British Columbia Professor Named Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) named Conevery Bolton Valencius, a history professor at Boston College, as one of its fellows in January.
“The scholarship…AAAS is such an exciting honor that I feel very deeply [toward] because it’s about what I think this book and my other writing is really about in a broader sense, which is to promote the excitement of research and science to a wider audience,” said Valencia.
The AAAS is the world’s largest general science society, and its scholarship is “among the most distinct honors” in the scientific community, according to its website.
Valencius’ work is “groundbreaking” in the history of science, according to Prasannan Parthasarathi, chair of the British Columbia Department of History.
“Professor Valencius has done groundbreaking work in the history of science,” he wrote in an email to The Heights. It is gratifying to see that the nation’s leading association of scientific scholars has recognized his fundamental contributions.
In addition to teaching at BC, Valencius has written two books: The Health of the Country and The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes. Both books explore the relationship between Western settlers and the environment they encountered after the Louisiana Purchase.
Valencius is currently writing another book, this time focusing on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and its relationship to earthquakes.
The research process for this book includes interviewing scientists to gain insight into the technical aspects of the subject, and the fellowship, she said, has the potential to facilitate this research.
“Some of the research for this project also involves calling up scientists and saying, ‘Hey, can you explain this to me?'” she said. “Being a member of AAAS will help me and my research in a way, because it gives me access to those conversations and gives me credibility in those conversations.”
Valencius hopes people will learn about modern energy issues through his current research. A society widely informed about energy development would lead to better decisions about scientific progression and advancement, she said.
“I think the issues of contemporary energy development and its environmental costs and benefits are going to be central to all issues in our society in the future,” she said. “I hope the work I do will help to empower others to also participate in critical thinking and decision-making about our contemporary science.”
According to Valencius, this goal aligns with both BC’s mission and science focus.
“In a Jesuit institution, I feel very strongly the mission of Boston College [is that] scientific decisions must be made not only in an abstract or theoretical sense, but with an embodied sense of humanity and human respect for individuals and societies as well as for tables of data,” she said.
Valencius is among five other fellows in the History and Philosophy of Science section of the fellowship. She said she was able to meet with these other fellows to discuss how they can further the mission of AAAS.
“We were talking about ways to reach and build visibility for the history and philosophy of science to support and give more credence to a strong, well-thought-out science enterprise,” Valencius said.
As a history teacher first and foremost, Valencius said she deeply appreciates all the scientists and experts who have helped her along her journey.
“I feel a great sense of gratitude to all the scientists who gave me their time to very patiently answer very basic questions for a very long time,” she said.
Featured Image by Aditya Rao/Heights Staff