BU Today

Science & Tech

BU Scholars Speak at Major Science Convention

AAAS talks include dementia, evolution


Memory-shredding diseases like Alzheimer’s are tragically commonplace in American families, but brain research at BU and elsewhere is yielding the kind of knowledge that could lead to cures. As an estimated 8,000 scientists and academics flooded into Boston yesterday for the 179th annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), BU’s Howard Eichenbaum was preparing to share some of the findings that his research has revealed.

“I hope to convey that we are making substantial progress in understanding how the hippocampus, a key brain area that supports memory, organizes representations of memory,” says Eichenbaum, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of psychology and director of the University’s Center for Memory and Brain. “We hope that a greater understanding about how memory is normally organized will provide a further understanding about how memory deteriorates in aging and brain disorders.”

Eichenbaum is among seven University participants at the meeting at the Hynes Convention Center this week. The venerable gathering, billed by the AAAS as the largest such conference in the world, will be devoted to The Beauty and the Benefits of Science, highlighting both basic and applied research—an au courant concern as Congress debates whether to deflect budget cuts in research and other spending slated to take effect March 1. (BU is working to halt the cuts through its membership in the Association of American Universities, a nonprofit organization focusing on issues important to research-intensive universities.)

Meeting sessions will roam far and wide over the scientific landscape: recent finds of Chinese dinosaur fossils, possible links between climate change and meteorological mayhem like Hurricane Sandy, the “scars,” or downsides, of how humans have evolved, and the aforementioned brain research, among other topics. The meeting, which runs from February 14 to 18, includes two Family Science Days, which are free and open to the public and pitched particularly to students in grades 6 to 12.

In addition to Eichenbaum, BU participants listed by the AAAS are Matt Cartmill, a CAS professor of anthropology; Jeremy DeSilva, a CAS assistant professor of anthropology; Douglas Zook, a School of Education associate professor; Janot Mendler de Suarez, a visiting research fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future; Afaf Hourani, Goldman School of Dental Medicine assistant director of predoctoral research; and Layeeq Ahmed (SDM’13).

Cartmill will be formally commenting on speakers’ insights at the evolution panel, which he considers an important forum for discussing evolution’s misfires. “I plan to note that many other branch points along the human lineage have some piece of associated, unintelligent design: there are scars of vertebrate evolution, scars of mammal evolution, and so on.”

The AAAS, founded in 1848, publishes several journals, including its flagship Science. Boston last hosted the organization’s annual meeting in 2008. Organizers say attendance could top 7,000.

Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

One Comment on BU Scholars Speak at Major Science Convention

  • BioPhDStudent on 02.15.2013 at 7:15 am

    I recently found out that the School of Education is going to pay the $100 admission fee to the conference for its masters and PhD students…. which I think is great. The biology/cell/micro departments HAVE NO SUCH DEAL. Given that this is a major conference, very close to home, and that BU constantly reminds us that its “committed to advancing research” I find it ironic that the Ed grad students are encouraged to go to this conference while we (life sciences) are not. Just another example of how BU is failing to support its future scientists which in turn will lead to a decline in the quality of research. Another example? THERE IS NO GRAD LEVEL STATS CLASS FOR BIOLOGY/CELL/MICRO students. We are forced to take classes through the School of Public Health or the math department…. these classes are only somewhat relevant to what we need to be learning. YOU say that BU is committed to research? Well, I (a current PhD student) must be missing the point.

Post Your Comment

(never shown)