Cast-Off Creationist Talks Back AIDS Funding Spurs Competition Huband In At ASEE No Hard Feelings, NSF Tells MIT A recent contributor to the popular "Amateur Scientist"

November 12, 1990

  • Cast-Off Creationist Talks Back
  • AIDS Funding Spurs Competition
  • Huband In At ASEE
  • No Hard Feelings, NSF Tells MIT
  • A recent contributor to the popular "Amateur Scientist" column in Scientific American has taken to the nation's airwaves to complain that the magazine refuses to run any more of his columns because of his belief in creationism. Forrest Mims, III, a prolific science journalist from Seguin, Texas, has appeared on several talk shows and alleged that editor Jonathan Piel reneged on a promise to make Mims the regular author of the monthly column after Mims told Piel he also wrote for several fundamentalist Christian publications and the two men argued about evolution. Piel says the magazine "has never discriminated against anyone for their religious beliefs, and we never will." But Piel declined to discuss the details of what he called "an internal matter." Armand Schwab, who recently stepped down as the magazine's managing editor, says that Piel "was worried that the magazine would look foolish" if it became public knowledge that one of its writers held such beliefs. However, Schwab says that Mims was never offered the job as "Amateur Scientist" columnist and that his material was published on a trial basis as a freelance contribution.

    The health research community has long believed that presenting a united front is the best way to win more money from Congress. But pressure to reduce the federal deficit is making it hard to stick to that one-for-all approach. Last month, advocates for full funding of a bill to treat people with AIDS ran into a wall of opposition from other research organizations when Senate sponsors of the proposal sought to pay the $875 million needed by slicing 1 percent off existing health programs. Although a coalition of some 70 groups representing universities, medical schools, and foundations prevailed on the Senate floor, the fight prompted Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.), who supported the treatment bill, to warn his colleagues that "we have arrived at a point where people in need are fighting one another for too few resources."

    Frank Huband has been named executive director of the 10,000-member American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). The former director of the division of electrical and communications systems at the National Science Foundation, Huband succeeds F. Karl Willenbrock, who left ASEE last year to become NSF's associate director for science, technological, and international affairs. Trained as an electrical engineer, Huband also holds a law degree. A 14-year veteran at NSF, Huband has directed the government's program to assess Japanese technology and worked on a national strategy to revive the semiconductor industry.

    Officials at MIT were just doing their job when they flooded NSF with angry petitions in an effort to overturn the foundation's decision to award a $120-million high magnetic field lab to a consortium led by Florida State University (The Scientist, Oct. 1, 1990, page 3), says Mary Good, chairman of the National Science Board that oversees the foundation. "A group has to do what it feels is necessary," says Good. The board has stuck to its August 17 decision despite complaints from MIT that the board had received incomplete and inaccurate information from NSF staffers. Fred Bernthal, NSF's acting director, says he and MIT officials are trying to work out a three-year plan to help the users of MIT's Francis Bitter Laboratory until the Florida lab becomes available.

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