PopTech Launches Science and Public Leadership Fellows Program

New Signature Initiative to Bolster the Role of Science and Scientists in the Public Sphere;

Program Receives Support of Founding Partner Microsoft Research; Program Partner National Geographic, and Endorsement of the National Science Foundation

Camden, ME & New York, NY – October 23, 2009 – PopTech (www.poptech.org), the renowned thought leadership and social innovation network, today announced the launch of the Science and Public Leadership Fellows program, a new signature effort to select and train high-potential early-to-mid-career working scientists to help them become more effective public leaders and public communicators.

The Science and Public Leadership Fellows program aims to develop a corps of highly visible and socially engaged scientific leaders who embody science as an essential way of thinking, discovering, understanding and deciding, and who can engage the public in areas of vital importance.

“At a time when we face critical national and planetary challenges, our society needs visible scientific leaders as never before” said Andrew Zolli, PopTech’s Executive Director. “As part of PopTech’s ongoing commitment to science, this new program will provide the expert training, peer network, and guidance required to help emerging scientific leaders raise their public profile and engage the public.”

Starting in 2010, and each year thereafter, PopTech will select up to 20 high-potential, early- and mid-career scientists working in areas of critical importance to the U.S. and the planet, such as: energy, food, water, public health, climate change, conservation ecology, green chemistry, computing, education, oceans, and national security. Fellows will be given year-long training and skills development in communications, media training, public engagement and leadership, beginning with an initial, week-long intensive program in mid-June 2010 led by a world-class faculty of experts in these fields.

Fellows will develop relationships with leaders in communications, media and public engagement who will provide ongoing guidance and mentoring. Fellows will also be provided significant opportunities to raise their public profile and that of their work through many media, and to participate in a peer-level alumni network.

Fellows will participate in the program for free, and will receive a complimentary registration to the PopTech conference, along with prominent placement at the event, including interviews and collaborative sessions with leading journalists and members of the network dedicated to helping them raise their profile. The goal of the program is not to turn scientists ‘into’ evangelists, but to help them become better communicators and leaders while continuing their scientific career.

The PopTech Science and Public Leadership Fellows program has received the support of founding partner, Microsoft Research, program partner, National Geographic, and endorsement from the National Science Foundation.

“Microsoft Research is delighted to sponsor PopTech’s Science and Public Leadership Fellows Program, supporting the program’s efforts to help scientists become more effective leaders and empowering them with the resources needed to better communicate their scientific endeavors in the public sphere,” said Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft External Research. “We are committed to creating exciting opportunities for the computer scientists, researchers and leaders of tomorrow, ultimately helping to tackle some of society’s greatest challenges and ensure the future of scientific discovery and innovation.”

“At National Geographic, where the mission is to inspire people to care about the planet, we know that even the best ideas need powerful and effective voices who are able to tell a story and engage with the public. We’re pleased to partner with PopTech to identify and further empower more scientific voices in an variety of disciplines, " said Betty Hudson, Executive Vice President, Communications, National Geographic Society

PopTech continues to develop a world-class advisory board – including a mix of top-tier science and communications leaders and working scientists – who will assist with the selection of Fellows and participate in the program’s leadership training program.

These include:

- Warren Muir, PhD (Executive Director, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies)
- Terry Garcia (Executive Vice President for Mission Programs, National Geographic Society)
- George M. Whitesides, PhD (Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor, Harvard University)
- Andrei E. Ruckenstein, PhD (Vice President and Associate Provost for Research, Boston University)
- Carolyn Porco, PhD (Director, CICLOPS Cassini Imaging)
- Pamela Ronald, PhD (Professor of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis)
- Peter D. Ward, PhD (Professor of Biology and of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington)
- Richard Hutton (VP of Media Production, Vulcan Ventures).

Further information about the program, including details on the nominations process, is available at http://www.poptech.org/sciencefellows.

About PopTech

PopTech is a thought leadership and innovation network dedicated to accelerating the positive impact of world-changing people, projects and ideas. The organization is known for its thriving community of thought-leaders, breakthrough innovation programs, visionary annual conferences and deep media and storytelling capabilities.

PopTech creates transformational experiences that showcase the ideas, trends, challenges and opportunities that are shaping the future. A non-profit 501©(3) organization, it fosters multidisciplinary collaborations through which individuals, companies and organizations work together to change the world. More info at: www.poptech.org

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research currently employs more than 850 people in six labs located in Redmond, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India. Microsoft Research collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and broadly advance the field of computer science. More information can be found at http://research.microsoft.com.

About National Geographic

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society’s mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. Throughout its 120-year history, the Society has encouraged conservation of natural resources and raised public awareness of the importance of natural places, the plants and wildlife that inhabit them, and the environmental problems that threaten them. National Geographic’s explorers, writers and photographers have traveled the Earth, sharing its amazing stories with each new generation. The Society has funded more than 9,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects around the globe, and grantees make exciting new discoveries every day in both traditional and emerging fields.

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