Science  12 May 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5775, pp. 843

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    A SALTY NAME. A new species is often named after the discoverer or a loved one. But leave it to the kids to take the scientific high road in tagging a salt- and sun-loving microbe found in the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

    Salsolis was discovered by Ashlee Allred, a student at Westminster College in Utah working with biochemist Bonnie Baxter. Baxter teamed up with Maple Tree Press to hold a Name a New Species Contest. And the joint winners were Hannah Walsh, 11 (top), and Duncan Uszkay, 8 (above), of Canada, who independently chose the same Latin-based moniker.

    Runners-up included “Salteenies” and “Salty the Basking Carrot,” but Baxter chose salsolis because “it reflected the scientific process of naming organisms.” Salsolis belongs to the Halorubrum genus, and Baxter is proposing Halorubrum salsosis as its scientific name.



    LEMELSON PRIZE. The temperature-sensing mood rings and thermometers that James Fergason developed more than 40 years ago at Westinghouse Research Laboratories in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were the first practical applications of liquid crystals. “[But] very quickly we thought about displays,” says Fergason about helping to lay the cornerstone of a $24 billion annual market for liquid-crystal displays in everything from cars and cell phones to laptops and televisions. It also earned Fergason this year's Lemelson-MIT Prize and $500,000, the largest U.S. cash prize for invention.

    The committee also handed out a $100,000 lifetime achievement award to Sidney Pestka, a research physician who developed a technique to purify cell-signaling proteins called interferons. They have been effective against some forms of leukemia, as well as multiple sclerosis and viral diseases.


    WELCH PRIZE. Molecular biologist and former Science editor-in-chief Daniel Koshland has won the $300,000 Welch Award in Chemistry. Koshland, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, receives the honor for his contributions to the understanding of enzymes and protein chemistry.


    HONORING WORK FOR AFRICA. The Japanese government will create a prize for medical researchers whose work benefits Africa. Announcing the prize last week in Ghana, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said it would be named after Hideyo Noguchi, a Japanese scientist who died of yellow fever in Ghana in 1928 while studying the disease. Koizumi said the first prize will be awarded in 2008 at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.


    “Somebody told me that we graduate more majors in sports management than in engineering. I don't know if it's true, but just the idea strikes me as significant.”—Representative Tom Price (R-GA) at a 3 May hearing of the House Education and Workforce Committee that examined existing federal math and science programs.

    FACT: An estimated 700 sports-management degrees are awarded annually by accredited undergraduate programs, according to Mark Stevens of the United States Sports Academy in Daphne, Alabama. That's less than 1% of the 73,000 bachelor-level engineers who graduated from U.S. universities in 2004.



    LAST MAN STANDING. The appointment of evolutionary biologist Mark Rausher as editor of Evolution caused Terry Markow, the president of the society that publishes the journal, to resign in protest of what she called gender discrimination. But society officials say Rausher, who started this month, got the job only after a dozen colleagues turned it down.

    The five women and seven men declined because of the time commitment needed for the position, says Dolph Schluter of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, past president and chair of the search committee. Even Rausher, a researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, admits to having reservations. “I agreed because I am a bit masochistic,” he says.

    Rausher has added two editors with an eye toward reducing publication delays and adding opinions, perspectives, or reviews. He also wants the journal to do more public outreach on evolution.