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THE SCIENTIST Status: RO VOLUME 8, No:1 JANUARY 10, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) =============================================================== Articles published in THE SCIENTIST reflect the views of their authors and not the official views of the publication, its editorial staff, or its ownership. ============================================================ *** THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE SCIENTIST WILL APPEAR ON *** *** JANUARY 24, 1994 *** *** *** ******************************************************* Subscription rates for the printed edition are: In the United States: one year $58, two years $94 Canada : one year $82, two years $142 All other foreign : one year/air cargo $79, one year/ airmail $133 THE SCIENTIST (Page numbers correspond to printed edition of THE SCIENTIST) FOR SEARCHING PURPOSES: AU = author TI = title of article TY = type PG = page NEXT = next article ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : CONTENTS PG : 3 ============================================================ ASSESSING THE CLIMATE FOR WOMEN: The Association for Women in Science is planning to conduct "site visits" to evaluate the work environment for women in United States academic science. The project is modeled after a similar initiative by two physics societies PAGE : 1 SCIENCE EDUCATION REPORT: Science educators are endorsing a report by a panel of an interagency advisory group that criticizes the government's planning, oversight, and evaluation of the many federal programs in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education. These experts also support the report's recommendations for improved coordination and evaluation of these programs PAGE : 1 BIAS CHARGED: A federal science scholarship program that uses as its sole criterion the ACT exam in math has raised questions and charges about standardized tests' fairness, with one organization contending that the test is biased against women PAGE : 1 NEW LEADER AT THE FOREST SERVICE: Environmental researchers are applauding the appointment of wildlife biologist Jack Ward Thomas as director of the U.S. Forest Service, predicting that he will spearhead an ecosystem approach to forest management; meanwhile, represen- tatives of other forest interests are questioning the advancement of the lifelong Forest Service scientist on similar grounds PAGE : 3 BOWER WINNER: Isabella L. Karle, whose use of X-ray and electron diffraction pioneered new ways to study the three- dimensional structure of molecules, has received the 1993 Bower Award in Science PAGE : 4 `STRATEGIC' BASIC RESEARCH: In an extensive interview with The Scientist,.MDNM/ newly confirmed NSF director Neal Lane says he recognizes the challenge of supporting curiosity- driven research in a political and social climate more inclined toward deriving the benefits of applied investigations; but he also points out the crucial role of basic science in bringing about those benefits PAGE : 11 COMMENTARY: The past year has seen its share of problems-- job depression, funding cuts, the SSC demise--for the science community, but as researchers look to 1994, they can take heart in several events of last year, such as the appointment of research-oriented directors at NIH and NSF and the momentum toward ending sex discrimination in science. As events, good and bad, unfold, The Scientist will be there to provide scientists with the information they need to adjust to and take advantage of them, promises Eugene Garfield PAGE : 12 DEFENSE INDUSTRY SCIENCE: With the Cold War now history, defense and aerospace industry giants are redirecting their research efforts. Their success, according to the newsletter Science Watch, may depend on their research capabilities, which the publication attempts to gauge by evaluating nine top firms' citation records PAGE : 15 HOT PAPERS: A plant biologist discusses his paper on signaling pathways in plant genes PAGE : 16 PROBING TECHNOLOGY: Commercially produced DNA probes have become standard in molecular biology, not only for basic research but also for more directed uses--in forensics, as diagnostics, and in epidemiology, for example PAGE : 17 SCIENTISTS ON BOARD: Those distinguished scientists who are invited to join corporate boards of directors have a rare opportunity to see the inner workings of a corporation, network with prominent businesspeople, and influence the research directions of these firms--and get paid handsomely for it. But with the benefits come certain responsibilities and potential pitfalls PAGE : 21 RESEARCHERS F. HERBERT BORMANN AND GENE E. LIKENS have been awarded the 1993 Tyler Prize for environmental achievement PAGE : 23 NOTEBOOK PAGE : 4 CARTOON PAGE : 4 LETTERS PAGE : 12 CROSSWORD PAGE : 13 DNA PROBE DIRECTORY PAGE : 18 OBITUARY PAGE : 23 (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Experts Laud Call For Revamping U.S. Science Education Programs Report warns of inadequate oversight and ineffective planning and management of the growing number of federal initiatives AU : BARTON REPPERT TY : NEWS PG : 1 Science education specialists are endorsing a recently released report by a top-level advisory panel warning that, despite unprecedented government spending on science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SMET) education, the United States "remains at risk of losing its competitive edge." The experts join the report's call for significantly revamped planning, coordination, and evaluation of the federal government's programs in these areas. In compiling The Federal Investment in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education: Where Now? What Next? the 15-member panel, convened by the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology (FCCSET), surveyed some 300 education programs sponsored by 13 federal departments and agencies. The initiatives the panel examined were identified as "core programs," or those relating directly to SMET education, and funded at a total cost of about $2.2 billion. Support for programs not targeted specifically to SMET education may be as much as $24 billion, the panel estimates. In the report to FCCSET--an interagency group now being superseded by a newly formed Cabinet- level National Science and Technology Council--the group concludes that this "potpourri of programs" has evolved "with too little overall planning and with inadequate evaluation.... The federal portfolio of core programs is unbalanced and lacks coherence." The panel contends that "it is time for a new culture of interaction, communication, and coordination to be developed and sustained within and among all federal agencies in the area of education." Shirley Malcom, head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science directorate for education and human resources, says she supports both the focus and the direction of the report's findings and recommendations: "I think the points that they make are absolutely on target. Their concerns about coordination and communication and collaboration . . . are absolutely the right ones. We have to be a lot more willing to look at ourselves and look at our programs in a very honest and forthright way." Malcom, who did not serve on the FCCSET panel, adds that "we're not going to see a lot more money in the near term . the resources that are available." Among the major conclusions and suggestions of the panel are: * The core programs are "unbalanced and lack coherence" and require a "stronger management plan" that ensures that more SMET programs are aligned with national strategic plan goals; are coordinated across agencies; and promote equity. * Current evaluations of these programs are "often inadequate" for improving programs, providing accountability, or deciding which ones to cut or retain. Programs should be "evaluated rigorously," with an eye toward meeting identified national needs. * "Research should be directed toward what works best in particular educational settings, for particular diverse audiences, and in non-traditional settings such as adult education." * More money should be allocated to promote awareness among teachers, students, and researchers of available federal programs in SMET education. * A greater emphasis should be placed on teacher-preparation programs at all levels, including "the latest findings on how best to promote student learning." At the news conference to release the study early last month, panel cochairman Karl S. Pister, chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz, noted that 10 years ago a U.S. Department of Education commission report, A Nation at Risk, was widely acclaimed and "jarred the national conscience." "Unfortunately, much of what was called for in that 1983 report remains unfinished," he said. "At the same time, the federal government's efforts in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education are not sufficiently coordinated to reverse the tide of mediocrity and apathy." Pister said the FCCSET panel's study marked the first time that the federal programs have been "examined as a whole in the light of independent scrutiny." Of the current climate for action on such issues, Pister said: "I think it's too early to judge the current administration. But I see very positive signs." He added that formation of the new NSTC, to be chaired personally by President Bill Clinton, "is a telling symbol to me that the administration is taking science and technology education seriously." Panel cochairwoman Mary Budd Rowe, a professor of science education at Stanford University, told reporters that the study found only about 20 percent of the 300 federally supported education programs have been evaluated for their effectiveness. "We're in a competitive, almost life-death kind of struggle with other countries. And I don't think we can afford to invest big amounts in programs that don't work," she said. Inducing Cooperation Panel member Ernest R. House, a professor of education at the University of Colorado, Boulder, says that even after working in the field of government educational policy for 20 years, when he got a more detailed look at the various programs he found the overall situation "so bad that I was just appalled." House says a key problem has been that interagency groups, such as FCCSET, up to now have lacked sufficient authority to effectively oversee the range of programs. Within the different departments and agencies, "bureaucrats are used to hunkering down. They've seen these things come and go many times, so they're used to just saying, `Well, we can sit this out.' ... So I think it will take some kind of pretty strong authority to induce them to cooperate with each other." Such authority may be wielded by the newly created NSTC. The council, established under an executive order signed last November to coordinate science, space, and technology policies throughout the executive branch, will incorporate FCCSET's duties. According to an official at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, FCCSET is expected to officially go out of business this month when its activities are taken over by NSTC and eight R&D coordinating committees being formed under the council. Earl Dowell, dean of the engineering school at Duke University in Durham, N.C., says he strongly supports the FCCSET panel's recommendation that more attention be paid to widely disseminating information about federal programs-- particularly the results of pilot or experimental efforts. "I think there's a lot of independent experimentation, and that's probably good to a certain degree--but not if, indeed, we keep repeating the same experiment without being aware of what other people have tried," he says. Dowell observes that "at the moment, I'm afraid that in too many cases the educational experiments--even when well done--tend to impact a single campus, or perhaps just a few campuses, and not the broader range of institutions." As an example of an NSF-supported pilot program whose results deserve to be more widely disseminated, Dowell points to a program involving faculty-led "engineering education coalitions" designed to improve educational quality at various engineering schools. Each coalition generally involves seven or eight campuses. `Selling' The Product Echoing Dowell's sentiments, another member of the FCCSET panel, Wendell G. Mohling, former president of the 50,000- member National Science Teachers Association, says the study shows that improved efforts are needed to provide useful information to schools, teachers, and students about various federally supported programs. "Just as with anything else, if you've got a good product you still need to sell it," he says. "For any classroom teacher there are dozens of things that come through the mailbox or to the school. But to get it to the teacher, at the classroom level, is what is really the name of the game here--to publicize these programs." Leonard Minsky, executive director of the National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.- based group, comments about the report: "Basically, I couldn't agree more with the conclusions.... They're absolutely right about the lack of coordination, evaluation, and accountability." He adds that "from our perspective, there's tremendous overlap, enormous sloppiness in the system.... And there's absolutely no way of getting any kind of accountability out of the system as it's now constructed." At the news conference, Luther Williams, National Science Foundation assistant director for education and human resources and acting chairman of FCCSET's education committee, said he takes the report's findings "very seriously." "We will take this valuable input to heart, and very carefully consider how best to respond," Williams said. "We know we need to make some changes, and here is some sound advice on how to start." For the 1994 fiscal year, which began last October, NSF is slated to spend $569 million on science and engineering education programs--an increase of 17 percent from the year before. Within NSF, further steps to more thoroughly evaluate educational programs and initiatives are expected to be mapped out by the foundation's office of research, evaluation, and dissemination, headed by Daryl E. Chubin, who recently moved to NSF from the congressional Office of Technology Assessment (P. Beck, The Scientist, Nov. 1, 1993, page 22). Barton Reppert is a freelance science writer based in Gaithersburg, Md. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : WHAT THE FCCSET PANEL FOUND TY : NEWS PG : 10 Following are excerpts from the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology expert panel's report on federal programs to support science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SMET) education: * "The impact of current federal dollars in SMET education remains unclear. A potpourri of programs has evolved. Federal expenditures are being made with too little overall planning and inadequate evaluation." * "Too many Americans know virtually nothing of the mathematical and scientific concepts and discourse (to say nothing of the technologies) that enrich contemporary culture, social experience, and economic progress." * "It is the strong view of this panel ... that a basic change in the way in which federal agencies view their roles is needed. It is time for a new culture of interaction, communication, and coordination to be developed and sustained within and among all the agencies in the area of education." * "The panel found that today's federal programs in SMET education continue to be burdened by a lack of coordination, a lack of evaluation, and a lack of accountability. The federal portfolio of investments in SMET education needs a comprehensive, coordinated management plan to provide balance and coherence across and within federal agencies, other levels of government, and all levels of SMET education." * "Despite continued federal expenditure, the percentage of minority students studying SMET subjects (particularly at the graduate level) remains abysmally low. In engineering, the physical sciences, and mathematics, women are also significantly underrepresented .... Federally funded programs must actively and continually seek ways to improve participation and retention of underrepresented populations and to make SMET accessible to all citizens." * "For a majority of federally funded SMET education programs, no evaluation information is available at all ... or no serious inquiry beyond anecdotal or self-reported data has been made. This disturbing lapse must be addressed immediately. The federal government cannot continue to spend large sums of money without knowing if its programs are accomplishing their established goals." Source: The Federal Investment in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education: Where Now? What Next? Copies of the report are available from the National Science Foundation, Attn: Joyce Taylor, Suite 855 (EHR/RED), 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22230. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Women Scientists' Group Launches Effort To Probe The Plight Of Female Researchers Through campus `site visits,' AWIS will investigate the prevalence of gender bias in academia AU : BARBARA SPECTOR TY : NEWS PG : 1 The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is planning an ambitious project to assess the climate for female researchers in academia--by visiting several United States colleges and universities and talking with the women themselves. The effort will take AWIS representatives into several schools for "site visits," during which they will discuss women's concerns with faculty, administrators, and students, reporting their findings to school officials. AWIS will also collect samples of institutional policy statements and other documents that women scientists feel either help or deter their advancement, which will be evaluated for inclusion in an upcoming publication. The Washington, D.C.-based organization will ultimately "develop a model program that offers workable options for enhancing the academic climate for women science faculty" for dissemination to schools that were not visited, according to a draft proposal for the project. Through this program, AWIS is trying to grapple with the question of why "women don't seem to move up in academia as readily as men," says AWIS past president Ellen Weaver, a retired professor of plant physiology from San Jose State University. "Women are hired in good faith, but somewhere on the climb to tenure, they don't make it." A 1991 National Research Council study Women in Science and Engineering: Increasing Their Numbers in the 1990s, Washington, D.C., National Academy Press), for example, found that 66 percent of the women Ph.D.'s on science and engineering faculties either were not tenured or were not tenure-track, compared with 40 percent of their male counterparts. "The time has come to not just collect more data about how poorly women do," says Weaver, a co-principal investigator (PI) on the project. "It's time to go in and find out what's happening. "We've been concentrating on teaching the women what they need to know to succeed, but maybe there's something the institution can do to be more accommodating to women." The AWIS effort is modeled on a program now being conducted under the sponsorship of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), both of College Park, Md., and funded by the National Science Foundation. In the physics project, groups of women physicists conduct day-long site visits to departments that have requested help in improving the climate for women. AWIS aims to expand the effort, spending a longer time at each institution and looking at all its science departments. AWIS is currently soliciting funding for its project and expects to clarify the funding status in March; in the meantime, it has begun collecting policy documents from various schools on an ad hoc basis. In the project's initial phase, expected to take a year and a half, the organization will visit one institution--probably a liberal arts college, according to Weaver--and make recommendations for changes. In the second phase, AWIS will expand its visits to six schools, including a major research university and a historically black institution, "looking for institutional differences as well as departmental differences," says AWIS executive director Catherine Didion, a co-PI on the project. The program's final phase involves the creation of "regional training centers," where academics will attend seminars, receive diversity training, and learn how to adapt such programs for their own schools. Materials and methods used in these centers will be developed from information gathered in the site visits. Key to the success of the project--and a crucial component of the physics program after which it is modeled--is that site-visit teams go only to institutions that invite them, and where high- level administrators communicate the importance of the visit to the faculty, AWIS officials say. "There has to be a commitment in order to get anywhere on these issues," says Didion. "This program only works if you have support from the top." Didion acknowledges that the idea of a site visit may be daunting to some administrators--"none of us would want someone to come in and tell us, `This is what you could be doing better'"--but notes that the goal is to reach "the institutions that recognize that they want to change and that they need to change." And, indeed, there are male administrators at such schools who will welcome the visitors, Didion says. "Men know they have to be part of the solution" to the problem of an unfriendly climate for women, she says, "but they don't know how to go about it. There's not a recognition of what the barriers are and how to address them." A Model Program The experience of the women physicists, who have been conducting site visits since 1990, bears this out. In fact, says Judy Franz, a professor of physics at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and a co-PI on the physics site-visit project, the effort was born out of a meeting of physics department heads--an overwhelmingly male group. "They passed a resolution that more should be done by them to encourage women and minorities to enter physics, and wanted help from APS and AAPT," she recalls. "We can get as many invitations as we need" to conduct site visits, says Mildred Dresselhaus, Institute Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-PI along with Franz. "Fifteen years ago, there were a lot of individuals who would consider [climate issues for women] a non-problem. Now they are in the minority." While the site-visit reports are addressed to a department chairman, the team tries to meet with the provost, the president, and other senior administrators when possible; chairmen may share the team's report with faculty, students, and administrators. Only 3 percent of physics faculty in U.S. universities are women, according to APS's Committee on the Status of Women in Physics. At the undergraduate and graduate levels, women physics students are a small minority, as well. As a result, some problems women physics students face are less common in disciplines such as biology, in which the numbers of women are greater, says Bunny Clark, University Professor of physics at Ohio State University and a site-visit team member. Clark says that male physicists' lack of experience with dealing with women professionally may contribute to what could be viewed as a sexist environment. "In some cases, [male physicists'] socialization is perhaps slower than it would be in a situation in which there were equal numbers of men and women," she says. "What we've found is less than we would hope for in the ideal world," says Dresselhaus. Site-Visit Findings One issue that has come up during site visits, for example, is the presence of posters in the lab or office depicting nude or semi-clad women, say site-visit team members. "Some people who have them up don't even realize that people would find them offensive," says Franz. Another site-visit finding is that male teaching assistants (TAs) often "are not given any training" on how to behave at the front of a classroom, says Michelle Shinn, an associate professor of physics at Bryn Mawr College who has been on several site visits. "How they're going to treat their women students is just left to their upbringing." As a result, she says, often "women feel undervalued or patronized--as a woman, you become the recorder of data rather than the taker of data, or a male TA might say something demeaning or flirt with you." In a department with few women, a sense of isolation can exacerbate cases such as these, women physicists say, leading to a tendency to take personally issues that others might consider trivial. "When a woman often never sees another woman during the day, they think it's them, not the situation," says Dresselhaus. To help overcome such problems--or, at least, to bring them to the attention of an official who can do something about them-- site-visit teams have frequently recommended that a department chairman schedule regular meetings with women students. Several departments that have undergone site visits have implemented this suggestion already. "They encouraged us to try to [establish] a smaller-depart- ment kind of feeling," says David Campbell, physics department head at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Campbell, who administers nearly 300 graduate students and 66 faculty members, says that as a result of the November 1992 site visit, his department instituted a faculty-student mentoring program and revived a peer mentoring program that "had sort of sputtered." In addition, says Campbell, after he received the site-visit report, he met with women students to discuss the findings, including the need "to make the department a slightly warmer place" and the high degree of stress caused by the physics qualifying exam. "Eighty-six percent of the students who take it twice pass it, but there is a rumor that half the students fail," says Campbell. "We're working on trying to debunk that." The physicists emphasize that a number of the site-visit teams' suggestions, if implemented, should help men as well as women. "One thing we really learned is that many of these problems are not gender-specific," says Campbell. While the chairmen may enthusiastically welcome the site visitors, not every faculty member agrees that such an exercise is a good idea. "There are some individuals at these departments who would rather see us disappear off the face of the Earth--and we hear about it," says Dresselhaus. James Legg, physics chairman at Kansas State University, whose department was visited this past fall, said that the reaction of the 25 faculty members covered a "wide range of responses--`Why are you doing this?' being one of them--[ranging to] `Good; I'm glad that we're looking at this issue and taking it seriously.'" The "defense mechanisms" manifested by the faculty who reacted negatively to the visit, Legg says, included questions such as "`Why, in a time of tight employment, are you concentrating on women?'" and "`Is it really true that women are being disadvantaged by the atmosphere that we have today?'" Toh-Ming Lu, physics chairman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, says he wanted to have his spring 1992 site visit "not because we have something really good to show, but to see how they can help us improve. "We recognize that this is a key issue and should be dealt with," he says. "We also recognize that we are historically male- dominated. We [didn't] expect a glowing report." His goals for the encounter, he says, were "to stimulate some discussion, to encourage us to talk about what other women scientists think about--bad or good; to let our students meet with other women physicists, which we always want to do; and to let our administration know about women's issues. "Because we have been male-dominated for such a long time, we lost track of realistic women's science issues," he says. In such circumstances, "you don't have in your mind how the real world is, how difficult it is for women to study physics." Creating Change Didion says her organization decided to adopt the physics program because "we thought it meshed well with AWIS. Our strength is in trying to do intervention--to create change as a catalyst." Evaluations from those outside an institution can be advantageous in this respect, she says: "Sometimes external organizations can do it effectively, where internal organizations won't be heard." The goal of the AWIS project is not to solve individual women's problems, Weaver emphasizes: "We're looking at factors," she says. "We're not going to pursue anyone's individual case." One reason the physics program has been able to garner invitations from so many schools, site-visit team members and department members say, is that the teams are composed of senior, respected scientists; Dresselhaus, for example, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. "When I put together a team, I try to get people from different areas of physics," says Franz. Usually, some faculty members [at the school being visited] would recognize at least one of our names." Kansas State's Legg says that, for him, the benefits of the visit were obvious. "Is it better to remain ignorant about the problems that you may have?" he asks rhetorically. "To me, it's a win-win situation. If they come in and point out problems and give us ways to improve them, we've got ourselves a better department. One doesn't mind being criticized if you're going to profit from it." (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Scholarship Criterion Challenged; Critics Charge Sex Discrimination AU : FRANKLIN HOKE TY : NEWS PG : 1 Charges of sexual bias in a $2.2 million federally funded undergraduate scholarship program have kindled debate among science educators and others about the use--and misuse--of standardized tests in gauging the abilities of future scientists. The scholarships were awarded solely on the basis of such a test. According to a report by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest) in Cambridge, Mass., male high school students won 75 percent of the 471 college scholarships awarded in 1993, the first year of the National Academy for Science, Space, and Technology (NASST) program in the United States Department of Education. This was so even though young women earn higher grades in science and math than young men in both high school and college, FairTest says. The reason more men than women won, FairTest says, is that the award relied on scores earned on the math portion of the American College Testing (ACT) assessment exam, a test the organization says is biased against women. The exclusive use of a standardized test for awarding the scholarships--one for each congressional district--was mandated by the legislation creating NASST. NASST was established to support students who choose science and math majors in college; winners commit either to attend graduate school or to go to work in a related field, one year for each year of scholarship support. "The real shame of this program," says Cinthia H. Schuman, executive director of FairTest, "is that, at a time when we should be encouraging young women to go into math and science, we're sending the wrong message that test scores are valued more than the actual demonstration of promise in these areas." Defenders of the ACT and other standardized tests acknowledge that there is a difference between the scores of male and female students. They insist, however, that the bias revealed is not an indictment of the tests, but instead is an accurate reflection of discrimination in classrooms and in society. "According to the National Science Foundation, 76 percent of our college graduates in engineering; mathematics; and physical, life, and computer science are males and 24 percent are females," said Thomas Saterfiel, vice president of the research division at ACT, in a statement. "These percentages are just what we see in the awarding of the new NASST scholarships." "There's bias," adds Kelley Hayden, a spokesman for ACT. "There's no doubt about it. But the bias is in the classroom--it's in the society, really. You still have reports about how teachers call on boys more than girls in classes, for example. So, it's just an extension of that." Hayden also says the tests are designed to predict how students will perform in their freshman-year college courses. As such, he says, the ACT has a predictive validity of 95 percent for both males and females. The tests were never intended to be used as the sole criterion for such scholarship awards, he adds. "Our test scores should not be used alone to make high- stakes decisions," Hayden says. "They should be used in conjunction with other information, such as class grades, recommendations, and other work that the students do." Most critics agree on this point, but some go further, saying that standardized tests simply are not a valid way to predict how students will perform in science careers. "This test is a flawed indicator," Schuman says. "Not only is it biased against girls, it also does not reflect the kind of skills that we are looking for in students. It doesn't measure a student's ability to write or think creatively or do a science experiment." FairTest has written to members of Congress who serve on the education committees, asking that the law be rewritten before any further funds are appropriated for NASST. Meanwhile, the Clinton administration, while praising the aim of encouraging students to pursue science and math careers, has moved to neutralize the program. Officials are supporting instead another effort with similar goals called the National Science Scholars program, authorized in 1990. Under that program, which provides for broader selection criteria, 861 students showing promise in science fields won undergraduate scholarships this year. "Congress stipulated in the law [that created NASST] that the department select one scholar per congressional district based on national test scores," said David A. Longanecker, assistant secretary for postsecondary education, in a statement. "The department implemented the law as authorized by Congress. The National Science Scholars program, in existence for several years, requires at least one female winner per congressional district. For this reason, the Clinton administration supports the National Science Scholars program and has not requested any further funding for NASST." Without funding for the current fiscal year, the NASST program has effectively ended, according to Stephanie Babyak, an Education Department spokeswoman. Even without the bias charges against NASST, she says, the programs are largely duplicative in purpose. Locating The Bias Critics of standardized tests say they are inherently biased against women, at least partly because they reward characteristics thought to be shared by more men than women. "Nobody has ever come up with one single cause for the gender gap," says Schuman. "Rather, a number of issues have been pointed to, primarily dealing with the format of the test. Somehow, the emphasis on speed and guessing does not allow girls to display their real abilities." In 1989, the Center for Women Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., published The SAT Gender Gap by Phyllis Rosser, a study that sought to document inequities in the SAT, administered by the New York-based College Board. According to Leslie R. Wolfe, executive director of the center, Rosser did an item analysis of one of the SAT tests and found that there were 24 questions on which either men or women did substantially better. Of those, 22 favored men, she says. Rosser's study also directly contradicts test-makers' claims that the exams predict the success students will have in college, according to Wolfe. "The only purpose [of the SAT and the ACT] is to predict first-year college grades," Wolfe says. "In both cases, they fail to do so for women. The SAT underpredicts women's first-year college grades. So, you have women who earn higher grades in their first year of college than their SAT scores would indicate." She adds: "High school grades are still the best predictor of college success." Test-makers counter that they have worked hard to eliminate bias and have been largely successful--although some residual inequity does remain. They say that the tests are based on the courses students take and mirror students' participation and success in those courses. "The test is a curriculum-based test," says Hayden at ACT. "If you've had, for instance, algebra, you'll score in a certain range. But if you've had trigonometry, you'll score higher. And if you've had calculus, you'll score higher." About 5 percent more boys than girls take those courses, Hayden says, and in a heavily math-based science like physics, for example, about 11 percent more boys enroll. Hayden also makes the point that criticizing the ACT for rewarding speed and guessing cuts both ways. "The English portion of the test requires you to move just as quickly as the math portion does, and it's all multiple choice, too," Hayden says. "But the girls do a lot better than the boys on that. Why? Because they know that stuff better." Critics are unmollified by such arguments from test-makers. "They have responded by blaming the victims and blaming the schools for low SAT scores on the part of women," says Wolfe. "However, we have shown that even those women with the highest grades, sitting in the same high-level math classes in high school with boys, and getting higher grades [than the boys], are still getting lower SAT scores." "The problem with tests like the ACT and the SAT," says Schuman, "is that, even when you match for a student's socioeconomic background, their parents' educations, the courses taken, and the grades received, the gap between the sexes does not entirely close." Some science educators are more willing to give credence to the test-makers' view. "The testing services have gone out of their way to take gender and race out of the test-taking," says Paul Saltman, a professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego. "I assume that those tests were not designed with a gender bias. "But what isn't unbiased," says Saltman, who has also been active in reforming science education in local school systems, "is the environment in which young women grow up in elementary and secondary schools with respect to how science is taught to them, how they perceive science, and how their peers respect girls who are going into science." Saltman says the bias in the test does speak to cultural problems more than it does to test-design flaws. "It tells me that it's not hip, if you're a girl, to be a scientist," he says. "It's easier to be a male nerd than a female nerd, if you want to look at it that way, in terms of the psychosocial values we place on these things. "It's crazy to worry about whether you fix the exam," Saltman adds. "What has to be fixed is how we do science education." (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Environmental Scientists Hail New Forest Service Chief AU : KAREN YOUNG KREEGER TY : NEWS PG : 3 For the first time in its 88-year history, the United States Forest Service has a research scientist at its helm instead of an engineer, a forester, or a public administrator. Environmental researchers are applauding the appointment of Jack Ward Thomas, a wildlife biologist from Oregon, as a breath of fresh air for an agency in the midst of transition from the primarily timber commodity-based outlook of the past decade to an ecosystem-based approach. As the new chief, "Jack will be a strong advocate for the [Forest Service] to do a better job of integrating science into decisions and policy at the Washington level as well as activities on the ground," says Charles Philpot, a plant chemist and station director of the Pacific Northwest Research Station, the Forest Service (FS) research branch for Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. "I think we'll see a shift back to more technical capability on the management side and more opportunities on the research side to strengthen our science programs." Philpot says that this strengthening will primarily manifest itself in enabling FS researchers to conduct more basic science, rather than applied studies related to forest management. However, he adds, "We may be in a position to hire more scientists, but that's unlikely because of other constraints on the federal government. What we'll be doing a lot more of, I suspect, is hiring scientists through contracts, postdocs, and those kinds of opportunities." Forest Research, the independent scientific arm of FS and one of its four divisions, is composed of roughly 700 scientists who conduct research within eight regional stations and one forest products laboratory; it draws on a broad spectrum of disciplines, from economics to ecology. Its roster of scientists does not include researchers who conduct resource management and technology transfer work. The agency's research budget is roughly 12 percent of FS's 1994 total appropriated budget. Many of Thomas's research colleagues outside FS also view his appointment as a positive move for the agency. Gene Likens, an ecologist and director of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., remarks that this "is a wonderful opportunity for FS to take a new leadership role," especially by incorporating the concerns of environmental scientists into consideration of forest management issues. Bernard Bormann, a plant physiologist with the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station laboratory in Corvallis, Ore., adds that Thomas "can bring a new vision and develop a new mandate for FS in general, and his call for developing a new definition of conservation that will head us into the 21st century is an excellent approach." Researchers also feel that Thomas's appointment will have positive implications for scientists outside FS. "I think we'll see his influence on Congress, for example, in influencing how politicians might look at political support for scientific programs.... I think he will be used as a resource for documenting why it's important for agencies in the federal government to have independent research arms," says Philpot. In his new position for just over a month, Thomas explains his approach to the future of FS: "As a scientist, I will try to ensure that the best science available is brought to bear on our land-management decisions; but, on the other hand, I want to make it clear that, at least in my mind, science is not the overriding factor. Science merely provides guidance to decision-makers.... Ultimately some warm human being has to make the decision. These decisions encompass social values, economic demand, and budgeting and funding." Appointment Controversy Although much of the research community has welcomed his appointment, Thomas has been directly involved in controversial plans for managing national forests. These planning documents advocate a compromise for protecting the threatened northern spotted owl and its old-growth forest ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest while reallocating and decreasing areas of the forests for timber harvest, which in turn directly affect timber-dependent communities. Last April, President Bill Clinton selected Thomas as leader of a team of scientists who would produce a plan for managing forest ecosystems. Reactions from the timber community to his appointment as FS chief run from guarded to negative, concentrating on his involvement in forestry management issues and the method of his appointment. At the same time, conservation advocates are cheering the selection. Mark Shaffer, vice president for resource planning and economics with the research division of the Wilderness Society, a national environmental advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., asserts that although "we may not fully agree on the dimensions of the proposed solution to the ancient forest issue in the Pacific Northwest, Jack Ward Thomas certainly provided credible leadership in both the scientific and policy fields ... the kind of leadership the FS really needs." On the other hand, Chad Oliver, a silviculturist at the University of Washington's College of Forest Resources, who has reviewed forest plans that Thomas proposed, states that he "is worried that [Thomas] represents a rather extreme preservationist position, such as those that came out in the options that he gave" in the ancient forest plan. William McKillop, a resource economist with the University of California, Berkeley, College of Natural Resources, who has also reviewed the Thomas plan, attributes his discontent with the appointment to the current administration, not Thomas the scientist, saying, "The issue doesn't concern Jack Ward Thomas's qualifications ... but rather the choice of the Clinton administration to require someone who does not have a timber connection." Chris West, vice president of the Northwest Forestry Association, based in Portland, Ore., a timber trade association that includes biological scientists in its constituency, says, "The biggest issue to us is for the first time the chief has become a political appointee," referring to another criticism that has been voiced--that Thomas did not come up through the senior executive service, a group of high-level administrators from which the Office of Personnel Management can choose senior government executives. West adds, "We respect Jack for his expertise as a wildlife biologist and we'll just have to see, in terms of [being] an administrator, how he does." Ecosystem Management Thomas sees one of his roles as FS head as that of a synthesizer of the interests of the many groups the Forest Service of the future must deal with. "We'll take a broader view of things than we have in the past ... we will consider conditions over a much longer period ... forests and lands will be cared for in a way so that they'll be productive generation after generation," he says. This philosophy of thinking on a larger scale is called ecosystem management, a new direction for FS, and, according to Thomas, also "includes economics and the welfare of people who are part of that ecosystem." But Jackie Lang, state coordinator for the Oregon Lands Coalition, a grass-roots organization representing the interests of communities based on timber, grazing, mining, and recreation economies, says, "We're not taking issue with the fact that science is a critical component in the decision-making process; however, we reject the idea that science alone is the decision-maker .... We don't need a scientist in charge of the FS; we need a public policymaker who understands the big picture." Thomas's supporters assert, however, that he indeed has a solid grasp of the big picture. "One of the things we'll see from Jack is that he's not going to say that science is an end-all--he recognizes quite clearly that there are a lot of things besides science that influence policy and management, [and] that we have to account for all of them.... I think Jack Thomas will take the position that both healthy ecosystems and healthy economies are important ... and he'll give strong treatment to both," says Tom Hamilton, an economist and associate deputy chief for research at FS in Washington, D.C. Thomas began his career with the Forest Service in 1966 in Morgantown, W.Va., where he studied forest-wildlife relationships. From there he worked in Amherst, Mass., in urban forestry and wildlife biology. Since 1974, he has been the chief research wildlife biologist and project leader of the Forestry and Range Sciences Laboratory, a part of the FS Pacific Northwest Research Station, in La Grande, Ore. He received his Ph.D. in forestry from the University of Massachusetts and currently holds adjunct professorships at four universities. Thomas is author of about 275 publications, primarily in the areas of large-game biology, wildlife habitat, northern spotted owl management, and land- use planning. Karen Young Kreeger is a freelance science writer based in Broomall, Pa. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Naval Lab `Experimentalist' Honored With Bower Award AU : EDWARD R. SILVERMAN TY : NEWS PG : 4 Isabella L. Karle, who pioneered new ways to study the three-dimensional structure of molecules, making use of both X-ray and electron diffraction, has been selected to receive the 1993 Bower Award and Prize in Science. The four-year-old award, which consists of a gold medal and a cash prize of $250,000, will be presented in April by Philadelphia's Franklin Institute Science Museum to honor outstanding work in the life or physical sciences.The international committee that chose the 72-year-old chemist, who becomes the first woman to win the award, said that Karle is being recognized for facilitating wide-ranging research in chemistry, biology, and medicine. Her specialty, three-dimensional molecular modeling--which relies on detailed X-ray structures to determine accuracy and parameters--has contributed to the discovery of new pharmaceutical agents for many diseases. But Karle, a senior scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C., stresses that it was her husband, Jerome, who developed theories about X-ray crystallography that she pursued. "I'm an experimentalist," she says. She taught herself X-ray crystallography from textbooks and then developed techniques for studying crystals, which led to a greater understanding of their three-dimensional nature and the effect on physical and biological properties. "What she came up with is now being used by crystallographers throughout the world," says Drake Eggleston, an associate fellow at SmithKline Beecham in Philadelphia. "We used to have to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to understand structures. Now our understanding occurs faster." Practical Applications Karle earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1944, when she was 22 years old. At Michigan, she met her husband, also a Ph.D. student in chemistry. After graduation, both Karles worked in Chicago on the Manhattan Project and then returned to Ann Arbor. At the end of World War II, they went to Washington, where they landed jobs at the Naval Research Lab, which was willing to hire them both. "The problem was that we were looking for academic jobs, and we couldn't get work in the same city," she says, citing as reasons universities' anti-nepotism policies, bias against women, and not enough research funding in smaller towns for both of them. Her husband--now chief scientist at NRL's Laboratory for the Structure of Matter--began working on so-called direct methods for analyzing crystal structures. Along with a collaborator, Herbert A. Hauptman of the Medical Foundation of Buffalo, Jerome Karle received a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1985 for contributions to crystallography. In the 1950s, Isabella Karle sought practical applications for her husband's mathematical theories. In 1963, she introduced the "Symbolic Addition Procedure," which revolutionized the types and complexity of problems that can be solved by analyzing crystal structures. "She kind of took a chance by being the first one to demonstrate belief in her husband's theory," says Eggleston. "Of course, there wasn't much to lose. But direct methods allow us to solve any structure these days." In her own research, Isabella Karle has applied the techniques she developed to the study of a wide variety of substances. These include crystals distilled from frog venom that produces toxins--which block specific nerve impulses-- and the rearranged atomic bonds found in thymine, a component of DNA, when it is irradiated. Today, Isabella Karle heads the X-ray diffraction section of NRL's Laboratory for the Structure of Matter. She has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1978. She's also served as president of the American Crystallographic Association. As for her plans for the prize money, she is rather demur. "There are many things to do with it," she says, hinting that she may give some portion of it away. "But I don't want to promise anything at this point." Also selected to receive an award from the Franklin Institute in April is Robert W. Galvin, chairman of the executive committee at Motorola Inc. of Schaumburg, Ill., for his efforts to improve quality and achieve customer satisfaction while building Motorola into a world-class semiconductor company. The award to be given to Galvin, the Bower Award for Business Leadership, does not include a cash prize. The Bower awards were established in 1989 as part of the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial Awards. They were made possible by a $7.5 million bequest from Henry Bower, a Philadelphia chemical manufacturer. Edward R. Silverman is a freelance writer based in Millburn, N.J. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: NOTEBOOK ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : The Big Apple Recognizes Science TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 The Mayor's Awards for Excellence in Science and Technology, organized and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), were presented last month by New York Mayor David N. Dinkins at Gracie Mansion, the mayor's abode. David D. Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center for the City of New York at New York University School of Medicine, was honored in the field of biological and medical sciences for his "fundamental research" on HIV-1 and AIDS. Ho first identified the AIDS virus in the central nervous systems of patients with AIDS dementia, and his ongoing research and the reputation of the center has attracted "scores of scientists from all over the world," according to NYAS. In the category of technology, Stanley Baron, managing director of the Manhattan-based National Broadcasting Co., received a Mayor's Award for his technical and standardization contributions to digital television image processing, graphics, and automation of tape library record and playback systems. Leslie E. Robertson, senior partner in New York-based Leslie E. Robertson Associates and the designer of three of the world's tallest buildings--the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the tallest building in Asia, the Bank of China in Hong Kong--received the award for "innovative structural engineering designs that have advanced worldwide designs and practices." He was also honored for having "nurtured the careers of many young engineers." (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Energetic Endeavor TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 For its 12th annual Duracell/National Science Teachers Association Scholarship Competition, the sponsoring battery- maker has increased the number of winners and the method of rewarding the 9th- through 12th-graders whose battery- powered inventions will garner one of the 100 prizes to be awarded. The competition will now grant United States savings bonds to the winners, with one first-place winner receiving a $20,000 bond, five second-place finishers netting $10,000 bonds each, 10 third-place winners garnering $1,000 bonds, 25 fourth-place winners receiving $200 bonds, and $100 bonds for each of 59 fifth-place finishers. In addition, every student to submit a complete entry will receive a wallet, and the teachers of the top 100 finalists will also get gifts, with an IBM PSI computer system going to the sponsoring teachers of the top six finishers. To enter, students must design and build a battery-powered device (using Duracell batteries) that is educational, useful, and/or entertaining, and submit a written description, a wiring diagram, and a photo of the device by January 21. For information, contact the Duracell/NSTA Scholarship Competition, 1840 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22201-3000; (703) 243-7100. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Postdocs In Government Labs TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 The National Research Council has announced its 1994 Resident, Cooperative, and Postdoctoral Research Associates Programs, which provide opportunities for Ph.D. scientists and engineers to pursue their research in 140 participating federal agency and research institution laboratories throughout the United States. Roughly 350 new full-time associateships will be awarded on a competitive basis in the areas of chemistry; earth and atmospheric sciences; engineering and applied sciences; biological, health, and behavioral sciences and biotechnology; mathematics; space and planetary sciences; and physics. The awards are made for one or two years, and are renewable to a maximum of three years, with stipends averaging $35,000 to $45,000 annually, plus some relocation and travel expenses. Applications are accepted throughout the year; deadlines for consideration in 1994 are January 15, April 15, and August 15. For information, contact Associateship Programs (TJ 2094/D2), National Research Council, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418; (202) 334-2760. Fax: (202) 334-2759. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Teaching Teachers About The Sea TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 A $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, coupled with an $80,000 contribution from the Pew Charitable Trusts of Philadelphia, will enable the Sea Education Association (SEA) to greatly expand its SEA Experience summer research and education program for science teachers. The five-week SEA Experience program gives teachers an opportunity to learn about oceanography, collaborate with ocean scientists and mariners, and apply their experiences to develop an ocean-based classroom curriculum. Teachers pursue intensive on-shore studies in oceanography and nautical science on SEA's Woods Hole, Mass., campus, and then live and work aboard SEA's two research ships conducting investigations in the North Atlantic. The grants will enable the nonprofit educational organization to double the number of teachers participating in the program, include elementary schoolteachers, and pay for educational consultants to assist in creating an enhanced program. For information, contact SEA, P.O. Box 6, Woods Hole, Mass.; (508) 540-3954. Fax: (508) 457-4673. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : New NAS Publishing Outlet TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 The National Academy Press, publisher of studies conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, has announced the creation of a new publishing branch. Joseph Henry Press, named after NAS's second president and a prominent early American scientist, will acquire and publish books on a broad range of science topics for a wider audience, including young scientists and interested lay readers. The new publishing arm is actively seeking manuscripts and book proposals. For information, contact Joseph Henry Press, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418; (202) 334-3180. Fax: (202) 334- 2793. Internet: (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Scientists In Congress TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 Applications are now being accepted for 1994-95 American Institute of Physics and American Physical Society Congressional Science Fellowships, in which Ph.D. scientists spend a year as legislative assistants to members of Congress or committees, providing their expertise in consideration of science-based issues while also gaining insight into the political process. The AIP/APS program is one of 20 professional society programs of this sort organized under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1988. According to AAAS, several fellows have remained on in prominent positions in government. Qualifications include a Ph.D. in physics, U.S. citizenship, and membership in an AIP member society. Application materials are due January 15. For information, contact Audrey T. Leath at AIP, (301) 209-3094. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: OPINION ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : NSF's Neal Lane: In Pursuit Of `Strategic Basic Research' AU : FRANKLIN HOKE TY : OPINION PG : 11 ----- Editor's Note: As Neal Lane settles into his new job as director of the National Science Foundation, his enthusiasm is tempered by a clear understanding of the formidable challenges facing him, his agency, and the United States research community in general. While confident that the nation can maintain its scientific leadership internationally, the 55-year-old physicist and former Rice University provost acknowledges that, if American science is to fulfill its mission, it must do so in the context of a rapidly changing global environment, with all countries seeking to reshape and reidentify themselves in the post-Cold War world. Foremost among NSF's objectives, Lane contends, is the identification and support of scientific endeavors that accommodate both the individual investigator's inclination to pursue pure research and the nation's need for applications of scientific discovery. Such applications could come, for example, in the form of advanced technology and commercial products that shore up America's commanding position in the increasingly competitive world economy. In discussing agency goals in this regard, Lane uses the phrase "strategic basic research"--an idea that may well serve him in his efforts to balance pressures from Congress for NSF to do more immediately useful work against the urgings of supporters of basic, curiosity-driven, untargeted investigations. In a recent exclusive interview with Senior Editor Franklin Hoke--conducted shortly after Lane was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as NSF director--he expressed his views on the direction that, if he has his way, the agency is likely to take in the near future. Following is an edited presentation of that interview. ---- Q Dependable year-to-year federal funding support is, of course, vital to basic research and other efforts--programs in science education, for instance. As you look at 1994, do you foresee any areas where maintaining current NSF support levels may be especially difficult for you? A Continuity of support is certainly important to individual scientists and engineers and also to the programs. But because of fluctuations in the annual federal appropriation, it's sometimes a challenge to provide that continuity. Large construction projects, for example, have to be planned well in advance, and they have to be funded adequately on an annual basis. Otherwise, they get stretched out, and the overall cost goes up. In a bad year they can really squeeze the research budgets. You try to resist that. But it is a balancing act. Q What are some of the large projects that you feel must move forward, even if their high expense would necessitate cuts in other areas of the NSF budget? A The one that looms large right now is the LIGO [Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory] project. That project is very good science, the timing is right to go forward, and it's a fully approved project--it's just a matter of getting the money. I might also mention the FCCSET [Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology] initiatives-- the federal strategic initiatives where the foundation enters into interagency agreements. These are the things like high- performance computing and communications, advanced-manufacturing technology, and advanced-materials processing. We try to meet those interagency agreements, of course, and in a tight budget year, that could cause other research that does not happen to fit within one or another of the strategic definitions of the initiatives to get squeezed. Q Regarding priorities, are there any programs for which you would hope to find more support? A The area of education and human resources--along with the FCCSET initiatives I've mentioned--is clearly a high priority for the country and an area of emphasis for NSF. By continuing to emphasize these initiatives, we really are doing something that is very important for the science, engineering, and technical foundations of the country. I include the national information infrastructure initiative because high-performance computing and communications really provide the technical foundation for a much larger initiative that seeks to bring technology to all aspects of people's lives--education, health care, and every area in which information and the rapid transmission of it can be helpful to the country. Q Your agency increasingly has become involved in fostering technology transfer between academia and industry as a means of strengthening the United States economy. What kind of priority do you expect to give to technology transfer and related issues of economic competitiveness? A Projects that academic researchers work on deal with some very fundamental or, we sometimes say, foundational questions. These people are involved in making discoveries about the way nature works, and many NSF researchers, by working with industry directly and by educating students who go on to work in industry, transfer new technologies and knowledge to a whole wealth of applications, frequently industrial applications. New knowledge is the goal, and new technology has often come out of the research process, particularly in the experimental pursuit of new knowledge. That's why the connections between industry and the universities are so important. I believe that the only way that technology really gets transferred is through close interaction between people. These interactions with industry are very important for both the universities and the industry. Now, I think it would be a mistake if we were to change the objectives of NSF programs so that they were narrowly focused on producing new technologies and transferring them to industry. That's not what most university researchers are good at, and industry knows that. Industry doesn't want to see that kind of change in the NSF mission; I really don't believe anyone does. Q But pressure to do more targeted research that will meet national needs has been growing. What's your view of the pressure being applied by Sen. Barbara Mikulski [D-Md.] and others in this regard? A Over half of the research that NSF supports is strategic or targeted research, that is, research in fields that have been identified as being directly relevant to some of the nation's highest-priority needs. However, the research that is supported in these areas is very fundamental, and it meets the high standards of review that NSF requires. Now we are being asked to see if we can't fund more basic research in strategic areas, and that request certainly is entirely understandable and not unreasonable. I don't believe we're really being asked to perform applied research. Q You are not, then, anticipating a dramatic change in direction for your agency? A The nation has serious problems. All of us should contribute to their solution in whatever ways we can. The question is, can NSF do more of that, and I don't know the answer. Perhaps it can. It's a question of balance. If we can support more strategic basic research without lowering the standards of merit that have long characterized the success of the foundation and the community it supports, then there's no law that I'm aware of that says exactly what fraction of strategic research it is appropriate to fund. Q Much has been said about changes in our national science and technology goals since the end of the Cold War. NSF is not a Department of Energy entity, of course, but what effect do you think the changes on the international scene are having, or will have, on NSF? A The strategic initiatives I mentioned earlier are based on this change in the world. Some of the initiatives have directly to do with the competitiveness of our country in the global market, and some of them--those pertaining to the environment, for example--have to do with the quality of life of U.S. citizens and other people in the world. The research community will continue to be asked to provide the underpinnings of the knowledge base and technology that are important in these various areas of application. And I expect the research community will be responsive. Q How do you regard the notion that this responsiveness, in terms of practical applications, may compromise or dilute basic, so-called curiosity-driven research? A Our scientists, engineers, and educators understand that the reason the federal government funds their research activities is because the results of such research are expected to be of value to the people. What drives them individually is the fundamental curiosity about how nature works, the opportunity to work with bright and interesting young people in the universities, and so forth. But I think researchers entirely understand that the expectation is that the results of their work are for the good of humankind. Sometimes, it is hard to predict exactly in what time frame these results will pay off, but it is expected that ultimately they will be valuable. Q The National Academy of Sciences' COSEPUP [Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy] issued a report last year [Science, Technology, and the Federal Government: National Goals for a New Era, Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 1993] suggesting, that we should fund selected research areas in which the U.S. can establish clear global leadership. Do you find this policy framework a useful one? A We have an international effort here at the foundation and have had for some time, and I think that international concerns are going to be as important, if not more important, in the future than they have been in the past. It is very important that we maintain good, close interactions between our scientists and engineers and those in other countries, and exchange ideas and knowledge. We will be the beneficiary of that kind of openness, so that's pretty high on my agenda. The foundation and the science community have long considered international comparison as one metric for assessing where a field is at a particular time. There are good reasons for that: Even if you aren't the world leader in a particular field of science, unless you have some of the best scientists working in that area, and you are making discoveries, you really can't take advantage of discoveries in that field that are made elsewhere. You must have your people interacting with people in other countries, working right at the edge of the field, so that as a discovery is made someplace else it can be picked up here. Sometimes those discoveries, as I pointed out earlier, are of immediate importance to one or another application, and the way to make sure that that application can occur is to be sure that we have people working right at the cutting edge of that same area of science. Q No matter what skills a leader brings to his or her job, there are limits to what can actually be accomplished. Limiting factors can include budgetary constraints, institutional inertia, and policy opposition. Do you anticipate these kinds of broader impedi- ments in any particular areas that you'd like to succeed in? A Realistically, budgets are a constraint. We always have many more good ideas out there than we can support. That's been true for a very long time at NSF, so you always feel somewhat constrained. We set our priorities, and we evaluate programs, and we believe that we allocate the funds in a way that is in the best interest of the country in support of science and engineering. But there are many opportunities that we're really not able to follow up on just because the funds are limited. Q Do you expect to see any relief from budgetary constraints in the near future? A The nation is having tough times. The economy remains a great concern, and the efforts to control the budget deficit are serious and important. So we recognize that there are not likely to be large increases in many budgets over the next several years. But I think there is strong support for NSF, I think there is strong support for the community of scientists and engineers that we fund, and I think there are great opportunities here for the future of these fields. Q Do you need anything from the community of scientists and engineers in support of what you want to do? Do you need them to do something for you? A It is very important that scientists and engineers realize why the tax dollars of the public are used to support research and education. I also think that as the mission agencies begin to develop their programs in support of national needs, it will be important for the researchers to be responsive. We have many scientists and engineers out there whose interests could be much broader, perhaps, than they have been in recent years. There are real opportunities for those who want to pursue somewhat different areas of research. So, it would be very helpful if our colleagues in the universities and colleges would open their minds to some of these larger questions that society is asking and that the federal government is trying to address, to see if there are ways that they can be helpful as individuals or collectively. Q Looking ahead, what are your expectations for science in the U.S.? What do you see in your crystal ball? A Well, I certainly don't have a crystal ball, but I'm optimistic about the future of the country and of science, engineering, and technology in particular. And I base that optimism on the fact that we do have the finest system of higher education in the world. We're being very aggressive in addressing some problems we feel we have in K-12 education. We have a very strong science and engineering infrastructure in place: the laboratories, the people, and the educational process. Industry is reaching out to universities, and universities are responding. There are examples of partnerships between government and industry, between different federal agencies, and between federal and state governments. In other words, teams are forming, and whenever Americans form a team, history tells us, they are very hard to beat. So, I feel quite positive about the future. I expect that we're actually going to solve some of these major problems. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: COMMENTARY ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : There Are Reasons For Optimism As We Launch The New Year AU : Eugene Garfield TY : OPINION (COMMENTARY) PG : 12 Although the United States research community had its share of problems during 1993--a depressed job market, congressional budget cutting, the demise of the superconducting supercollider, and so forth--it was a banner year in many respects, as well, yielding abundant cause for us to be optimistic as we enter the new year. Our hopes should by buoyed, for instance, by the knowledge that the National Institutes of Health is now led by Harold Varmus, a distinguished biologist. Varmus appears eager to defend the clear merits of basic biomedical investigation and to voice the demand, on behalf of the nation's bench scientists, for the financial--and philosophical--support that curiosity-driven research clearly deserves. Not unrelated is the sense of confidence we can gain from the recent appointment of Neal Lane as director of the National Science Foundation. On page 11 of this issue, we present an exclusive interview with Lane, who also appears to understand the value of untargeted research. Lane, of course, will have his hands full in his efforts to accommodate the interests of pure research while under pressure from powerful figures in government and industry who insist that federally supported science must have a practical, fiscal, near-term--if not immediate--payoff. Also most gratifying during the past year was the momentum achieved by those organizations and individuals dedicated to the eradication of sexual harassment from the scientific workplace and the fair treatment of women researchers. The articles on the front page of the current issue underscore the progress that's being made regarding these concerns; the elaborate projects under way at the Association for Women in Science and other organizations, along with evidence of a rising consciousness throughout the science community, are indeed heartening. Looking back over The Scientist's coverage during 1993, I remain particularly encouraged by a front-page photo we ran in our October 18 issue: It pictured Hillary Rodham Clinton gazing admiringly at Mary Lasker, a long-time supporter of basic research; the captured moment signaled to me that the interests of the nation's individual investigators have an appropriately high position on the Clinton agenda. The interests of biomedical scientists are of vital concern to me, as publisher, since the overwhelming percentage of our 50,000-plus readers are NIH grantees--among them more than 90 percent of the members of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and of the American Federation for Clinical Research. Members of these two groups alone account for a huge percentage of NIH extramural grants, not to mention grants from such private foundations as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. While a significant, and increasing, number of our readers are industry-supported researchers, it should be clear that the prospects for The Scientist's continuing success are closely intertwined with the professional prospects of our academic readership, as well, and their success in securing NIH's support. Repeated studies give me good reason to believe that The Scientist plays a unique role as a vital news and opinion source for America's scientific community. While we all suffer from information overload, our readers tell us that they find our publication both useful and enjoyable. In 1994, we'll continue our in-depth coverage of major news events, employment-related issues, research breakthroughs and emerging patterns, and the latest innovations in laboratory tools and technology. And we'll continue presenting incisive opinions and commentaries by and about the men and women who are shaping the science community. Many uncertainties face us all as we enter the new year. We can only hope, for instance, that the sluggish U.S. economy will regain energy; we can only hope that President Clinton's health care reform and free-trade programs will materialize as beneficial for both science and society; and we can only hope that Congress will play a proper role in supporting the nation's research activities. As the year progresses, The Scientist's readers can depend on us to keep them up to date on these and other crucially important matters. At the same time, we at The Scientist will depend on our readers to keep us up to date on their personal views concerning the issues of the day as well as their reactions to our publication. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: LETTERS ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Integrated Education AU : J.D. ANDRADE TY : OPINION (LETTERS) PG : 12 I enjoyed your Opinion page in the Oct. 18, 1993, issue, written by six students from the University of Miami [R. Andreasen, et al., page 11]. Their perspective, their diagnosis, and their recommen- dation for treatment of high school education is insightful and, from my experience, most appropriate. Our own small effort, the Center for Integrated Science Education at the University of Utah, is focused on applying most of their recommendations at the elemen- tary and junior high level. We have found that the teachers and the public education community in general are very responsive to our initiatives and generally want to enhance the educational experience for their students. A major part of the problem in major research universities is the way science is taught. At our institution, we are so stringently organized along departmental lines that only the most interdisciplinary individuals have an interest in looking at science in a more integrated fashion--in relating their expertise to other courses and other subjects. "Cold fusion" could have originated only in a university where physicists and chemists rarely communicate. There are very few institutional incentives to facilitate interdisciplinary communication. It is therefore difficult for a high school teacher who obtains his or her credentials from such an institution to effectively involve students or to integrate science in the high school environment. None of this will substantially change until department chairpersons, deans, vice presidents, and presidents of major research institutions do more than give lip service to these problems. Until that happens, only a small fraction of the faculty will have the commitment, the foresight, and the uncommon sense to involve their students in science in the manner so eloquently presented by those six Miami undergraduates. J.D. ANDRADE Center for Integrated Science Education University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah 84112 (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Gel Scanners AU : GREGG HOFF TY : OPINION (LETTERS) PG : 12 I disagree with the evaluation of gel scanner systems in the Oct. 4, 1993, issue of The Scientist [C.D. Potter, page 18]. The article states that gel scanners are "expensive" when compared to gel documentation systems. This statement is potentially misleading. The article does not distinguish between gel documentation systems, which primarily perform one function, and gel scanners, which may perform a wide range of functions, including analysis, databasing, and documentation. Dedicated gel documentation systems may be the best choice for labs that need only documentation. But for labs that need documentation and analysis, a gel scanner system with documentation capabilities may be a cost-effective option. If you wanted to focus on only one type of system, you should have either omitted reference to gel scanners or explained how the systems are used for other applications. Dismissing the systems as merely "expensive" is a disservice to readers. GREG HOFF Millipore Corp. 80 Ashby Rd. Bedford, Mass. 01730-9125 (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Fetal Tissue Ethics AU : ROLAND F. HIRSCH TY : OPINION (LETTERS) PG : 12 I read the article on fetal tissue research in your October 4 issue [M.E. Watanabe, page 1] with interest. However, it is not a balanced picture of this topic. Reputable medical researchers have expressed doubts about the potential utility of fetal-tissue transplants. The article should have included these viewpoints. The more serious flaw in the presentation was its lack of consideration of ethical issues. The moratorium referred to in the article was on research with tissue from induced abortions, not on all research in this field. There are legitimate concerns that clinical use of fetal tissue for transplants will in many cases require scheduled (not elective) abortions. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a brain surgery team waiting for an abortion to just happen so that the tissue is available for their use. The scheduling problem will lead to women being recruited and paid to have abortions. What controls could prevent this, considering the frequency with which existing regulations, such as on late- term abortions, are violated? A related concern is that some proposed transplantation procedures would require tissue from babies late in pregnancy, often in the range at which they could live if born. Should young lives be sacrificed to potentially help older people? I do not believe that medical researchers should blindly go ahead to develop procedures that could violate the standards that make us civilized. The author should have offered references for readers interested in the question. ROLAND F. HIRSCH 20458 Waters Point Lane Germantown, Md. 20874-1091 (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: RESEARCH ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Defense Giants Face Post-Cold War Research Challenge TY : RESEARCH PG : 15 Editor's Note: Now that the Cold War is history, it's clear that the United States' mighty defense and aerospace firms increasingly will be pursuing profit in areas other than the development of military weaponry. According to the newsletter Science Watch--published by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in Philadelphia--the effectiveness with which these corporations refocus their product-development attention from swords to plowshares is likely to depend greatly on their basic scientific research capabilities. To gain insights on the research strengths of nine defense and aerospace giants, the newsletter undertook a study of their 1981-92 journal citation records. Following is Science Watch's report (4[1]:1-2, 1993), reprinted here with permission of the newsletter and ISI. Many defense and aerospace firms in the United States and other nations are quickly discovering what it takes to survive in a post-Cold War world--and it's not business as usual. As a wave of articles in financial and trade publications is telling us, many defense contractors have responded to slackening demand by selling off peripheral or weak business lines (often to their stronger competitors); by attempting to redirect their military manufacturing capabilities to civilian projects; and, generally, by downsizing. To twist a familiar phrase, defense companies are starting to worry and learning how not to love the bomb so much. During these times of turbulent transition, each defense company will be scrutinizing its scientific and technological base to determine how best to adapt to the new environment. While aircraft and weapons manufacturers are quintessential technology shops, technology is to some degree dependent on basic research and scientific expertise. The research activities of a firm may be only partly--or at times even poorly--reflected in the pages of the journals indexed by ISI for its Science Citation Index, especially if they represent proprietary knowledge or classified work that may be actively kept from public view. But even a partial picture may be sufficient to indicate areas of significant activity and strength. With these limitations in mind, Science Watch reviewed the publication records of nine leading U.S.-based aerospace and defense contractors to assess their research performance over the last decade, to determine their relative rankings, and to identify areas of strength for each. All journal articles by these companies, published between January 1981 and June 1992, were extracted from ISI's Science Indicators Database, and their citation counts were tabulated. The results of this analysis show that Rockwell International Corp. and Lockheed Corp. stand out as the research leaders in the group. Papers from both companies attained the highest citations-per-paper averages (reflected in the citation impact column on the accompanying table), and their citation impact scores rose steadily since the period 1983-87. General Dynamics Corp., by contrast, achieved a relatively low, albeit consistent, altitude in terms of citation impact. The table provides further statistics, such as the percentage of papers published from 1981 through June 1992 that remained uncited by the end of June 1992, and the percentage of a firm's papers cited 25 times or more. Both tend to correlate with the ranking by citation impact. For example, Rockwell International, first in citation impact, exhibits the lowest percentage of uncited papers and the highest percentage of papers cited 25 times or more. General Dynamics, on the other hand, the lowest ranked in the group in impact, exhibits the highest percentage of uncited papers and the lowest percentage of highly cited papers. Although all nine companies operate within the same business sector, their research activities differ significantly. And since different fields of research show different average citation rates, the rank order of the companies in terms of citation impact should be viewed as only a partial indicator of research strength. To the extent that any company publishes exclusively or disproportionately in a low-impact area, such as aerospace engineering, it would suffer in comparison to a firm that is active in one or more higher- impact fields, such as condensed-matter physics. What is perhaps the most telling scientometric statistic of a company's research strength is how its citations-per-paper record, at whatever level characteristic for its mix of research, changes against itself over time. An examination of the highly cited papers for each company reveals the following: * Rockwell International shows significant strength in semiconductor research, especially in studies of gallium- arsenide materials, and in ceramic-based composite materials. * Lockheed researchers have been particularly active in exploring the new high-temperature superconductors, as well as in a variety of astrophysical experiments in collab- oration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and academic institutions. * McDonnell Douglas Corp.'s diverse research record includes studies of semiconductor materials, structures, and fabrication techniques; plasma physics; and lithium niobate materials. * Martin Marietta Corp. scientists have been focusing on aluminum powder metallurgy technology; surface science topics, such as metal-polymer bonds; and plant science, especially photosynthesis. * Raytheon Co. researchers published extensively on metal- organic vapor deposition of thin films. * Boeing Co. focused sharply on materials science and X-ray absorption spectroscopic studies of various compounds. Its researchers were also active in knowledge acquisition algorithms for expert systems. * Northrop Corp. researchers consistently published papers dealing with pulsed excimer lasers, gyrotrons, and optical storage devices and pattern recognition. * Grumman Corp. papers reveal a particular interest in A1- based alloys, in photovoltaic cells, and in fusion research. * General Dynamics researchers also explored A1-based alloys, as well as crack propagation in various materials and pattern recognition algorithms. What, overall, are the main areas of research in the defense and aerospace labs? A study of the most frequently cited papers published between 1988-92 reveals the following subjects: condensed-matter physics, especially superconductivity; aspects of semiconductor science, especially GaAlAs/GaAs structures; thin-film preparation techniques; composite materials; optical data storage; and astrophysics. Many pundits predict problems for defense contractors who hope to shift from military to civilian manufacturing. While the challenges are great, the specialized scientific and technological expertise these firms possess remains one of the U.S.'s most valuable assets. If these assets are smartly managed, they may produce significant returns, not just on the military side but on the civilian side of the economy, as well. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : U.S. DEFENSE AND AEROSPACE CONTRACTORS (ranked by citation impact) RANK NAME PAPERS CITATIONS CITATION PERCENT PERCENT 1981-82 1981-82 IMPACT UNCITED CITED +/- 25 TIMES 1 ROCKWELL 2,566 14,777 5.76 42.36 5.81 2 LOCKHEED 2,534 11,962 4.72 45.30 4.18 3 MCDONNELL 1,079 3,880 3.62 52.55 2.50 DOUGLAS 4 MARTIN 913 3,169 3.47 53.89 3.27 MARIETTA 5 RAYTHEON 478 1,375 2.88 53.14 2.72 6 BOEING 1,124 3,012 2.68 56.41 2.05 7 NORTHROP 350 908 2.59 54.29 0.86 8 GRUMMAN 453 1,010 2.23 58.50 1.32 9 GENERAL 389 528 1.36 68.64 0.51 DYNAMICS Source: Science Watch/ISI's Science Indicators Database, January 1981-June 1992 (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: RESEARCH ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : MOLECULAR BIOLOGY TY : RESEARCH (HOT PAPERS) PG : 16 X.-k. Zhang, B. Hoffmann, P.B.V. Tran, G. Graupner, M. Pfahl, "Retinoid X receptor is an auxiliary protein for thyroid hormone and retinoic acid receptors," Nature, 355:441-6, 1992. Magnus Pfahl (La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation, Calif.): "Thyroid hormones as well as the vitamin A-derived hormones (retinoids) influence a myriad of biological processes, including such complex programs as metamorphosis and morphogenesis. Retinoids have also drawn particular attention in recent years because of their effectiveness against a number of skin diseases (including wrinkles) and their potential as anti- cancer and cancer-preventive agents. However, use of retinoids and thyroid hormones as therapeutics has been hampered by undesirable side effects-- which, for instance, in the case of retinoids range all the way from slight skin irritations to malformation in fetuses. Because of the manifold roles of both thyroid and retinoid hormones, and their potential as therapeutics, their mechanism of action has been of particular interest. "A major advance toward understanding this was achieved by the cloning of specific nuclear receptors. The receptors turned out to belong to a large family of transcription factors that also included the steroid hormone receptors. In concert with their multiple biological roles, multiple receptors were found to exist: two thyroid hormone receptors (TRa and TRb) and six retinoid receptors. The retinoid receptors fall into two groups, the retinoic acid receptors (RARa, b, and g) and the retinoid X receptors (RXRa, b, and g). Since these receptors were structurally related to the steroid hormone receptors, it was first believed that they also functioned like those--that is, bind as homodimers to specific DNA sequences (hormone response elements). However, it turned out that TRs and RARs (as well as RXRs) were relatively poor DNA binders but that their binding in vitro could be enhanced by nuclear protein extracts. This indicated that the mechanism of action was more complex and required another protein for efficient DNA recognition. "In our paper we show that RXR is this nuclear factor. Thus, RXR, itself a retinoid receptor that requires 9-cis retinoic acid for activation, can serve as a coreceptor for TRs and RARs, receptors that belong to the same subfamily but are activated by very different hormones. An RXR homologue is already found in Drosophila (while TRs and RARs do not exist in insects) and has now also been shown to function there as the partner for the ecdysone receptor. Not surprisingly, then, its role in higher vertebrates turned out to be very broad, as RXRs were found to heterodimerize with the vitamin D3 receptor (VDR) as well as with the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR). Thus, RXRs play a very central role; by heterodimerizing with several hormone and vitamin receptors, they may in fact allow crosstalk between a variety of hormonal pathways and allow an enormous diversity of transcriptional controls. This may account for the pleiotropic effects of these hormones and vitamins. "Because of RXR's central role, we were also particularly interested in the effect of RXR-specific ligands. Surprisingly, we observed 9-cis RA-induced RXR homodimers that act on a subset of retinoic acid-responsive genes (X.- k. Zhang, et al., Nature, 358:587-91, 1992). Thus, an additional retinoid response pathway exists that is controlled by homodimers. We subsequently were able to design retinoids that are selective for RXR homodimers (J.M. Lehmann, et al., Science, 258:1944-46, 1992). Retinoids that induce RXR homodimers can decrease the RXR availability for heterodimerization, and we have recently observed that, indeed, 9-cis RA- and synthetic RXR-selective retinoids can inhibit the thyroid hormone response (J.M. Lehmann, X.-k. Zhang, G. Graupner, et al., Molecular and Cellular Biology, 13:7698-7707, 1993). "Overall, the discovery that RXR is an essential partner for a number of hormone and vitamin receptors by us (and several other laboratories at essentially the same time) reignited tremendously research in this area. A major challenge for the future will be to harness this knowledge into hormone/vitamin-derived therapeutics with optimal efficacy and minimal side effects. For the retinoids, this seems at last now to be feasible." (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : PLANT BIOLOGY TY : RESEARCH (HOT PAPERS) PG : 16 E.E. Farmer, C.A. Ryan, "Octadecanoid precursors of a jasmonic acid activate the synthesis of wound-inducible proteinase inhibitors," Plant Cell, 4:129-34, 1992. Clarence A. Ryan (Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University, Pullman): "The understanding of signaling pathways that regulate genes in response to environmental and developmental signals is a central theme in plant biology. How plants regulate genes in response to insect and pathogen attacks is important to the understanding of both intercellular and intracellular signaling circuits that are fundamental to the plant's survival, as well as in applying this knowledge to improve crop productivity. Recent research in our laboratory has revealed that an 18-amino-acid polypeptide called systemin as well as a small cyclopentanone called jasmonic acid and its methyl ester, methyl jasmonate, are powerful inducers of the synthesis of two serine proteinase inhibitor proteins, called inhibitor I and inhibitor II, that are synthesized as defense proteins in response to insect and pathogen attacks. "We subsequently found that linolenic acid and two intermediates of the biosynthetic pathway between linolenic acid and jasmonic acid are also inducers of the two proteinase inhibitor genes when simply applied to the surface of tomato leaves. The various signaling compounds were incorporated into a hypothetical pathway for proteinase inhibitor gene activation in response to insect and pathogen attacks. In this model, extracellular signals released from attack sites, such as oligouronides (plant cell wall fragments) and the polypeptide systemin, are proposed to interact with the receptor cell membranes to activate a lipase. The lipase in turn is hypothesized to hydrolyze membrane lipids, releasing linolenic acid, which is rapidly converted to jasmonic acid. Jasmonic acid is proposed to interact with factors to activate the inhibitor genes. "The model so far has been supported by several reports that have demonstrated an increase in intracellular jasmonic acid in response to wounding or to various defense signals in a variety of plant species. Jasmonic acid is now known to activate many other types of defensive genes in plants. The molecule had previously been shown to activate the synthesis of storage proteins in plant leaves and had been proposed as a plant growth and senescence regulator. Our paper, in presenting a model signaling pathway for jasmonate synthesis in response to signals, has generated a great deal of interest in the possibility that signaling pathways for other plant genes involving environmental and developmental signals may have similarities to those described in our model. "As the model is more thoroughly understood, it should provide our first detailed understanding of a signaling pathway in plants in which signals that are produced by a known stimulus result in the activation of nuclear genes." (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : DNA Probes Yield Expanded Research And Clinical Uses AU : RICKI LEWIS TY : TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY PG : 17 As the growing numbers of molecular biologists well know, their art and laboratory craft depend on the extrusion of information residing in nucleic acid sequences. It follows that the tool that's come to be known as the DNA probe--a piece of single-stranded DNA that seeks out its complementary sequence in a biological sample--has become increasingly important to them. The capabilities of probes have expanded rapidly in the past few years, and they have become easier to use. These developments have benefited not only basic researchers, but also those engaged in specifically directed investigations-- in diagnostics, forensics, and epidemiology, for example. The technology's applications continue to increase, and DNA probes are now "well entrenched" in molecular biology labs, according to John Sninsky, senior director of research at Roche Molecular Systems, Alameda, Calif. In the research community, he says, investigators are being stimulated to use the probes in more and more "wild and wonderful ways." A DNA probe may be a chain of as few as 15 nucleotide bases, the molecular building blocks of DNA and RNA, or it may stretch to thousands of such bases. The usefulness of the probe technology, researchers say, comes from the inherent tendency of these single-stranded nucleic acids to seek and hybridize to their complementary sequences, following the base-pairing rules that guide the formation of the DNA double helix--adenine with thymine, and cytosine with guanine. A list of the methodologies dependent on DNA probe technology reads like a table of contents in a molecular biology text: Southern blotting (to detect other DNAs), Northern blotting (to detect RNA, measuring gene expression), colony and plaque hybridization (to spot bacteria and viruses), in situ hybridization (to highlight DNA sequences directly in cells), footprinting (identifying the sites where certain proteins bind DNA), mapping genes, and sequencing genes. Even in the case of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the widely used lab process that won its inventor Kary Mullis a 1993 Nobel Prize, the primers used--short pieces of DNA--are essentially DNA probes bracketing sequences to be amplified. "DNA probes and PCR are inextricably linked at the hip," says Sninsky. Clinical Success, Research Staple DNA probes are farther from the public eye than some other biotechnologies, such as cloning human embryos or genetically engineering tomatoes. They are nonetheless very much in the news, especially as diagnostic tools. They were used, for instance, to help track down the sources of bacterial contamination in hamburgers served by a fast- food chain that caused illness last spring, and they have been used to analyze contaminated municipal water supplies. DNA probes also helped researchers investigating the hantavirus pulmonary disease that struck the southwestern United States last year. "They identified the virus initially using serology, but they quickly used DNA probes to identify the group of viruses to which it belonged," says Sninsky. The information showed that the condition had indeed been seen before. Sninsky says that this capability of DNA probes to precisely identify a pathogen, even the particular strain of that pathogen present in a given patient, is a critical one. With both reemergent tuberculosis and AIDS, for example, the disease-causing targets of potential therapies are constantly changing, mutating to present new characteristics to researchers and physicians. "Mutations are responsible for microbial resistance to drugs," Sninsky explains. "If you don't detect a drug- resistant pathogen before you treat the patient, you could be exposing him or her to side effects without [a corresponding] benefit." DNA probes were one of the first biotechnologies to successfully negotiate the passage from the laboratory to the clinic. One reason is that, compared with traditional microbiological detection tests, DNA probes generally offer both greater specificity and higher sensitivity. Also, the costs of most commercially available probe systems for specific targets range between about $150 and $400, making them affordable for many laboratories. With standard tests, "there's a limitation in certain patients, where there is not enough antigen or antibody detected," according to Larry A. Risen, marketing manager at San Diego-based Gen-Probe Inc. "But with DNA probes, you can amplify material or use kinetics" to yield a diagnosis, Risen says. Gen-Probe has focused its efforts on developing and marketing DNA probes targeted to common infectious disorders, such as those caused by streptococcus, enterococcus, Hemophilus influenzae, and several sexually transmitted diseases. 'A new probe-based test from Gen-Probe may help clinicians in their efforts to confront reemergent, drug-resistant tuberculosis. The probe is just entering trials in the U.S., having shown in European trials that it can greatly speed diagnosis over traditional culturing methods. Called the Amplified Mycobacterium tuberculosis Direct Test (MTD), the probe is capable of identifying the strain of tuberculosis present in about five hours, instead of up to eight weeks with the culturing methods, helping physicians prescribe appropriate treatments sooner. "The test represents a breakthrough in adapting [this] technology to routine clinical use," said Mathew Longiaru, Gen-Probe's director of research and development, in a statement. "Designed specifically for the clinical laboratory, the test is not as burdensome as some complicated research methods." Some companies focus on probes for research purposes, although they also may offer one or two for diagnostic uses. For example, Oncogene Science of Cambridge, Mass., offers research probes for a wide range of human genes, including interleukins, interferons, colony stimulating factors, myosin, tubulin, and oncogenes. The Food and Drug Administration also has cleared for marketing the company's Trans-Probe-1, which targets the site where pieces of chromosomes 9 and 22 join in 90 percent of patients who have chronic myelogenous leukemia. The classic test to spot this so-called Philadelphia chromosome, discovered in 1959 by Peter C. Nowell and David A. Hungerford (Science, 132:1497, 1960), is to prepare a chart of all of the chromosomes, then search for the unusual joining--a much more painstaking task. Similarly, most products from Oncor Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md., whose specialty is in situ hybridization, are for research use only, but the company does have FDA approval for an in vitro diagnostic kit to detect rearranged chromosomes in certain white blood cell cancers. Many DNA probes are available for research or investigational uses, but with clinical applications clearly in mind. GeneMed Biotechnologies, for example, offers probes to the human genes for beta globin, the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator, and key immune system proteins. As a group, these probes target inherited disorders. The company also markets infectious disease probes to the viruses causing hepatitis, herpes, and rubella, as well as the microbe that causes chlamydia. Straddling the research-clinical line even more closely are the companies using FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) technology to speed fetal chromosome checks. The In-Sight system from Integrated Genetics of Framingham, Mass., highlights chromosomes 13, 18, 21, X, and Y--those most likely to be present in extra copies in fetuses--by using three to five DNA probes per chromosome. They offer this service on an investigational basis, as an adjunct to the conventional approach, which requires a week to culture cells from amniotic fluid. Brian Ward, director of the cytogenetics lab at Integrated Genetics, says that FDA approval for In-Sight is not required. FISH, he says, "is called `home brew technology.' FDA will only certify drugs and medical devices that are marketed and sold. It doesn't regulate services." He notes that states, however, may regulate such services. Integrated Genetics' concentration on the chromosomal anomalies most commonly seen in fetuses reflects its clinical bent. But FISH technology also can distinguish among all 24 types of human chromosomes, making it useful in many research areas and in detecting rare or highly specific abnormalities. "It is the same technology, but using different sequences and different applications," says Ward. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., for example, have developed what are called "whole-chromosome paints," which target repetitive DNA sequences. "These light up each chromosome from one end to the other. In contrast, ours are specific, brilliant, and intense, a small pinpoint of light in a nucleus," Ward says. Oncor's FISH system targets unique DNA sequences and currently identifies 19 human chromosomes. Oncor's newest probes detect genes currently at the forefront of genetic research, including those behind the Prader-Willi/Angelman syndromes, in which a small deletion in chromosome 15 causes differing symptoms depending upon which parent transmits it; and XIST, the site on the X chromosome that triggers one X to be shut off in cells of female mammals. They also have probes to telomeres, the tips of chromosomes that are important to their stability and are being intensively studied. Farewell To Radioactivity As a research tool, DNA probes are the latest in a long series of techniques to isolate and describe biological functions by labelling and tracking various biological molecules. Probes can carry different kinds of additional chemical marker units that allow researchers to locate and quantify them and their targets. Although biologists and chemists have attempted to unravel various metabolic reactions since early this century, it wasn't until World War II that research in nuclear physics made radioactive materials readily available. This, in turn, allowed radiolabeling of biomolecules, and this led to new kinds of biological experiments. Radioactively labeled isotopes can be detected through their ability to expose a photographic emulsion on film, or by the alteration of the density of DNA incorporating them. Many of the key experiments that laid the groundwork for molecular biology followed labeled DNA, for example. Often an isotope of phosphorus, 32P, was used, which labels the sugar-phosphate backbone of the molecule. The fact that the genetic material in a cell is DNA and not protein was discerned in the so-called blender experiments of Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase in 1950. They tracked and distinguished DNA by labeling phosphorus, and protein by labeling sulfur (A. Hershey, et al., Journal of General Physiology, 36:39-56, 1952). Matthew Meselson and Franklin Stahl later revealed the semi-conservative mode of DNA replication by differentially labeling nitrogen and following the densities of daughter DNA strands (M. Meselson, et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 44:671-682, 1958). Using radioactive isotopes has obvious drawbacks, however. The beta particles emitted by 32P are so energetic that the signal on photographic film can be too fuzzy to be meaningful. Richard Rhodes, technical service representative at Promega Corp. of Madison, Wis., claims that his company's LIGHTSMITH I System, which uses chemiluminescence to label DNA, is much easier to use than traditional 32P labeling. LIGHTSMITH is a direct, nonisotopic alternative to radioactive labeling, which means that the chemical that generates the signal is conjugated directly to the probe. Specifically, alkaline phosphatase is hooked to the probe. This enzyme catalyzes removal of a phosphate from a proprietary chemiluminescent compound. The resulting light emission marks the probe's presence. "You don't have to deal with handling or disposal, as you do with radioactive labels," Rhodes says. "And we've found that our probes display a higher level of sensitivity than radioactively labeled probes." Another direct approach to tagging DNA probes is the Prime- It Fluor Random Priming kit offered by Stratagene Corp. of La Jolla, Calif., which incorporates a fluorescently labeled nucleotide into the DNA. Commonly used fluorescent markers include fluorescein, which emits yellow-green when excited with blue light, and rhodamine, which emits a deep red. Most nonisotopic labeling systems, however, are indirect, with the probe bound to a molecule that is attracted to a second molecule that is itself bound to the signaling enzyme, usually alkaline phosphatase. In the most common of these strategies, the DNA probe is immobilized on a support and bound to biotin (a small, water-soluble vitamin). Biotin binds strongly to the bacterial protein streptavidin, which is linked to alkaline phosphatase. Such streptavidin- biotinylated DNA probes are offered by Genemed Biotechnologies Inc. of South San Francisco, Calif.; United States Biochemical of Cleveland; New England BioLabs Inc. of Beverly, Mass.; and others. As popular as DNA labeling with biotin-streptavidin is, it is gradually being replaced by what some researchers say is a better alternative--digoxigenin, a derivative of the foxglove plant. The digoxigenin molecule binds DNA at one site and a highly specific antibody at another. The antibody is the part that is detected. Charles Schroeder, technical service specialist at Indianapolis-based Boehringer Mannheim Biochemicals, which produces digoxigenin, explains that its success is due to its uniqueness. "Many of our customers had noted that because biotin is a vitamin, it is endogenous to many [animal] systems," Schroeder says. "But digoxigenin is found only in the foxglove plant." As a result, there is less background interference caused by the antibody binding elsewhere than to the DNA sequence labeled with digoxigenin. Ricki Lewis is a freelance science writer based in Scotia, N.Y., and is the author of Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications (Dubuque, Iowa, Wm. C. Brown Communications, 1994). (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : SUPPLIERS OF DNA PROBES FOR LABORATORY AND CLINICAL USE TY : TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY PG : 18 The following vendors develop and/or market DNA probes for a variety of research and diagnostic purposes. For information about specific services, products, and prices, please contact these companies directly. Accurate Chemical Scientific 300 Shames Dr. Westbury, N.Y. 11590 (800) 645-3569 Fax: (516) 997-4948 Advanced Biotechnologies Inc. 9108 Guilford Rd. Columbia, Md. 21046 (301) 470-3220 Fax: (301) 497-9773 American Type Culture Collection 12301 Parklawn Dr. Rockville, Md. 20852 (301) 881-2600 Fax: (301) 816-4367 Biomeda Corp. P.O. Box 8045 Foster City, Calif. 94404 (415) 341-8787 Fax: (415) 341-2299 BioServe Biotechnologies Ltd. 1050 West St. Laurel, Md. 20707 (301) 470-3362 Fax: (301) 470-2333 Bio-Synthesis Inc. 612 East Main St. Lewisville, Texas 75067-0028 (800) 227-0627 Fax: (214) 420-0442 Boehringer Mannheim Biochemicals 9115 Hague Rd. Indianapolis, Ind. 46250 (800) 428-5433 Fax: (317) 845-2000 Calbiochem-Novabiochem Corp. 10394 Pacific Center Ct. San Diego, Calif. 92121 (800) 854-3417 Fax: (619) 453-3552 Cambridge Research Biochemical Fairfax Research Center Wilmington, Del. 19897 (800) 327-0125 Fax: (302) 886-5937 Cayman Chemical Co. 690 KMS Place Ann Arbor, Mich. 48108 (313) 662-6756 Fax: (313) 662-6896 Cellular Products Inc. 872 Maine St. Buffalo, N.Y. 14202 (716) 882-0920 Fax: (716) 882-0959 DAKO Corp. 6392 Via Real Carpinteria, Calif. 93013 (800) 424-0021 Fax: (805) 566-6688 DuPont Biotechnology Systems Barley Mill Plaza P22-2278 Wilmington, Del. 19898 (302) 992-4785 FMC Bio Support Material Group 200 East Randolph Chicago, Ill. 60601 (312) 861-5900 Genemed Biotechnologies Inc. 458 Carlton Ct. Suite B South San Francisco, Calif. 94080 (800) 344-5337 Fax: (415) 952-0447 Gene-Trak Systems/ Betagen/Imagenetics 31 New York Ave. Framingham, Mass. 01701 (508) 872-3113 Fax: (508) 879-6462 Genosys Biotechnologies Inc. 8701-A New Trails Dr. The Woodlands, Texas 77381-4241 (713) 363-3693 Fax: (713) 363-2212 Gen-Probe Inc. 9880 Campus Point Dr. San Diego, Calif. 92121 (619) 546-8000 Fax: (619) 452-5848 Imagenetics 150 W. Warrenville Rd. Mail Code F-2 Naperville, Ill. 60563-8460 (708) 420-5875 Fax: (708) 420-3845 Integrated Genetics One Mountain Rd. Framingham, Mass. 01701 (800) 255-7357 Life Technologies 8451 Helgerman Ct. Gaithersburg, Md. 20884-9980 (301) 840-4150 Lofstrand Laboratories 7961 Cessna Ave. Gaithersburg, Md. 20879 (310) 330-0111 Fax: (301) 948-9214 Microbiological Associates Inc. Life Sciences Center 9900 Blackwell Rd. Rockville, Md. 20850 (301) 738-1000 Fax: (301) 738-1036 Microprobe Corp. 1725 220th St., S.E. Bothell, Wash. 98021 (206) 485-8566 Midland Certified Reagent Co. 3112-A W. Cuthbert Ave. Midland, Texas 79701 (800) 247-8766 Fax: (915) 694-2387 National Biosciences Inc. 3650 Annapolis Lane Suite 140 Plymouth, Minn. 55447-5434 (800) 747-4362 Fax: (612) 550-9625 New England Biolabs Inc. 32 Tozer Rd. Beverly, Mass. 01915 (508) 927-5054, Ext. 309 Fax: (508) 921-1350 Oncogene Science 80 Rogers St. Cambridge, Mass. 02142 (617) 492-7289 Fax: (617) 492-8438 Oncor Inc. 209 Perry Parkway Gaithersburg, Md. 20877 (301) 963-3500 Fax: (301) 926-6129 Perkin-Elmer Corp. 761 Main Ave. Mail Station 105 Norwalk, Conn. 06859-0105 (800) 762-4000 Fax: (203) 762-6000 Promega Corp. 2800 Woods Hollow Rd. Madison, Wis. 53711 (608) 274-4330 Fax: (608) 273-6967 R & D Systems 614 McKinley Place, N.E. Minneapolis, Minn. 55413 (612) 379-2956 Fax: (800) 328-2400 Research Genetics 2130 Memorial Parkway South Huntsville, Ala. 35801 (800) 533-4363 Fax: (205) 536-9016 Roche Molecular Systems Div. of Hoffmann-La Roche 1145 Atlantic Ave. Alameda, Calif. 94507 (510) 814-2853 Sigma Chemical Co. 3050 Spruce St. St. Louis, Mo. 63103 (800) 325-3010 Fax: (314) 771-5750 Stratagene Corp. 11099 N. Torrey Pines Rd. La Jolla, Calif. 92037 (619) 535-5400 Fax: (619) 558-0947 Synthecell/Vega Biomolecules 7101 River Wood Dr. Columbia, Md. 21046 (800) 336-7455 Fax: (410) 381-4965 Synthetic Genetics 3347 Industrial Ct., Suite A San Diego, Calif. 92121 (619) 793-2661 Fax: (619) 793-2666 StressGen Biotechnologies Corp. 4243 Glandford Ave. Suite 120 Victoria, B.C. V8Z 4B9 Canada (604) 744-2811 Fax: (604) 744-2877 United States Biochemical P.O. Box 22400 Cleveland, Ohio 44122 (216) 765-5000 Fax: (800) 535-0898 Zymed Laboratories Inc. 458 Carlton Ct. South San Francisco, Calif. 94080 (415) 871-4494 Fax: (415) 871-4499 (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: PROFESSION ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Corporate Board Membership: Enriching In More Ways Than One AU : ROBERT FINN TY : PROFESSION PG : 21 Imagine a position that requires a commitment of just four to 10 working days most years, yet pays up to $60,000--plus stock options. Imagine further that this position allows you as a scientist to observe the inner workings of the industrial culture of the United States, to make personal contacts with powerful businesspeople, and to influence the direction of a major corporation. Such is the lot of the scientists who sit on the boards of directors of public companies. Allen Misher, president of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, says of his work on corporate boards, "The quality of the people I deal with, the intellectual interactions, are extremely important to me and highly enjoyable. It gives me an opportunity to deal on a scientific basis with people at the forefront of their disciplines. It's even fun on a personal basis." While the scientists who are asked to serve on corporate boards find the experience to be enriching from a professional as well as a financial perspective, some outside observers caution that such arrangements can lead to dangerous conflicts of interest. "In [a] company, the interest is in getting a product to market," says Sheldon Krimsky, a professor and chairman of the department of urban and environmental policy at Tufts University. "In the university, presumably, the main interest is the pursuit of truth." A conflict can occur, for example, when a scientist with a financial interest in a company must evaluate research-- either in his or her own lab or on a peer-review panel-- related to the company's business, Krimsky says. Yet Alan Schriesheim, director of the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and a member of two public boards-- those of Rohm & Haas Co. of Philadelphia and Hollywood, Fla.-based HEICO Corp.--says that when a scientist serves as a corporate director, his or her ability to function effectively as a researcher is enhanced. "It provides the scientist with a look at what one would consider to be the `real world'--what does it actually take to market and sell, and what are the risk/benefit trade-offs?" Schriesheim says. "It gives you exposure to the very interesting problems industry has that require technical solutions. It's a generally broadening experience. The contact with other board members who are senior people in other industries-- banking, for example--makes the scientist a more rounded person. If he's an academic, it puts him in a better position to advise his students on career paths. It provides him with contacts that are helpful to his students and his colleagues." "I look forward to [board] meetings," says Misher, who currently serves on the boards of three public companies-- U.S. Healthcare Inc. of Blue Bell, Pa.; U.S. Bioscience Inc. of West Conshohocken, Pa.; and MARSAM Pharmaceuticals of Cherry Hill, N.J.--and several private ones. "It's such a dramatic change of pace from the normal academic life that I find it extremely stimulating," Misher says. It's high- energy, and decisions are made promptly." Of course, it is the rare scientist who gets to receive these benefits. Few corporations have scientists as directors. The ones that do--primarily those that are heavily dependent on technology--usually have only one scientist among the bankers, venture capitalists, and captains of industry who form the backbones of most boards. Scientists At The Top Generally, in order to be considered suitable to serve on a board of directors, a scientist must have established a national reputation on the basis not only of scientific achievements, but also of administrative and managerial skills. Furthermore, it helps to have spent a good portion of one's career outside the ivory tower. Misher, for example, spent 18 years with Philadelphia-based SmithKline & French Laboratories (now part of SmithKline Beecham), where he started as a pharmacologist and went on to increasingly responsible management positions, ending up as a group vice president. Schriesheim spent 27 years at the Florham Park, N.J.-based Exxon Research & Engineering Co. and two years as the director of Argonne before being asked to join his first board. The administrative experience is important, because the responsibilities of a board member go far beyond providing the occasional nugget of scientific advice--many companies have scientific advisory panels for that. Board members need to be conversant with profit-and-loss statements, audit reports, and strategic plans, since they are charged with nothing less than overseeing all major corporate functions. Mark P. Kriger, an associate professor of management at the State University of New York, Albany, and an expert on strategic management, says that the formal responsibilities of a board of directors include the following: * maintaining, revising, and enforcing the corporate charter and bylaws; * delegating special powers to corporate officers, such as the power to sign contracts, establish bank accounts, and sign checks; * approving important financial decisions, such as those pertaining to budgets, capital appropriations, and officers' compensation; * examining the results of outside audits; * safeguarding and approving changes to corporate assets; * electing and advising corporate officers; and * ensuring the maintenance of a sound board through regular elections and the filling of vacancies. "In a legal sense, board members are the ultimate purveyors of the corporate charter," says Kriger. "They are legally responsible." If a company is well run, these responsibilities can be exercised during the regular board meetings, which are usually held quarterly, or at most monthly. "On occasion there are special assignments that might take a day or two longer," notes Misher. "In one company, another board member and I took on the assignment for the chairman of a very intensive review of their R&D efforts. With some outside help, that took us maybe a week's worth of sitting down and reviewing all of the R&D projects, very carefully, very intensively." But that's unusual. "You each receive a `board book' a week or so prior to [a] meeting, providing a host of background on each of the agenda items," Kriger says. "This gives you the opportunity to read through it, think about it, [and] make a phone call or two if you're not certain as to some of the issues raised." Legal Responsibilities But if a company runs into trouble for one reason or another, the amount of work can increase greatly. Says Misher, "You've got to remember that, particularly in the state of Pennsylvania--and probably elsewhere--there are legal responsibilities. If you are the director of a public company, you are legally responsible for representing the best interests of the shareholders. That is a serious responsibility, and in order to execute that responsibility you must ensure that you are knowledgeable about the operations of the company and its controls and the way it manages its business." Soon after Schriesheim joined the board of HEICO, a company that manufactures aircraft parts, there were some problems with management, and the board had to get intimately involved in the details of running the company. Recalling that experience, he says, "When a company is in trouble it sucks up a lot of time. If you're on the board of a public company and it's in trouble, you've just got to put in as much time as it takes, or you've got to get someone to put in the time. You've just got to be responsible to the shareholders. You could, for example, identify very quickly someone who could come in and turn things around. Or, alternatively, it could be months and months of long- distance phone calls for hours at a time every day." Even if a director meets his or her responsibilities with due diligence, in an increasingly litigious society there's the ever-present possibility of being sued. Notes Misher, "If you have a 15 percent drop in your share price for a day or two, computer programs will flash that to a whole host of plaintiff lawyers. You'll have class-action suits filed the next day. If you are a director long enough anywhere, you will find yourself in the middle of a class-action suit." Almost all companies provide liability insurance to their directors and officers to cover this contingency, but prospective board members should ensure that this insurance is adequate. "`Adequate' for me is usually $10 million on a personal basis, above the resources of the company," says Misher. "You are totally indemnified from liability in the conduct of your responsibilities for the company. But that indemnification doesn't hold if you can be found responsible for illegal, inappropriate action." In addition, board members must be careful to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. In fact, Tufts' Krimsky thinks that actual or perceived conflicts of interest are so serious and so damaging that academic scientists asked to join a board should just say no. Besides the obvious quandary that occurs when a board member is called upon to give a scientific evaluation of the work of a company in which he or she has a stake, conflicts can arise when a scientist directs a student to a particular area of research that may be of interest to the firm. Conflicts can become an issue when a scientist serves as an expert adviser to government agencies. And they can occur when the time a scientist spends working on company-related business detracts from the time he or she spends on academic pursuits. Krimsky believes that if a scientist feels compelled to join a corporate board, in order to satisfy ethical considerations he or she must agree "never to take any government-funded research projects that are directly related to any work in the company." Says Krimsky of the fundamental conflict of scientists joining boards: "If our universities are filled with people and departments who have multiple interests--not only academic interests but also financial interests in firms-- then we simply have no reservoir of independent opinion left. We can't get it from the companies. We're not going to get it from the government. And therefore what we're left with are very few places in which an expert can be considered by the public to have an independent role in society." Financial Rewards Serving as a director can be quite lucrative. Some Fortune 500 companies pay $40,000, $50,000, or even $60,000 to directors. But smaller companies often pay much less. "The compensation can be substantial, but it can also be zip," notes Misher. "I serve on one board where the compensation is zero. I just get out-of-pocket expenses. It's a start-up company, and I said, `Look, I'll share the risk, I'll take some stock options. If the company succeeds, I succeed. If the company doesn't succeed, I get nothing.' But I really enjoy it. It's fun, it's exciting, they're doing great things, and I have great faith in the company. I'm getting my compensation in a variety of other ways." Unfortunately for those scientists who would like to serve on a board, this is not a position you can apply for. "Board invitations are generally extended to those people who have made some reputation somehow," says Schriesheim. "They've gotten to be known for their technical work in a particular field, or for their advancement in a university to management and administrative posts, or for their government service. But usually, in my limited experience, saying that you'd like to be on a board and please won't someone ask me, is a way not to be asked." Misher advises a scientist to have two kinds of meetings before deciding to join a board. "I would want to meet with the chief executive officer and the operating management of the company to assess their working relationship with the board, their openness, their understanding of what the board's responsibilities are, and to assess the `chemistry,'" he says. "If the chemistry doesn't work, forget it. This has got to be something you do less for the compensation than for the personal enjoyment. Secondly, I would want to meet with some outside members of the board to get a sense of their experience. How open is that board? Is this for show, or is it really a functional board? Does the board have a role that it actually plays in the company's business?" Kriger adds that a prospective board member should consider the soundness of the company's finances and management. "You should be asking for substantial recent audits, but more importantly, you should be asking directors about their experience with the organization. What's it like to serve on the board? Do [the directors] like it? You should get a good feeling about the health of the organization. Are people openly disclosing things to you, or are they being protective? Any time your intuition is saying, `This doesn't feel right,' you really have to honor those feelings and follow them up." Nonetheless, Kriger encourages scientists to become directors. "It can be very challenging, but it's potentially a very exciting thing to do, because you're being invited into the inside of this organization without being a full- time member," he says. "There's a way in which, in its purest sense, directors function like the Solons of ancient Greek society--the wise men overseeing the organization. It can be a really fulfilling experience." Robert Finn is a freelance science writer based in Pasadena, Calif. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: PEOPLE ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Two Longtime Friends Share Tyler Prize For Their 30- Year Environmental Study AU : PHIL BECK TY : PROFESSION (PEOPLE) PG : 23 F. Herbert Bormann and Gene E. Likens, whose ongoing, 30- year ecosystem study has led to fundamental discoveries that have changed environmental law and international policy, have received the 1993 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. The $150,000 prize, established by John and Alice Tyler in 1973 and administered under the auspices of the University of Southern California, was presented last month in Los Angeles. The Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study, centered in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, came about when Bormann, an agricultural scientist, joined forces with Likens, a zoologist, while they were both on the faculty of Dartmouth College in the early 1960s. Together they conceived and developed the idea of using a small watershed to conduct whole-forest ecosystem experiments. Through conventional scientific methods, long-term observations, and ecological modeling, they were able to test hypotheses in field experiments. The pair discovered the phenomenon of acid rain (G.E. Likens, F.H. Bormann, et al., Environment, 14[2]:33-40, 1972; G.E. Likens, F.H. Bormann, Science, 184:1176-9, 1974), which led to the first international symposium on acid rain and further studies on the subject throughout the United States and Canada. Research connected with the Hubbard Brook study played a major role in the development of the Clean Air Act of 1990. Another Hubbard Brook study sparked national discussion of the effects of forest clearcutting, pointing out the loss of soil fertility and chemical degradation of stream water caused by this foresting method (G.E. Likens, F. H. Bormann, Ecological Monographs, 40[1]:23-47, 1970). "We were using the chemistry of stream water much like a physician uses the chemistry of urine or blood . . . to judge the health of the whole forested landscape, and that turned out to be a very valuable way of proceeding," Likens says. In an investigation with colleague Kathleen C. Weathers (K.C. Weathers, G.E. Likens, F.H. Bormann, et. al., Nature, 319:657-8, 1984), they collected and analyzed cloud water, and showed that it was significantly more polluted than rain water. Their conclusions demonstrated that measuring air pollution must include cloud water inputs and dry fallout, in addition to acid rain. Their study led to the establishment of a North American network of cloud water research stations. The Hubbard Brook study, supported by the National Science Foundation and the Forest Service, has attracted more than 125 collaborators. Bormann left Dartmouth in 1966 to join the faculty of the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Science, where he taught until his retirement in 1992. He remains Oastler Professor of Forest Ecology, emeritus, at Yale. Likens went from Dartmouth to Cornell University in 1969, where he held several positions in the section of ecology and systematics, including chairman in 1982-83. He left Cornell in 1983 to create and direct the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. Although their academic paths have diverged, their collaboration has remained constant over three decades, which Likens attributes to several factors: "We both have a broad view of ecology, an ecosystem point of view," he says. "I think the fact that we brought very different strengths to bear made the team successful, and we were always able to think and write together, which I've found to be unusual." Bormann, 71, earned his B.S. in agricultural science from Rutgers in 1948 and his Ph.D. in plant ecology from Duke University in 1952. Likens, 59, received his B.S. from Manchester College in Indiana in 1957 and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1962, both in zoology. Likens observes that public consciousness of the environment today is quite different from what it was when he and Bormann began their collaboration. "In the mid- to late '50s, if you mentioned that you were an ecologist on the main street of any city," he says, "they wouldn't have had a clue of what that meant. Now, of course, ecology and ecologists have become household words." The reason for this change, Likens notes, is not necessarily good: "Everything you read and hear and see continues to talk about a continuing or new environmental assault on our living space. . . . There are new ones that crop up every day. "I feel very strongly that the basic research that I do I want to have relevance to real-world problems, and I also care a lot about trying to communicate my scientific findings to decision-makers and the public." --Phil Beck (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: OBITUARY ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : LEWIS THOMAS TY : PROFESSION (OBITUARY) PG : 23 Lewis Thomas, a noted biologist, physician, educator, and medical school dean who also was well known as an award- winning author, poet, and philosopher on science, medicine, and other matters, died December 3 in New York of Waldenstrom's disease, a condition resembling lymphoma. He was 80 years old. Thomas, who was president, emeritus, of Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center and a professor, emeritus, at Cornell University Medical College at the time of his death, did research in the areas of immunology, virology, endotoxins, and histocompatibility. He published more than 200 scientific papers. The son of a doctor and a nurse, Thomas received his B.S. from Princeton University in 1933 and his M.D. from Harvard University in 1937. In the 1940s and early 1950s he held positions in the medical schools of Harvard, Johns Hopkins University, Tulane University, and the University of Minnesota, as well as the United States Naval Medical Research Unit during World War II. He was a professor and chairman of the department of pathology at New York University-Bellevue Medical Center from 1954 to 1958 and was chairman of the department of medicine from 1958 to 1966. He was dean of New York University School of Medicine from 1966 to 1969, a professor and chairman of the department of pathology at Yale-New Haven Medical Center from 1969 to 1973, and dean of Yale University School of Medicine in 1972-73. From 1973 to 1980 he was president and CEO at Memorial Sloan-Kettering; he was chancellor there from 1980 to 1983. In addition, he held numerous positions with other medical schools, hospitals, foundations, societies, corporations, and government task forces and advisory committees. Thomas's literary career began with poems he wrote for the Atlantic Monthly while still an intern in Boston. He first received wide recognition for essays, originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which were compiled in the book The Lives of a Cell (New York, Viking Press, 1974), for which he won the National Book Award in 1974. Hundreds of thousands of copies were sold, and it was translated into 11 languages. That effort was followed by The Medusa and the Snail (Viking, 1979), which won the American Book Award and the Christopher Award; The Youngest Science (Viking, 1983), his personal medical memoir; Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony (Viking, 1983); Et Cetera, Et Cetera: Notes of a Word Watcher (Boston, Little, Brown, 1990), essays on language; and The Fragile Species (New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1992). He won numerous awards, including two that were named for him, the Lewis Thomas Award for Communications from the American College of Physicians in 1986, and the Lewis Thomas Prize from Rockefeller University in 1990. He received 20 honorary degrees in science, laws, letters, and music. He was a member and an officer of a host of societies, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #1, January 10, 1994) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================


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