Association Affairs

AAAS News and Notes

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  27 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6153, pp. 1469-1473
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6153.1469

27 September 2013

Edited by Kathy Wren


National Effort Spurs Change in Biology Undergraduate Education

Real-world research.

The wild marama bean (Tylosema esculentum), a legume that could serve as a sustainable crop in subsistence regions, is collected by community workers for a research collaboration between undergraduates at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Namibia. Biology Professor Christopher A. Cullis, who helps the students develop DNA markers for this under-utilized crop, said that undergraduate research projects should focus on practical problems so that students must interpret data, rather than merely looking for "correct" answers.


"Student-centered teaching" practices such as real-world research experiences and team-based projects clearly help to keep undergraduate students more academically engaged, which may bolster their chances of completing a science-related degree. Yet, research presented at a Washington, D.C., conference co-hosted by AAAS confirmed that faculty in biology and other science-related fields lag behind their peers in pursuing innovative, student-focused teaching methods.

A survey of roughly 23,000 full-time undergraduate teaching faculty at four-year colleges and universities has shown that faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields leverage inclusive teaching methods less frequently than their non-STEM counterparts. The survey, directed by Sylvia Hurtado and colleagues with the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California, Los Angeles, was presented at the 28-30 August Vision & Change event, spearheaded by the National Science Foundation.

The good news is that biology faculty are "far and away the most likely to involve undergraduates in their research," said Lorelle L. Espinosa, a senior analyst with Abt Associates who spoke on behalf of Hurtado. But, they must do more to see their students through to graduation.

Only about one-third of aspiring biomedical science students complete a bachelor's degree in the field within 6 years, Espinosa reported. Students—particularly high-achievers—tend to fare better on campuses where faculty have incorporated student-centered teaching practices, said Kevin Eagan, HERI's assistant director for research. Faculty may be reluctant to reconfigure courses if campus leaders do not seem to value innovative teaching, he said. Others assume that student-centered teaching will not work for introductory courses, although research has debunked this myth.

Improving U.S. biology undergraduate education will be a key to reducing "leakage" in the STEM pipeline, others noted. From a pool of more than 4 million ninth-graders in 2001, only 166,530 had earned STEM degrees by 2011, said Muquarrab Qureshi. "That translates into significant gaps for the U.S. Department of Agriculture," said Qureshi, assistant director of the Institute of Youth, Family, and Community, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). "We will have about 54,000 jobs to fill but only 29,000 students who would be able to fill those jobs" between 2010 and 2015.


Continuing national prosperity also will require a more uniformly well-educated population, said Mark Becker, president of Georgia State University. Currently, more than 80% of the most affluent Americans attain a college degree by age 26, compared with only about 8% of those in the bottom quartile of U.S. wealth distribution, Becker said. "It has been reported that in a decade our nation will need approximately 60% of young adults to be college-educated in order for this country to remain competitive with the rest of the world, and that as much as 85% of the new jobs in my metro region will require a bachelor's degree or greater," he added. "Right now, only about 30% of all Americans have attained a bachelor's degree or greater."

Positive changes are possible. At Georgia State, which has one of the largest populations of low-income students in the nation, Becker reported that 53% of all students now complete a degree within 6 years, up from about 32% in 2003. Moreover, disparities in degree-attainment rates across racial, ethnic, and economic lines have been eliminated. Beginning with a focused, externally reviewed strategic plan, the school collected data, conducted experiments, and scaled up the most effective efforts. For example, peer tutors were deployed to help at-risk students in "high DFW" courses—those in which more than a third of students received a D or an F, or withdrew. Georgia State also expanded freshman learning communities, developed financial interventions, and implemented a centralized, data-driven academic advisement system.

Successful reform efforts require leadership support, and they should address all aspects of the learning environment—from the curriculum and teaching, to how classrooms are configured, said James Collins, who is the Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment at Arizona State University: "You can't fix one point on the continuum and expect the continuum to change." If department chairs, deans, provosts, and presidents are not on board, however, Becker said that change can begin when small groups of faculty complete pilot projects: "Find the change leaders. Do the demonstrations. The carping, complaining, and questioning will subside once the data and results speak for themselves."

The Vision & Change conference drew 350 attendees from 178 colleges and universities, said Yolanda George, deputy director of AAAS Education and Human Resources. The event was co-hosted by the NSF, NIFA, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which also support a national network of change-focused fellows. Carol Brewer, professor emerita of biology, University of Montana, and AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner, executive publisher of Science, co-chaired the Vision & Change advisory board.


Middle East Seeks to Build Science Capacity

Building a bright future.

A field of solar panels at the King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology, Al-Oyeynah Research Station, demonstrates Saudi Arabia's commitment to strengthening its national science and technology programs to address regional challenges and become a global research power by 2025. Advanced energy technologies are one of 15 focus areas included in the country's National Science, Technology and Innovation Plan.


A new agreement between King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and AAAS' Research Competitiveness Program expands a 5-year-old collaboration that has helped KACST, Saudi Arabia's national science agency, in its efforts "to leapfrog Saudi Arabia toward a knowledge-based society," according to Ahmed M. Alabdulkader, Secretary General for the National Science, Technology and Innovation Plan (NSTIP) at KACST.

The country is one of many across the Middle East and North Africa that aim to develop their scientific output and international collaboration, and are engaging with AAAS to meet some of their strategic goals. While Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have sought hands-on assistance with grant review and administration from the Research Competitiveness Program (RCP), others have participated in more wide-ranging discussions through a meeting series organized by the AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy (CSTSP).

Since 2008, RCP has managed the peer review of thousands of research proposals submitted to the NSTIP. The analytic reports by AAAS are the next step in achieving "a high level of credibility and reliability of the national R&D ecosystem," said Alabdulkader. The NSTIP focuses on bolstering national R&D in 15 technology areas, from medicine and health to advanced materials and space, with the goal of making Saudi Arabia a global research power by 2025.

According to the new agreement, signed this year, AAAS will analyze the outcomes of the funded research projects under the NSTIP and the impact of the funds on achieving the country's strategic R&D goals. Now that the submitted proposals have reached a critical mass, the agency wants to "make sure that the projects they are funding are actually proceeding as expected, and that they are able to capture to some extent the great research and educational developments that are bubbling up," said Mark Milutinovich, director of the Research Competitiveness Program.

Building national scientific capacity in this way, through everything from stream-lined grant-making to infrastructure and workforce development, is a significant goal for many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, according to an independent report released this month by CSTSP.

The report details the discussions during a unique series of meetings, held in Jordan, Kuwait, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates between 2010 and 2012, and a cooperative grant program, both facilitated by CSTSP. While the meetings focused on safety and security in practice and in international collaborations in the biological sciences, scientific capacity emerged as a critical and related issue among the broad group of participants. Each meeting drew over 50 scientists, collectively representing fourteen countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Building this capacity and linking it to long-term national plans for science will aid countries in the region as they pursue a broad range of international collaborations as well, the meeting participants concluded. To explore some of these challenges further, the group has launched a BioScience Forum that will meet for the first time in 2014.

As research communities in the Middle East work toward these goals, the Research Competitiveness Program is poised to deliver assistance tailored to a country or university's specific needs. For instance, the program also works on a smaller scale with the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science, providing advice on grant management and ways to create public-private partnerships for Kuwaiti researchers.

Lessons learned from program clients closer to home have proved useful in international scientific capacity building as well, Milutinovich noted.

"A lot of the work we've done in the past years is tied to U.S. states that have limited resources, and need to think very strategically about how they can leverage their resources and how they can work collaboratively to achieve their aims," Milutinovich said. "So the implementation is going to change, depending on local cultures and the people involved, but the challenges are the same."


AAAS Annual Election: Preliminary Announcement

The 2013 AAAS election of general and section officers is scheduled to begin in November. All members will receive a ballot for election of the president-elect, members of the Board of Directors, and members of the Committee on Nominations. Members registered in more than one section will receive ballots for elections for each section they are enrolled in.

Candidates are listed below. Additional names may be placed in nomination for any office by petition submitted to the Chief Executive Officer no later than 18 October 2013. Petitions nominating candidates for president-elect, members of the Board, or members of the Committee on Nominations must bear the signatures of at least 100 members of the association. Petitions nominating candidates for any section office must bear the signatures of at least 50 members of the section. A petition to place an additional name in nomination for any office must be accompanied by the nominee’s curriculum vitae and statement of acceptance of nomination. Biographical information for the following candidates will be enclosed with the ballots sent to members.

General Election
President-Elect: Lance R. Collins, Cornell Univ.; Geraldine (Geri) Richmond, Univ. of Oregon
Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources
Chair Elect:Richard T. Sayre, Los Alamos National Laboratory/New Mexico Consortium; Michael F. Thomashow, Michigan State Univ.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Jerry D. Cohen, Univ. of Minnesota; Elizabeth E. Hood, Arkansas State Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee:Jim Giovannoni, USDA-ARS; Sheila McCormick, USDA-ARS; Mel Oliver, USDA-ARS; Esther van der Knaap, Ohio State Univ.
Chair Elect: Steven R. Leigh, Univ. of Colorado Boulder; Robert W. Sussman, Washington Univ. in St. Louis
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Margaret C. Nelson, Arizona State Univ.; Dawnie Wolfe Steadman, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville
Electorate Nominating Committee: Patricia M. Lambert, Utah State Univ.; Lisa J. Lucero, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Lorena Madrigal, Univ. of South Florida; James J. McKenna, Univ. of Notre Dame
Chair Elect: Stefi Alison Baum, Rochester Institute of Technology; Lee Hartmann, Univ. of Michigan.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee:Jonathan I. Lunine, Cornell Univ.; Jean L. Turner, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
Electorate Nominating Committee: Neil Gehrels, NASA/Univ. of Maryland; Keivan Guadalupe Stassun, Vanderbilt Univ.; Paul A. Vanden Bout, National Radio Astronomy Observatory; Michael Werner, Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech
Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences
Chair Elect: Kelvin K. Droegemeier, Univ. of Oklahoma; Michael J. Prather, Univ. of California, Irvine
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee:Cora E. Randall, Univ. of Colorado Boulder; Soroosh Sorooshian, Univ. of California, Irvine
Electorate Nominating Committee:Lance F. Bosart, Univ. at Albany/SUNY; Anthony J. Broccoli, Rutgers Univ.; Leo J. Donner, NOAA; James A. Yoder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Council Delegate: David Halpern, Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Richard D. Rosen, NOAA
Biological Sciences
Chair Elect:Steve Henikoff, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; James T. Kadonaga, Univ. of California, San Diego
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Sarah M. (Sally) Assmann, Pennsylvania State Univ.; Susan R. Wente, Vanderbilt Univ. School of Medicine
Electorate Nominating Committee: Vicki L. Chandler, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Claire M. Fraser, Univ. of Maryland School of Medicine; Robb Krumlauf, Stowers Institute for Medical Research; John T. Lis, Cornell Univ.
Chair Elect: Bruce E. Bursten, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville; Peter C. Ford, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee:Mahdi Abu-Omar, Purdue Univ.; Mark Thompson, Univ. of Southern California
Electorate Nominating Committee: Philip C. Bevilacqua, Pennsylvania State Univ.; John H. Dawson, Univ. of South Carolina; Katrina M. Miranda, Univ. of Arizona; Galen D. Stucky, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
Dentistry and Oral Health Sciences
Chair Elect: Adele Ludin Boskey, Cornell Univ./Hospital for Special Surgery; Mina Mina, Univ. of Connecticut Health Center
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee:Rena N. D'Souza, Univ. of Utah School of Dentistry; Van P. Thompson, King's College London Dental Institute (UK)
Electorate Nominating Committee:Pamela K. Den Besten, UC San Francisco School of Dentistry; William Giannobile, Univ. of Michigan; Mark C. Herzberg, Univ. of Minnesota School of Dentistry; Mel L. Kantor, Univ. of Kentucky College of Dentistry and College of Public Health
Council Delegate: Timothy G. Bromage, New York Univ. College of Dentistry; Linda C. Niessen, Texas A&M Univ. Baylor College of Dentistry
Chair Elect: Jay B. Labov, National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council; Martin Storksdieck, National Research Council
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: David F. Brakke, James Madison Univ.; Tamara Shapiro Ledley, TERC
Electorate Nominating Committee:R. Caldwell, Center for Ocean Solutions/Stanford Law School; Edna K. DeVore, SETI Institute; Kristin P. Jenkins, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison/BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium; Alan R. Peterfreund, SageFox Consulting Group
Council Delegate: Katherine Nielsen, Univ. of California, San Francisco; Elizabeth K. Stage, UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science
Chair Elect:Richard Alkire, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; W. Kent Fuchs, Cornell Univ.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee:Nicholas L. Abbott, Univ. of Wisconsin- Madison; Robert M. Kelly, North Carolina State Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Linda Broadbelt, Northwestern Univ.; Surya Mallapragada, Iowa State Univ.; David B. Williams, Ohio State Univ.; Pierre Wiltzius, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
General Interest in Science and Engineering
Chair Elect: Dominique Brossard, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison; Dennis Meredith, Independent Consultant
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Carol Lynn Alpert, Museum of Science, Boston; Carol L. Rogers, Univ. of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism
Electorate Nominating Committee: Beryl Lieff Benderly, Freelance Writer; Jeff Grabmeier, Ohio State Univ.; Robert Lee Hotz, Wall Street Journal; Lisa M. Van Pay, George Washington Univ.
Council Delegate: Sharon M. Friedman, Lehigh Univ.; Judith E. Parker, Muhlenberg College/Columbia Univ. Teacher's College
Geology and Geography
Chair Elect: Thorne Lay, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Maureen E. Raymo, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Dennis V. Kent, Rutgers Univ.; Jorge L. Sarmiento, Princeton Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Jeffrey T. Freymueller, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks; Thomas P. Guilderson, UC Santa Cruz/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Jennifer R. Marlon, Yale Univ.; Konrad (Koni) Steffen, Swiss Federal Research Institute/ETH Zürich (Switzerland)
History and Philosophy of Science
Chair Elect:William Bechtel, Univ. of California, San Diego; Elliott Sober, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee:Mark E. Borrello, Univ. of Minnesota; Roberta L. Millstein, Univ. of California, Davis
Electorate Nominating Committee:Heather Douglas, Univ. of Waterloo (Canada); Kristine C. Harper, Florida State Univ.; Alan C. Love, Univ. of Minnesota; C. Kenneth Waters, Univ. of Minnesota
Industrial Science and Technology
Chair Elect: Stephen F. Agnew, Columbia Energy and Environmental Services; Sharon C. Glotzer, Univ. of Michigan
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Harold H. Kung, Northwestern Univ.; Stephen P. Long, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Electorate Nominating Committee: Cann, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Sang In Lee, Synos Technology, Inc.; Amit Misra, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Michael Tsapatsis, Univ. of Minnesota
Information, Computing, and Communication
Chair Elect: Carla P. Gomes, Cornell Univ.; Eugene H. Spafford, Purdue Univ.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Justine Cassell, Carnegie Mellon Univ.; Boleslaw K. Szymanski, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Electorate Nominating Committee: Bonnie C. Carroll, Information International Associates (IIa)/CENDI; Roscoe C. Giles, Boston Univ.; Tony Hey, Microsoft Research Connections; Susan Landau, Google
Council Delegate: James A. Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Univ.; Karen R. Sollins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Linguistics and Language Science
Chair Elect: Brian D. Joseph, Ohio State Univ.; Keren Rice, Univ. of Toronto (Canada)
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Wayne O'Neil, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; David Poeppel, New York Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee:David Bobaljik, Univ. of Connecticut; Cecile McKee, Univ. of Arizona; Louise McNally, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain); Shari R. Speer, Ohio State Univ.
Council Delegate:Peter W. Culicover, Ohio State Univ.; Joan Maling, National Science Foundation
Chair Elect: Tony F. Chan, Hong Kong Univ. of Science and Technology; Martin Golubitsky, Ohio State Univ.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee:L. Pamela (Pam) Cook, Univ. of Delaware; Irene Fonseca, Carnegie Mellon Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Mark Alber, Univ. of Notre Dame; Harvey Thomas Banks, North Carolina State Univ.; Lloyd E. Douglas, Univ. of North Carolina at Greensboro; James (Mac) Hyman, Tulane Univ.
Medical Sciences
Chair Elect: Pamela B. Davis, Case Western Reserve Univ. School of Medicine; W. Ian Lipkin, Columbia Univ./NIAID
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee:Harry (Hal) Dietz, Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Medicine; David M. Sabatini, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Electorate Nominating Committee:Paul F. Bray, Thomas Jefferson Medical College; Lisa M. Coussens, Oregon Health & Science Univ.; Jules L. Dienstag, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School; Francis W. Luscinskas, Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School; Gregory M. Vercellotti, Univ. of Minnesota
Chair Elect: Marie-Françoise Chesselet, Univ. of California, Los Angeles; Alison Goate, Washington Univ. School of Medicine in St. Louis
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee:Allan Basbaum, Univ. of California, San Francisco; Robert E. Burke, Columbia Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Corkin, MIT/Massachusetts General Hospital; Ruth Anne Eatock, Harvard Univ./Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary; Diane O'Dowd, Univ. of California, Irvine; Phyllis M. Wise, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Pharmaceutical Sciences
Chair Elect: David Z. D'Argenio, Univ. of Southern California; Jeanette C. Roberts, Univ. of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Donald P. McDonnell, Duke Univ. School of Medicine; Craig K. Svensson, Purdue Univ. College of Pharmacy
Electorate Nominating Committee: Barbara S. Beckman, Tulane Univ. School of Medicine; Carlos Enrique Catalano, Univ. of Washington School of Pharmacy; Melanie S. Joy, Univ. of Colorado School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy; Swati Nagar, Temple Univ.
Council Delegate:David E. Smith, Univ. of Michigan College of Pharmacy; Barbara N. Timmermann, Univ. of Kansas
Chair Elect:Eva Andrei, Rutgers Univ.; Alexander L. Fetter, Stanford Univ.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Lene Vestergaard Hau, Harvard Univ.; Rolf M. Sinclair, Centro de Estudios Científicos (Chile)
Electorate Nominating Committee: Marcela Carena, Univ. of Chicago/Fermilab; Michael E. Flatté, Univ. of Iowa; Joe D. Thompson, Los Alamos National Laboratory; John M. Tranquada, Brookhaven National Laboratory
Chair Elect: Susan Goldin-Meadow, Univ. of Chicago; Nora S. Newcombe, Temple Univ.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Valerie F. Reyna, Cornell Univ./Weill Cornell Medical College; Barbara A. (Bobbie) Spellman, Univ. of Virginia/Univ. of Virginia School of Law
Electorate Nominating Committee: Sian L. Beilock, Univ. of Chicago; Angeline Lillard, Univ. of Virginia; Charles A. Nelson III, Harvard Medical School/Boston Children's Hospital; Elizabeth Phelps, New York Univ.
Social, Economic, and Political Sciences
Chair Elect:Maryann P. Feldman, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Myron P. Gutmann, Univ. of Michigan
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee:Arne L. Kalleberg, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Paula Stephan, Georgia State Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee:Norman M. Bradburn, National Opinion Research Center at the Univ. of Chicago; Jerald Hage, Univ. of Maryland, College Park; Stephanie Shipp, Virginia Tech; Howard J. Silver, Consortium of Social Science Associations
Societal Impacts of Science and Engineering
Chair Elect:Francesca T. Grifo, Union of Concerned Scientists; Jane Maienschein, Arizona State Univ./Marine Biological Laboratory
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Gerald L. Epstein, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Roger D. Launius, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum
Electorate Nominating Committee: Jonathan Coopersmith, Texas A&M Univ.; Maryann P. Feldman, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Kevin Finneran, National Academy of Sciences; Tobin L. Smith, Association of American Universities
Council Delegate:Howard Gobstein, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; Susan Sauer Sloan, National Academies
Chair Elect:Sallie Ann Keller, Virginia Tech; Xihong Lin, Harvard School of Public Health
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Katherine Bennett Ensor, Rice Univ.; Karen Kafadar, Indiana Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Boehnke, Univ. of Michigan; Dipak K. Dey, Univ. of Connecticut; M. Elizabeth (Betz) Halloran, Univ. of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; H.N. Nagaraja, Ohio State Univ.
Council Delegate:Allan R. Sampson, Univ. of Pittsburgh; Linda J. Young, Univ. of Florida/USDA-NASS

Navigate This Article