Science  06 Jul 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5834, pp. 25


    ROCK ON ICE. They are in their 20s, and they have their own rock band. There is nothing unusual about that. But what's different about Matt Balmer, Tris Thorne, Ali Massey, Rob Webster, and Roger Stilwell is that they are also members of a 22-person British research team studying climate change and evolutionary biology in the frozen Antarctic. On 7 July, the group, called Nunatak (a Greenlandic word for an exposed mountain summit within an ice field or glacier), will put on a special performance at the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera Research Station, joining dozens of bands around the world in a 24-hour series of live concerts aimed at raising awareness about climate change. The event, lead by Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection, will be beamed to millions of viewers worldwide, and the proceeds will go toward a global effort to fight the climate crisis.


    EXOTIC FIND. It's not often that you can convince a star player on the best team in your sport to head up an expansion franchise that's still on the drawing boards. But that's essentially what the people of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois pulled off last month, when they announced that renowned physicist Walter Henning would be rejoining the lab to lead their effort to build a new nuclear physics facility for generating rare chemical isotopes. Henning, who has worked three previous stints at Argonne, is currently the managing director for science and technology at Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung mbH (GSI) in Darmstadt, Germany, the world's premier facility for producing rare isotopes and smashing atoms together to create new superheavy elements.


    GSI scientists have created six novel superheavy elements in recent years. But Henning and others are betting that Argonne may have the inside track on the future of rare isotope research. The lab is proposing to build a $550 million “exotic beam facility” that, with the help of new accelerator technology, is expected to markedly increase the rate at which novel isotopes can be generated and studied. Stuart Freedman, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, calls snagging Henning “a major coup for Argonne.”


    ABRUPT EXIT. The fledgling Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, is looking for new leadership following the sudden departure of its founding director, Howard Burton, last month. According to institute spokesperson John Matlock, Burton's contract was up for renewal, but during discussions, they “didn't come to an agreement on how to move forward.”

    Perimeter Institute was founded in 1999 with a $75 million donation from Mike Lazaridis, co-CEO of Research in Motion (RIM), which is the maker of the ubiquitous BlackBerry wireless e-mail device, and contributions from two other RIM executives. The Canadian and Ontario governments have since added more funding. The institute has carved out a prominent niche for itself in fields such as superstring theory, quantum gravity, and quantum information theory.


    Lazaridis hired Burton, a theoretical physicist from Waterloo University, to set up the institute. Burton won plaudits for hiring a cadre of young and dynamic researchers (Science, 5 December 2003, p. 1650). “Burton helped build the beginnings of an excellent institute,” says Princeton cosmologist Paul Steinhardt, chair of Perimeter's Scientific Advisory Committee. Steinhardt's committee and senior staff are now scouting for candidates for a new director. Matlock says it's a pretty mature institute. “It's more than a startup now, so I wouldn't be surprised if there was a different tone of leadership,” he says. Burton, who has written a history of the institute to be published next year, is planning a year away from science projects in southern France, where he'll be working on publishing projects.



    IN GOOD HEALTH. The first director of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, also known as TB Alliance, a nonprofit in New York City that develops tuberculosis drugs, is leaving after 6 years to look for a new challenge. Maria Freire, who became TB Alliance's CEO and president after leading the National Institutes of Health's Office of Technology Transfer, announced her departure last month.

    Freire helped oversee the growth of the organization from three staffers to 30, built a portfolio of drug candidates, and raised more than $200 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the governments of several countries. “It's the right time to leave, when an organization is strong,” she says. Freire, who says she deliberately resigned before job-hunting to avoid “secret meetings behind closed doors,” will stay on as long as a year, she says, while a search committee finds the next director. Meanwhile, she's looking for “the next challenge that will capture [her] imagination,” possibly in women's or children's health.

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