Newsmakers

Science  07 Sep 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5843, pp. 1303
  1. CELEBRITIES

    CREDIT: COURTESY OF THE HOUSTON MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCE

    OUT OF AFRICA. The biggest star in Houston, Texas, these days is a 3.2-million-year-old hominid from Ethiopia. The famous fossil, named Lucy, is at the center of a controversial exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Advance tickets were selling briskly at up to $20 for the show, which opened last Friday.

    Lucy has never been displayed outside Ethiopia since her discovery in 1974. But now she's on a 6-year tour of the United States that Ethiopian tourism officials hope will generate millions for the country. Many paleoanthropologists are protesting the tour, arguing that it could damage the fragile, one-of-a-kind fossil (Science, 27 October 2006, p. 574).

    Houston is her only announced destination, although officials at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, have “tentatively scheduled” the Lucy exhibit from November 2009 to April 2010. Other museums, such as the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Ohio, have refused to exhibit her. Houston museum officials say she's in good hands, pointing to their safe stewardship of precious artifacts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

  2. IN BRIEF

    Nancy Andrews has been appointed dean of the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. A pediatric hematologist/oncologist, Andrews has served as dean of basic sciences and graduate studies at Harvard Medical School since 2003. She will be the first woman to lead the Duke school.

  3. IN BRIEF

    Richard Hodges is the new director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. An early medieval archaeologist who specializes in Western Europe, Hodges comes to Penn from the University of East Anglia in the U.K., where he has been directing the Institute of World Archaeology.

  4. DATA POINT

    DRIVING THE ECONOMY. Foreign scientists and engineers working in the United States constitute a growing share of the country's innovation capital. Last year, that pool of talent contributed to 26% of U.S. patent applications filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). That's over three times more than their percentage in 1998, an explosion likely triggered by increased delays in the awarding of green cards and citizenship to immigrant scientists, according to researchers who did the study (http://www.globalizationresearch.com/).

    Vivek Wadhwa, a researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and his colleagues counted up the share of patent applications filed at WIPO's U.S. office that listed a U.S.-based foreign national as one of the inventors. In another part of the study, the researchers estimate that more than 1 million foreign-born workers are waiting for employment-based green cards. “There are a lot of very bright people that we brought to the U.S. in order to create intellectual property,” says Wadhwa. “Let's keep them.”

  5. THREE Q'S

    CREDIT: PERES/AP PHOTO

    Dutch-born primatologist Marc van Roosmalen —a 2000 Time magazine “Hero for the Planet”—has discovered five new monkey species during a career exploring the Amazon rain forest. But in June, a Brazilian court found him guilty of violating several laws, including keeping endangered monkeys in a halfway house and putting the names of newly discovered species up for sale. Van Roosmalen, 60, was released on 7 August while a new legal team appeals the decision, which carries a 14-year prison sentence.

    Q: Tell me about your time in jail.

    It was a crazy and eye-opening experience. I was locked up with dangerous criminals who were literally killing each other. I couldn't communicate with the outside world; I couldn't sleep. A survival instinct kicked in.

    Q: What has happened since your release?

    It's like a John Grisham novel. Within 30 hours, two men pretending to be federal police came to my house [in Manaus]. I'm sure they were hit men. Fortunately, I wasn't home, and I've been on the run since then. I have seen too many examples of corruption during my years in the Amazon. I have written everything down and sent it to people in the Netherlands so that the world will know even if something happens to me.

    Q: How has the scientific community reacted?

    Brazilian scientists have supported me. They realize that the government is criminalizing biological research and that this could happen to them. But I think everything will be okay in the end. I'm 100% innocent.

Log in to view full text