News Briefings & Media Availabilities

All news briefings and media availabilities at the 2022 AAAS Annual Meeting will take place virtually. 

The AAAS Annual Meeting’s virtual platform – where you will be able to partake in all live sessions – has launched here: https://virtual.aaas.org/Home. Please login using the link in the email that was sent to the address you registered with and bookmark this website. Here, you will soon find key offerings such as links to the live news briefings and Zoom information for the media availabilities. Please click the following link to see individual briefing and media availability events and to find their associated links: https://virtual.aaas.org/Briefings


Science News Briefings 

The 2022 AAAS Annual Meeting will offer several news briefings on the latest Science Family of Journals publications on Thursday, Feb. 17.

All journalists with EurekAlert! and Science Press Package (SciPak) access are invited to attend. The briefings will be recorded and made available on the SciPak portal on EurekAlert!.

More details on these briefings will be delivered to SciPak members the Sunday before the Meeting (Sunday 13 February) in the standard embargoed Paks. Note: reporters must be registered not only with EurekAlert! but with the AAAS Annual Meeting, as press, to attend the Science family briefings on the AAAS Annual Meeting platform. Please visit the “Registration” tab for more information on registering. 

Not a SciPak member? Register with EurekAlert! and request SciPak access during your registration, or request access by updating your journalist-member profile on EurekAlert!. Need help? E-mail scipak@aaas.org or webmaster@eurekalert.org.


Media Availabilities 

Virtual media availabilities with conference presenters will be offered throughout the conference.


Schedule subject to change. All times are listed in US Eastern Standard Time (EST).



Friday, February 18


09:00 AM
The Science of Combatting Disinformation

EMBARGOED UNTIL 18-FEB-2022 09:00 ET

Why is scientific (and other) misinformation now rampant online? The social media platforms themselves are unable to control online mis/disinformation, while Congress continually defaults to the easy option of telling them to do 'more'. But without knowing what 'more' means, this is a losing battle. So what is the solution? Science itself. Nobody ever won a battle without a map of the battlefield -- and new science from the field of complex systems provides this map. In fact, this map comes with new math for mitigating online mis/disinformation and harms of any kind (e.g. hate, threats against women) across the entire online multiverse. These new tools promise to be gamechangers in terms of restoring the dominance of accurate scientific communication online and should help put an end to the circular discussions around what social media need to do. These tools can also be used to predict public tipping points and suggest effective online interventions. In this session, we use these tools to show exactly what went wrong during the pandemic among the hundreds of millions of online users. This leads to the clearest picture yet of who emits misinformation to who, and who takes such misinformation to heart (spoiler alert: this includes parenting groups and organic-food fans). We will show how the battle over best-science guidance got lost well before the official announcement of the pandemic in March 2020, and why Facebook's own promotion of best-science guidance missed key online audience segments. 

Associated Session: The Science of Combating Disinformation 


Presenter(s):

Neil Johnson

09:00 AM
Ocean Diplomacy: How Common Threats to Shared Resources Can Overcome Politics

EMBARGOED UNTIL 18-FEB-2022 09:00 ET

Climate change and the innovative responses against this stressor are gaining urgency and visibility as a global news story. As climate change and ocean health affect all countries, particularly coastal ones, it is contingent on them to work across borders and maritime boundaries for solutions. Yet sometimes political strain between countries gets in the way. Ocean diplomacy uses science to not only conceive solutions but build bridges between countries to develop shared solutions to common threats. Ocean diplomacy buoyed relationships between the US and Russia, even during the height of the Cold War. With renewed political tension, US and Russian scientists are surveying shared resources such as walruses and polar bears in the Arctic. The Gulf of Mexico Marine Protected Area Network, born out of the 2014 rapprochement between the US and Cuba, recruited Mexico to what is now a regional network of 11 protected areas. It was created via the Trinational Initiative for Marine Science in the Gulf of Mexico, a working group that since 2007 unites scientists from the three nations to conduct collaborative research. Ocean Acidification Med-Hub gathers scientists studying OA in the Mediterranean to share science to impact policy. Over 50 scientists from 11 northern and southern Mediterranean countries work together in spite of animosity. The Sargasso Sea Commission binds 10 countries that border a two million square miles of open ocean ecosystem under the Hamilton Declaration, which helps manage jurisdiction and use of high seas resources. This panel brings together practitioners that are finding unique solutions to supersede politics in the name of ocean health. They understand that global issues must occupy higher ground and are putting their reputations on the lines to build lasting links.

Associated Session: Ocean Diplomacy: How Common Threats to Shared Resources Can Overcome Politics


Presenter(s):

Fernando Bretos

09:00 AM
Playful Empowered Learning: Using Science to Reimagine Education

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 18-FEB-2022 09:00 ET

Time once quipped that if Rip van Winkle woke up today, the only familiar institution would be schools.  Our research project and outcomes (playfullearninglandscapes.com) re-imagine education through playful learning in and out of classrooms.  The assembly-line method of training children for narrowly construed outcomes has not prepared children for today’s workplace. Education in the age of Tesla can embrace active, engaged, meaningful and socially interactive activities informed through the science of playful learning, as this session shows. West Philadelphia features a bus-stop filled with brain building activities that bake the science of playful learning into the cityscape.  Caregivers and children play with neighbor-informed puzzles of Martin Luther King or discover patterns in a hidden-figures display. In Santa Ana, community members and scientists co-designed an oversized version of the Mexican game Loteria.  Waiting for the bus becomes a culturally infused way to establish the foundation for STEM and language skills.  In another town, kindergarteners use playful learning to enhance math and vocabulary through the theme of weather. Five-year old Josh points his makeshift cardboard camera toward Charlotte, who provides the weather report: “A low-pressure area in the West is moving eastward. Expect precipitation.” Nearby, children chart how many drops of rain it takes to fill circles of various diameters. These methods work equally well in under-resourced areas of Grand Rapids, where children developed a marketplace to sell their wares, learning a suite of 21st Century skills like collaboration, communication and critical thinking, while performing better on standardized tests of reading and math.

Associated Session: Playful Empowered Learning: Using Science to Reimagine Education 


Presenter(s):

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Nan Bernstein Ratner (Organizer), Roberta Golinkoff, Victoria Leong, Andres Bustamante.


Saturday, February 19


09:00 AM
From Disease to Climate: Tackling Big Problems by Exploring Iron-Sulfur Cluster Functions and Vulnerabilities

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 18-FEB-2022 15:00 ET

Inorganic complexes of iron and sulfur (Fe-S clusters) are some of the most ancient cofactors, and their existence is believed to pre-date life on Earth. These cofactors are present in most forms of life, ranging from humans, plants, bacteria, and even viruses. Fe-S clusters are involved in a wide range of biological processes and are critical participants in life-sustaining reactions, including respiration, nitrogen fixation, photosynthesis, DNA repair, and catabolism. In this session, we discuss the fundamental principles leading to the construction and use of these metal cofactors. Here the implications of Fe-S clusters are discussed with examples relevant to public health, including essential Fe-S enzymes in the pathogenic bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Investigating how these clusters are made and how they work is critical to understanding their multiple roles throughout evolution. The distinct strategies to build these clusters and their unique chemistries can be exploited not only in drug-target discovery to combat disease-causing agents but also in the development of technologies to mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Associated Session: Iron Sulfur Clusters Critical Metal Cofactors in Biology 


Presenter(s):

Patricia Dos Santos, Tracey Rouault, Lou Noodleman.

09:00 AM
From the Kings Speech to the Oath of Office: Advances in Stuttering Research

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 19-FEB-2022 09:00 ET

Imagine being unable to say your name when you meet someone, struggling to order a meal in a restaurant or feeling terrified to be called upon to speak in class. This reality faces 70 million people around the world who stutter. Stuttering is a fascinating yet inscrutable disorder, one that is subject to myths, misconceptions and stigma. About a decade ago, the movie ‘The King’s Speech’ was nominated for Best Picture, piquing public interest in stuttering at a widely attended AAAS session and briefing. Once again, stuttering is in the headlines due to a resurgence of negative views of stuttering that arose in the last presidential election. Over the past decade, researchers have made substantial progress in unraveling possible bases of stuttering and developing novel treatments. We now know that stuttering arises due to genetic factors and complex neurological differences beyond simple motor aspects of speech production—not nervousness, anxiety, or negative childhood experiences, for example.  This session presents three research programs that have markedly advanced our knowledge of stuttering and updates attendees with the latest research that informs the neurodevelopmental and genetic factors at play in stuttering, help to predict those children who will and will not “outgrow” stuttering, and providing move effective, personalized treatments for the disorder.

Associated Session: From the Kings Speech to the Oath of Office: Advances in Stuttering Research


Presenter(s):

HoMing Chow. More speakers from the linked session may join.

11:00 AM
How Have Studies of Crime Impacted Criminal Justice Policy and Racial Inequity?

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 19-FEB-2022 09:00 ET

Although crime rates in the US have dropped since the late 1990s, serious crimes (e.g., homicide, robbery, sexual violence) are still more common than in most comparably developed countries. Homicide rates are 17 times higher in the US than the UK. The US also has one of the highest incarceration rates among industrialized nations, including oppressive regimes. Black Americans are disproportionately affected. The most recent Department of Justice report estimates the total cost of crime in the US to be $2.6 trillion yearly. In the past decade, the US National Institute of Justice has spent $1.9 billion on empirical studies to address crime.  This session addresses a critical question: How has research on crime affected crime rates and criminal justice policy?  This session convenes 4 behavioral scientists, all of whom have spent decades studying crime:  Dr. Robert Sampson will discuss the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, a 25-year longitudinal study that examines how family, school, and neighborhood characteristics affect criminal behavior in juveniles and adults.  Dr. Linda Teplin will examine how the Northwestern Juvenile Project, a 25-year longitudinal study of needs and outcomes of detained youth, has precipitated reform in the juvenile justice system.  Dr. Alex Piquero will discuss his body of studies, focusing on successes and failures in the implementation of scientific research designed to reduce crime. The moderator, Dr. Daniel Nagin, will comment on the presentations and recommend directions for future research needed to reduce crime and racial inequities in the criminal justice system.

Associated Session: How Have Studies of Crime Impacted Criminal Justice Policy and Racial Inequity?


Presenter(s):

Linda Teplin, Alexis Piquero, Robert Sampson, Daniel Nagin.


Sunday, February 20


09:00 AM
Human Factors in Forensic Science Decision Making

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 19-FEB-2022 15:00 ET

The public is captivated by crime dramas and high-profile trials that hinge on seemingly infallible forensic evidence—such as the Derek Chauvin trial, which scrutinized the cause of George Floyd’s death—but in actuality, forensic science errors have contributed to nearly 700 known wrongful convictions, totaling over 7,000 years of wrongful incarceration. Why does forensic science sometimes go astray? Forensic analyses rely heavily on human judgment—the accuracy of which is often unknown. Following government reports that questioned the “science” behind forensic science, psychologists have discovered that unconscious biases can lead experts to make mistakes that produce costly miscarriages of justice. Even the FBI, who misidentified Brandon Mayfield as the 2004 Madrid train bomber based on fingerprint evidence, attributed their mistake to “confirmation bias.” Yet many laboratories—due to obstinacy or budgetary constraints—still follow procedures that invite bias and error. In a recent study co-authored by Jeff Kukucka (Towson University), medical experts who read a case file about a child’s death more often ruled the death as non-accidental (i.e., a homicide) if the child was Black (rather than white) and found unresponsive by her mother’s boyfriend (rather than her grandmother), showing how non-medical information can unduly influence pivotal manner-of-death decisions. The National Association of Medical Examiners reacted to these findings with vitriol—including demands for retraction, baseless allegations of fraud, and legal threats. Its findings hold timely implications for investigations of police-involved deaths—and indeed, some of its harshest critics were also expert witnesses for Derek Chauvin’s defense.

Associated Session: Human Factors in Forensic Science Decision Making


Presenter(s):

Jeff Kukucka, William Thompson, Peter Stout, Kristy Martire

09:00 AM
Crowdsourced Science: Volunteers and Machine Learning Protect the Wild for All

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 20-FEB-2022 09:00 ET

Technology, from smart phones and the internet to apps and AI, is connecting people to each other and to nature in novel and powerful ways. Images and sound recordings of nature, aggregated, shared, and analyzed through platforms such as eBird, CitSci, iNaturalist, Wildbook, Wildlife Insights, and Zooniverse, have made it possible for both contributors and scientists to connect to and learn from nature. This approach is generating data about the natural world that are orders of magnitude richer than any previously collected, showing quantifying life on Earth in new ways and allowing us to ask new questions about causation and impacts.  Unfortunately, as is often the case of big data enterprises, our ability to analyze data lags our ability to collect it. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can speed up data processing and support insight inference, but extra effort is needed to ensure these analytical pipelines are secure to protect vulnerable species from poachers and wildlife criminals. Smarter algorithms are also needed to integrate large-scale networks of sensors and drones to complement human collected data. We advocate for a trustworthy mutualism between machines and people that can not only change the scale of data gathering and analysis to protect nature, but also create improvements in the livelihoods and well-being of the people sharing these lands with wildlife.  

Associated Session: Crowdsourced Science: Volunteers and Machine Learning Protect the Wild for All


Presenter(s):

Daniel Rubenstein, Tanya Wolf-Berger, Roland Kays, Lucy Fortson.

09:00 AM
Psychedelic Research: Moving Beyond the Social and Political Stigma

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 19-FEB-2022 15:00 ET

This session will explore how research on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PAP) for mental health disorders goes back decades, and how service models have only recently begun looking at how PAP may be integrated into real world clinical practice. Speakers will discuss experiences from the standpoint of a research-based company seeking to introduce psychedelic medicine to the mainstream, a non-profit medical research organization currently conducting a Phase 2 study of psilocybin for major depressive disorder under FDA Breakthrough Therapy designation, and from the perspective of an academic medical institution conducting basic and clinical human research. 

Associated Session: Psychedelic Research: Moving Beyond the Social and Political Stigma


Presenter(s):

Tura Patterson, Frederick Barrett, Devon Christie. More speakers from the linked session may join.