Science  11 May 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5826, pp. 811

    GIFT OF HISTORY. Physicists working in industrial labs invented the transistor, the silicon microchip, and numerous other technologies we take for granted. Now, the stories of those pioneers will be recorded, thanks to a brother's gift.

    To honor former Executive Director Marc Brodsky, 68, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) is raising an endowment to finance the recording of oral histories from prominent industrial physicists. Much of the $90,000 collected so far came from Marc's brother Julian in a gift unveiled at Marc's retirement party in March. “I don't know how they kept it a secret,” Marc says. “I was supposed to know everything that was going on [at AIP].” Marc (right in photo) worked at IBM for 25 years before joining AIP in 1993, and under his guidance, AIP began collecting such interviews in 2002. That effort will now continue indefinitely.


    “I know Marc has very much enjoyed his stay at AIP, and I thought this was an appropriate way to commemorate him,” says Julian, 73, who co-founded the Comcast cable television company. Julian knows the value of oral history: In 1991, a fire destroyed Comcast's archives, prompting company officials to interview dozens of longtime Comcast employees.


    STOPGAP. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has decided that two interim heads can do the work of former president Zach Hall until it finds a permanent replacement for him.

    Hall stepped down on 30 April, more than a month ahead of schedule, citing his health and a “contentious” debate over the timetable for a $222 million construction program (Science, 27 April, p. 526). On 2 May, the governing board divided up Hall's job, giving “co-equal” appointments to Chief Financial Officer Lorraine Hoffman and Director of Scientific Activities Arlene Chiu. Hoffman, who joined CIRM last November, has an extensive background in both housing and finance. Neurobiologist Chiu, recruited 2 years ago from the National Institutes of Health, will serve as interim chief scientific officer.

    The board plans public hearings on the controversial construction program. The search continues for Hall's replacement.


    IN A NEW SPACE. When the United Kingdom's Royal Institution began refurbishing its historic headquarters in central London in early 2006, Richard Catlow, head of RI's famed Davy Faraday Laboratory, moved his research group to University College London (UCL). But it emerged last month that the inorganic chemist and his team members had decided to stay at UCL. Their shift leaves RI Director Susan Greenfield with the challenge of filling a lab once home to luminaries including chemist Humphrey Davy, electromagnetic pioneer Michael Faraday, and crystallographers William and Lawrence Bragg.


    Over the past couple of decades, the lab has concentrated on solid state chemistry, most recently under Catlow's directorship. For the past 10 years, Catlow's group has worked closely with UCL colleagues. “Our work has become more UCL-centric, and it made sense to consolidate here,” explains Catlow, who has headed UCL's chemistry department for the past 5 years.


    FISHED OUT. A Bush Administration official criticized for heavily editing scientific reports on endangered species resigned last week from the Department of the Interior (DOI). Julie MacDonald, deputy assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and a civil engineer by training, had pressured scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service to weaken protection for species, according to DOI's inspector general, which last month also concluded that she had violated federal rules by leaking internal agency documents to lobbyists (Science, 6 April, p. 37).

    MacDonald resigned the same day that Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), citing concerns about her actions, put a hold on the pending confirmation of her boss, Lyle Laverty. Wyden hasn't yet released the hold, however. “It is not an isolated incident, and he wants some assurances that this won't happen again,” says a spokesperson. Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists recommends that DOI ensure that its scientists get a final review of their work and says it should increase transparency.


    OPENING UP. German physicist Romano Rupp of the University of Vienna in Austria has become the first non-Chinese person to be named science dean at a Chinese university. Next month, Rupp will take charge of the Teda School of Applied Physics at Nankai University in Tianjin.


    Rupp's appointment is part of a housecleaning by Nankai's new president, structural biologist Rao Zihe, who is replacing 14 of the university's 22 deans. Rupp, who has been a visiting professor at Teda for many years, says his appointment “sends a signal that positions at Nankai are fully open to the international community of researchers.” Three of the nine deans already announced are expatriate Chinese from the United States, whereas the others are homegrown.

    Rupp, who studies optical storage and neutron physics, will retain his current job as a physics professor and divide his time between Vienna and Tianjin.

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