Edward M. Sion, PhD, Professor of Astrophysics and Planetary Science, attended the General Assembly of the Lebanese Academy of Sciences in Beirut, Lebanon last week. Founded in 2007 by the Lebanese government as a non-profit organization, the Academy, modeled after the French Academy of Sciences, is Lebanon’s first national science institution of its type. Sion was invited to be a founding member of the Academy and is a member of its Executive Committee.
While in Beirut, Sion and the three other members of the Executive Committee met with the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, to present the Academy's first report to the nation, with recommendations on a number of educational, social and environmental issues (e.g. merit-based university tenure and promotion free of sectarian affiliation and politics; waste management, water resources, a national institute of health).
"It is highly gratifying to me personally, and to all members of the Lebanese Academy of Sciences, that our advisory role to the Lebanese government in all matters related to sciences will serve to raise awareness of the importance of the sciences in the solution of problems facing Lebanese society," said Sion.
The discussions with Prime Minister Hariri also led to his support for establishing a super planetarium and attached science museum in Beirut. The planetarium will enhance Lebanon's reputation as a family-friendly tourist destination, complementing its famous tourist attractions, nightclubs and restaurants.
"The Beirut Super Planetarium will introduce thousands of Lebanese and regional youth to the wonders of the night sky, the beauty of astronomy and the excitement of science and space exploration,” said Sion. “Over time, the Beirut Super Planetarium will be a favored destination for millions of tourists, students and enthusiasts from around the region and the world."