Science  18 May 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5827, pp. 963

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    RAPID RISE. Some of the tiniest wires ever made continue to earn great rewards for Peidong Yang, a nanomaterials researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. Last week, the U.S. National Science Foundation gave Yang its $500,000 Waterman Award, a research grant the agency hands out annually to an outstanding young NSF-supported researcher.

    The award caps a remarkable run for the 36-year-old Yang, who synthesizes nanowires to make everything from tiny light-emitting diodes and lasers to transistors and solar cells. Yang ranked among the top 10 materials scientists in the world in overall citations from 1995 to 2005, according to the Institute for Scientific Information, even though he didn't earn his Ph.D. until 1997, and his average of more than 100 citations per paper is nearly double that of the next most cited researcher.

    Future Waterman winners may soon have company. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives authorized NSF to give out as many as three such awards each year. “The competition is so fierce that the committee would appreciate the ability to make more than one award,” an agency spokesperson told Science.


    French-born astrophysicist France Córdova has been named president of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Currently chancellor at the University of California, Riverside, Córdova is a former chief scientist at NASA who has also written award-winning fiction and a cookbook. She succeeds Martin Jischke, who is retiring in June.

    Chemist Goverdhan Mehta of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and biologist Luis Herrera-Estrella of Mexico's National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity in Irapuato have won the Trieste Science Prize from the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World. Mehta's contributions to organic synthesis have led to new hybrid cancer drugs. Herrera-Estrella's work on genetically modified crops has been a boon to Latin America. The two will share $100,000.


    GOING PRIVATE. Alzheimer's disease researcher Trey Sunderland has retired from the U.S. government, closing the book on the most serious case to emerge from the 3-year scandal over financial conflicts of interest at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    Sunderland, once chief of the geriatric psychiatry branch at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, failed to report more than $600,000 in consulting fees from Pfizer while providing spinal fluid samples to the company for Alzheimer's studies. Last December, he was convicted of violating federal conflict-of-interest laws and sentenced to 2 years of probation, 400 hours of community service, and an obligation to repay $300,000 of his earnings.

    Lawmakers criticized NIH and Department of Health and Human Services officials for not firing Sunderland; the officials responded that only the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps could discharge him. That has now happened, NIH said last week. According to a recent report that Sunderland's probation officer filed with U.S. District Court in Baltimore, he retired on 1 April and is now in private psychiatry practice. The report also says he has repaid more than $100,000 of the $300,000 and has completed more than 300 hours of community service.



    TO A NEW CONTINENT. U.S.-born stem cell researcher Nadia Rosenthal was charmed by Australia when she went there on a field trip 5 years ago to collect newts. Now, the 54-year-old head of the mouse biology program at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's (EMBL's) outstation in Monterotondo, Italy, is returning to direct the new $126 million Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Melbourne's Monash University (MU).

    Rosenthal says she was attracted by MU's two stem cell centers and a research-friendly regulatory environment. Last month, Monash's home state of Victoria ratified a federal law that permits somatic cell nuclear transfer under a license. Besides working on stem cell culture and mouse models, Rosenthal hopes the institute will use the university's new synchrotron to do high-throughput protein crystallography and aid Australia's bid to become an associate member of EMBL. “If you want to plug into European science, this is an excellent pipeline,” she says.

    Rosenthal's husband, biochemist Alan Sawyer, is also moving from Monterotondo to Monash to establish the $9 million Monoclonal Antibody Technologies Facility.