ScienceScope

Science  02 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5386, pp. 21
  1. Project Recruits Women to Run for President

    Could the first female U.S. president be a scientist? The White House Project believes it's a possibility.

    To encourage more women to consider a run at the Oval Office, the nonpartisan, nonprofit group last week released a list of 20 prominent women it thinks might make good candidates. Three women with scientific credentials made the list: psychologist Judith Rodin, president of the University of Pennsylvania; cardiologist Bernadine Healy, a dean at Ohio State University and former National Institutes of Health director; and chemical engineer Mae Jemison, NASA's first female African-American astronaut.

    The group is now asking people to vote for the five women they would like to see run for office. It has mailed ballots to more than a million people and will also be inserting them into popular magazines such as People. But it's not clear that the winners will respond to a groundswell of support. Healy, for one, says she won't “deal with a theoretical.”

  2. Malaysian MIT Still a Dream

    Political turmoil has delayed for a year Malaysia's plans to open a graduate research university run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). But neither side is abandoning the project, which was supposed to enroll its first students this month.

    “We're on hold, waiting for the government to act,” says MIT's Fred Moavenzadeh, co-director of the project to create the Malaysia University of Science and Technology outside the capital, Kuala Lumpur (Science, 6 March, p. 1474). A private foundation is paying MIT $25 million over 5 years to instill its research-based curriculum into an elite group of scientist-entrepreneurs. But a similar contribution from the Malaysian government has been blocked by political upheavals precipitated by the country's yearlong economic crisis. In particular, last month's firing and arrest of Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim has disrupted activity at the ministry, which must approve the spending.

  3. Space Science Isn't Fun Anymore, Gingrich Says

    Most Americans may be fascinated by space exploration, but U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) says America's space bureaucrats have made it dull. “One of NASA's major achievements” has been “making space as boring as possible,” the pugnacious politician charged last week at a Capitol press conference unveiling a new science policy report (see story on p. 23). Reeling off a litany of complaints, Gingrich said the agency had become “cumbersome” and sponsors projects that are “the opposite of what you want good science to be.” He also took some sharp jabs at the international space station, calling the oft-delayed project “an absolute disaster.”

    NASA officials declined an opportunity to respond to the attack. But House legislative staff said Gingrich's remarks could foreshadow more trouble from House Republicans for NASA officials, who have watched their budget shrink in recent years and are currently trying to talk Congress into paying for a $660 million space station bailout. Gingrich's rhetoric, one aide says, “sent a pretty unsubtle message.”

  4. Biologist Named Russia's Science Minister

    The appointment of a physicist-turned-molecular biologist as Russia's new science minister could help the nation's natural scientists gain a bigger slice of the funding pie. Last week, Prime Minister Evgeny Primakov tapped Mikhail Kirpichnikov, 53, a veteran science administrator, for the top policy post despite opposition from some physicists and chemists, who currently garner the lion's share of Russia's science spending.

    Kirpichnikov earned his doctorate at the Moscow Physical and Technological Institute before taking up a career in molecular biology at several prestigious institutes. Despite working for years as a wonk, Kirpichnikov has kept one foot in the research world, heading a lab in the Russian Academy of Sciences' Bioengineering Center. His background, says Mark van Montagu of the University of Gent in Belgium, could signal rising fortunes for Russia's struggling young biotech industry.

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