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article imageCanadian scientists are organizing a boycott of U.S. conferences

By Ken Hanly     Feb 4, 2017 in Science
The Trump ban on travel from seven countries not only impacts refugees, U.S. residents and their families, but also scientists who rely on international cooperation with considerable travel in their ongoing research..
Some scientists in Canada now plan to boycott conferences in the US in solidarity with those banned and as a form of protest. Hundreds of Canadian academics have added their names to a petition to boycott conferences in the United States.
Adrian Owen a neuroscientist from Western University in London, Ontario has publicly announced he will not accept an invitation to talk in Washington DC at the Society for Neuroscience meeting scheduled for November this year. The group is said to be the "world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system."
Owen explained on Facebook that he decided not to accept because he would not be comfortable at a conference at which many great scientists would be barred. Owen has offered to compensate for the cancellation fees of others from the Brain and Mind Institute at Western who decided not to attend.
John Paul Minda, a cognitive psychology professor, also at Western, said his lab containing 150 faculty, post-doc students and trainees from around the world, is also considering boycotting U.S. conferences in response to the Trump travel ban. Upcoming meetings include one in May of the Association for Psychological Science in Massaxchusetts and another in Texas in April on Research in Child Development.Minda said: "We'd like to be able to stick together. If one of us can't go, we don't go at all." Minda said that scientists were boycotting conference in oder to show support for U.S. scientists affected by the restrictions but also for the safety of Canadian trainees and graduates who might have trouble at the border. However, Minda had not yet decided what he will do as he also wanted research to be discussed,
Canadian scientists are not the only ones reacting to the Trump travel ban. The Organizing Committee of the Commission G2 Massive Stars, part of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) had announced that it will not hold any meetings in the U.S. while the Trump entry ban of persons from seven countries remains in place. The IAU said it was “profoundly concerned by the impact the recent U.S. executive order, and possible reactions to it from other countries, could have on international collaboration in astronomy and the mobility of scientists.” Jorick Vinck, vice-president of the Organizing Committee said: “People in our committee felt that the statement that came from the IAU wasn’t strong enough." The group urged the IAU to also announce a ban. Several scientists claim that holding U.S. meetings during the van would violate statutes of the International Council for Science which “opposes discrimination based on such factors as ethnic origin, religion, citizenship, language, political or other opinion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or age.”
The ban has already prevented Ehsan Moravveji , an Iranian-born astrophysicist, working in Belgium from giving an invited talk at a Santa Barbara California meeting. He is forced to give just a video presentation. An Iranian Ph.D student at the University of Victoria in Canada had to turn down a job offer from an American university because of the ban.
An open letter supporting a ban has been signed by 5,000 academics can be found here. The boycott is discussed in a Middle East Eye article. As shown in the appended video a Seattle judge has temporarily halted the travel ban. Trump has called the decision by the "so-called" judge ridiculous and outrageous and claimed the decision would be overturned.
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