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Scientists need to look beyond their laboratories to include not just microscopes and beakers but lawmakers on Capitol Hill, said a panel of professors and policy experts on 14 February at the AAAS meeting in Chicago.

Across the country, institutions of higher learning are implementing science policy courses for undergraduate and graduate students. Despite this trend, more programs of study are needed. Together, the panelists encouraged science students, and their institutions, to supplement biological, chemical, or physical science preparation with exploration into the process of policymaking, drafting legislation, and lobbying for a cause.

It's time to expect the unexpected. Leading environmental researchers issued that warning on 13 February at the AAAS meeting in Chicago, during a symposium to address how Earth's ecology is responding to climate change. According to the scientists, the debate on why the world is warming has ended. Now that researchers have established that humans are at least partially responsible, they said, it's critical to focus on how climate change might affect life in the 21st century and what can be done to manage the impacts.

Biomedical researchers are getting personal. That, at least, is the trend foreseen by geneticist T. Conrad Gilliam of the University of Chicago, who spoke on 13 February at the AAAS meeting in Chicago. In a provocative address titled "Human Genetics, Genomics, and the Future of Medicine," Gilliam explored personalized medicine — and his efforts to trace some diseases to many sets of interacting genes.

Despite long-standing suspicions between the governments of the United States and North Korea, a progressive group of American intellectuals is calling for increased scientific cooperation between the two countries. Speaking at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago on 13 February, members of the U.S - D.P.R.K. Scientific Engagement Consortium pointed to science as a tool for bridging the political gap.

Climate change, one of the leading science and society stories of the past decade, remained a hot ticket for both scientists and journalists at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago. Attendees packed a session titled "Hot and Hotter: Media Coverage of Climate-Change Impacts, Policies, and Politics" on 13 February.

Africa's reputation as a scientific backwater has deep roots. Political instability, malnutrition, disease, and poverty have loomed as far more serious issues than tinkering with science. But in recent years, biotechnology research and development has emerged in many African countries. Researchers there now have the potential to tackle the AIDS epidemic, water pollution, and other major problems through local and national initiatives, said speakers on 13 February at the AAAS meeting in Chicago.

There's nothing like the introduction of four top editors to quiet a room of science writers. This year, editors from the New York Times, Scientific American, Sierra, and Wired formed the panel of the Pitch Slam, a fan favorite at the annual NASW workshops. Writers, eager to hear insider tips and witness on-the-spot feedback to story pitches, packed the room in October in Palo Alto, the site of ScienceWriters 2008.