Newsmakers

Science  02 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5778, pp. 1307
  1. POLITICS

    CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, COLUMBIA
    CREDIT: GETTY

    DON'T CITE MY WORK. Remote-sensing specialist Curt Davis (pictured, top) was prepared for his 15 minutes of fame after this magazine published his article on the snowfall-driven growth of East Antarctic ice (Science, 24 June 2005, p. 1898). But it took nearly a year to attract serious media attention, and the inquiries were not what he expected: Global warming skeptics had made it the centerpiece of a new ad campaign.

    “It was a complete misuse of what I was doing,” says the University of Missouri, Columbia, researcher. “And I felt I had to respond.”

    The 60-second ad put out by the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) shows Davis's paper as the narrator explains that “The Antarctic ice sheet is getting thicker, not thinner” (streams.cei.org). Not exactly, says Davis. His data can only show that the ice is growing in the interior of the East Antarctic. Emerging evidence suggests net shrinkage for the entire continent, he notes. Davis responded with a university press release refuting the ad—which also makes the point that CO2 is life (pictured, bottom)—and this magazine criticized the ad for “selective referencing” that “misrepresents” the paper. A CEI press release then countered that Davis misunderstood his paper's bottom line.

    “You know where they're coming from,” says Davis, so “there's no point arguing with these people. There's a sense of futility; I can't say it's been pleasant.”

  2. MONEY MATTERS

    CREDIT: JOHN DALY

    PROLIFIC BUT HOMELESS. Scientists are protesting a decision to close the lab of a renowned pharmacologist at the National Institutes of Health as part of a budget-cutting exercise.

    John Daly, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, has discovered hundreds of bioactive alkaloids in the skin of poisonous frogs, such as epibatidine, a potent painkiller. Daly retired in 2003 at age 69 but continues to work with two staff scientists at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Despite working without pay, Daly co-authored 13 papers in the past year.

    But last month, NIDDK Scientific Director Marvin Gershengorn decided to shutter Daly's program as part of a possible 20% cut in the NIDDK intramural operating budget for fiscal year 2007. Gershengorn declined comment, but NIDDK spokesperson Elizabeth Singer says an emeritus scientist with lab “privileges” is “unusual.” The institute is closing at least two other labs, including that of chemist Donald Jerina.

    More than two dozen scientists from around the world have urged NIH to keep Daly's lab open. “He's active as hell,” says Cornell University chemical ecologist Thomas Eisner. “It's shortsighted.” Singer says “options … are being explored” for Daly to continue his research at NIH.

  3. THEY SAID IT

    “We need to put the engineering back into the Army Corps of Engineers.”

    —Robert Bea, a civil engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, releasing the findings of a National Science Foundation-funded study last week on why the levees in New Orleans collapsed during last summer's devastating Hurricane Katrina. The study cites technical and institutional problems within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was responsible for building and maintaining the levees.

  4. MOVERS

    CREDIT: STEPHEN SCOURFIELD

    CROSSING HEMISPHERES. An expert on evolution and conservation biology in the world's oldest landscapes has been named director of the U.K.'s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Stephen Hopper, a professor of plant conservation biology at the University of Western Australia in Perth, will succeed Peter Crane in October (Science, 25 November 2005, p. 1275).

    Hopper, 54, has done research in southwest Australia, South Africa's Cape region, and the Venezuela-Guiana highlands and is former chief of Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth. Calling Kew's 250-year-old collection of 7 million specimens an “unparalleled library and herbarium,” Hopper says he's eager to expand Kew's international work on biodiversity, including a project to store germ plasm from 10% of Earth's flora. He also hopes to increase public access to the collections.

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