AAAS 2006: Meeting in St. Louis to Offer Strong Mathematics Program

November 20, 2005

The 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, to be held February 16�20, in St. Louis, Missouri, will feature several expository talks by prominent mathematicians.

AAAS has chosen "Grand Challenges, Great Opportunities" as the theme of the meeting. According to AAAS president Gilbert Omenn, the theme would characterize his year as president of the world's largest general science organization. Even in a time of political and social divisions, Omenn says, science and technology must boldly define problems and potential solutions for the decades ahead.

"Strength and progress in national security, health, environmental stewardship, energy, agriculture, and space depend upon a vibrant scientific and engineering community," Omenn notes. "In turn, we want the public to feel that they can challenge us. . . . We have to explain what we do in ways that can be understood by people who work in nonscientific fields. We need to make the society want to invest in science, engineering, and education. We also need to explain what we do to scientists and engineers outside our own fields."

The following symposia, sponsored by Section A (mathmatics) of the AAAS, are part of "Beyond Pi: Grand Challenges in the Math-ematical Sciences," the special mathematical event planned for the meeting.

Also of interest to the mathematical community will be symposia on the physics of virtual worlds, frontiers in biological imaging, the imaging of dynamical systems in the brain, the search for violations of Einstein's theory of relativity, science and engineering challenges and opportunities in homeland security, overcoming gender stereotypes in science, engineering, and technology, the computer science behind other science, the expanding universe of digital data collections, evaluating curricular effectiveness in the evaluation of K�12 mathematics, and connections between science and educational research studies.

These are only a few of the approximately two hundred program offerings in the physical, social, and biological sciences scheduled for the meeting. More information about the 2006 AAAS program can be found in the October 21 issue of Science and on the Program and Events page at

AAAS acknowledges SIAM's contributions in support of media awareness and encourages mathematical scientists and mathematics educators to participate in AAAS activities by attending meetings, continuing to suggest mathematical topics for symposia, and serving as meeting organizers and speakers.

Conference attendees are also invited to attend the Section A business meeting
in the Benton Room of the Renaissance Grand Hotel, Friday, February 17, 7:45 to 10:00 PM.

Readers are encouraged to send proposals for future AAAS symposia to Warren Page, secretary of Section A, at [email protected].

Worth a trip to St. Louis: Tony Chan, a professor of computational and applied mathematics and dean of the Division of Physical Science in the College of Letters and Science at UCLA, and Robert Osserman, special projects director at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, are the co-organizers of a AAAS session titled "NUMB3RS and the Challenge of Changing Public Perception of Mathematics."
Chan, who has been a math consultant for the CBS crime show "NUMB3RS," has high praise for the show's creators: "I think the show managed to pull off the incredible feat of being both mathematically intriguing and entertaining. It portrays math and mathematicians in a very positive light---as intense intellectuals but with deep knowledge that can serve society. I am hopeful that it will help to improve the image of math and mathematicians and draw talented young students into our field."

Osserman's innovative projects at MSRI, several of which have been described in SIAM News, include a series of public interviews with artists and writers--Tom Stoppard and Michael Frayn among them--who have turned their fascination with mathematical ideas into memorable works of art.

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