USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog

Meeting Francis Collins Over Pancakes

i-1841944e1e1b055c1b15e994a6333206-Francis and Larry.jpg Francis Collins and Larry Bock

I was attending the AAAS annual meeting last week in San Diego, and Dr. Collins was speaking to several groups at the conference. After living in Washington, DC for almost a decade, and having worked for various federal agencies, I am used to the reverence people have for senior federal officials.

In DC, the head of an organization like NIH is essentially the CEO of a big company who has people who meet with people like me. My professional contact with federal officials at Dr. Collins’ level has been limited to a quick introduction and handshake before a carefully orchestrated meeting.

But Larry Bock, executive director of the USA Science & Engineering Festival, isn’t like that. Oh he was hero-worship excited when he found out Dr. Collins wanted to meet him. But he’s much more of a hands-on leader, who spent the day before stuffing 8,000 AAAS bags with Festival cards, alongside several people who work for him. And so, it turns out, is Francis Collins.

i-0b1fbc132a526cee1165f513d7cf2b3c-larry and boxes.jpgHe is as enthusiastic as Larry about bringing a huge celebration of science to the nation’s capitol. NIH has 30 spaces at the two-day Expo in October and a number of scientists who will head out into the schools. It’s supplying creative thinkers, to wow K-12 students and their families on the National Mall.

Oh and Francis Collins, despite being a world renowned scientist, listened to everyone at the table, no matter their level of importance. He ordered crepes and got a bonus of potato pancakes. And he cleaned his plate.

Larry helping with the boxes at AAAS

Written by Amiee Stern