The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an organization that promotes cooperation between scientists, defends scientific freedom, encourages scientific responsibility and supports scientific education for the betterment of all humanity. It is the world's largest general scientific society. The AAAS is also the publisher of the well-known scientific journal Science.



The American Association for the Advancement of Science was created on September 20, 1848 in Pennsylvania. It was a reformation of the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists . The society chose William Redfield as their first president. According to the first constitution [1] which was agreed to at the September 20th meeting, the goal of the society was to promote scientific dialogue in order to allow for greater scientic collaboration. By doing so the association aimed use resources to conduct science with increased efficiency and allow for scientific progress at a greater rate. The association also sought to increase the resources available to the scientific community through active advocacy of science.

There were only 87 members when the AAAS was formed, but over the course of the next twelve years membership increased nearly 2300%. By 1860 there were over 2000 members. The course of American history, however, intervened to prevent the continued growth of the AAAS. The AAAS became dormant during the American Civil War after their August 1961 meeting in Nashville, Tennessee was postponed indefinitly just after the outbreak of the first major engagement of the war at Bull Run. The AAAS was not, however, to become a casualty of the war. In 1866, Frederick Barnard presided over the first meeting of the resurrected AAAS at a meeting in New York.

Following the reformation of the AAAS, the group once again experienced a period of growth. The growth, however, was not unlimited as peace brought with it the expansion of other science-oriented group. The AAAS's focus on the unification of many fields of science under a single organization still yielded some novelty. A large subset of all new science organizations that were founded to promote a single dicipline. For example, American Chemical Society, founded in 1876, promotes chemistry. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was, however, founded by the United States Congress in 1963 which provided an alternative multi-diciplinary sciences organization. Unlike the NAS, which elects members, the AAAS permitted all people regardless of scientific credentials to join. The AAAS did, however, institute a policy of granting the title of "fellow" to well-respected scientists within the organization.


The most recent Constitution of the AAAS which was enacted on January 1, 1973 establishes that the governance of the AAAS is accomplished through four entities:


Individuals elected to the presidency of the AAAS hold a three-year term in a unique way. The first year is spent as President-elect, the second as President and the third as Chairperson of the Board of Directors. In accordance with the convention followed by the AAAS, presidents are referenced by the year in which they left office.

The current president of the American Association for 2005 is Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She became President in February of 2004 and will become Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2005. Her successor is President-elect Gilbert Omenn of the University of Michigan who will take office in February of 2005 to become the 2006 president of the AAAS.

The AAAS has historically been led by some important scientists such as biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Asa Gray or chemist Glenn Seaborg, after which the element Seaborgium is named. The following is a brief list of some of the most notable scientists ever to hold the presidency of the AAAS.

Notable Presidents of the AAAS, 1848-2005
Year President Year President
2000 Stephen Jay Gould 1929 Robert A. Millikan
1990 Richard C. Atkinson 1927 Arthur Amos Noyes
1972 Glenn T. Seaborg 1887 Samuel P. Langley
1942 Arthur H. Compton 1886 Edward S. Morse
1934 Edward L. Thorndike 1877 Simon Newcomb
1931 Franz Boas 1871 Asa Gray

A complete list of presidents is also available.

Administrative Officers

There are three classifications of high-level administrative officials that execute the basic, daily functions of the AAAS. These are the Executive Officer, the Treasurer and than each of the AAAS's section secretaries.

Sections of the AAAS

The AAAS has 24 "sections" with each section being responcible for a particular concern of the AAAS. There are sections for agriculture, anthropology, astronomy, atmospheric science, biological science, chemistry, dentistry, education, engineering, general interest in science and engineering, geology and geography, the history and philosophy of science, technology, computer science, linguistics, mathematics, medical science, neuroscience, pharmaceutical science , physics, psychology, social and political science, the social impact of science and engineering , and statistics.

The Council

The Board of Directors

See Also

External link

Last updated: 08-29-2005 19:57:09
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