I am catching up on being behind in my blog posts. In the middle of October I attended the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native
Americans in Science (SACNAS) Conference that was held in Dallas. It was a very different conference from any that I have ever attended. My previous experience with conferences has all been education/teacher conferences, never science conferences. From conversations with other attendees I gather that it is fairly unique for a science conference. There was a real feeling of collaboration and a desire to help students advance in the field of science. There did not seem to be as much of the competitiveness present, at least on the surface, that I have seen with other gatherings of scientists from academia.
The “Darwin at the Poles” sessions were very interesting. I learned more about polar science, especially polar biology. The “cold-start hypothesis” for the origins of life was brand new for me, but extremely intriguing. I especially enjoyed Dirk Schulze-Makuch’s talk about the theory of non-water based life forms. It was fascinating to contemplate a life system so radically different from anything that we have experience with.
The session focusing on indigenous knowledge as it relates to climate change and food supply really brought back my experiences with the Pueblo during my NEH Institute. I was once again struck by the deep, innate sense of community that is a cultural characteristic of the Pueblo people. Respect for that knowledge and way of life may indeed hold one of the keys for a successful adaptation to a changing climate.
Beyond the conference sessions, I also got a chance to walk down to Dealy Plaza, where President Kennedy was shot and visited the Sixth Floor Museum at the Texas School Book Depository. It was a little eerie, because the street looks exactly like it does in all of the pictures and news footage that I have seen from the Kennedy Assassination. I also walked around the neighborhood of my hotel a little bit since it is in the Arts District and there are some nice sculptures nearby.