SOU to host 100th annual meeting of the Pacific Division AAAS

This year SOU will host the 100th annual meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Leading scientists around the west coast and the nation will be at SOU June 18-22.

The meeting is set to feature presentations and discussions on topics specific to Ashland. Issues from climate change, forest fires, and the Coos Bay Pipeline to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the opioid epidemic will be included.

An Innovative Conference

“Pacific Division meetings have always been interesting because they’re highly interdisciplinary. Most scientific meetings you go to, you won’t see a bunch of people sitting around thinking about creativity in science and art, but that’s the sort of thing that happens at the Pacific Division,” said James Bower, Executive Director Pacific Division AAAS and affiliated member of SOU biology faculty.

He continued, “As a scientist you can spend your entire life going to meetings in your field and so the question we’re asking as the Pacific Division is why would you want to come to this meeting.”

Bower’s answer was that this division provides scientists, engineers, and the public a forum to think and talk about things that they might normally discuss in bars.

Involving SOU

Students are encouraged to attend the meeting and even present their own work.

“For many students it’s the very first time they actually present at a true scientific meeting and it’s something you can put on your résumé. A lot of students have commented on how nice it was to be able to sit down with professionals in the field and just have a conversation. It’s a nice place for students to get their feet wet,” said Christianson.

Through an agreement with the SOU administration, SOU students can register for half price and Dr. Bower said that students willing to volunteer to help will get in for free.

AAAS History

“[AAAS] is the oldest and largest general scientific society in the United States, if not the world. A lot of people associate AAAS with [the journal] Science, but it’s more than that. It’s an organization that’s proactive for spreading science to the general population, for trying to intervene in the case of science on Capitol Hill, and so forth,” said Roger Christianson, Former Executive Director Pacific Division AAAS.

Roger, an emeritus professor of biology at SOU, and his wife, Angie, ran the Pacific Division for 17 years before handing it over to Bower. According to Bower, meeting will be held locally as a way to honor the Christiansons and their years of support for the division.

“I’m actually not sure that the Pacific Division of AAAS would still exist if it hadn’t been for their taking care of it for so many years,” he said.

AAAS advocates for evidence, science based policy, science education, and pushes for public engagement. The Pacific Division will act as an archetype for engaging people other than scientists and having a grassroots orientation for the main AAAS facility in Washington, D.C. to observe.

To get involved or present original work, visit or email Bower at with any questions regarding the meeting.
To learn more about AAAS visit

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