John Fleischman

John Fleischman

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.

To be clear, E. Josephine Clowney, the 2014 winner of the $5,000 ASCB Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter, says she met her husband and learned to be a good scientist as a disc jockey for her college radio station. Leaving the husband part aside, Clowney explains the scientist part this way—playing all kinds of music on the highly eclectic WCBN-FM at the University of Michigan (UMich) in Ann Arbor, including music she didn't think at first was music, such as a Thai elephant orchestra with pachyderms soloing on gongs. Elephants and Elvis, the music opened her ears and her mind to the unfamiliar, the eccentric, and the unconventional.

Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker's organization, the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), made it official on September 19 when it signed DORA, the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment. In signing, the HFSP, an international coalition funded by 15 countries to support basic life science research, pledged to follow the DORA principles to minimize the use of journal impact factors (JIFs) in scientific assessment for hiring, promotion, and funding.

In Philadelphia this December, Ann Reid's mission will be to talk to scientists about talking about the science of evolution without losing their scientific cool. "It's not about the science," says Reid, the new Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), "or at least you have to get a lot of stuff out of the way before you talk about the science."

Mother Nature made an unexpected appearance this afternoon at the Lasker Awards luncheon in New York City when Peter Walter of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and ASCB President Elect for 2016, described her as a mix of biological referee, evolutionary trickster, and puzzle mistress. "In biology, Mother Nature presents the playing field, and it is our task to decipher how it works," Walter declared. "Disconcertingly, Nature deploys the strategy of random walk, of mutation and selection, leading to the evolution of the world that surrounds us. She then presents us with the most fascinating puzzles to decipher: the inherently unpredictable Rube Goldberg machines that make up a living cell."

It will be a triple feature, short but powerful, says Duane Compton. The three "Tell Your Own Cell Story" videos just commissioned by ASCB's Celldance Studios will feature eye-popping live cell imaging and scientific storytelling, according to Compton, who chaired the Celldance selection panel. The panel today announced the names of the ASCB members from whom videos have been commissioned and the cell stories they plan to tell.

Monday, 08 September 2014 14:10

ASCB President-Elect Walter Wins Lasker

The UPR has unfolded into the 2014 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for ASCB President-Elect for 2016 Peter Walter. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Walter was named co-winner winner today along with Kazutoshi Mori of Kyoto University for their independent but closely related work on untangling the unfolded protein response or UPR, a signaling pathway that protects cells by flagging misfolded proteins in the cytoplasm and switching on a protective response.

Monday, 08 September 2014 09:02

Dr. Botstein Buys a Book

It was the one of the very few moments in his life when he was truly speechless, says Malcolm Campbell. He was at the 2013 ASCB spring Council meeting in Washington, DC, seated next to fellow ASCB councilor David Botstein who had just won one of the new $3 million Breakthrough Awards in Life Sciences. Waiting for the meeting to come to order, Campbell, a professor at Davidson College in North Carolina and a leading proponent of research-driven reform in undergraduate biology education, congratulated Botstein on the award. Campbell recalls, "David said, 'I want to give some money to MIT, Cold Spring Harbor, UCSF, and to you.

Back from the undead, the 2014 "Zombie Cellslam," the Public Information Committee's stand-up science slam, is slouching toward Philadelphia where it will take the stage again at an Annual Meeting of the ASCB for the first time in five remarkably peaceful years. No more. The 2014 Zombie Cellslam, so named because it will not die, is set for Monday evening, December 10, at the joint ASCB/IFCB meeting in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It will offer a variety of wit, music, and outrageously amusing competition plus free popcorn and a cash bar.

It is a truth all but universally acknowledged that a eukaryotic cell entering mitosis must be in want of the canonical proteins for mitotic checkpoints. And then there is Giardia intestinalis. A notorious flagellate pathogen, this binucleate protist belongs to one of the major eukaryotic lineages now called the "Excavates." Like all other Excavates, Giardia is weird, says Zacheus Cande of the University of California, Berkeley, but weird in a good way because of its ancient evolutionary divergence from the better-known branch of eukaryotes where everything from humans to yeast hang out.

Microscopic movie moguls have two more weeks to submit their "Tell Your Own Cell Story" proposal to ASCB's Public Information Committee (PIC), which will commission three live cell imaging videos at $1,000 each to be shot on location in the labs of ASCB members. The new deadline is August 15.

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