News this Week

Science  14 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5451, pp. 202

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    Antiabortion Groups Target Neuroscience Study at Nebraska

    1. Eliot Marshall

    Antiabortion politics arrived with a crash at the gates of the University of Nebraska this winter. Scientists who use cells derived from human fetal tissue for studies of Alzheimer's disease and HIV have been under siege for the past few weeks from groups contending that it is immoral for anyone to benefit from elective abortions. State officials, including Republican Governor Mike Johanns, joined in, trying to get the university to stop the research. This provoked a confrontation over academic freedom.

    University leaders, including the Board of Regents, have backed the scientists. They argue that this research is important and complies fully with federal and local regulations. So far, they seem to have prevailed. But activists say the story isn't over. Robert Blank, leader of Metro Right to Life of Omaha, an antiabortion group seeking to halt this research, says his group will try to persuade state legislators, who returned from vacation last week, to impose new controls.

    And the controversy could move beyond Nebraska. Andrea Sheldon-Lafferty, executive director of the Coalition for Traditional Values (CTV) of Washington, D.C., says: “This is going to be a big issue in 2000. I'm going to take this campaign to several states. … Researchers are going to have a tough time explaining this one.” Her group has already tangled with Nebraska's senior senator, Robert Kerrey (D), accusing him in a TV commercial of condoning an immoral trade in fetal tissue. After Kerrey protested, the Cox cable network last month suspended CTV's commercial. Such tactics could affect a review of guidelines on human embryonic stem cell research, which Congress is gearing up to debate in the spring.

    The spark that ignited the Nebraska controversy was an item in the Metro Right to Life newsletter that focused on LeRoy Carhart, a doctor who runs an abortion clinic in Bellevue, Nebraska. Carhart is lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by pro-choice activists against a state law forbidding “partial-birth abortions.” (The challenge succeeded in federal court last year, forcing the state to give up plans to shut down Carhart's clinic.) The newsletter reported that Carhart is an unpaid “volunteer” member of the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) faculty. His name has appeared on research articles alongside those of other faculty members, including Howard Gendelman, director of the Center for Neurovirology and Neurodegenerative Disorders at UNMC. Since 1993, the center has used Carhart's clinic as a source of fetal cells for research on viral infection—mainly HIV—and dementia.

    Blank claims that the university approved the use of fetal cells from Carhart's clinic without adequate review. “This was done virtually in secret for 6 years,” Blank insists. But the chief of UNMC's institutional review board (IRB), Ernest Prentiss, rejects the allegations. “We went way beyond what is required” by ethics rules, Prentiss says. He argues that the law classifies fetal cells as cadaver tissue: Their use doesn't require an IRB review, he says. Nevertheless, UNMC did ask an executive group of IRB members to approve the protocol 6 years ago.

    Blank's organization and two other antiabortion groups demanded that UNMC cease using fetal cells and drop Carhart from its faculty. On 28 November, the Omaha World-Herald reported the story, and shortly afterward, the state's political leaders jumped. On 30 November, Governor Johanns faxed a letter to L. Dennis Smith, president of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, expressing his “grave concern.” Johanns declared it “unwise” to support research at UNMC “that many Nebraskans link to a practice that they and I find morally deplorable” and asked UNMC to stop it.

    Not missing a beat, Smith responded the same day and rejected the governor's request. Such intervention “strikes at the very heart of academic freedom,” he wrote, noting that fetal cells have been used in research since the 1950s—for example, to make polio vaccines—and that they are “essential” for UNMC's studies on dementia, neuron damage, and regeneration. He warned that heavy-handed politics could have a “chilling effect” on the ability to recruit researchers in the future. “I cannot accede,” he concluded.

    Smith's stance was supported strongly by the faculty senate on 7 December and unanimously 4 days later by the Board of Regents. Seven of eight elected members (one was absent) and four student members voted to reject the activists' demands. However, one regent, financial management consultant Drew Miller, issued a statement that, “Like other members of the Board … I was surprised to read in the paper a few days ago that fetal tissue research sourced from abortions are being used at UNMC.” Miller wants the university to create an independent ethics oversight group and find other sources of cells. But he has been tougher on antiabortion leaders, saying they have “spread disinformation and hatred.”

    Next to join the fray were the Catholic bishops of Nebraska. Three of them issued a joint statement deploring the use of fetal cells in research and calling on UNMC to desist. Creighton University, a Jesuit school in Omaha, threatened to break off a collaboration with UNMC, and at least one Creighton faculty member quit the UNMC lab where he was doing research. Creighton's interim vice president for health sciences, M. Roy Wilson, insists that the faculty member left on his own, not under duress, as some have claimed. “We believe firmly in academic freedom,” Wilson says, but he adds that, “we do not condone fetal cell research.”

    Other state politicians took up the issue, as did members of Nebraska's federal delegation—including U.S. Representative Lee Terry (R) and Senator Chuck Hagel (R). Both issued statements deploring the use of fetal tissue from abortion clinics. The state attorney general, Don Stenberg, who is planning to run for the Senate this year, also opposes the use of fetal tissue.

    The scientist whose work lies at the center of this political storm, Howard Gendelman, says he's simply trying to advance what he believes is some of the “hottest” research being done on viral infection and dementia. For more than a decade, Gendelman has investigated how HIV interferes with normal brain function. His center at UNMC, which he says now includes more than 30 scientists, has focused on microglial cells, the role of inflammation in Alzheimer's disease, and patterns of damage and regeneration in brain tissue. This research depends on a supply of cultured brain cells, Gendelman says, and only cells derived from fetal tissue propagate adequately in culture. Gendelman is grateful that the university has given him solid support, and he says that officials have “put their jobs on the line” for his research.

    The university has tried to accommodate the activists by promising to create a new bioethics review panel and to find “alternate sources” of human cells. William Berndt, UNMC's vice chancellor for academic affairs, says the university has contacted all area hospitals in an attempt to collect tissue from miscarriages, stillbirths, and ectopic pregnancies. It is also trying to set up a program of rapid autopsy to recover brain cells from adults. But Berndt has acknowledged that getting viable new sources may be difficult.

    Gendelman, meanwhile, is recovering from a grueling month. He received a 1-week extension for an $8 million grant application that he was compiling just as the political furor exploded in Omaha and submitted it to the National Institutes of Health on 6 January. The grant, if funded, would support his center for 5 years. But Gendelman knows that the battle over the “soul of the university” is far from over: “We're right in the middle of it now. I don't know how it will play out.”


    Supernova Pumps Iron in Inside-Out Blast

    1. Robert Irion

    Just in time for today's opening of the big-screen thriller Supernova, astronomers have assembled a portrait of a real-life star in our galaxy that blew up 300 years ago. It reveals a supernova more twisted than Hollywood writers could have imagined, with parts of the star's deepest core hurled into space the farthest and fastest.

    The images, taken last August by NASA's newly launched Chandra X-ray Observatory and published in the 10 January issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters, promise to help unravel the violent processes by which giant stars spew oxygen, silicon, iron, and other vital elements into space during their dramatic death throes. In particular, Chandra's observations mark the first time that astronomers have clearly identified freshly formed iron within the hot maelstrom of gas created by a supernova. The exploding star forged ironlike elements only near its core, but this dense matter somehow blasted out through a thick shroud of helium and other lighter elements perhaps 20 times more massive than our sun.

    Theorists had already suspected, based on computer models and distinctive radiation seen from Supernova 1987A in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, that turbulence at the center of a supernova would propel bullets of iron-rich material through a star's outer layers. Even so, Chandra's confirmation of that scenario has excited supernova veterans. “These data go a long way toward illustrating that the star really did blow up inside-out to a surprising degree,” says astronomer Robert Fesen of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Adds astrophysicist Adam Burrows of the University of Arizona in Tucson: “The mere fact that they are seeing iron is a great milestone.”

    Chandra's quarry was a supernova remnant called Cassiopeia A (Cas A), about 11,000 light-years away. Although the timing of the star's death is uncertain, astronomers believe that light from the explosion reached Earth in 1680—making Cas A the youngest known supernova remnant in our Milky Way. Debris within the remnant, now more than 10 light-years across, still flies outward at thousands of kilometers per second and spawns fierce shock waves as it plows into other matter in space. The shocks zoom back into the remnant and push its gas temperatures to tens of millions of degrees, making the entire cloud emit torrents of x-rays.

    Iron within Cas A eluded detection until now because the iron-rich knots are small, and previous x-ray satellites lacked the resolution to see them. Nor could optical telescopes spot the iron, because it barely shines at visible wavelengths. However, Chandra combines a powerful x-ray sensitivity with eyesight about as sharp as that of the best optical telescopes on the ground.

    A team led by astronomer John Hughes of Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, used Chandra's clear vision to find that the most iron-rich blobs were at the fast-moving fringes of the expanding cloud. Such blobs, astronomers believe, could only arise deep within the core of the blast from the flash fusion of silicon atoms into unstable atoms of nickel, a process that lasts a fraction of a second and requires temperatures of at least 5 billion degrees. The nickel decays first into cobalt and then iron, driving the supernova's light display as intense radioactivity makes the explosion glow white-hot.

    Hughes and his co-workers also saw plenty of silicon-rich blobs in Cas A, believed to arise from the explosive burning of oxygen atoms into silicon further out from the core at temperatures of perhaps 3 billion degrees. However, the images from Chandra reveal that the silicon-rich material is closer to the middle of the Cas A remnant than the iron-rich nuggets. “The deeper iron-rich ejecta is the last stuff that got out of the star, yet it's now the farthest from the center of the explosion,” Hughes says. That argues strongly against a neat, spherically symmetric “onion-skin” explosion, in which the star's outermost layers would expand most quickly into space.

    Researchers had seen hints of this asymmetry in Supernova 1987A, notes astrophysicist Stan Woosley of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Computer simulations by Burrows and others also suggest that massive instabilities in the first few seconds of a supernova blast should create “crooked fingers” of heavy elements that poke through the overlying star. However, the distribution of elements within Cas A may be more topsy-turvy than predicted by simulations. Further analysis of Cas A and other supernova remnants may help theorists re-create the exotic physics of the initial moments of the detonations. Two other powerful x-ray observatories will contribute to this effort: the European Space Agency's X-ray Multi-Mirror satellite, launched in December, and Japan's Astro-E, scheduled for launch early this year.

    Chandra's observations also deepen an enduring mystery about Cas A: Why didn't 17th century observers see it more clearly? English astronomer John Flamsteed may have spied it in 1680 as a very faint “star,” a description at odds with the potent radioactive energy that the explosion should have unleashed when its nickel-rich ejecta decayed into iron. “It must have been a brilliant supernova,” says Woosley, who posits that “a whole lot of dust” near the star and between Earth and Cas A made it nearly invisible. Moviegoers can rest easy, however: Hollywood scriptwriters would never permit any such effect to dim the supernova now terrorizing our screen heroes in space.


    Dredging at Israeli Site Prompts Mudslinging

    1. Michael Balter

    A prehistoric site critical for understanding early human evolution appears to have suffered permanent damage after a local Israeli drainage authority allegedly bulldozed a big chunk of it last month. Prehistorians claim that the earthmoving, undertaken to prevent flooding of nearby farms during rainstorms, has destroyed their ability to make sense of the complex layers at Gesher Benot Ya'aqov, on the banks of the river Jordan in northern Israel. “This wanton destruction is a travesty that has caused irreparable damage to a site of worldwide significance,” says archaeologist Steven Rosen of Ben-Gurion University in Beersheva, Israel. But according to the drainage official who oversaw the project, scientists are exaggerating the harm done to the site.

    While the current state of Gesher is contested, the site's importance is not. Gesher Benot Ya'aqov was first discovered in the 1930s and has been excavated several times since. Along with the nearby prehistoric site of Ubeidiya, also in the Jordan valley, Gesher is a key location for understanding how and when Homo erectus—an ancestor of modern humans—moved out of Africa, probably through the so-called Levantine corridor that includes Israel. “Israel and the Jordan valley are one of the great crossroads of human prehistory,” says Clive Gamble, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. “A site like Gesher provides crucial information on the skills and capabilities of the earliest hominids as they came out of … Africa.” During recent excavations at Gesher, stone tools such as hand axes and cleavers found in layers dated to 780,000 years ago were very similar to those at African sites of the same age. “The destruction of a site like Gesher is the destruction of a vital piece of our global heritage,” Gamble says.

    However, the Kinneret Drainage Authority had argued for years that it needed to dredge a stretch of the Jordan near the Gesher site to prevent regular flooding of the nearby Hula valley and its farmland. “Our main concern was to protect human life,” says Aitan Sat, the drainage authority's managing director. While not disputing the dredging project's necessity in principle, officials at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) had insisted that any operation must leave Gesher unharmed. Thus they were shocked late last month to find that the drainage authority had proceeded, without their knowledge, with a week of dredging in mid-December. The IAA applied for a court injunction to stop any further work, which was granted and has now been made permanent.

    But it may be too late to undo the damage. According to prehistorian Na'ama Goren-Inbar of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who has led recent excavations at Gesher, the bulldozers obliterated “several hundred meters” of the 2.5-kilometer-long site, including portions of the riverbank immediately north and south of her own 50-meter excavation. Goren-Inbar, who has visited Gesher on foot and flown over it by aircraft since the dredging took place, says that the workers left the dirt and sand in heaps by the river. “Strata which contain fossil remains, manmade stone artifacts, and a lot of organic material were all destroyed,” she claims. “We will never be able to scientifically study this material because it is now out of context.” Sat disputes that characterization. “They are lying about the amount of damage,” he says, insisting that his crew dredged only in the river and not on the banks. Sat says that despite attempts at negotiations between his authority and the IAA, the IAA would not compromise on dredging in the Gesher area. “They were preventing me from doing my job.”

    Recent excavations at Gesher had only begun to tap into a wealth of exceptionally well preserved plant and animal remains, which have allowed scientists to begin reconstructing the prehistoric climatic conditions and ecology, says Goren-Inbar. Thus experts in human evolution will be lamenting the destruction for a long time to come. “Sites like Gesher are found very rarely,” says Gamble. “This is not a record that should be discarded into a drainage ditch.”

  4. KOREA

    Billion-Dollar Project Kicks Off New Century

    1. Michael Baker*
    1. Michael Baker writes from Seoul.

    Seoul, SouthKoreaThe Korean geneticist Yoo Hyang Sook is going fishing this month at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and at Washington University in St. Louis. What she hopes to hook is a few collaborators for research on the genes associated with stomach and liver cancer, the most common forms of cancer in Korea. Her project is one of the first out of the gate in a 10-year, multibillion-dollar effort to bolster Korean science.

    Government officials hope the new initiative, called the 21st Century Frontier Research Program, will be more successful in generating new knowledge—and new products—than its predecessor, the Highly Advanced Research (HAN) Project that is nearing the end of its 10-year run. And requiring Yoo and other project leaders to link up with foreign researchers—as well as giving them the freedom to select those collaborators and manage the entire project—is a key element in the plan.

    The HAN project, begun in 1992, was supposed to be a springboard for Korea to catch up with advanced nations. (Its nickname is the “G7 project,” after the group of seven countries that meet annually to discuss global economic and trade issues.) It funded 18 teams conducting research on everything from agrochemicals to nuclear fusion. Although the results have helped Korean companies to commercialize such products as high-definition television sets and 256-megabyte DRAM chips, the project fell short in other areas, including fusion and high-speed rail transportation. One of the major stumbling blocks, say officials at the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), was the shortage of homegrown talent. “For HAN, we thought that we could do it ourselves. [But] we found that outsourcing subprojects is better,” says Yang Sung Kwang, a deputy director at MOST. That's why the 21st Century Program will include much more foreign collaboration.

    The new program, which begins in stages from now until 2002, is expected to support 20 large projects at a total cost of roughly $3.5 billion. Like the HAN projects, it will be a mix of basic and applied research, but with a greater focus on environmental protection and such quality-of-life projects as improved geriatric care. Candidate areas include communications, new materials, biodiversity, molecular engineering, hydrogen power, and earthquake early warning systems. The annual budget for each new project, not yet set, is likely to mirror the average $8.7 million given to each HAN project.

    The first two projects, announced in November, are Yoo's and a program led by robotics scientist Park Chong Ho to develop miniature integrated devices for medical applications and wearable computers. While Yoo is in the United States inspecting the human genome project and advances in DNA chip technology, Park will jet to Germany and Switzerland seeking assistance on everything from miniature batteries and communications components to endoscopic medical devices. His goal is to make Korea one of the top five countries in both researching and finding uses for such microsystems. “Without foreign experts, I think [that goal] is not possible,” says Park.

    One big difference between HAN and the new program is that a single leader will be firmly in control of each project and be given a relatively free hand to allocate resources. That's a big departure from HAN's piecemeal system, in which the central government selected and managed subprojects directly but did not hold anyone accountable for the overall direction of the research. To keep focused on their research, project leaders must sever ties with other institutions—Yoo left the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology in Taejon and Park left The Korea Institute of Science and Technology in Seoul to head up their new projects—a demand not imposed on HAN scientists.

    MOST will evaluate each project every 3 years, rather than annually, to reduce paperwork. But Yang says it will expect to see “visible, clear, and quantitative” evidence that project managers are accomplishing their goals. MOST officials promise that the government will pull the plug on foundering projects, but they expect some resistance in taking such measures. “That kind of competitive culture is not popular [with scientists],” says Yang about a society that places an emphasis on saving face.

    Yoo admits that her project hinges in part “on who I find” for the collaboration, a two-way street that will include training Korean students in U.S. labs. But if all goes well, she predicts, “the 21st Century Program will be a milestone [in our] leap … to a more advanced scientific level.”


    Nature Steers a Predictable Course

    1. Elizabeth Pennisi

    In Darwin's original formulation of his theory of evolution, he emphasized the importance of the local environment in shaping how organisms change through time. Over the past 2 decades, however, his assumption that natural selection, as it is known, is invariably the driving force of evolution has fallen somewhat out of favor. Some evolutionary theorists have argued that “genetic drift,” random gene changes that accumulate over time, underlies the evolution of new species. Thus, even with natural selection, evolution's course should be rather unpredictable and not likely to be repeated time and time again, they concluded. But results reported in this issue by two independent teams indicate that natural selection seems to be as important as Darwin had thought, often overriding the randomness of genetic drift.

    Both teams took advantage of nature's own evolutionary laboratory. Raymond Huey of the University of Washington, Seattle, and his colleagues studied a European fruit fly, Drosophila subobscura, that was introduced into California some 20 years ago. As the researchers report on page 308, they found that over the south-to-north range of the flies, the insects have evolved larger wings, a change that parallels what happened to this species in Europe.

    Dolph Schluter of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver and his colleagues studied a very different species, a stickleback fish living in three isolated lakes on British Columbia's Pacific coast. In work described on page 306, the researchers report that the same two species have formed in all three lakes. Each lake contains one with hefty, bottom-dwelling individuals and one with streamlined individuals that feed in the open water. Both studies provide strong evidence confirming “the importance and strength of natural selection as the major agent of evolutionary change,” says Douglas Futuyma, an evolutionary biologist at the State University of New York, Stony Brook.

    Even the entomologists who first noticed the distinctively black European fruit flies in California almost 20 years ago thought this species provided an opportunity to see evolution in action. But Huey and George Gilchrist, now an evolutionary biologist at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, and their colleagues were the first to test whether the flies evolved the same way in the New World as they had in the old. In 1997, they collected D. subobscura flies from 11 spots ranging from just north of Santa Barbara, California, to north of Vancouver. The following year, Huey and Spanish colleagues trapped the flies over roughly the same range of latitudes in Europe, traversing the continent from southern Spain to the middle of Denmark.

    The team then raised the different populations of flies, providing the same food and living conditions for them all. After allowing a half-dozen generations to go by, the researchers measured the wing lengths—an indicator of overall body size—of flies from each locale. The results were striking, particularly in the females, says Gilchrist.

    He and his colleagues saw an increase in wing size—to a 0.1-millimeter difference, or 4%—in the European flies collected from south to north. And they saw the same increase in the fruit flies from North America, even though the species had spent only a brief time on the continent. Indeed, Andrew Hendry of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who has recently completed a survey of evolutionary rates, says that the change “is as fast as I have ever seen. I think this will shake up a lot of people.” The adaptive significance of the change is unclear. Still, says evolutionary biologist Jeff Mitton of the University of Colorado, Boulder, the fact that it occurred twice in similar environments makes for “a very clean and compelling story” in favor of natural selection.

    The genetic basis of the change may be different in the European and North American versions of D. subobscura, however. Huey and his colleagues found that the European populations lengthened the part of the wing closest to the body, while those in North America extended the outer segment. The work shows that “there can be different ways of attaining the same outcome,” notes Futuyma, and thus some aspects of evolution may still be random and unpredictable.

    Schluter's team found that the sticklebacks they studied represent an even more dramatic case of parallel evolution. Originally of marine origin, the fish were trapped in coastal lakes formed some 10,000 years ago by a retreating glacier. The lakes are isolated from one another—indeed, two are located on separate islands along the coast—yet each of the three lakes wound up with the same two noninterbreeding varieties of stickleback, the bulky benthic type and the actively swimming limnetic type.

    To understand the basis of the reproductive isolation, UBC's Laura Nagel, Janette Boughman, and Howard Rundle tested the mating preferences of the fish. They found that females choose males that look like themselves. For example, benthics mated with benthics, both from their own lake and the others, while shunning all limnetics. “Whatever it is that makes the benthics dislike the limnetics, it's happened over and over again,” Schluter explains. That finding, adds Mitton, was “a real surprise” and shows that natural selection can yield new species.

    The more researchers probe the corners of nature's laboratory, the more evidence they are likely to find supporting the importance of natural selection, Mitton says. For example, he sees repeated patterns of evolution in some traits of the pinyon pines that he studies. These examples “say that natural selection can cause a population to change very quickly and hint that speciation could [occur] very quickly,” he notes. And that makes him even more sure that Darwin was right after all.


    Budget Doubling in View for Indian R&D

    1. Pallava Bagla

    NewDelhiIndian scientists are cheering the prospect that the country's research budget could leap by 30% this year and then double over the next 5 years. Last week, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced that his government would hike R&D spending to 1% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year and to 2% by 2005, effectively linking science spending to the country's overall economic growth. (The prime minister pegs the current percentage at 0.86%; however, the most recent official estimate is only 0.66%.) The announcement surprised even his own science managers, who immediately set to work on plans to allocate the additional resources. Indian officials have long acknowledged that the country lags behind other democracies in funding science.

    “By world standards, India's investments in R&D are wholly inadequate and subcritical,” Vajpayee told some 3000 scientists in a keynote speech that opened the annual meeting of the Indian Science Congress in Pune. In addition, much of the spending has gone to support India's large defense establishment and sectors related to national security, notably space and nuclear power. The new policy is seen as a long-term commitment to a growing and more diversified portfolio, including basic research. “This means that [R&D's share of] the pie will only increase in years to come,” says Science and Technology Minister Murli Manohar Joshi. He claims that it took him nearly 2 years to convince the prime minister to make what he described as a “historical announcement.”

    The news is expected to translate into a jump from $2.5 billion to $3.25 billion in R&D spending in the fiscal 2000 budget to be announced at the end of February. If Vajpayee keeps his promise, the budget would rise by some $500 million or more in each of the next 5 years in step with the GDP, which is growing at 6.5% a year. On Monday India's finance minister, Yashwant Sinha, solicited ideas from a group of scientists and said that the government would emphasize innovation and competition in any new spending plans.

    The announcement was a “bolt out of the blue,” says Valangiman Subramaniam Ramamurthy, head of the Department of Science and Technology in New Delhi. He and his counterparts will meet here next week to draft spending priorities that are expected to draw heavily from a 23-volume planning document prepared recently by the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council, a quasi-government think tank. Ramamurthy told Science that a third of the new money is likely to be allocated to “blue-sky projects” and other basic research, with the rest going to applied technologies. He says “mission-oriented programs” are likely to be the main beneficiaries, in particular, bioinformatics, nanotechnology, smart materials, and the more efficient burning of coal. The increases are likely to be spread over several agencies, Ramamurthy said, citing such recent projects as the Ministry of Food's efforts to develop more efficient technologies for the sugar industry. Some experts say much of the new money could go to the defense and nuclear agencies.

    Scientists applauded the news and immediately proposed their own candidates for greater support. Goverdhan Mehta, director of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, made a plea for beefing up India's university system, which he says “has virtually collapsed.” In their meeting with Sinha, scientists stressed tax reforms, greater industrial participation, and incentives for bioprospecting. C. N. R. Rao, president of the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore, whose recent call for a doubling of current spending levels in both education and science (Science, 12 November 1999, p. 1295) triggered a parliamentary debate on the country's R&D policy, is optimistic that the new policy will not be overturned. “I do not see why this government cannot keep its promise,” he says.


    Architecture Discovers Science

    1. Jon Cohen

    Lured by a surge of funding and the growing prestige of science, world-famous architects, in partnership with special lab consultants, are changing the public face of research

    At lunchtime on 23 September, the University of Cincinnati marching band, trumpets blaring and drums banging, strutted its stuff in front of a few hundred people who had gathered to celebrate a new building on campus. A troupe of modern dancers, toting red and black balloons that had been twisted into double helices, also entertained the crowd, as did a string quartet, a choir, and a fireworks show. Had the new building been, say, a museum, a library, or a sports arena, this extravaganza might not have seemed unusual. But this dedication ceremony was for a laboratory.

    Laboratories, especially those on university campuses, have long been the plainest of buildings, emphasizing function over form to a fault. Cincinnati's new $46 million Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, however, is anything but plain. Designed by Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry, who recently won acclaim for his Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Vontz veritably dances at the entrance to the school's medical center. In what has become the signature Gehry style, the 13,935-square-meter Vontz looks more like a sculpture than a building, with its collection of curvaceous brick structures of different heights, accented by wavy sheets of glass, blending into a single breathtaking composition. “It's the most successful laboratory, architecturally, since the Salk,” says James Ackerman, a Harvard University historian of architecture.

    “The Salk”—shorthand for The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California—has wowed the worlds of science and architecture for nearly 35 years. Yet architect Louis Kahn's concrete, marble, and teak masterpiece overlooking the Pacific Ocean did not trigger a rush by other “signature” architects to build labs. Now, designer labs are suddenly hot. During the past few years, Gehry and a dozen of the world's most accomplished architects—several of whom, like Gehry, have won the Pritzker Prize, architecture's equivalent of the Nobel—have signed up to do laboratories for academia, industry, government, and philanthropists. Lesser known firms that specialize in laboratory architecture have recently designed stunning workplaces for scientists, too.

    This new marriage between science and architecture is especially evident in California. In the San Francisco Bay area, for example, renowned Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretta recently designed a lab for Chiron Corp., Pritzker laureate I. M. Pei crafted the just-opened Buck Center for Research in Aging, Stanford University will soon have a new clinical sciences research center designed by England's Sir Norman Foster (1999's Pritzker winner), and the University of California, San Francisco, this summer selected Connecticut-based Cesar Pelli to build a neuroscience research center on its new Mission Bay campus (Science, 24 December 1999, p. 2445). Further south in Pasadena, the California Institute of Technology in February chose James Freed, architect of the much celebrated U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, to build a new biology lab. In La Jolla, New York's Tod Williams and Billie Tsien a few years ago designed the widely praised Neurosciences Institute. Outside California, two impressive labs designed by New York-based architect Rafael Viñoly are now going up: the Bernard and Gloria Salick Center for the City University of New York in Flushing, and the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    Money is the matchmaker. Universities, philanthropists, governments, and businesses have been on a spending spree in the past few years, building new labs at an unprecedented rate. But Harvard's Peter Galison, a historian of science who co-edited a collection of essays published last year called The Architecture of Science, sees more than just money talking: “Our recent history is one in which the laboratory is consistently in the news and the economic eye of the storm,” says Galison. “It has a philosophical, symbolic importance that's important to architects.” Galison also points out that fancy surroundings are becoming more important as scientists increasingly interact with the business world by starting their own biotechnology and electronics outfits, joining pharmaceutical companies, and aggressively patenting their discoveries. And in that moneyed world, cracked linoleum, bad lighting, lack of privacy, and chipped iron banisters don't cut it.

    More than appearances are involved in this coming together of science and architecture, however. Many of the handsome new labs now going up aim to create environments in which scientists from different labs—and even different disciplines—interact, while providing private space. How these goals are achieved often depends largely on a new breed of architects and engineers who specialize in laboratories and offer their services to the likes of Gehry, Viñoly, Foster, Freed, and Pei. These consulting architects often have different ideas about what constitutes good functional design and how best to achieve the right blend of interaction and privacy.

    Even though these partnerships are producing stunning designs and innovative working environments, as a recent University of Cincinnati symposium on science and architecture revealed, there still is much debate about whether the quality of the architecture really enhances the quality of the science (see sidebar). And some of the signature architects who are putting their stamp on the scientific workplace wish their ultimate clients had more appreciation for the impact that a building has: Scientists, says Gehry, “are, for the most part, not interested in architecture.” Too often, he complains, researchers want an architect to “just get it functional, spend the money on just solving the functional problems.” Such “a sweatshop mentality,” he says, ignores “the human needs [for] changing light, space, and the ability to make it personalized.”

    Two cultures

    To most scientists, changing light and space mean little unless they fit in with the way a lab functions. Louis Kahn found that out the hard way in the 1960s with two labs that in some ways foreshadowed today's designer labs. The first, completed in 1962, was the Richards Medical Research Laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania. Kahn came up with an eye-catching design: 10-story stacks of “studios” that he framed with even taller brick “service” towers. “It was a complex greatly admired in the literature of architecture for its imposing presence and imaginative presentation of space and structure,” says architectural historian Ackerman. “It appeared to be an inspired innovation—and actually it was a near disaster. The scientists, who hadn't been particularly accommodated in discussing the design, were really hampered in their research.”

    Arnold Levine, now president of The Rockefeller University in New York City, was one of the scientists who first moved into the Richards. “While it looked beautiful, it really wasn't very functional,” says Levine, who was then a graduate student in microbiology. “We got into a horrible fight with Louis Kahn.” The scientists groused about exposed pipes that collected dust and the shortage of wall space for refrigerators, but they had particular trouble with Kahn's extensive use of windows. “The sunlight came in blindingly and melted the ice in our ice buckets,” recalls Levine. The researchers fashioned curtains out of newspaper comic strips, which Kahn ordered the janitors to tear down. Next, they tried hanging silver foil over the windows, thinking that would appease the architect because pop artist Andy Warhol recently had received attention for covering the windows of his studio that way. Levine came in one morning and found a man ripping down the foil. “I asked him who the hell he was,” says Levine. It turned out to be Kahn himself. Kahn finally agreed to hang shades over the windows. “I'm always amazed that he did the Salk, and it's such an extremely beautiful lab.”

    The Salk, completed in 1965, quickly became the world's most celebrated lab. Kahn often recounted that when Jonas Salk first approached him, Salk said, “I would like to invite Picasso to the laboratory.” So Kahn designed a lab where he imagined Picasso would feel comfortable working. Kahn also sought advice on building a place in which scientists would feel comfortable working, bringing in Earl Walls, an engineer who subsequently founded a San Diego-based firm that has grown into one of the world's largest lab consulting businesses.

    The Salk's exterior has become an icon. Its centerpiece is a rectangular, travertine marble courtyard flanked by two mirror- image, concrete and teak buildings that jut into milk-carton angles. Water coursing down a gutter that cuts through the courtyard splits into four waterfalls that appear to spill into the Pacific. At sunset, when amber and rose rays drench the marble, water, and concrete, Kahn's mix of laboratories and offices shows off the two elements that mattered most to him: light and silence.

    The institute's interior may be less recognizable but, unlike the Richards, it has won plaudits for being functional. Walls hatched the idea of creating a 2.7-meter “interstitial” space atop each of the three stories of labs to house plumbing, air conditioning, heating, ventilation, gas lines, and electrical wires. This makes it easy to relocate a lab bench—and flexibility is essential to the fast-changing world of science—or to update the mechanical equipment. A system of trusses in the interstitial space also holds up the ceiling in the lab below and supports the floor in the lab above; as a result, the labs have no load-bearing walls, allowing researchers to configure and reconfigure lab space as they see fit. Different principal investigators share floors, creating labs that blend into one another. “Our students and postdocs mingle,” says Walter Eckhart, a cancer researcher who has been at the Salk since its completion. “It's like one lab. That would be difficult to do in a conventional setting where the laboratories are divided by walls and doors. Here, it's like moving from room to room in a house.”

    Marriages of convenience

    In spite of the Salk's instant acclaim, few other major architects followed Kahn into the lab design business. (One exception was Pei, whose much-praised National Center for Atmospheric Research—a concrete structure designed to blend into the Rocky Mountains near Boulder, Colorado—opened in 1967.) But in the early 1980s, Princeton University took Kahn's idea of hiring an engineer to help design the lab space one step further: It commissioned Robert Venturi, who later would win the Pritzker, to design the outside, or “shell,” of its new molecular biology lab, while Boston's Payette Associates handled the interior.

    The resulting four-story structure won praise from architects and scientists. The shell, a checkerboard pattern in brick and stone mixed with a generous use of casement windows, gives the building a distinctive, postmodern look. Some labs use the open plan of the Salk, while others have more traditional walls separating researchers. A wide central staircase encourages the staff to mingle, as do two lounges on each floor that have built-in seating and blackboards. The design provides “the warmth and open feeling that we requested,” says Levine, who was then the chair of Princeton's molecular biology program.

    Many of the new designer labs are products of Venturi-Payette-style marriages. “Laboratory consultants can make any architect a laboratory architect,” says Tully Shelley III, president of MBT Architecture in San Francisco. MBT, which has built everything from Hawaii's W. M. Keck Observatory to the award-winning technology center for Palo Alto biotech company Genencor Inc., is now consulting with Norman Foster on Stanford's new research center.

    Walking through the Vontz Center's labs and the interstitial space, Walls, who designed the interior, points to details that he suggested to make the labs function. The Vontz's lab spaces branch off the building into rectangular wings, each filled with rows of lab benches that run perpendicular to a large window on one side and core facilities—like equipment rooms and darkrooms—on the other. In the afternoon, electrically operated black mesh screens drop in front of the windows to cut the glare.

    Gas and water piping make “umbilical drops” down to the lab benches every 3.5 meters. “We prefer to feed down,” says Walls. “It's much easier to patch a ceiling than a floor.” The benches themselves sit on tall legs, making it easier to clean under them. In addition to a full sink at the end of each bench, there's a “cup sink” in the center for pouring out chemicals and the like. Suspended shelving above the benches is cantilevered, making chemicals, books, and equipment easier to reach. Principal investigators have individual offices that line the exterior of the main building, separating them from the distractions of the lab. Each office is uniquely shaped, a notable contrast to the cookie-cutter look of the labs themselves.

    The new Life Sciences Center at Chiron Corp. in Emeryville, California, shows that mergers between design architect and lab consultant are also dramatically changing the look of industrial labs, which have their own peculiar needs and vanities. In keeping with Legoretta's signature style, the 26,500-square-meter Life Sciences Center includes courtyards, roof-decks, balconies, a variety of window shapes, sculptures, fountains, a grand atrium, and liberal use of yellow, purple, and orange paint. Translucent sconces made from Mexican white onyx cast soft light on the hallways. A special paint technique gives a concrete floor the appearance of worn-in leather. Tiny lights line the inside of the lantern-shaped cupola that caps the atrium. Refrigerators are built into the walls rather than cluttering hallways. Chiron researchers “fight to get into this building,” says William Rutter, a co-founder of Chiron who worked with Legoretta, Walls, and “architect of record” Flad and Associates.

    Chiron's philosophy about how the company's scientists should interact drove the design of the building's interior. Unlike in an academic setting, no one person lords over a laboratory. “They're open, so the ebb and flow of scientific work is not associated with territoriality,” explains Rutter. Situated on the building's exterior to take advantage of the natural light, the labs typically accommodate 18 researchers who share three 7-meter-long islands. Rutter stresses that the scientists “work” in many other parts of the building. “The old idea of having laboratory benches where people stay is passé,” he says.

    The building provides private space for biologists and chemists to do calculations, computer searches, and the like in banks of offices that have glass doors and face the atrium. Each office is a mere 2.5 meters by 3 meters. “We emphasized small offices and large meeting rooms,” says Rutter. To further encourage mingling, several “fellows' rooms” are scattered about that have furniture designed by Legoretta, the latest journals, and nearby coffee and copying machines.

    As Rutter proudly leads a tour of the lab, he explains that Chiron did not make this $87 million investment—about $3300 a square meter, almost exactly the same cost as the Vontz—simply to support the arts: “You have to present to the board of directors that this capital cost, which takes away from earnings, is worth the expense.” The Life Sciences Center is a useful recruiting tool, says Rutter, but employees also enjoy working in it so much that they stick around longer. “We like to see people working not 40 hours a week, but 80 hours a week,” says Rutter, who helped genetically engineer the first hepatitis B vaccine.

    Thirty miles northwest of Chiron in Novato, a small city in Marin County, stands the Buck Center for Research in Aging, another new lab designed by a combination of signature architect and lab consultant. But this time the money came from a philanthropy, which had its own distinct reasons for wedding famed architect Pei with lab specialist Kenneth Kornberg.

    Money for the Buck Center came from a trust set up by Beryl Buck, an oil heiress who lived in Marin County until her death in 1975. When the trust's administrators announced plans to build an aging research laboratory more than a decade ago, they met resistance from Novato residents and outside environmental groups. The trust turned to Pei, hoping that a renowned architect would help quell the criticism.

    The choice of Pei did little to mollify residents, 52% of whom voted against the center in a referendum held in 1995. Still, the project proceeded and the center opened last July. Crafted entirely from blocks of travertine marble, the Buck features the triangles and atria that Pei has become famous for in buildings such as the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Indeed, the Buck could easily be mistaken for a museum. Even the interior of the main lobby is museum-quality space, with a vast atrium flanked by tall windows—and not a lab bench in sight. “I can't help but enjoy this kind of architecture,” says Kornberg, who designed the interior. “It's marvelous. My only regret is that I didn't have [Pei's] budget to do the labs.”

    What Kornberg did in the labs, though, is remarkable in its own right. Unlike most lab architects, Kornberg “grew up in science.” His father, Arthur, won a Nobel Prize, and he has two brothers who are leading researchers. So he has strong feelings about what makes labs work. “Ninety percent of labs I see are a huge barn where you have to walk by everyone,” says Kornberg. “If you're trying to do your work, and every 15 seconds people are walking by and you have to acknowledge them, you can't get anything done. … You've got to have interaction, but not at your lab bench.'

    Kornberg created privacy at the Buck by having lab benches form what amount to cul-de-sacs, with each bench running all the way up to a window. The window end of each bench features a lowered desk, providing a private space. “Nobody goes by you,” says Kornberg. “If you're sitting there figuring out how many grams of this or milliliters of that, you need a quiet place.”

    Small details shape the unique character of the lab space. Kornberg rounded off the ends of the lab benches to make it easier to roll carts around the lab. Cabinetmakers used distinctive anigre wood from Africa. Lab floors are black rather than the more traditional white. “If you ever go into a building with white floors, people are squinting,” says Kornberg. “In a lot of labs, you have eyesore by the end of the day.” And many of the walls are painted bright colors. “Labs get very cluttered and very messy,” he says. “If you leave the walls white or bland, the clutter takes over and you lose the architecture of the place.”

    Kornberg says he enjoyed working with Pei, but that they had “different views of what the labs should be.” Pei first designed three triangles with labs around atria. “I thought it was important when coming out of the lab to face people,” says Kornberg. Pei's “circulation” idea initially prevailed, but the building, which went through several iterations because of objections from environmentalists, ultimately has the labs open to hallways rather than atria. Indeed, Kornberg—who mostly designs entire buildings, not just interiors—says collaborations between brand-name architects and lab consultants can be “the toughest way to do a lab building.”

    Gehry, who worked closely with Walls and university scientists in designing the Vontz, says such collaborations are valuable, but he wishes the labs themselves offered more “individual expression” to people who work at the benches. “There isn't enough idiosyncratic behavior possible in these labs,” says Gehry. For example, he says, he would like labs to have enough flexibility for people to move a bench so that the light best suits their needs, or to accommodate personal furniture.

    Other architects also have mixed feelings about assigning one group to do a shell and the other an interior—even though, like Kornberg, they often seek these jobs themselves. “It's difficult if the idea of how a building works and its [design] architect aren't truly connected,” says Terry Sargent, a lab architect based in Atlanta, Georgia. Sargent led the Lord, Aeck & Sargent team that designed all aspects of the Georgia Public Health Laboratory in Decatur, a stunning building that features granite piers and awnings made from thin-gauged copper wire. He notes that none of the firm's other buildings look anything like this lab, and he is particularly critical of the notion of hiring famous architects to “brand” buildings with a recognizable style. “The building needs to be responsive to its environment and the people who use it,” says Sargent. “If they're all different, that's the best.”

    Ugly truths

    Curiously, many of the scientists promoting the new trend of labs as architectural statements rose to the top of their fields while working in typical ungainly spaces. When Rockefeller's Levine left the Richards building, for example, he moved to old labs at Princeton that were so ugly his mother suggested he return to school and earn a medical degree. “I was devastated,” says Levine. Chiron's Rutter says his old labs at the University of California, San Francisco, where he did pioneering cloning research, similarly were “terribly designed.”

    Why, then, do they put such stock in the value of beautifully designed labs? “Troglodytes did OK working in caves,” says Rutter. “You pay very little delta for exceptional space, and the little you pay brings you exceptional rewards.” Levine says one of these rewards is the quality of the work: “The most important variable is still the person and not the architecture. But I really do believe that you can do better science if you're in a better building.”

    Gehry is optimistic that more scientists will come to similar conclusions. Says Gehry, “If they invest just a little bit of time, a little bit more energy, and just a tiny bit of money—it's not that much—it'll pay off in ways that they haven't thought of.”


    Architecture and Creativity: Does Beauty Matter?

    1. Jon Cohen

    At a symposium on science and architecture held last fall at the University of Cincinnati, a high-profile panel wrestled with the ultimate question: Does the architecture of a laboratory influence a scientist's creativity and productivity? The short answer is, it depends on whom you ask.

    The discussion, led by television talk show host Charlie Rose, included architect Frank Gehry, lab consultant Earl Walls, architectural historian James Ackerman, and Nobel Prize winners Paul Berg and Ferid Murad. No one made the case for ugly spaces. But Berg, who worked with the firm MBT Architecture in the design of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine at Stanford University, said scientists often romanticize bad working conditions. “For a very long time, people thought you had to work under extreme, trying conditions in order to be creative—the image of the artist who works in the garret, cut off from all the finer things of life,” said Berg. “I think that was a persistent attitude among many scientists.” Although Berg conceded he could not prove that elegant settings enhance the quality of research, he argued that it certainly doesn't inhibit it. “I've yet to see anybody whose creative capacities diminished when placed in pleasant surroundings or a congenial atmosphere,” said Berg.

    Murad, who has done pioneering work on nitric oxide at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, had many reservations about linking his creativity to the architecture of his workplace. Murad said some of his most inspired scientific thoughts have occurred in the most unlikely places. “I honestly don't know where I collect and collate information,” said Murad. “It can be bumping into someone in the elevator or the hallway or some international meeting or whatever.” But new insights often come when he's away from work, “days or weeks later … when my mind is clear and I'm under the car or I'm digging up a tree or beating on boards out in the garage.”

    Walls, who makes his living designing laboratories, said he is on the fence about whether a pleasant working environment improves creativity. “It's such a personal thing that I'm not sure I could ever say anything but maybe, maybe not,” says Walls.

    Gehry was not so equivocal. “If you keep out the light, mice are dwarfed,” said Gehry. “So are people.” He, of course, expects that the new Vontz Center that he designed for the University of Cincinnati will have a positive impact on the scientists who work there. “They can turn out the lights and put a sack cloth around their heads if they want to suffer a little bit, but they are, over time, going to experience a richness,” said Gehry. “They will start to see how the sun falls in the atrium and how it plays with those curves. They'll start to see how the brick color was selected because at certain times of the day it has a pink glow and it's very pronounced and very interesting. They will understand that those curved walls are nicer for a person to stand against than a big brick straight wall. So this building will unfold and have a human relationship and will enrich them.”

    Donald Harrison, the University of Cincinnati provost who oversaw the building of the Vontz, offered a different reason why architecture should matter to scientists. “I do think [the Vontz Center] will help attract scientists here to the Midwest,” said Harrison, emphasizing that Cincinnati does not have the climate of the West Coast or the intellectual mass of big cities back East. So, if the Vontz does foster creativity and productivity, the design of the building itself may have less direct impact than the fact that creative and productive scientists want to work inside it.


    How to Create a Science Teacher for $200,000

    1. Jeffrey Mervis

    Ambitious efforts launched 5 years ago to recruit laid-off defense workers into math and science teaching are now a distant memory. Here's why

    Design engineer Peter Goudeaux struggled to find work after being laid off from General Dynamics during a recession that swept through Southern California's aerospace industry in the early 1990s. The sluggish economy also put a crimp in the consulting business of aerospace engineer Ernesto Golan. But in 1995 the prospects for both men brightened when they were accepted into a program to retrain high-tech professionals for careers in Los Angeles and nearby urban school districts.

    The 5-year, $5 million Defense Reinvestment Initiative (DRI)—funded by the Department of Defense (DOD) and run by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)—aimed to retool some of the thousands of skilled workers cast adrift by a shrinking defense industry to help ease the severe shortage of public school math and science teachers. For the 54-year-old Golan, born in Cuba, it was a chance to revive a long-dormant desire to be a math teacher. And the 56-year-old Goudeaux saw it as an opportunity to move “from what some people say is a negative, designing weapons systems, to a positive, teaching kids.” Three years into their new careers as secondary school math teachers, the two men say that the rewards of helping disadvantaged students far outweigh such hassles as a long commute and up to 58 students in a classroom. “I want to keep teaching for as long as I can,” says Goudeaux.

    But the transformation of Goudeaux and Golan from cold warriors to gentle mentors is the exception, not the rule, for DRI. A recent evaluation by the academy's Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education ( found that the program managed to train only 12 of a projected 60 fellows and put just nine of them into the classroom, resulting in an embarrassingly high cost of nearly $200,000 per teacher. “We certainly can't afford to do it that way,” says Michael McKibbin, a member of the DRI advisory board and head of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The commission runs an $11-million-a-year internship program that last year put 7000 would-be teachers into the classroom—at a cost less than 1% that of DRI.

    DRI did accomplish something, though: It proved that it's possible to recruit talented minority educators like Goudeaux and Golan into urban schools with high minority student populations. And the new teachers are dedicated to their work. “Most of the fellows got offers to return to their [former] jobs when the economy improved,” says McKibbin. “And to their credit, they didn't want to go back. I consider that a success.”

    DRI wasn't the only program to fall short in its attempt to solve the twin challenges of retraining a defense-oriented workforce and strengthening science in the classroom (see sidebar). But, at a time when many state and federal officials are trying to attract people from other professions into teaching, it offers important lessons in what works and doesn't work in retraining science and math professionals.

    Good intentions

    DRI was the result of an unlikely partnership between NAS President Bruce Alberts, who has long argued that working scientists and engineers must play a role in the systemic reform of urban science and math education, and Deputy Defense Secretary John Deutch, who wanted to lift Southern California out of a steep recession. The Administration announced the program with great fanfare in early 1995 (Science, 27 January 1995, p. 443). Fellows would receive a stipend of $22,000 and undergo a 14-month training program. To choose candidates who could handle the expected intellectual and psychological challenges, DRI administered a questionnaire to measure whether their personality was suited for an urban classroom and tested their knowledge of the subject they would be teaching. The rigorous screening process ruled out all but 15 of 61 applicants, five short of the 20 slots available in the first year. Three dropped out during training, leaving only 12 graduates. “We may have selected out some good people,” admits educational consultant Maureen Shiflett, who ran the program before retiring from the academy in 1998, “although I think [the battery of tests] does a good job of finding people who have a passion for teaching.”

    But even before the first class had finished training, Deutch had left to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency. A few months later, Pentagon officials informed Shiflett that they were withdrawing the remaining $3.2 million in projected funding. The news was a crushing blow, forcing the cancellation of a planned second class of 40 fellows. “We had front-loaded a lot of expenses and spent a lot of time negotiating with schools in preparation for our second cohort,” explains Shiflett. “We had planned to cut back once things were running smoothly.”

    For the Pentagon, the project had become a luxury it could no longer afford. “It did a lot of things for a lot of people who were trying to improve math and science in inner city schools,” says Toby Holliday of the Defense Department's Office of Economic Adjustment, which oversaw the DRI program. “But DOD was interested in helping to ease the transition from defense to civilian employment for laid-off aerospace workers. And from a selfish perspective, it was not seen as a cost-effective way to transition workers.”

    After DOD pulled out, the academy received $125,000 from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation to re-create DRI at a nearby Long Beach school district. But the new program, called Urban Teacher Preparation (UTP), could afford stipends only half the size of those given to DRI fellows. The reviving economy made the amount seem even smaller. The smaller stipends and stiffer competition for high-tech talent proved fatal: UTP collapsed after attracting only 10 applicants, none of whom were deemed qualified. “There was concern that some of the candidates would have gotten eaten alive in the classroom,” says Lisa Isbell, an administrator with the Long Beach schools.

    The DRI program, meanwhile, ran into another unexpected problem: Not one of the 12 DRI math fellows passed the required certification test for nonmajors on the first try, and half of them still lack regular certification. Officials were stunned. By focusing on pedagogy rather than content, DRI had misjudged how much these would-be teachers already knew in their core subject area. “Most of them are engineers, not math majors,” says Shiflett. The program could have achieved a much higher success rate, she notes, had it accepted applicants with Ph.D.s in math. “But all they wanted to do was teach calculus to advanced students planning to go to top colleges,” she notes. “That wasn't the point of this program.”

    Making a difference

    Indeed, DRI fellows were expected to work among inner city children with poor academic backgrounds. And by all accounts, the handful of graduates have made a small but important contribution to that goal. In his first year at a middle school in Compton, for example, Goudeaux taught as many as 58 kids in a general math class, pushing them to achieve beyond the low levels previously expected of them. But Goudeaux says he incurred the wrath of administrators after a local newspaper ran a photograph showing his students peering out of broken panes of glass and sidestepping buckets scattered around his classroom to catch the rain from leaky roofs, and was not invited back for a second year.

    Goudeaux went to the Will Reid Continuation School in Long Beach, which offers an alternative academic program for troubled teenagers. “It's their last chance to stay in a regular school,” he says about his students, “and I love working with them. I went to high school in the worst neighborhoods and took remedial math because they didn't think I could learn,” he recalls about growing up in public-housing projects in New Orleans and Chicago. “But I turned out OK. And I think these kids can, too.”

    Golan, who is bilingual, says that DRI lets him “give something back to the minority community.” He's starting his fourth year at Los Angeles's Bell High School, which serves a neighborhood that assistant principal Sandra Seegran describes as “an entry port for Hispanic families who move to a better neighborhood once they make more money.” She says that Golan, who has taught everything from general math to advanced-placement statistics, “is making a real contribution to our school.”

    Both men plan to continue teaching, but not necessarily at their present school. Golan admits that he “had hoped to have more contact with college-bound students.” And Goudeaux, now in his third year at Reid, has begun taking graduate courses to qualify for a job at a junior college, where he hopes to teach students more likely to pursue careers in science and engineering.

    Shiflett believes that DRI, for all its faults, shows that the government can make a small but important dent in a major national problem. “Education is a life-or-death matter for urban kids. And that's where we should be sending our best teachers. There's no cheap way to produce good teachers. But the ones who stay are working where they're needed the most.”


    Congress Killed Even Bigger Program That Didn't Pass Muster

    1. Jeffrey Mervis

    The Defense Reinvestment Initiative (DRI) was just one of a flurry of well-intentioned programs in the early 1990s designed to retrain displaced defense workers. Like DRI, most of them fell far short of the mark. A $55 million Department of Defense (DOD) program called the Manufacturing Education and Training (MET) program, for example, sank without a trace in 1995 after a hostile Congress turned against it and defense officials decided that retraining wasn't part of the department's mission. The demise of the MET program pulled the financial rug out from under efforts by university officials to improve local science and math instruction, and many initiatives folded. “It's a classic case of a program ending in a whimper,” says a White House aide who follows technology policy. “The people disappear, and there's no follow-up. Plus, there was so much Republican hostility” that nobody even attempted a rescue.

    MET was part of the Technology Reinvestment Project (TRP), an early Clinton Administration initiative that grew rapidly to $625 million a year before collapsing. TRP was supposed to find civilian applications for military “assets”—people as well as hardware—no longer needed for defense programs in the post-Cold War era (Science, 25 March 1994, p. 1676). MET funded 57 campus-based projects that ranged from revamping the undergraduate engineering curriculum to converting aerospace engineers into biotechnology specialists. Many projects included retraining high-tech workers to be school teachers.

    But when Congress killed off TRP, seeing it as a heavy-handed intrusion into the private sector, defense officials quickly decided to get out of the retraining business. The National Science Foundation (NSF), which ran MET for the Pentagon, never formally evaluated it, admits Marshall Li, who managed the portfolio of MET projects. And absent funding, NSF has no plans to look back. “DOD has moved on,” he says, “and we're not likely to do an evaluation unless there is a future in it.”

    Interviews with several former project directors suggest that many of the grantees feel the same way. “It's dead and buried,” says George Bekey, a professor of computer science at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, a partner in the seven-school Southern California Coalition for Education in Manufacturing Engineering that was awarded nearly $4 million in 1994 to '96. “Any program like that is dependent on federal subsidies, and ours dried up.” A similar consortium of institutions in the northeastern United States that received $2 million “is on hold,” says engineering professor Harold Knickle of the University of Rhode Island, who notes that the project nonetheless helped his university to create undergraduate courses, bolster efforts to attract and retain minorities, and establish ties with local industries.

    However, the end of federal support was only the last straw for some MET projects, which discovered belatedly that they were out of touch with economic realities. “Biotech retraining under TRP didn't work,” says Peter Cote, chief financial officer for the Massachusetts Biotechnology Institute (MBI), which received half of a planned $1 million MET grant in 1994 to help 100 defense workers move into what was assumed to be a brighter future in a burgeoning industry. “The biotech industry typically hires people right out of school, not those starting a second career, and they can attract people at a much lower salary. The TRP program didn't achieve what it set out to do because people just weren't attracted to the program.” Cote noted that MBI “isn't in the education business anymore,” choosing instead to support start-up biotech companies.

    One low-budget retraining effort involving the military has managed to have an impact on math and science education. A 5-year-old program, Troops to Teachers, has helped 3400 retiring officers connect with an appropriate academic program and receive retraining as teachers through a network of 20 state offices. “These people have been in public service for all or most of their careers,” says the Pentagon's John Gantz, who runs the program, “and they see teaching as simply a continuation of that commitment.” Although Troops to Teachers has no specific target audience, a 1998 study found that participants are much more likely than the overall pool of teachers to be male, minority, and trained in science and math.


    Looking Back to Early Mars, Deep Into Earth

    1. Richard A. Kerr

    SanFrancisco—Last month, more than 8200 earth scientists gathered here for the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The talks included signs of early martian plate tectonics and rocks from the deep mantle.

    Traces of Martian Plate Tectonics

    Phrenology may have little credibility for determining personality traits these days, but Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) scientists are using something like it to probe the deep-seated character of the Red Planet, with stunning results. By combining information about the bumps and basins of the martian surface with a subtle measure of the lumpiness of the planet's gravity field, MGS geophysicists have detected signs that the northern third of the planet may have been shaped by plate tectonics early in its history. That would be exciting news, because so far the only known example of plate tectonics is on Earth.

    Specifically, members of the MGS team reported at the meeting that the area around the north pole has a remarkably thin and uniform crust. It could have been shaped, they argue, by tectonic processes like those that have given Earth's ocean basins their thin crust. The finding explains the mysterious “crustal dichotomy” of Mars—because thin crust is less buoyant, the northern region has sunk to create lowlands, while the thicker crust of the southern two-thirds of the planet has bobbed up to create highlands.

    The MGS results are “provocatively similar to what you'd expect in a plate tectonics regime,” says planetary physicist William McKinnon of Washington University in St. Louis. When plate tectonics was first suggested for the northern lowlands in 1994 on the basis of subtle geologic features alone, “it seemed like a wild idea,” says McKinnon, because Mars looks tectonically dead—locked into a single, immobile, unchanging plate—and may have been that way for eons. But now, at least early on in the north, Mars appears to have been very much alive tectonically.

    The new tectonic view of early Mars arises from two types of exquisitely sensitive MGS measurements. In orbit 400 kilometers above the surface, the spacecraft's laser altimeter has shot the planet with light pulses at more than 200 million spots and recorded the light's travel time, providing surface elevations accurate to 1.6 meters. And by measuring 50-micrometer-per-second Doppler shifts in the spacecraft's radio signal, MGS team members have recorded the subtle bobbing of the spacecraft as it passes over areas of greater or lesser gravitational pull. Then they used the altimeter-derived topography to subtract the varying gravitational effects of massive volcanoes and the missing mass of deep basins. The remaining variations in gravity revealed variations in rock density beneath the surface, including how much crust overlies the denser mantle.

    Most strikingly, the combined topography-gravity data exposed a large range in the thickness of the martian crust. Beneath the south pole it is 75 kilometers thick, MGS team member Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told the meeting, but it thins gradually to a mere 35 kilometers in the region under the north pole.

    The relatively thin crust of the northern lowlands is “the kind of thickness you would expect to have in a plate tectonics regime,” says David Stevenson of the California Institute of Technology. Crustal thickness is a sort of temperature gauge, notes Stevenson. Planetary tectonics is a geologic machine fueled by the flow of heat out of the planet. If a planet is “running hot” because its heat is held in by an encircling shell of immobile rock, the high temperatures of the interior will melt large amounts of mantle rock. The resulting abundant magma will rise here and there to form a thick, possibly lumpy crust, as happens, for example, on Venus.

    Plate tectonics, on the other hand, helps a planet run cool and produce a much different crust. On Earth, new crust forms at midocean ridges, cools, and soon sinks back into the mantle to be replaced by new, hot crust. This efficient heat loss keeps the interior cool and the amount of mantle melting low. The resulting crust is therefore thin. Formation at midocean ridges also produces a uniform, smooth-topped crust. Indeed, the thin, uniform crust found by MGS coincides “really well,” says Zuber, with the area that geophysicist Norman Sleep of Stanford University outlined in 1994 as geologically resembling crust formed by plate tectonics. Sleep proposed that about a third of Mars had been resurfaced with thin crust the way three-quarters of Earth has been.

    Given the uniformly thin, smooth crust of the northern plains, “I'm inclined toward a plate tectonic explanation,” says Stevenson. Sleep sees plate tectonics as the simplest, most familiar way to cool early Mars enough to produce any thin crust. “It's the one mechanism we know on Earth” that can do it, he notes. “Someone may come up with an imaginative idea that works better, but they haven't yet.”

    Although attractive, the plate tectonics interpretation is not being universally adopted. Zuber, for one, remains noncommittal while she and her colleagues sort through other ways the planet might conceivably have formed such thin, smooth, and uniform crust in the north. These possibilities include a giant plume rising from the deep interior beneath the north pole and sinking in the south and a one-time foundering of stationary plates in the north as they became too dense and began sinking in place, as suggested for all of Venus half a billion years ago.

    Whatever was pumping the heat out of the north of Mars was operating in what “must have been interesting times,” says planetary geophysicist and MGS team member Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism. Because MGS gravity and topographic observations have revealed the faintly preserved remains of a huge impact crater on the northern lowlands, says Solomon, that crust must have formed in the first half-billion years of the solar system, when such giant impacts were common. Mars's first half-billion years or so was the only time that the planet managed to power up its own magnetic field. Stevenson and geophysicist Francis Nimmo of Cambridge University in the United Kingdom now see a connection between the demise of that field and the end of plate tectonics. Generation of a magnetic field requires a churning molten iron core that acts as a geodynamo. The churning is driven by heat flowing out of the core, much as tectonics at the surface is driven by heat flowing out of the planet.

    In fact, the core's heat flow and thus the magnetic field depend on a vigorous flow of heat at the surface, calculations by Stevenson and Nimmo suggest. If plate tectonics or something like it isn't pumping heat out at the surface, the interior warms until it's nearly as hot as the core. At that point, heat can no longer escape the core, its churning slows, and the magnetic field dies. That fits the MGS observation that crustal formation in the north ended about the time the magnetic field died, as recorded in magnetic stripes of the southern hemisphere crust. Some researchers initially considered those stripes to be signs of plate tectonics in the south (Science, 30 April 1999, p. 719), but a growing variety of alternative explanations, some related to plate tectonics in the north, have since been offered. Sorting out how the tectonic commotion in the north affected the rest of the planet's surface as well as the interior will take some more fingering of the martian noggin.

    Ever Deeper Into Earth's Nether World

    Researchers probing Earth's deep interior are celebrating what could be a startling new find: fresh, seemingly unaltered minerals from as deep as 770 kilometers, hundreds of kilometers deeper than any previously found. The newly analyzed rocks, from the island of Malaita in the Solomon Islands, are “potentially the most important rocks ever,” says petrologist Harry Green of the University of California, Riverside. “[They] touch on many, many important aspects of geophysics.”

    If the discovery holds up, the rocks could tell researchers about the nature and origin of a part of the planet once accessible only remotely, through seismic imaging. According to petrologist Kenneth Collerson of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, who announced the rocks' discovery at the meeting, he and his colleagues “are finding heaps of new minerals” that can form only at pressures prevailing between 300 and 770 kilometers, where the upper mantle gives way to the lower mantle. “We're finding the first real rocks from this region,” he says. “It's an Earth-shattering discovery.” Everyone who has heard the news is excited, although some remain cautious. “I desperately want them to be right, but they haven't convinced me,” says Green. Completely persuading colleagues will take a year or two of crystal structure analysis to complement Collerson's chemical analysis.

    The new rocks come as a surprise even to those who have tramped the jungle-covered Malaita, which lies just northeast of Guadalcanal of World War II fame and farther east of Papua New Guinea. For a couple of decades, researchers have known that 34 million years ago deep-seated volcanic eruptions blasted through a massive pile of 120-million-year-old submarine lavas called the Ontong Java Plateau. Carried by the Pacific Plate, the plateau eventually collided with the Australian Plate about 23 million years ago, pushing up Malaita and exposing the tops of the volcanic pipes. Such pipes are related to the classic kimberlite pipes of South Africa, which carried bits of rock—and the diamonds South Africa is famous for—to the surface from more than 150 kilometers down. But no one was finding any diamonds in Malaita, and none of the minerals came from deeper than 135 kilometers.

    Then a mining exploration company sent the Queensland group some “funny-looking garnets” from Malaita unlike any seen before. Collerson and his colleagues found 10- to 20-micrometer crystals of diamond, majorite, and other minerals embedded in relatively huge 10- to 20-centimeter chunks of deep rock lifted by the eruption. These inclusions indicated decidedly higher pressures than previously reported for Malaita rocks. Pressures at 150 kilometers or deeper would have been required to squeeze carbon into microdiamonds. To create majorite—by squeezing enough silicon into crystals of garnet—would have taken pressures between those at 260 and 570 kilometers, near the traditional upper mantle-lower mantle boundary at 660 kilometers. And the team also found some crystals with the composition of silicate perovskite—a mineral that would be produced from the basalt of ocean crust once it has sunk to 770 kilometers, as seismic imaging shows it sometimes does (Science, 31 January 1997, p. 613).

    The Queensland group's initial chemical analyses have the deep-mineral community abuzz. Minerals have been reported before from such depths (Science, 10 September 1993, p. 1391), but they had either returned to their low-pressure crystal forms or been too tiny for complete analysis. “The prospect of having natural samples [of the deep mantle] that appear so unaltered is very exciting,” says Catherine McCammon of the University of Bayreuth in Germany. Without actual samples from such depths, petrologists seeking the composition and origins of the planet's largest rock reservoir must depend on theoretical calculations, laboratory experiments, and inferences from magmas derived from the mantle.

    The detection of compositions indicative of high pressures convinces McCammon that the Malaita rocks have a deep source. “I don't know how you could [find those compositions] unless they're from the transition zone” at as deep as 660 kilometers, she says. Clive Neal of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, who helped establish the 135-kilometer depth of other Malaita rocks, agrees. “It certainly looks like majorite, and you certainly need a high pressure to generate majorite.”

    But further analysis will be required to prove that any of these minerals came from the lower mantle, below 660 kilometers. Collerson's claim, based on chemical analyses, of crystals in the perovskite crystal structure that can form only below 660 kilometers will require confirmation by crystallographic analysis, says McCammon.

    If Collerson is right, researchers will have samples from a new part of the mantle. The compositions of some of the minerals argue that the Malaita pipes blasted through mantle laden with old slabs of tectonic plate that had sunk from the surface, as slabs now sink into deep-sea trenches off Japan and South America. Seismic imaging of the mantle has shown that, contrary to the long-standing concept that the upper and lower mantle layers never mix, slabs can penetrate into the lower mantle, but many either fail to do so or pile up in the transition zone before falling deeper. Collerson believes he now has bits of such slabs in hand, confirming the seismic images.