News Release

Artificial intelligence researchers selected as AAAS Leshner Public Engagement Fellows

Grant and Award Announcement

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has selected 12 scientists and engineers working in artificial intelligence as AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellows. The Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science at AAAS addresses topics at the intersection of science and society, convening researchers who demonstrate leadership and excellence in their research careers and interest in promoting meaningful dialogue between science and society.

The scientists and engineers selected for the 2020-2021 cohort represent the field of artificial intelligence, working to develop or study machines and algorithms that augment or mimic human abilities, learn from and adjust to new situations, and perform tasks such as responding to search requests, managing manufacturing processes, and assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

A reception will be held on Thursday, February 13 at 4:00 p.m. at the 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting in Seattle to welcome the new AAAS Leshner Public Engagement Fellows.

The incoming AAAS Leshner Public Engagement Fellows will convene in June at AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. for a week of intensive public engagement and science communication training, networking and public engagement plan development. The fellows will return to their institutions with resources and connections to develop, implement and evaluate their public engagement activities, opportunities for training other scientists in their communities and increased capacity for public engagement leadership. AAAS staff provide ongoing support and continuing professional development throughout the fellowship year.

The 2020-2021 AAAS Public Engagement Fellows are:

  • Omalabake Adenle, Ph.D., director, AJA.LA Studios

  • Benjamin Grewe, Ph.D., professor of systems circuits and neuroinformatics, ETH Zurich

  • Michael Littman, Ph.D., professor of computer science and co-director of Humanity-Centered Robotics Initiative, Brown University

  • Heather Lynch, Ph.D., IACS endowed chair for ecology & evolution, Stony Brook University

  • Nicholas Mattei, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science, Tulane University

  • Anita Nikolich, M.S., research professor, director of the Advanced Computational Thinking Center, Illinois Institute of Technology

  • Carolyn Rose, Ph.D., professor of computer science, Carnegie Mellon University

  • Brian Scassellati, Ph.D., A. Bartlett Giamatti professor of computer science, cognitive science, and mechanical engineering, Yale University

  • William Smart, Ph.D., professor in the Robotics Program at Oregon State University

  • Biplav Srivastava, Ph.D., distinguished data scientist and master inventor, IBM Chief Analytics Office

  • Lyle Ungar, Ph.D., professor of computer and information science, University of Pennsylvania

  • John Zimmerman, MDes, Tang Family professor of artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction, Carnegie Mellon University

For more information about the fellows, please visit:

The AAAS Leshner Public Engagement Fellows program, now in its fifth year, continues to build on the long-standing commitment of AAAS to science communication and public engagement through its support of these fellows.

The Leshner Leadership Institute is wholly supported by philanthropic donations. The Institute is managed by the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology, established in 2004 by Alan I. Leshner, CEO Emeritus of AAAS.


About the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, as well as Science Translational Medicine; Science Signaling; a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances; Science Immunology; and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society, dedicated to "Advancing science, Serving society."

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