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U. scientists present at general body meeting

Three professors presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston last weekend.

Heather Leslie, assistant professor of environmental studies and biology, spoke on better protecting oceans by collectively studying all the factors than can change an ecosystem.

Ken Miller '70 P'02, professor of biology, spoke about reframing the evolution debate to recognize the design inherent in nature.

Rena Wing, professor of psychiatry and human behavior, discussed how major lifestyle changes most effectively maintain weight loss.

The AAAS is the largest general scientific body in the world. Scientists from all disciplines attended and presented their findings to roughly 10,000 other scientists and journalists. Scientists did not present new findings but used the meeting to spread the word about their research.

Leslie spoke at two symposiums. She organized and moderated the analytical seminar, "Valuing Ocean Services in the Gulf of Maine: New Approaches for Conflict Resolution." At the symposium, a diverse group of people discussed how to form "more comprehensive programs to sustain ourselves and enable marine systems to persist into the future," Leslie said.

Leslie then spoke on environmental resilience at "Embracing Change: A New Vision for Management in Coastal Marine Ecosystems." Leslie explained how, through the study of why certain ecosystems are more predisposed to change, policymakers can pass laws that would be more beneficial for both the marine ecosystems and the people who depend on them.

Miller, a renowned defender of evolution, spoke at a symposium on Sunday entitled, "Communicating Science in a Religious America." He argued that science must take the word "design" away from those opposed to evolution. By allowing the theory of intelligent design to control this word, those who argue for evolution seem to be "arguing for accident," Miller told The Herald.

"We are extremely designed," Miller said, but design does not imply a designer. The tubes in humans' lungs are an example of intricate human design, he said.

But the two aren't mutually exclusive, he added. "Faith is not antithetical to reason," he said. Faith and science "can thrive together."

Wing argued that large changes in lifestyle are the most effective way to lose weight, speaking at "Fighting the Global Obesity Epidemic: Small Steps or Big Changes?" As opposed to making small changes in daily life, a "conscious and vigilant effort" to lose weight and purposeful monitoring of one's weight are the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off, Wing said.


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