UofSC professor wins AAAS fellowship

University of South Carolina geography professor Kirstin Dow has been named an inaugural fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) Leshner Leadership Institute.

The Leshner Institute was established in 2004 by scientist and educator Alan I. Leshner to strengthen public awareness of the nature of science and encourage productive dialogue between researchers and nonscientists. All 15 fellows selected are experts in climate change.

The fellowship includes a week in Washington, D.C., this June for intensive public engagement and science communication training. Dow says the training will help foster meaningful discussions about climate issues between scientists and policymakers.

“It’s great to this have the kind of support we as professors need to support public engagement and inform decision-making,” Dow says. “This will be a way for us to tailor engagement and leverage the research we already do about climate change, specifically issues facing North and South Carolina.”

Those issues include water scarcity caused by recurring drought and future increased water demand as the population of the Carolinas grow as well as human health and coastal impacts. Dow says raising awareness about climate change risks, as well as addressing potential opportunities to mitigate them, is vital to the prosperity of the state.

Dow is principal investigator of the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments, an interdisciplinary research team that bridges climate science and decision-making. She has also engaged public concerns as a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment, Working Group 2 report and author on the U.S. National Climate Assessment (2014).

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