member for the Academic Consortium of Integrative Medicine and Health, she is often invited to speak with community organizations and businesses, healthcare audiences, and academics about mind-body medicine for stress reduction, and preventive and wellness-based approaches to healthcare.

Alan J. Friedman Science Center Dialogues

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Addressing Scientific Misinformation and Building Community Capacity for Evidence-Based Decision Making”

The 2021 Alan J. Friedman Science Center Dialogues—presented by The Kavli Foundation—will focus on addressing scientific misinformation and building community capacity for evidence-based decision making. Our dialogue participants dive into what we’ve learned from combating COVID-19 misinformation and get specific about approaches that can be taken at the community level to build greater trust in—and engagement with—scientific evidence and technological innovation.

ASTC members have worked to ensure their communities have access to trusted sources of information about research into the novel coronavirus, the evidence behind public health measures like masks and social distancing, and the technology and innovation behind the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. This work is built on decades of our members’ experience countering misinformation and dealing with politically-polarized scientific topics, from human evolution to reproductive biology to climate change. As controversial issues shrouded in misinformation continue to impact our communities, ASTC seeks to honor and support its members’ continued countering of sources of disinformation, polarization, and misunderstanding so they can continue to engage their communities on issues of science and technology that are critical to our current and future prosperity.

The Alan J. Friedman Science Center Dialogues are conducted in memory 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.


Frederic Bertley, PhD, is a scientist, scholar, and evangelist for innovative thinking, ideation and challenging the status quo. As President and CEO of COSI, Dr. Bertley is shepherding the leading Central Ohio science center to its next great iteration in a legacy of successful science center history.

Prior to being President and CEO of COSI, Dr. Bertley was the Senior Vice President for Science and Education at the Franklin Institute where he oversaw a diverse portfolio of initiatives supporting innovation in STEM learning, the partnership with Science Leadership Academy (SLA), The Color of Science, as well as departments and programs that capture the history and legacy of The Franklin Institute such as the Benjamin Franklin Awards Program.

After graduating from McGill University where he studied Physiology, Mathematics and the History of Science, and earned a Ph.D. in Immunology, Dr. Bertley worked internationally in preventative medicine and basic vaccines in Haiti, The Sudan, and the Canadian Arctic. Bertley continued this focus by joining a vaccine research group at Harvard Medical School focusing on the development of DNA vaccines for HIV/AIDS. Dr. Bertley’s international footprint also includes collaboration on educational and science projects in Egypt, Paraguay, Senegal and the Caribbean.

Dr. Bertley sits on the boards of the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Experience Columbus, the Association of Science and Technology Centers and numerous other organizations.

Dr. Bertley has keynoted and been an invited speaker at several distinguished institutions including The United Nations, The White House, and the National Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous honors, some of which include: an Honorary Doctorate from Otterbein University, Dell Inc. Inspire 100 World Changers, Harvard Medical School Dean’s Service Award, Columbus CEO’s CEO of the Year, Columbus Business First’s C-Suite Award, Philadelphia Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, Philadelphia Business Journal’s Minority Business Leader of The Year, the George Washington Carver Award, The President’s Award (Merck), Citation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and two Mid-Atlantic, National Academy of Television and Science EMMYS.


Timothy Caulfield is an unrivalled communicator who debunks myths and assumptions about innovation in the health sector—from research on stem cells to diets to alternative medicine — for the benefit of the public and decision-makers. He is a Canada Research Chair in health law and policy, a professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and a research director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta.

Over the past several years, Caulfield has been involved in a variety of interdisciplinary research endeavours that have allowed him to publish more than 350 articles and book chapters. His research focuses on topics like stem cells, genetics, research ethics, and the public representations of science and health policy issues. The recipient of numerous academic and writing awards, Caulfield is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Caulfield also writes frequently for the popular press on a range of health and science policy issues and is the author of several bestselling books, including: The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness; Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash; and, most recently, Relax, Dammit!: A User’s Guide to the Age of Anxiety. He is also the host and co-producer of the award-winning documentary TV show, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death, which aired in over 60 countries, including streaming on Netflix in North America.


Kiki Sanford, PhD, is a scientist turned science communicator working to improve scientific understanding, awareness, and curiosity. She has a PhD in Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology, and over 20 years experience producing and hosting radio, television, & digital programming with companies such as PLoSOne, WNBC, and The Science Channel/Discovery Communications. She founded, produces, and hosts the This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS), and runs Broader Impacts Productions, LLC. As head of public relations at Science Talk, she is focused on growing the organization, and developing the professional science communication community through education and networking opportunities.

Closing Session and Keynote

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Personal and professional resilience in the face of constant change”

Our closing session will focus on the concept of resilience. As a community and as individuals, we have experienced a lot of upheaval, uncertainty, and trauma over the past 18 months. This includes significant staff reductions, an assault on science and evidence, and a state of constant change. During this session, we are joined by an expert on resilience who, after recovering from her own Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, established a center to train foreign affairs professionals and others on how to be resilient themselves and how to cultivate resilience within their teams.


Beth Payne is a resilience trainer and author of a weekly resilience blog. In 2016, she created the U.S. Department of State’s Center of Excellence in Foreign Affairs Resilience, where she designed resilience tools and resources for foreign affairs professionals across the U.S. government. She served as a U.S. diplomat from 1993 until 2016 with assignments at the U.S. Embassies in Senegal, Rwanda, Israel, and Kuwait and as the U.S. Consul General in Kolkata, India. In 2003, she opened the Office of the U.S. Consul in Baghdad, Iraq, where she received the State Department’s award for heroism.

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