Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

ScienceWriters2011 update from New Horizons Program Director Paul Raeburn

[Updated Oct. 9] Registration for ScienceWriters 2011, to be held at Northern Arizona University Oct. 14-18, is now closed. We are now uploading background information for the New Horizons in Science briefings and looking forward to seeing you at the conference.
This year’s New Horizons sessions will focus more on the local landscape and people than the last six programs I’ve put together. That’s partly because I was overwhelmed with the majesty of Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, and the surrounding desert and forests. And it’s partly because that’s where many of the researchers at Northern Arizona University, our host, do their research. 

The NAU anthropologist Miguel Vasquez, for example, studies the culture and customs of the Hopi. NAU’s Jut Wynne has identified new genera and species of arthropods in caves in the Southwest. (He’s also used his expertise to help NASA determine ways to identify caves on Mars.) And Jane Marks will tell us about effort to dismantle a hundred-year-old dam in a way that will enhance the local environment. (It turns out that you can’t just pull these things down.) And Thomas Sisk will talk to us about a fascinating experiment in which environmentalists are trying to manage ranches on public land in a sustainable way.

Moving away from the landscape for a bit, we’ll also hear from a magician and a pair of neuroscientists who will explain how magicians are so easily able to fool us (a session I scheduled for late Monday afternoon, when we all will need a little lift), and from a gun-control expert, Garen Wintemute, who will tell us whether Arizona’s gun-control laws are worse than everyone else’s, or not. In the wake of the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, I was eager to find somebody whose research could help us understand what happened there.

I’ve also made notes of my own favorites among the NASW workshops, which seem to be getting better every year. This is the seventh year that the workshops and scientific sessions have been held together as part of the annual science writers’ meeting. If you haven’t attended, I think you’ll be pleased by how nicely everything fits together.

We're looking forward to a fascinating conference—and to exciting field trips on the land, and on the Colorado River.