Science  25 Aug 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5790, pp. 1041

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    TRAGIC DROWNING. When Boyd Lyon and his fellow marine researchers from the University of Central Florida sailed out into the Gulf Coast on 10 August, all they intended was a visual survey of green sea turtles. But Lyon, a 37-year-old graduate student, decided also to try to capture one of the animals and bring it ashore for blood and tissue sampling. The attempt cost him his life.

    About three miles north of Sebastian Inlet in Brevard County, Lyon dived into the water to catch a 136-kg adult. To the horror of his graduate adviser Llewellyn Ehrhart and the four other researchers on the boat, he never resurfaced. “There is a pretty good chance he did get his hands on the turtle, but something terrible happened down there that took Boyd down,” says Ehrhart. The U.S. Coast guard found Lyon's body 4 days later.

    “Boyd was just a passionate, enthusiastic person who loved what he did,” says fellow student Kelly Borrowman. “He went at [his research] with 100% effort no matter what time of the day it was or how much sleep he had had.”



    WITH THE CURRENT. Craig McLean says the ocean taught him a valuable lesson while he was captain of a 69-meter research vessel for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “It's better to understand than to try to redirect,” he says. He'll be keeping that in mind as he charts the course for NOAA's $192 million research grants program.

    After a few years of professional diving, McLean, 49, joined NOAA to plot nautical charts in 1981 and worked his way up. He has an undergraduate degree in zoology and a law degree, which he used enforcing environmental laws. From 2001 to 2004, he directed NOAA's ocean exploration program, diving in remote submersibles to the wreck of the Titanic and to hydrothermal vents at the Galápagos Rift. He starts his new job this week.


    NEW NCI CHIEF. John Niederhuber, the incoming director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), says he will try to preserve the number of new research grants awarded by the institute every year as it attempts to cope with a flat budget. But some programs will have to be trimmed, he says.

    Niederhuber, 68, who was named to his new position last week, joined the $4.8 billion institute as a deputy director last fall from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He has been NCI's acting director since June, after former director Andrew von Eschenbach was nominated to head the Food and Drug Administration (Science, 21 April, p. 357). Niederhuber won out over several potential candidates interviewed by the White House.


    NO SHOW. Four months after being named head of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise (Science, 7 April, p. 51), Adel Mahmoud is walking away from the job. Enterprise officials and Mahmoud, 65, say they made a “mutual decision” to part ways. It looked like “a misfit,” says Mahmoud, an infectious disease specialist who was to start at the Enterprise next month after retiring as head of Merck's vaccine program.

    The Enterprise is an ambitious effort that hopes to better coordinate the search for an HIV vaccine. Mahmoud was supposed to discuss the organization's plans last week at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada. The talk was instead given by Jose Esparza, acting-head of the Enterprise, who told Science that final contract negotiations with Mahmoud fell through.

    “This really sets the field back,” says Mitchell Warren, of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition. The Enterprise will begin a new search for a leader immediately.



    IN OTHER WORDS. The longtime chair of the mechanical engineering department at Ohio University in Athens, which is embroiled in a plagiarism scandal, has sued the university for damaging his reputation. Jay Gunasekera is seeking $25,000 after a May report from a university panel concluded that Gunasekera “either failed to monitor the writing in [his] advisees (sic) theses or simply ignored academic honesty, integrity and basically supported academic fraudulence.” The report found 37 cases of plagiarism among graduate theses, 16 of which were written by Gunasekera's students. In June, Gunasereka stepped down as chair, a position he had held since 1987, but he remains on the faculty.

    The plagiarism scandal erupted in 2004, when a graduate student found that many theses contained plagiarized passages. In May, a university committee laid most of the blame on Gunasekera and two other faculty members.

    Gunasekera would not comment on the suit, but his attorney John Marshall told the Columbus Dispatch that the university “had absolutely no evidence … that Dr. Gunasekera was aware of any of the plagiarism.” In a written statement, the university said it would “vigorously defend the lawsuit,” adding that it “has a duty to investigate matters of academic integrity.”