The New Frontiers Virtual National Summit was organized around four themes that address intersections of science, technology, and human well-being, which all require an interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaboration among local and global communities.

  1. Climate and Environmental Change
  2. Sustainable Living
  3. Health Innovation and Security
  4. Digital Connections and Opportunities

In addition, there was a special track for ASTC-member chief executives, Visioning and Designing the Future of Science and Technology Centers.

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic crisis have shed light on the shortcomings of systems intended to protect societies through preparation, coordination, and leadership. As we begin to face and address these realities, we must also focus on overdue calls for racial justice, equity, and inclusion. Through the course of dialogue about the following four topics during New Frontiers, we incorporated this current context as we sought hopeful, bold new directions and an equitable future.  

Climate and Environmental Change 

A changing global climate has significant impacts on our lives. An uneven impact on geographies and populations demands that we take an equitable approach in creating resilient communities while conserving biodiversity and our natural world. View the participant brief for this track.


Hannah Safford (2020 ASTC Frontiers Ambassador Fellow, doctoral student at the University of California, Davis, and former fellow in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy)

Fireside Chat

Heather Fargo (former Mayor of Sacramento and founding member of the Sacramento Tree Foundation) and Lauren Maunus (legislative and advocacy manager, Sunrise Movement) will offer generational perspectives on climate and environmental change.

Breakout Discussions

  1. Effective Communication
  2. Building Inclusive Partnerships
  3. Leading Locally
    • Local leader (to be announced)
    • Hannah Safford (chair, City of Davis Natural Resources Commission)

Sustainable Living 

Our own health is critically linked with the health of the planet and innovation is fundamental to meeting the needs of a growing world population: from reimagining the rural-urban interface to achieving justice for communities bearing a disproportionate burden of environmental degradation. Applied together—innovative technologies, scientific breakthroughs, new policies, entrepreneurship, and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts—have the potential to create a sustainable future for all people. View the participant brief for this track.


Kelly Kryc, Ph.D. (2020 ASTC Frontiers Ambassador Fellow and director, Marine Conservation Policy and Leadership, Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium)

Opening Remarks

Scott Sampson, Ph.D. (executive director and William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball chair, California Academy of Sciences) will discuss the overarching challenge of rethinking the human relationship with nature through innovation—and finding balance between human needs and desires and the Earth.

Fireside Chat

Nicolle Fagan (co-founder, Palau Legacy Project) and Alex Dehgan, Ph.D. (CEO and co-founder, Conservation X Labs) will explore innovative solutions to international sustainability challenges and dare us to rethink our approach to conservation and sustainability.

Breakout Discussions

  1.  Reimagining the Rural-Urban Interface – What does sustainability mean for land use and food production? Ann Bartuska, Ph.D. (senior advisor, Resources for the Future) and David Rosenberg (CEO, AeroFarms) will explore innovations in farming that use less water and fewer pesticides to maximize productivity and reduce impacts to land while improving access to fresh food.
  2. Rethinking Waste – The convenience of throw-away culture favors consumerism over sustainability. Matt Prindiville (Imagineer and CEO, Upstream) and Moji Igun (founder, Blue Daisi Consulting) will share their experiences helping small businesses and local governments not only reduce their waste, but move towards eliminating it altogether.
  3. Environmental Justice and Sustainability – Sustainable living won’t be realized if the communities living on the front lines of environmental degradation don’t have equal access to environmental protection. Mariana Del Valle Prieto (Clean and Healthy Waters Advocate, Green Latinos) will lead a conversation focused on the need to shift our culture and economy to align with what the planet can support and that ensures inclusion, equity, dignity, and justice for all.

Health Innovation and Security 

Ensuring public-health preparedness and addressing systemic disparities in health outcomes will rely on local and global collaboration on many topics—especially science—as we respond to new technologies that enable longer and healthier lives. View the participant brief for this track.


Noemie Levy (2020 ASTC Frontiers Ambassador Fellow, medical student at Stanford University School of Medicine, and former senior policy advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy)

Lightning Talks 

  • Joy Cooper, MD, MSc (OB/GYN and co-founder of Culture Care) will discuss how innovations in healthcare delivery can better care for patients who are most vulnerable to gaps in our current healthcare system.
  • Veenu Aulakh, MSPH (senior innovation fellow, Center for Care Innovations) will discuss how the tools of innovation can spark change that centers equity in healthcare. 
  • Rodney Haring, PhD, MSW (director of the Roswell Park Center for Indigenous Cancer Research) will discuss how community engagement in research can determine which scientific questions are elevated, and who asks those questions, to improve health outcomes.
  • Kafui Dzirasa, MD, PhD (K. Ranga Rama Krishnan associate professor, Duke University School of Medicine) will discuss how emerging neuro-technologies redefine our sense of humanity and the ethical dimensions of new tools to combat brain disease.
  • Andre Samuel, PhD (founder, president, and CEO of The Citizen Science Lab) will share exemplary models of cross-sector collaboration to foster the pathway into STEM and healthcare fields that is necessary for accomplishing our reimagined new frontier in healthcare.

Digital Connections and Opportunities 

Increased global connectivity and advancements in artificial intelligence, automation, and computational technology are shaping how we live, learn, work, and solve problems. While these new capabilities have the potential to perpetuate inequities and divides, they also present new opportunities and the prospect of advanced discoveries, new industries, and new jobs. View the participant brief for this track.


Dr. Stephanie Rodriguez (2020 ASTC Frontiers Ambassador Fellow and vice president of policy and engagement at

Opening Remarks

Eugene Yi (co-founder and director, Cortico) will discuss how technology is continuing to influence how we live freely, safely, and ethically, and how this lives at the intersection of technology, regulation, and policy.

Conversation Catalysts

  • Dwana Franklin-Davis (CEO, Reboot Representation) will discuss how we prepare and build an inclusive tech workforce, and ensure that occupational segregation isn’t the future of the tech industry.
  • Raylene Yung (co-founder and CEO, U.S. Digital Response) will discuss how we elevate the critical role of technologists in driving advancement and efficiency across infrastructure and core community systems.
  • Rosario Robinson (executive director, CMD-IT) will discuss how rapidly developing technological innovation requires that thoughtful and critical attention be paid to accessibility and inclusion in order to ensure that the future of tech innovations support lifelong participation for all of humanity.
  • Dr. Joseph Bonivel (Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council GeoTech Center) will address how we ensure that new technologies address real community needs and ensure new technologies and data empower people, prosperity, and peace.

The Richard King Mellon FoundationThe Grable Foundation, and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation generously supported the New Frontiers summit. Remake Learning and other leading organizations in the Pittsburgh region also collaborated to inform the summit.

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