ScienceScope

Science  30 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5671, pp. 661
  1. Misconduct Charge Could End Long-Term Bird Study

    A misconduct controversy surrounding Danish evolutionary biologist Anders Pape Møller may end one of the longest-running studies of a wild bird population.

    Last fall, in a decision now under government review, a Danish panel ruled that Møller was responsible for fabricating data in a 1998 paper on leaf development (Science, 30 January 2004, p. 606). Møller has denied wrongdoing. But this month the University of Copenhagen's Zoological Museum ended its collaboration with the scientist and refused to renew his bird-banding license. The decision prevents Møller, now at Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, from continuing a 34-year study of Danish barn swallows that he began when he was 15.

    It would be “almost impossible” to restart the study after a year's disruption, says evolutionary ecologist Ben Sheldon of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology at the University of Oxford, U.K., because researchers would lose track of bird genealogy. And it's unlikely that a colleague could fill in for the several-month breeding season, says Møller's wife, biologist Jacqui Shykoff. She and supporters have organized a letter-writing campaign to try to convince the museum to reconsider.

  2. Swiss University Plans Science City

    ZÜRICH—In an ambitious effort to solidify its status, Switzerland's prestigious Federal Institute of Technology last week unveiled plans to build a $300 million high-tech campus here. The modular “Science City” will accommodate 480 researchers and 750 students from around the world.

    CREDIT: ETH ZURICH

    “This is one way to remain in the top 10,” institute president Olaf Kübler said last week in announcing the project, which will be funded by the government and private donors. The modern facilities are also aimed at keeping young talent from leaving the country, he adds. Science City is due to be completed in 2010, but some labs—such as one for information processing and simulation—should be open sooner.

  3. Singapore Picks Australian Entry for New University

    Australia's University of New South Wales (UNSW) last week beat out 15 rivals for the right to open the first foreign university campus in Singapore. UNSW prevailed because it was willing to augment teaching “with a strong R&D focus,” said a spokesperson for Singapore's Economic Development Board, which will help fund the project.

    About one-third of the planned 15,000 students will be Singaporean, predicts UNSW administrator John Ingleson, and two-thirds will be undergraduates. Faculty members will be expected to do research and compete for Singapore's growing pot of research funds. The first, $70 million phase of the campus, to be built on land leased from Singapore, is due to open in early 2007.

    With its emphasis on biotechnology and related research, Ingleson says the new school will be “another piece of the puzzle” in Singapore's drive to become a biomedical powerhouse.

  4. NASA Officials Consider Major Reorganization

    NASA chief Sean O'Keefe is considering a major reorganization of the agency, according to officials familiar with the draft plan. The version currently in favor would submerge the earth sciences office—created in 1989 to study global climate change—into the space science office. And the biological and physical sciences office, which oversees most space station research, would be folded into the new exploration office, which is focusing on President George W. Bush's push for human visits to the moon and then Mars. The shuffle may feed concerns among scientists that the president's plan could downgrade some research.

    That plan, meanwhile, has failed to capture the imagination of key House lawmakers. Representative Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), who chairs the House Science Committee, last week said that the White House's request for a 5.6% NASA budget increase in 2005—primarily for exploration—is unrealistic and unwise. “I just can't imagine that that's going to happen, and I don't think it should.” His colleagues on the House Appropriations panel that oversees NASA have expressed similar skepticism.