Science  08 Dec 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5805, pp. 1521


    AN INCONVENIENT DVD. The producer of Al Gore's movie about the threat of global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, has picked a fight with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) over its refusal to send its members free DVDs of the former vice president's tutorial on climate change. But NSTA isn't backing down.

    A 26 November op-ed in The Washington Post by environmental activist Laurie David (left)—wife of Seinfeld creator Larry David—accused NSTA of kowtowing to one of its corporate sponsors, ExxonMobil. David told Science she finds it “shocking” that NSTA would have any ties to a company “that has spent millions misinforming the public about global warming.”

    NSTA Executive Director Gerald Wheeler says that David's offer of 50,000 DVDs was rejected because of a 2001 policy that prevents NSTA from endorsing any product or message by an outside organization: “We don't do mass distributions for anybody.” But Wheeler says he's “not ashamed” of taking money from corporate America—including the oil and gas industry—to help improve science education.

    Wheeler says NSTA has offered to mention the movie on its Web site and in its newsletters. David has already rejected another suggestion, to buy NSTA's mailing list, at $130 per 1000 names. “You don't want to send out a cold letter,” she says. “There are 1000 reasons why that wouldn't work.”


    ROLE MODEL. Chinese biochemist Chen-Lu Tsou, who helped synthesize bovine insulin and later campaigned against academic misconduct, died on 23 November in Beijing after a battle with lymphoma. He was 83.


    Educated at Cambridge, Tsou led a Chinese team in the 1950s that joined the A and B chains of bovine insulin, which paved the way for the total chemical synthesis of the protein in 1965. He resumed research after the Cultural Revolution ended in the mid-1970s, tackling questions such as how enzymes work.

    Tsou also spoke out against academic misconduct in China, most famously, exposing a Chinese-American researcher who gained the trust of political leaders to back his dubious work using messenger RNA to influence goldfish development. Pei Gang, director of the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, calls Tsou “my role model as an excellent scientist with a high moral standard and social conscience.”


    BACK TO SCIENCE. William Schlesinger, dean of Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, will leave in June to become president of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies (IES) in Millbrook, New York. His departure has been driven in part by his unhappiness with Duke's administration.

    In his 6 years as dean, Schlesinger boosted fundraising and increased enrollment by 66%. But he recently had disagreements with university administrators over management of the school's policy institute. Schlesinger wanted the institute to report exclusively to him instead of him and the provost. “I was a little frustrated,” he admits. Adding to the headaches, a $72 million donation pledged in 2003 by the school's founding donors has not yet materialized.

    At IES, Schlesinger, 56, will have a chance to focus on ecosystem science—his specialty. He is taking over from Gene Likens, who founded the institute in 1983.

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