Science Launches "Global Voices" Series to Mark 125th Anniversary
For those who live in temperate climates, and those accustomed to advanced, effective food production systems, issues of seed storage might seem remote and highly esoteric. But in the extreme climates of Africa, protecting seeds from fungus and decomposition can be a matter of life and death, says cell biologist Patricia Berjak.
For more than 30 years, Berjak and her colleagues in South Africa have explored ways to improve seed preservation, and in the 7 January issue of Science, her essay about their challenges and discoveries inaugurates the "Global Voices of Science" series that will be a highlight of journal's 125th anniversary year.
Throughout 2005, on the first Friday of every month, Science will publish an essay by one of the leading scientists in the developing world, where work in a blossoming research culture is often focused on crucial human problems.
"We thought about how best to celebrate our 125th anniversary," said Donald Kennedy, Science editor-in-chief. "One possibility, obviously, would have been to find and reprint some highlights among the new findings we have published in that time. Instead, we decided to look forward, rather than back. Nowadays, in contrast to 1880, researchers in the developing world are working at the cutting edge of scienceand they are addressing some of the most interesting and daunting scientific challenges of our time. Even though they often operate with limitations that are not shared by their colleagues in wealthier countries, they are doing remarkable workwork that gives special meaning to the AAAS goal of advancing science, serving society."
Kennedy also penned an editorial on the Global Voices series and the anniversary in the journal's 7 January issue.
The first edition of Scienceavailable here to all subscribers and registered users of Science Onlinewas published 3 July 1880. Articles explored subjects ranging from the potential of electricity as power for railroads, to the Pleiades, to the early history of the U.S. Naval Observatory. The second issue, published a week later, contains an essay by T.H. Huxley on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. "Evolution is no longer a speculation, but a statement of historical fact," Huxley wrote then of a theory that was still relatively new. "It takes its place alongside of accepted truths which must be taken into account by others of all schools."
Nearly 125 year later, Berjak's essay is focused on seed preservation in arid lands and in the tropics, the subject of her work as a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. But its larger subject is the prevention of hunger in Africa and beyond.
"Despite their marked geographical and cultural diversity," she writes, "the peoples of Africa are bound together by concerns about food security and the vagaries of rainfall across the continent's extensive terrain, much of which is arid or semi-arid. This makes the scientific study of seeds and their storage an imperative."
Among the future essayists will be malaria researcher Ogobara Doumbo, writing about biomedical research and medical ethics in Mali; Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, director general of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research in New Delhi, writing about 21st Century for science in India; and Mayana Zatz of the University of São Paulo in Brazil, writing about the neuroscience of degenerative diseases.
"Global Voices" is being edited by Ivan Amato, a former Science news staffer who edited the journal's millennium series, "Pathways of Discovery." That series was published as a book, "Science Pathways of Discovery," in 2002.
Edward W. Lempinen
10 January 2005