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ASCB Newsletter - April 2002

Lodish, Werb Run for 2004 Presidency
  04/01/2002

Harvey F. Lodish of the Whitehead Institute and Zena Werb of the University of California, San Francisco, will run for ASCB President-elect this Spring. The winner will serve on the Society’s Executive Committee as President-elect in 2003 and as ASCB President in 2004. Larry Goldstein of the University of California, San Diego is running unopposed for a second term as Secretary, and ten candidates selected by the Nominating Committee will run for five positions on the Society’s governing Council.

An email with a link to the Society’s electronic ballot and candidate biographies will be sent to regular and post-doctoral members, permitting eligible members the opportunity to vote online. Printed biographies and ballots are available to members upon request.

Ballots will be counted on July 1 and results will be announced in the July issue of the ASCB Newsletter.

W. James Nelson of Stanford University served as Nominating Committee Chair; also serving on the Committee were Vytas A. Bankaitis, Mary C. Beckerle, David Botstein, Douglas E. Koshland, Sandra Ann Murray, Sandra L. Schmid and Susan Rae Wente.

 


Fourth Annual ASCB-Promega Early Career Life Scientist Award Call for Nominations
  04/01/2002

Nominations are solicited for the fourth annual ASCB-Promega Early Career Life Scientist Award.

Scientists who have received their doctorate since 1990 and have served as an independent investigator for no more than 7 years are eligible for nomination. Past awardees are Ray Deshaies of CalTech, Erin O’Shea of UCSF and Daphne Preuss of the University of Chicago.

Candidate packages should include the candidate’s CV, a brief research statement and a nominating letter plus no more than three letters of support, at least one of which must come from outside the candidate’s current institution. The primary nominator must be a member of the ASCB but the candidate and support letter authors need not be.

Nominating packages must be received in the ASCB office no later than May 31, 2002. The winner will speak at the 42nd ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco in December, 2002, and will receive a monetary prize.

 


Call For Proposals for the Education Workshop
  04/01/2002

In 1999 the ASCB Education Committee inaugurated a new series of Saturday afternoon workshops with the general theme of New Paradigms in Teaching Introductory and Cell Biology. The first successful workshop, on Genomics: How Do You Teach in the Middle of a Revolution? attracted excellent participation and a capacity audience. The following year the Committee presented another popular workshop on Continuing the Dialogue on Genomics: A Revolution in Progress.

Teaching biology has special challenges because of the rapid pace of discovery in the field,” comments Education Committee Chair Sarah Elgin. “We know that many of our colleagues have come up with creative solutions to teaching situations and we encourage them to suggest a general topic, how the topic might be approached and/or potential speakers. This workshop provides us with an opportunity to showcase outstanding contributions to biology education, and provides a format for discussion among our members with a major interest in teaching.”

Members’ proposals for the workshop to be held on Saturday, December 14 in San Francisco are invited. Send suggestions by April 30. Suggestions that are not used this year will be carried forward for consideration for 2003.

 


Member Memorial Award For Graduate Students and PostDoctoral Fellows
  04/01/2002

The ASCB invites nominations for the Member Memorial Award for 2002. The Award was established with member donations in memory of deceased colleagues. The winner will be selected on merit and will receive financial support for the 42nd ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The student or post-doc or their advisor should submit a one-page research statement, a list of publications if any, and the advisor’s letter of recommendation. Post-docs may also submit the recommendation of their graduate student advisor.

Application deadline is August 1. Submit applications to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 8120 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814.

Duplicate applications from graduate students may be submitted for the Gilula and Member Memorial Awards.

 


Norton B. Gilula Award For Undergraduate and Graduate Students
  04/01/2002

The ASCB invites nominations for the Norton B. Gilula Award for 2002. The Award was established in memory of longtime Society member and Journal of Cell Biology Editor-in-Chief Norton B. “Bernie” Gilula. The winner will be selected on merit and will receive financial support for the 42nd ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The Award is funded by an annual grant from the Rockefeller University Press.

The student or advisor should submit a one-page research statement, a list of publications if any, and the advisor’s letter of recommendation.

Application deadline is August 1. Submit applications to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 8120 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814.

Duplicate applications from graduate students may be submitted for the Gilula and Member Memorial Awards.

 


Members In The News
  04/01/2002

Paul Berg, an ASCB member since 1994, will be honored at the Exploratorium’s 25th Anniversary Awards Dinner, which recognizes leaders in science, technology and education. Berg is the Chair of the ASCB Public Policy Committe and received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1980.

 


Letters To The Editor
  04/01/2002

Theory vs. Hypothesis

Dear Editor:
The Public Policy Briefing article “ASCB Opposes ID in Ohio” [March 2002] begins with the statement: “Intelligent Design, a theory that the world was created or designed by an intelligent higher being, is taking hold in Ohio.” Two sentences later, it is noted that Ohio “failed to properly teach the theory of evolution to its students”. With each described as a “theory”, the article itself helps to perpetuate pervasive public misuse of the term as understood by scientists. This is responsible for some of the public confusion over evolution.

The general non-scientific public uses the term “theory” to mean an educated or even uneducated guess, whereas for scientists an educated guess is an ”hypothesis”. A scientific “theory” is an hypothesis that has come to be supported by very strong evidence, like the Theory of Relativity. Thus, when we biologists refer to the “Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection,” we are talking about something that was originally an educated guess but for which there is now overwhelming substantiating hard evidence. But when the public hears us speak of the “Theory of Evolution”, the average person thinks “it’s just a theory”, i.e., a guess. So, for the public, both “ID” and “Evolution” are on equal footing as “theories”. Some have said that a distinction can be made by whether the “T” in “Theory” is capitalized or not, but that is too subtle, and only leads to more confusion. I would like to suggest that all ASCB members could contributute to better communication and public understanding by making a clear distinction between the terms ”theory” and “hypothesis”, both in and out of the classroom.

In general I think the ASCB Newsletter is very well done, and this is the first time I ever read anything in it that bothered me.

Sincerely,
Bill Cohen, Hunter College


Hearing Witness Clarifies Cloning Position

Dear Editor:
The single sentence describing my participation [in Congressional hearings on the Brownback bill, March 2002] incorrectly stated that I spoke in support of the Brownback bill. I spoke against experimental human cloning—the Brownback bill was mentioned neither in my oral nor written testimony. Indeed, there are aspects of the Brownback bill, such as its proposed criminal sanctions, with which I have real problems.

As an ASCB member for more than 25 years, I view it as primarily a scientific society—not only as a professional interest group—although I know current members of the board and administrative staff may disagree. My view of the Society is that it should promote discussion on contentious issues within and pertaining to cell biology—not simply present a party line. It would be difficult from the coverage you gave to my views for any readers of the Newsletter to distinguish my position from that of the anti-abortion Right, or to discern that there is sentiment against experimental human cloning from environmentalist and feminist organizations, or from groups critical of inappropriate applications of biotechnology, such as the Council for Responsible Genetics. Do all ASCB members except for myself consider that the role of cell biology in the human future is unproblematic? From my discussions with other scientists, I don’t think so.

Sincerely,
Stuart Newman, New York Medical College

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