About 2020 Science

by Andrew Maynard on September 19, 2008


I used to be a bona fide research scientist (I guess I still am actually), but a few years back I entered the alternative reality of science policy and communication while doing a stint in Washington DC.  Under the delusion that “science,” “policy” and “communication” are not mutually exclusive, I’ve spent the past few years trying to make sense of what happens when all three come together.  These days I direct the University of Michigan Risk Science Center and chair the UM Environmental Health Sciences department.  While not doing the tedious bureaucratic stuff so others don’t have to, I teach, do research on technology innovation and responsible development, write blogs, create videos, hang out on Twitter, and occasionally spend time with my family!



A few years ago, a good friend twisted my arm to write an occasional blog on nanotechnology for the website Safenano.  A complete newcomer to the world of blogging, I decided to try my hand at this (to me, and at the time) rather novel form of communication.

I started out intending to use the blog in four specific ways – as a discipline, forcing me to pay attention to new developments; as an intellectual “sandbox” – allowing me to play around with half-formed ideas; as a way of conveying my expertise (or what passes for such) to a broader audience; and as a way of engaging with an eclectic bunch of readers.

Surprisingly, I was hooked in no time, and quickly realized that what I wanted to say and do extended well beyond the scope of Safenano.  So towards the back end of 2008 I launched 2020 Science – a personal and rather eclectic blog focused on the interface between science, technology and society.

Having learned a trick or two from Safenano, I was keener than ever to use the new blog to explore new ideas and engage with people.  The focus of the new blog was (and still is) science and technology in the 21st century – especially where they have an impact on decisions people make; whether they are politicians, manufacturers, activists, consumers or just people concerned and interested about the world they live in.

There’s quite a  lot of nanotechnology here, because it represents a major scientific and technological push, and also because I know a fair bit about the subject.  I’m also interested in other emerging technologies – synthetic biology and geoengineering are on the radar at the moment, but there are others that I touch on.

But more than emerging technologies, 2020 Science is about the relationships between science, technology and society.  As a result, I spend quite a lot of time exploring how to make sense of science and technology in a complex and not entirely rational society.  And as this is a personal blog, I occasionally throw something into the mix that just plain and simple interests me.

I also sometimes include guest blogs here.  These are usually requested, but if you have something to say and want to say it here – drop me a line.

But then just to mix things up, I also stepped in as Interim Chair for the Environmental Health Sciences department in the University of Michigan School of Public Health in June 2012.  So I now have a department to manage, a center to run, classes to teach, students to mentor and research to carry out – as well as all the speaking and social media stuff that comes with the territory.

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