John is ASCB Senior Science Writer and the author among other things of two nonfiction books for older children, "Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science" and "Black & White Airmen," both from Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, Boston.
Robert P. Perry, who made his mark at the start of the DNA age with key work on RNA synthesis and was still at the leading edge 45 years later, publishing an evolutionary biology paper using bioinformatics to compare mouse and human ribosomal protein promoter genes, died July 15 at his home in Bucks County, PA. He was 82. Perry was best known for resolving the structure of the 5' cap on messenger RNA in the nucleus. He spent nearly his entire research career at what is now the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1977. He was a member of ASCB for 29 years and served on the ASCB Council from 1971-1973.
Fit an iPad with a powerful magnifying objective and what do you get? A rugged, diagnostic-quality microscope that can instantly make cell biology come alive for schoolchildren in New Orleans. ASCB is teaming with Dan Fletcher's Bioengineering group at the University of California, Berkeley, which created the original instrument, to place a set of 10 CellScopes newly adapted to work with iPads, in a city classroom. ASCB members have already kicked in $3,800 toward the $15,000 cost of the first set for New Orleans.
The iPad screen allows three children to use each device, taking turns making samples and imaging. The CellScopes will come with a new curriculum on plant stomata developed by the California Academy of Sciences, which beta-tested the scopes in May. The ASCB is working with local science educators to identify a motivated teacher (likely 4th—6th grade) who will learn to demonstrate the scopes and loan them to others. The teacher and students will be invited to the ASCB Annual Meeting on Saturday, December 14, to receive the scopes and training on the spot.
As an ASCB member, here's your chance to give back to the schoolchildren of the city that is hosting the 2013 ASCB Annual Meeting. Once upon a time, someone sat you at a microscope and adjusted the eyepiece. Suddenly you were looking into the microworld. Decades later, you still are. It's time to pay it forward. (It's also tax deductible for U.S. residents.)
A pioneer in the discovery and exploration of the cytoskeletal motor protein, dynein, Barbara Hollingworth Gibbons died June 7 at her home in Orinda, California, with her husband, Ian, and their children Peter and Wendy at her bedside. She was 81. As a husband and wife scientific team, Barbara and Ian Gibbons were jointly honored by the ASCB in 1998 for their dynein work with the presentation of the E.B. Wilson Medal, the Society's highest scientific honor.
In 2013, Celldance is determined to be really useful. The ASCB's video contest, now in its ninth year, wants to make cell biology perfectly clear, especially for those who teach at the introductory level and for the curious prowling the Web.
Adolphus "Tol" Toliver, a prominent voice at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for active measures to support minority students and faculty pursuing careers in biology, died March 26, exactly two weeks short of his 82nd birthday.
Ruth G. Doell, an ASCB member from 1964 until her retirement from the Biology Department at San Francisco State University in 1992, died February 22 at her home in El Granada, CA. She was 86.
Francis Hugh Ruddle, a former ASCB President and a pioneer at Yale University in mapping the human genome and creating the first transgenic mouse, died March 10 in New Haven. He was 83.
DORA or to give its full name, the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, continues to make friends and stir up dust. In an editorial in Cell entitled "June is the Cruelest Month," Emilie Marcus, the Executive Editor of Cell Press, gave a chilly reception to the arrival of the latest edition of the "two-year JIF," the journal citation algorithm from Thomson Reuters that rates scholarly publications for "impact." Marcus said that the JIF's flaws and its widespread abuse were well known in the scientific community and was ample justification for the DORA rebellion. Alas, Cell Press could not sign DORA, Marcus continued, "Because there were specific calls to action that we did not feel we could endorse as constructive and appropriate measures." Without specifying what was unconstructive or inappropriate, Marcus did continue, "We support the goals of DORA and add our voices and actions to bringing about change in how individual scientists are assessed for hiring, promotion, and tenure."
Actin's role in the nucleus comes packed in its very own black box. The cell nucleus is a very small and complex place but given how much is known about actin in the cytoplasm, it can be startling to hear how little agreement there is about actin in the nucleus.
Those with a million or two in loose change might want to sign up for a paddle this week at Christie's in New York for the auction of a 60-year-old, seven-page, handwritten, and illustrated letter from a father to his 12-year-old son away at boarding school.