Scientists to convene here in 1996

October 08, 1994|By Doug Birch | Doug Birch,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore will become one of the brainiest places in America in February 1996, when the city will be the site of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Up to 5,500 mathematicians, biologists, archaeologists and others will theorize, postulate and ponder at the Convention Center and downtown hotels during the 146-year-old association's annual convention, scheduled for Feb. 8-13 of that year.

"It's a very exciting opportunity because it brings some of the very best scientists in the United States to the city," said Dr. Rita R. Colwell, president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and president-elect of the association, one of the world's largest scientific organizations.

Kathleen Ratcliffe, director of convention marketing for the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, said the meeting will help spotlight and promote the city's growing biotechnology industry. "This is a key group for us," she said.

Scientists attending the meeting are expected to occupy 1,500 hotel rooms and spend $4.5 million while they are here, Ms. Ratcliffe said. "It's a good-sized convention," she said.

By comparison, groups such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars bring 15,000 to 20,000 convention-goers, Ms. Ratcliffe said.

At their convention, panels will give the scientists -- from astronomers to zoologists -- a forum for talking with colleagues, representatives of industry and the news media, said Michael Strauss, scientific programs director for the association's annual meetings.

Participants typically discuss some of the most widely covered scientific issues of the day.

At the association's convention in Atlanta this year, Mr. Strauss said, there will be panels on emerging diseases, nuclear and chemical pollution in the United States and the former Soviet Union, global population growth and climate change.

Dr. Colwell said Baltimore will bask in a media spotlight during the event. Typically, 500 to 700 science reporters for television stations, newspapers, magazines and radio stations attend.

The science association will use the Convention Center's existing buildings. The center's $150 million expansion is not expected to be finished until September 1996.

The association, headquartered in Washington, has more than 138,000 members worldwide and produces Science magazine, one of the world's leading scientific journals.

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