Category: University of Michigan

A guest post by Candace Rowell MPH. Candace is an alum of the University of Michigan School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health Sciences, and a former contributor to Mind The Science Gap.  She is currently a research associated with the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute in Doha, Qatar. The traffic in Doha is horrendous. Ask anyone who lives here. It might take you 45 minutes to commute a mere 15 km. The summers are brutal – the temperature bounces around the 50⁰C mark and the humidity threatens to drown you on the doorstep. Yes, this is Doha;

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Cross-posted from the Risk Science Blog [Transcript] I’ve occasionally been accused of thinking big when it comes to Risk Science. So I was rather chuffed to hear former Executive Director of Google.org Larry Brilliant out-big me on every point as he delivered the 10th Peter M. Wege lecture here at the University of Michigan a couple of weeks ago. Larry was talking about sustainable humanity, and the need to actively work toward a global society that overcomes problems (some old, some emerging) and continues to get better. But threaded through the lecture was the theme of risk, and the urgent need we face to become more educated and informed on the risks that humanity faces, and how together we can overcome them. Many of the themes that emerged are near and dear to my heart, and are reflected in the Risk Science Center’s vision – enabling evidence-based and socially-responsive action on human health risks in a rapidly changing world. In fact, the lecture and Larry’s following answers to questions were so relevant to the Center that I felt like saying – next time someone asked what we were about – to simply say “what he said!” Much of this was encapsulated in the following response to a question from Larry following the lecture: We need a whole new generation of leaders, leaders who are cross-trained in governance, who understand risk literacy, who can communicate complex problems in simple ways, who truly believe in democracy, and who are willing to engage with their constituents in a way that ups the conversation. So people know what the hell they’re voting for. And what the consequences and the risks that they’re taking on. We’ve reached the stage where the public is being used as if it were the ultimate re-insurer. What happens when

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Despite the risk of receiving absolutely no comments (please don’t let me down!), I thought I’d try something new and ask for some feedback on the background blurb for a meeting I’ve been working on. The meeting is a symposium on Risk, Uncertainty and Sustainable Innovation being organized by the Risk Science center next September.  I’ve been struggling with the blurb for this meeting before it goes out – especially striking the balance between something that captures the imagination (and hopefully the attention) of potential speakers, sponsors and attendees, and something that has clarity and substance. The text below is my latest draft.  What I would love to know – today ideally (knowing that you all are desperate for something to break the boredom of a Sunday afternoon) – is whether in your opinion this works, whether it is fluff without substance, whether it is the perfect insomnia cure, or whatever. Please, please add your comments below – no matter how brief, or how qualified/unqualified you feel you are to say something. Thank you! Risk, Uncertainty and Sustainable Innovation New perspectives on emerging challenges As we strive to build a sustainable future, do we need to rethink the relationship between risk, uncertainty and innovation?  Today’s accelerating rate of technology innovation promises profound personal, social and economic advances. But in an ever-more complex, interconnected and resource-constrained world, sustainable innovation is jeopardized by emergent risks, together with increasing uncertainty over potential benefits and impacts.  And no-where is this more apparent than at the intersection between technology innovation and human health.  Drawing on thought-leaders from a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, this symposium provides a unique forum for exploring new ideas on integrative approaches to health risks, uncertainty and innovation, as we look to develop sustainable solutions to global challenges. Background: As

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Just thought I’d circulate this on the 2020 Science network – please feel free to pass on the information to anyone who might be interested. We have finally started the process of looking for two junior faculty to join the Risk Science Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.  This is an exciting opportunity for two people to join the Center as it develops its vision and mission, and to have a significant role in helping build it up as an internationally recognized cross-disciplinary center of excellence dedicated to fostering new thinking, new understanding and new tools to support evidence-informed and socially relevant decisions on both emergent and extant risks to public health. Full details on the position, qualifications and the application process can be found here.  We’ll be starting to review applications on December 1, although the positions will remain open until we find suitable candidates.

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Well, it’s been a week since I upped sticks from D.C. and started my new life as an academic in Ann Arbor. It’s been an eventful week, with the start of a several-month commute between my family who are still in Northern Virginia and Michigan, and beginning to find my feet in a new town, organization and position.  But I think I’m going to enjoy it here. 

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Andrew Maynard is a Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan, and directs the U-M Risk Science Center.  His interests focus on effective science communication; the responsible development and use of emerging technologies – most notably nanotechnology and synthetic biology; and how understanding risk can help inform smart decisions.  

As well as writing a regular column for the journal Nature Nanotechnology, Andrew posts regularly on his personal blog "2020 Science", and on Twitter as @2020science.  He also produces short (and hopefully entertaining) educational videos on understanding health risks on the YouTube channel Risk Bites

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