News

Report Says NSF Officials Violated Rules During Effort To Redirect Major Program
Report Says NSF Officials Violated Rules During Effort To Redirect Major Program
WASHINGTON--The National Science Foundation violated several federal procurement laws in an attempt to replace the National Academy of Sciences as the contractor for its prestigious graduate fellowship program, according to a report issued by the agency's inspector general, Linda Sundro. These actions include a breach of confidentiality in the bidding process, conflict of interest by a staffer, and a failure to follow normal procedures in reviewing the bids of potential contractors. The resul
Author! Author! Do All Scientific Papers Really Need To Identify So Many Of Them?
Author! Author! Do All Scientific Papers Really Need To Identify So Many Of Them?
Researchers hold mixed opinions, with some advocating a streamlined approach that credits only germane contributors Geophysicist Marcia McNutt routinely reads a stack of journals ranging from the Journal of Geophysical research to Science and Nature. When she reads a paper in any of these publications, she usually feels safe making a few assumptions about the authors listed on the paper. "I usually assume the first author is the person who actually did the research," says McNutt, a professo
Public, Private Health Concerns Spur Rapid Progress In Toxicology
Public, Private Health Concerns Spur Rapid Progress In Toxicology
Increasing fears about carcinogens and other poisons will fuel further growth in the already booming field, experts say The science of toxicology has come a long way in a relatively short time. Back in 1961, when a fledgling society of researchers devoted to the study of poisons and their effect on the human body was well-formed enough to merit holding an annual meeting, the group had 161 members. Next week, as the Society of Toxicology (SOT) convenes its 31st annual meeting, its membership
Ruling On Lab Rodents Could Reduce Oversight Of All Animal Sites
Ruling On Lab Rodents Could Reduce Oversight Of All Animal Sites
Ruling On Lab Rodents Could Reduce Oversight Of All Animal Sites WASHINGTON--Animal rights activists are pleased about a federal judge's ruling last month that the United States Department of Agriculture acted in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner in excluding rats, mice, and birds from its interpretation of a federal law meant to protect research animals. But the judge's favorable decision in their suit could result in less-frequent inspections of research facilities housing these and othe
NASA Shuttle Cutbacks May Protect, Not Harm, Space Science Research
NASA Shuttle Cutbacks May Protect, Not Harm, Space Science Research
Engineers may be quaking over the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's announcement last month that it may cut 5,000 space shuttle-related jobs over the next five years. But space science researchers are viewing the move as nonthreatening, or even as a boon. In a January 6 speech broadcast to NASA employees, Robert Crippen, the new director of the Kennedy Space Center and a former shuttle astronaut, said that if Congress cuts the agency's budget it will be the space shuttle program
When It Comes To Competing, The Academy Just Says No
When It Comes To Competing, The Academy Just Says No
The National Academy of Sciences has operated NSF's graduate fellowship program since 1952. But it has never had to compete for the contract, now worth close to $2 million annually. That's because of the academy's own rule that prohibits it from doing any work for the government if it first must submit a bid and be chosen over several competitors. "We can't compete," says Frank Press, academy president. "If an agency accepts other bids, then we can't do the work. The rule stems from our 1863
French Program Funds Cognitive Science Studies
French Program Funds Cognitive Science Studies
French Program Funds Cognitive Science Studies The Fondation Fyssen in Paris is offering grants of up to three years to support young scientists who plan to enter research careers in fields related to cognitive science. The grants program is intended to foster the organization's goal of increasing knowledge of the biological and cultural nature and development of cognitive mechanisms in humans and animals. The maximum available grant support is 95,000 FF (approximately $18,000
Gauging The Dangers Of Radon
Gauging The Dangers Of Radon
A gaseous byproduct of decaying uranium and radium, radon itself decays when it enters the atmosphere, forming a series of "daughter" particles. Two of them, polonium 218 and polonium 214, are alpha emitters, meaning that, when inhaled in high concentrations, they emit alpha particles, known to initiate cancers in the bronchial epithelia. Radon concentrations are traditionally expressed in picocuries (pCi) per liter, whereby 1 pCi represents the amount of material needed to produce 2.2 radioa
KEY PUBLICATIONS IN THE RADON DEBATE
KEY PUBLICATIONS IN THE RADON DEBATE
KEY PUBLICATIONS IN THE RADON DEBATE Author: TOM ABATE * Comparative Dosimetry of Radon in Mines and Homes (Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 1991). A National Research Council committee offers the most recent look at epidemiological considerations of radon exposure. * Radon and Its Decay Products in Indoor Air (New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1988). Edited by Department of Energy scientists William Nazaroff and Tony James, this 12-chapter edition is a primer in radon issue
Linda K. Olson
Linda K. Olson
Linda K. Olson, an associate professor of clinical radiology and associate chief of the department of radiology at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, has received the 1991 Marie Curie Award from the Reston, Va.-based American Association of Women Radiologists. The annual award recognizes contributions to radiology in service or research. Olson, a medical student adviser at UC-San Diego, was cited for her dedication to teaching and her clinical skills. She also directs a

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
Not Just Passing Through A Critical Eye on Critical Technologies Math Society to Open D.C. Office The High Price of Public Understanding NIH Salary Cap Lifted, A Little National Science Foundation director Walter Massey says that he has no plans to leave the foundation before his six-year term ends in March 1997. But he's not surprised about persistent rumors, the latest involving Stanford University, that he's soon to become president of a major research institution. "I'm not trying to br

Opinion

How Many Researchers Are Really Happy In Their Work?
How Many Researchers Are Really Happy In Their Work?
We've heard a great deal lately about the impending shortage of scientists in the United States. We're told that fewer young people are pursuing careers in science. And compounding the problem, we're told, is the fact that women, African Americans, and Hispanics--while increasing in numbers in the U.S. population--are underrepresented in the sciences. Isn't it crucially important, in light of all this, for those who are firmly ensconced in the U.S. scientific community--and want to see it go

Commentary

The Personal Side Of Scientific Research
The Personal Side Of Scientific Research
Once, just because an extra sample tube was available, I added a second negative control to an experiment and discovered excellent termite-killing activity in a sample I'd expected would have none. Without that spare tube, I'd never have invented and patented a termiticide. In writing up my results, I did not describe the actual process--including my use of the spare tube--that took me from research problem to research conclusions. Yet I know I am not the only scientist who describes results

Letter

Obstacles To Reform
Obstacles To Reform
In "Our Twin Mission: The Shoring-Up Of Science And Society" (The Scientist, Dec. 9, 1991, page 11), Bassam Shakhashiri makes a good case for the need to improve science education. However, he does not come to grips with the major barrier that will prevent the achievement of his goals. This barrier is the public attitude toward education, particularly precollege education. Nothing of any overall significance is going to occur in education until this barrier is removed, or at least lowered. Th
Where Credit Is Due
Where Credit Is Due
The Jan. 6, 1992, issue of The Scientist [page 21] included a report on the Bower Award, presented to Solomon H. Snyder. Without wishing to detract in any way from Snyder's richly deserved honor, I wish to point out that it was Hans Kosterlitz of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and I who identified and named the enkephalins and, together with T.W. Smith, L. Fothergill, B. Morgan, and H.R. Morris, published the cited Nature paper (257:185-9, 1975), which characterized the two peptides. Sny
Bibliographic Negligence
Bibliographic Negligence
Eugene Garfield's commentary on "Bibliographic Negligence: A Serious Transgression" (The Scientist, Nov. 25, 1991, page 14) points to concerns long recognized by health sciences librarians. Inaccurate citations abound in today's literature, judging by the number of inquiries from library users trying without success to identify and locate cited papers. The willingness of many authors to accept a search from one database as all that is necessary to review the literature of a topic is another fre

Research

Radon Research Typifies Challenges Facing Risk Assessment
Radon Research Typifies Challenges Facing Risk Assessment
Sidebar: Gauging the Dangers of Radon Blame the radon fuss on Stanley Watras. In 1984, the young engineer was leaving work at the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant in Pottstown, Pa., when he set off the radiation alarm. Safety officials were perplexed. They could find no leak in the new facility. No other workers were contaminated. Yet when Watras walked past the radiation checkpoint on his way home, the siren began to sound. Safety officials solved the mystery by taking radiation readings at the

Clarification

CLARIFICATION
CLARIFICATION
CLARIFICATION On page 15 of the Dec. 9, 1991, issue of The Scientist, an omission was made regarding the 1979 discovery that led to an understanding of taxol's mechanism of action. The research was carried out primarily by Peter Schiff, who at the time was a graduate student in the laboratory of Susan Horwitz at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Schiff is currently head of the department of radiation oncology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. He has a paper in press (In

Hot Paper

Molecular Biology
Molecular Biology
A.H. Sinclair, P. Berta, M.S. Palmer, J.R. Hawkins, et al., "A gene from the human sex-determining region encodes a protein with homology to a conserved DNA-binding motif," Nature, 346:240-44, 1990 Andrew Sinclair (Human Molecular Genetics Laboratory, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London): "Throughout history people have wondered what determines the sex of an individual. In short, how do you get a boy or girl? "Several theories were proposed by the ancient Greeks: Democritus believed the u
Immunology
Immunology
H. von Boehmer, P. Kisielow, "Self-nonself discrimination by T cells," Science, 248:1369-73, 1990. Harald von Boehmer (Basel Institute for Immunology, Switzerland): "Despite 100 years of debate and speculation, the principles and mechanism of the self-nonself discrimination process by the immune system until recently have been obscure. Experimental analyses were hindered by the tremendous diversity of immunologic cells and receptor molecules. By creating T cell receptor transgenic mice--mice w
Astrogeology
Astrogeology
R.E. Arvidson, R.E. Grimm, R.J. Phillips, G.G. Schaber, E.M. Shoemaker, "On the nature and rate of resurfacing of Venus," Geophysical Research Letters, 17:1385-88, 1990. Raymond E. Arvidson (Washington University, St. Louis): "The size-frequency distribution, abundance, and locations of impact craters provide key pieces of information for understanding how planets are resurfaced. "Based on the average size frequency distribution, we know that volcanism and tectonism have removed Venusian cra
Molecular Biology
Molecular Biology
D.E. Williams, J. Eisenman, A. Baird, C. Rauch, et al., "Identification of a ligand for the c-kit proto-oncogene," Cell, 63:167-74, 1990. N.G. Copeland, D.J. Gilbert, B.C. Cho, P.J. Donovan, et al., "Mast cell growth factor maps near the steel locus on mouse chromosome 10 and is deleted in a number of steel alleles," Cell, 63:175-83, 1990. D.M. Anderson, S.D. Lyman, A. Baird, J.M. Wignall, et al., "Molecular cloning of mast cell growth factor, a hematopoietin that is active in both membrane

Profession

Academic Mathematicians' Pay Rises Slightly
Academic Mathematicians' Pay Rises Slightly
The median starting salaries for new holders of doctorates in mathematics who are launching careers in academia rose only slightly last year, according to a recent survey conducted by the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and released late last fall. The relatively small salary increases over the 1990 levels were primarily a result of budget pressures at many universities, according to the survey authors. More New Grads Also holding the rise to modest levels--3 percent for men and just 2.2
Princeton Researcher Joseph Taylor Wins Wolf Foundation's 1992 Prize In Physics
Princeton Researcher Joseph Taylor Wins Wolf Foundation's 1992 Prize In Physics
Princeton University's Joseph H. Taylor, Jr., who in 1974 discovered a binary pulsar that has helped verify gravitational aspects of general relativity theory, will receive this year's Wolf Prize in physics. The $100,000 award, to be presented to Taylor in May by the president of Israel, is one of six given annually by the Israel-based Wolf Foundation. The other five awards are in the fields of chemistry, medicine, mathematics, agriculture, and the arts. Pulsars, rapidly spinning neutron star
Seventh Golden Brain Award Is Presented To Laboratory Chief At National Eye Institute
Seventh Golden Brain Award Is Presented To Laboratory Chief At National Eye Institute
The Berkeley, Calif.-based Minerva Foundation has presented its seventh Golden Brain Award to Robert H. Wurtz, chief of the Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research at the National Eye Institute. The award, which honors basic research on vision and the brain, was presented to Wurtz in December. For the past 25 years, Wurtz, 55, has been studying vision and oculomotor control in rhesus monkeys--animals whose visual "system is remarkably similar to ours," he says. The ultimate goal of his research o

Briefs

Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
The American Philosophical Society's General Research Grant Program is designed to help scholars fund research projects in areas not currently receiving substantial corporate or government support. The society, the nation's oldest academic association, began providing funds for individual research projects in 1933. The program, for example, has supported work on an instrument to measure the depth of the polar ice cap as well as research on the inheritance patterns in ciliate protozoa. The maxi
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
Arms Control Agency Funds Students This year the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency will award up to three Hubert H. Humphrey Doctoral Fellowships in Arms Control and Disarmament. Named for the late Minnesota senator and vice president, who supported the agency's goals throughout his career, the one-year fellowships support advanced graduate students as they conduct dissertation research in fields relevant to arms control. Eligible applicants come from a range of academic disc
People Briefs: Elliott B. Grossbard
People Briefs: Elliott B. Grossbard
Elliott B. Grossbard has been named vice president of medical and regulatory affairs at California Biotechnology Inc. (Cal Bio) of Mountain View, Calif. His duties will include guiding products through the final stages of development and regulatory approval. Grossbard, 43, joins Cal Bio from HemaGen/PFC of San Francisco, where he had been vice president of medical affairs since 1990. From 1982 to 1990, he held a variety of positions at Genentech Inc. of South San Francisco, Calif. Grossbard re
People Briefs: David A. Shirley
People Briefs: David A. Shirley
David A. Shirley, a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, has been appointed senior vice president for research and dean of the graduate school at Penn State University. His appointment becomes effective March 1. Shirley, 58, has had a joint appointment at UC-Berkeley and at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) since 1959, and has been a full professor at UC-Berkeley since 1967. From 1980 to 1989, he was the director of LBL. Shirley received his B.S. from the Un

Technology

Image-Processing Software Makes Gains As Desktop Tool
Image-Processing Software Makes Gains As Desktop Tool
A picture may not be worth a thousand words to a scientist unless it can be manipulated to yield useful information. One way of gleaning such data is computerized image processing, a technique for quantifying visual images. With an image-process- ing system, a geologist can build contour maps from satellite photos, a plant physiologist can count and measure individual cells in a leaf, and a molecular biologist can analyze an autoradiograph from a DNA sequencing gel. In the past decade, the com