Newsmakers

Science  06 Oct 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5796, pp. 49
  1. AWARDS

    DIGITAL PATHWAY. Stanford University electrical engineer John Cioffi, who helped bring Internet connections to millions of people through the digital subscriber line (DSL), has won the 2006 Marconi Prize.

    CREDIT: STANFORD UNIVERSITY NEWS SERVICE

    In 1993, Cioffi (left) and his team built a high-speed modem for communicating data through phone lines that eventually became the standard for broadband Internet connection. He later created Dynamic Management Spectrum, which offers more bandwidth than DSL. In addition to holding more than 70 patents, Cioffi also owns several companies. He plans to give his $100,000 prize, from the Marconi Society at Columbia University, to his research group.

  2. AWARDS

    STICKING WITH CDC. Efforts to prepare the U.S. and the world for a flu pandemic have won Nancy Cox, a top flu expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, the title of “Federal Employee of the Year.” The award is issued every year by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit.

    Cox, 58, joined CDC in 1975 and has been at the helm of its influenza program since 1992. Although CDC has suffered an exodus of veteran scientists recently in the wake of a reorganization, Cox says it's a good place to work: “As a child, I never dreamed I'd have the opportunities I've had while working at CDC.”

  3. TWO CULTURES

    BEAUTIFUL BRAINS. To neuroscience researchers, the human brain is a complex organ riddled with mystery. But to developmental psychologist Marjorie Taylor and psychiatrist Karen Norberg, it's also an inspiration for unique quilts, knitting, and other work that they showcase in an online museum of “scientifically accurate fabric brain art.”

    CREDIT: TOP AND TOP LEFT: KAREN NORBERG; TOP RIGHT: JIM BARLOW/UNIVERSITY OF OREGON

    The two were drawn to the niche independently. Taylor (right), a professor at the University of Oregon, Eugene, had been making quilts on the side for years before she turned her needle to neuroscience. Struck by the cover images of journals like Cerebral Cortex, she began reproducing them in fabric, creating pieces that—for example—show positron emission tomography scans of the brain's response to hearing or seeing words.

    Karen Norberg (left), who works at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says she began knitting a brain (above) to kill time when she was undergoing clinical training in child psychiatry. The product now resides at the Boston Museum of Science.

    “Building a brain with yarn and knitting needles turns out to follow many of the same pathways as actual brain development,” says Norberg. Her and Taylor's work can be seen at harbaugh.uoregon.edu/Brain/index.htm.

  4. THREE Q'S

    Susan Wood made a stir a year ago when she quit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in protest after the agency refused to make emergency contraception available over the counter. (FDA later reversed its decision.) Now, Wood is back in the news as a co-founder of Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA), a political action committee backing pro-science congressional candidates in next month's elections.

    CREDIT: © 2005, THE WASHINGTON POST. PHOTO BY LUCIAN PERKINS. REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION

    Q: What does SEA hope to accomplish?

    There's a range of issues, from environment to health to education, where science is critical. I hope the public will become aware of the importance that the correct use of science in policy has on people's lives, that this will have an impact in the appropriate use of science by our government leadership.

    Q: Last month, you joined the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Are you better able to initiate change being outside FDA?

    Oh dear. [Laughing.] Well, I don't know that I can. Right now, many of the innovative ideas on how to address these issues at FDA [are] coming from outside the agency. We'll see what happens.

    Q: Thinking about your activism makes us wonder: Do you feel like a superhero?

    I don't. To my mind, my resignation was a small thing. But if it helped give energy to others, then that is well worth it.

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