The Fifth International Conference on Science in Society will feature plenary sessions by some of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations, by researchers and practitioners
Robert Firmhofer, graduate of history of philosophy at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, has an extensive experience in creating and leading successful science communication and informal science education organizations and events.
In 2004 he initiated and led the project to develop the first science centre in Poland, completed in 2010. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw, which became one of the most successful science centres in Europe, winning within the first two years of operations several national and international awards and attracting more than 1 million visitors annually. Copernicus acts also as a hub for science communication and informal education, bringing together teachers, researchers, innovators, business leaders and policy makers. In 2011 he was elected the President of Ecsite, Brussels based European Network of Science Centres and Museums, and holds this position currently. Previously, since 2007 he has been a Board member of Ecsite. Ecsite members include almost 400 European and international organizations from 50 countries: science centres and museums, science festivals, natural history museums, zoos, aquariums, universities, research organisations and companies communicating and engaging the public in science through accessible, interactive exhibits and programmes. In 1996 in close cooperation with the Academia he developed and had led for 15 years the Science Picnic, an annual one-day open-air festive science communication event, which gained great popularity both among public and professionals. Currently he serves as Science Picnic Board Member. The Science Picnic attracts every year ca. 100 000 visitors and is probably one of the biggest events of its kind worldwide. In 2004 the European Commission acknowledged the Science Picnic as one of the 10 best European science and society practices. It has been successfully developed in other locations, including Tbilisi, Georgia and Zagreb, Croatia. Robert serves on several programme councils and advisory bodies, including Science Dissemination Council of Polish Academy of Science, Programme Council of Civic Congress, Programme Council of Science Festival in Warsaw, City of Warsaw Council for Innovation Policy as well as International Programme Committee for developing the Science Centres World Summit. He is involved in pro-bono civic activities as citizens of culture and citizens of science. Prior to science centre career he spent 12 years as science journalist, serving as Deputy Director of educational channel of Polish Radio, national broadcaster, as well as editor-in-chief of science and education productions at Polish Radio. Robert was appointed an European Commission expert in the feasibility assessment of European Capital of Research and Innovation Award. Participated as a jury member in architectural competitions for science museums projects in Warsaw, Jerusalem and Moscow. Was presenter and keynote speaker at many conferences and public debates in Europe and internationally. His key interest and topics of presentations include recent trends in science communication, informal science education, innovation, public participation and engagement as well as project leadership and development. He has been awarded by the President of Poland with the Order of Polonia Restituta, by the Minister of National Education with the Medal of Commission of National Education, by the President of French Republic with the National Order of Merit, by the King of Sweden with the Royal Order of the Polar Star.
James Trefil was born in Chicago and educated in the public schools. After receiving a B.S. in physics from the University of Illinois, he won a Marshall scholarship to Oxford University, where he studied physics and the philosophy of science and received the B.A. and M.A. degrees. He finished his studies as a National Science Foundation Fellow at Stanford University, where he received an M.S. and Ph.D. in theoretical physics. He held postdoctoral, visiting, and junior faculty appointments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), Laboratory for Nuclear Sciences at MIT, German Electron Synchrotron Laboratory (Hamburg), University of Illinois, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory before joining the faculty of the University of Virginia, where he eventually became University Professor and Professor of Physics. He has held several appointments as Visiting Scholar at the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago. In 1987 he joined the faculty of George Mason University as Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Physics. In 2010 he was named Professor Honoris Causa at the University of Sts. Kiril and Methodius in Skopje, Macedonia. He has written extensively about science for the general audience, including more than 40 books. He has served as Contributing Editor for Science for USA TODAY Weekend and as a regular contributor and science consultant for Smithsonian and Astronomy Magazines. He has also served as a science commentator and member of the Science Advisory Board for National Public Radio and for numerous PBS productions, and as Principal Science Consultant to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. He also served as Chief Science Consultant to the McDougal-Littell Middle School Science Project. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and the World Economic Forum. He has served as a member of the Davos Global Issues Group and as a General Councilor of the American Physical Society. Prof. Trefil received the 2000 Andrew W. Gemant Award for linking physics to the arts and humanities, given by the American Institute of Physics and the inaugural Science Book Editor’s Award of the AAAS . In 2008 he was given the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award. He is also a recipient of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Westinghouse Science Journalism Award and of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He was Phi Beta Kappa national lecturer for 2003-2004. His most recent book is Science in World History. He frequently lectures to state and federal judges on science and the law. His interest in scientific literacy began with a contributed essay to E. D. Hirsch's Cultural Literacy and continued through participation as a co author of the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (3rd edition, 2002). His textbook, The Sciences: An Integrated Approach with Robert Hazen (now in its 7th edition), has been widely adopted, and he has served on the Content Review Boards for the National Science Education Standards and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. He has published over 100 papers in professional journals and has made contributions to research in elementary particle physics, fluid mechanics, medical physics (including cancer research) and the earth sciences.