AAAS Awards Ceremony


On the morning of the 14th I departed Paris and headed to Boston. I attended the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Awards Ceremony on the evening of 15th to be awarded the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award.

It was a transit flight from Paris via JFK. As I was spending time at the lounge, I saw a tweet of Professor Ishii from MIT Media Lab who I recently met in January, “Got to JFK airport from Barcelona. 1 more jump to Boston.”  Wow! and I tweeted back, “Are we on the same plane ?AA 1790 to Boston?” and in 10 minutes I found Mr. Ishii walking in front of me. It was a funny coincidence and we ended up chatting for a while.

The road from the Boston airport to the hotel was very congested and it took over an hour to reach. Probably it was affected by the heavy snow from the previous weekend. After checking in, I met up with my friend and went for dinner.

Next day, after registering for AAAS, I headed to the venue and as I entered the exhibition hall I checked out the “Japan” booth. Some of the top programs including RIKEN, WPI were displayed and I had the opportunity to talk with various people. A bit away from those, I found the exhibition booth of OIST(1). I asked several staff from Japan to consider displaying them altogether from next year.

As I was wondering around the venue, it was very hard to decide which session to attend. Especially the Plenaries had been highly selected and hence were intellectually stimulating and eye-opening. MIT’s Professor Sheryl Turkle(1)’s “The Robotic Moment” was a thought-provoking lecture on the development of science and technology and the change in the lifestyle of humans, especially amongst the children in aged society. I am thinking of reading her review article.

The AAAS Award Ceremony gave out about eight awards and for each individual and the reason for the award was mentioned by the chairman Dr. Press. Upon receiving the award, the ‘shield’, from AAAS CEO Dr. Leschner, we needed to give a speech of about three to four minutes. My speech was well-received. Other than those who I have previously introduced on this website, including Dr. Bruce Alberts (Editor-in-Chief of ‘Science’)(1), Nina Fedroff (last year’s president of AAAS and this year the chairwoman)(1),  and Norman Neureiter(1), a couple more friends from Japan were also present. After the reception and the dinner with the committee of the award, I went for the after party with my Japanese associates.

Although I only spent two nights in Boston, from the positive appraisal of NAIIC by the world’s scientists and science journalists, I felt their gratitude towards the NAIIC team and empathy towards the people in Fukushima and their concerns on the future direction of the Fukushima incident. I would like to sense the trust and the state of Japan in this world of uncertainty.

At five o’clock next morning I headed to the airport and returned home from the seven day round-the-world trip. It was tiring indeed but I had fulfilling time both in Paris and Boston.