Programs: Science and Policy
Science and Technology in Congress
The federal government's fiscal year (FY) 2008 began on October 1, but most federal agencies are still operating under a continuing resolution extending funding at 2007 levels through December 14. Congress would like to spend $23 billion more on domestic programs than the President’s request, but President Bush has threatened - and made good on the threat - to veto any appropriations bill that exceeds his request. Efforts are underway to split the difference between the two spending goals - approximately $11 billion more than the request and $11 billion under the congressional level - but it remains to be seen if bills at that level are met with the veto pen.
Congress has finalized and the President has signed a 2008 DOD budget with $77.8 billion for R&D, a decline of 0.5 percent from the current year. The bill includes $13.0 billion for "S&T" programs (down 7 percent) but a 3 percent boost for basic research ("6.1") to $1.6 billion. The primary reason DOD R&D would decline for first time in more than a decade is that Congress has not yet considered a 2008 supplemental war funding package that now approaches $190 billion for the DOD portion, including $3.9 billion for R&D (nearly all for development). Because Congress is expected to approve most of the supplemental request intact in early 2008, the final DOD R&D total for 2008 is likely to be another large increase when all is said and done.
House and Senate appropriators were able to iron out differences in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that would have given NIH a 3.6 percent increase to $30.2 billion. But President Bush vetoed the appropriation for exceeding his budget request on November 13. The House attempted to override his veto two days later but fell several votes short.
Appropriators reached agreement on a Transportation-HUD appropriations conference report containing a 7 percent increase for DOT R&D, which the House quickly approved, but the Senate postponed its final vote until December.
Detailed analyses by agency and topic are available on the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website.
-- Kei KoizumiBACK TO TOP
Nanotechnology was the topic of two recent hearings of the House Science and Technology Committee's Research and Science Education Subcommittee. Committee members discussed nanotechnology education on October 2 and research on the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) impacts of nanotechnology on October 31.
The EHS research hearing was one in a series geared toward the reauthorization during the next session of Congress of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003, which authorized funding for nanotechnology R&D. The crux of the hearing lay with the government's efforts to put out a long-delayed detailed federal research plan for nanotechnology risks. Committee members discussed the need for such a plan in 2005; so far documents put out by the federal working group tasked with developing the plan have been largely panned as slow and inadequate. Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office Clayton Teague attributed the delay to coordinating the more than two dozen agencies that are contributing to the final document. He expects to release it later this year or early next year.
A week after the hearing, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Council on Environmental Quality jointly released a memo laying out guiding principles for EHS oversight at the agency level. The memo endorses a cost-benefit approach that is needs-based, science-based, transparent, and flexible in a rapidly developing field. The nonprofit OMB Watch has taken issue with some of the memo's contents, suggesting that it should emphasize risk research and precautionary measures to ensure public health.
Richard Denison, Senior Scientist of Environmental Defense, identified a similar flaw in the National Nanotechnology Initiative during the hearing, noting that it seeks to simultaneously promote nanotechnology while tasked with identifying its potential risks.
At the nanotechnology education hearing, Committee member Darlene Hooley (D-OR) discussed her bill, H.R. 2436, the Nanotechnology in Schools Act, which would award grants to schools for educational programs and equipment geared toward nanotechnology.
The first five witnesses-David Ucko, who coordinates nanotechnology education for the National Science Foundation; Navida Ganguly, a Tennessee high school science teacher; Hamish Fraser, a professor at Ohio State University; Ray Vandiver, who oversees project development at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry; and Sean Murdock, executive director of the NanoBusiness Alliance-supported Hooley's bill.
But the sixth witness, Gerald Wheeler, head of the National Science Teachers Association, said that federal dollars would be better spent addressing fundamental needs of science classrooms. "NSTA would prefer that grant funds be provided so that labs could be able to purchase basic equipment and supplies [and] for more high-quality teacher training," he said.
With much on Congress's plate before the holidays, the bill remains with the committee.
-- Erin Heath
Judging by the momentum in Congress this year, the Food and Drug Administration will continue to see calls for an expansion of its oversight authority.
Over the fall, in the wake of high-profile problems with drugs like Avandia and Vioxx, a major FDA reauthorization bill gave the agency new powers to regulate prescription drug safety, enabling it to require pharmaceutical companies to conduct post-market safety studies or change the information on their product labels.
But senior members of Congress such as House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) have continued to call for an overhaul of federal drug and food safety practices.
In September Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats released import safety legislation, H.R. 3610, that would provide the FDA more funding for inspections through user fees, give the agency authority to recall food products, and limit entry points for food imports to those near the FDA's 13 inspection labs. The user fee and port limit proposals have drawn ire from some industry stakeholders.
Committee Vice Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), one of the bill's proponents who also has food safety bills of her own, said in one of a series of hearings on the topic that "people are shocked when they find out that the Consumer Product Safety Commission can recall toys but that we can't recall tainted baby food that we feed to those same babies" as the FDA currently relies on voluntary recalls.
The following month the committee released a report about China's food inspection practices that Dingell said was "first-hand confirmation that food from China presents a clear and present danger to Americans under the current conditions of import." The report indicated that China's certification process is inconsistent. In addition, the FDA does not recognize their process, meaning that firms that don't earn the certification can still export to the United States.
A White House panel released its import safety plan this month that would give the FDA recall authority, though it cautioned that the U.S. government cannot "inspect its way to safety." At the same time, the FDA announced its own food safety plan that seeks to focus its resources on the riskiest areas.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CN) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) advocate another strategy. For years they have worked together on the idea of consolidating federal food safety responsibilities into one government entity, an approach that has gained little traction. Next year they plan to take a different tactic by introducing a bill that would split the FDA into two agencies: one dealing with food and the other with drugs and medical devices.
The FDA inspects only about 1 percent of imported food, though it electronically scans all of it. The percentage of drugs that are inspected also number in the single digits: A recent Government Accountability Office report discussed at a November 1 Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing estimated that the FDA inspects approximately 7 percent of the foreign pharmaceutical manufacturers that export goods to the United States in a given year. Though the agency must inspect domestic drug plants every two years, there is no requirement for foreign companies and the FDA lacks a dedicated overseas inspection staff as well as an adequate tracking system. Committee investigators also released a report calling into question the FDA's foreign drug inspection capacity. Causing further consternation to Members was the fact that the GAO examined the issue and came to some similar conclusions nearly 10 years ago; Dingell called it a case of "déjà vu."
Former FDA policy commissioner William Hubbard likened the strapped agency's challenge to meet its various demands to a "public health version of the children's game whack-a-mole."
FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach said that the agency is taking steps to improve information flow, including meeting with government officials from China. He has also put the brakes on a proposal, strongly criticized by some members of Congress, to close half of its inspection labs.
Another oversight issue for the FDA involves a bill passed in August by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that would authorize the agency to regulate tobacco. Eschenbach sent testimony opposing the legislation to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the grounds that the already stretched-thin agency is geared toward promoting health, not overseeing a harmful product.
An Institute of Medicine panel came to a different conclusion, however, suggesting in May that the FDA is the best federal agency to deal with tobacco. The bill's supporters include the strange bedfellows of anti-smoking groups and tobacco giant Philip Morris, which, as the market leader, would stand to benefit from overarching limits on tobacco advertising.
-- Erin Heath
On October 24, the House Committee on Science and Technology passed H.R. 2406, a bill supporting efforts toward a national, interoperable system for electronic health records (EHRs). Introduced by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), the bill authorizes $8 million annually for two years to expand information technology initiatives at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Proponents claim that a national system for health records can increase efficiency and reduce error. With current systems, the health information of one patient is often scattered among various providers, making it difficult to construct a complete medical history, especially in the case of an emergency or for elderly individuals. EHRs would make it possible to streamline administrative tasks for both providers and patients and avoid adverse drug interactions arising from incomplete medical information. EHRs could also halve the number of medical tests performed, as duplicate tests due to the inability to access previous results account for 49 percent of the clinical diagnostic tests performed. In addition, studies published by both RAND and Health Affairs suggest that a national network could reduce U.S. spending on healthcare by five percent annually.
With H.R. 2406, the Science and Technology Committee demonstrates its belief that a system of EHRs is a necessary first step toward more comprehensive use of information technologies in healthcare. Research into such technologies is supported by the bill, which directs the National High-Performance Computing Program to coordinate federal R&D programs in health IT and requires NIST, in consultation with the National Science Foundation (NSF), to establish a university grant program for multidisciplinary research in health IT, with an emphasis on promoting collaborations with for-profit and non-profit entities.
H.R. 2406 requires NIST to create a Healthcare Information Enterprise Integration Initiative to deal with major concerns regarding a national system of EHRs—including interoperability, privacy, security, and specification of standards for technology. The bill would expand NIST's authority to work with the user and technology communities to support interoperability analyses along with the development of standards and software conformance and certification protocols. The bill also requires the establishment of a Senior Interagency Council on Federal Healthcare Information Technology Infrastructure to coordinate the development and deployment of health IT systems by federal departments and agencies. In statements on the legislation, Rep. Gordon emphasized that the federal government should serve as a model in the field of health IT.
Witnesses at the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement hearing argued that the federal government should do much more than act as a model; it should provide funding incentives for the adoption of health IT. Reports suggest that one of the largest barriers to the implementation of EHRs comes in financing because doctors bear eighty percent of the cost burden in the form of equipment, software, training, and support for the systems while they receive only twenty percent of the cost benefits.
At the same hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) argued for health IT to be used as a mechanism to decrease health disparities and announced that he is working to organize a Health IT Empowerment Caucus to focus on connecting health IT with underserved communities. Witnesses testified on the huge possibilities for communities of color to benefit from a more interconnected healthcare system as well as a method for increasing research and tracking of disease and treatments on groups that have been consistently underrepresented in clinical trials. However, practices serving these communities are often already overburdened, and in his hearing Rep. Towns stressed the importance of government involvement to insure that historically underserved communities are not left behind in the health IT field as well.
-- Alexis Walker
Ocean Bills Advance
Nearly a decade after the international Year of the Ocean, Congress is making progress on several recommendations to strengthen ocean research and policy.
On October 24, the House Science and Technology Committee passed by voice vote legislation (H.R.1834) to authorize the Ocean Exploration Program and the National Undersea Research Program within NOAA. Cited by Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX) for its strong education and outreach focus, the bill would authorize more than $486 million for research, exploration and surveying and $265 million for science, education and technology over ten years. The Science and Technology Committee shares jurisdiction over the bill with the House Natural Resources Committee, which passed it on June 28. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a similar bill (S.39) in February.
With a renewed attention after several years of inactivity on the long-languishing treaty, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 17-4 to send the Law of the Sea Treaty to the full Senate for its consideration on October 31. Despite a broad coalition of supporters, the treaty’s prospects for ratification by the full Senate are still uncertain and it has not yet been scheduled for a vote.
-- Kasey White
Gender Bias Legislation Opens Discussion on Women in Science
With the one year anniversary of the release of the National Academies report Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, the issue of women and science is receiving much attention—in part due to the recent introduction of the Gender Bias Elimination Act of 2007 (H.R. 3514) by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). The 2006 NAS report asserted that the lack of scientific advancement by women is largely a result of the culture and structure of academic science and called for reform as an issue of national competitiveness. These ideas were echoed in an October hearing on Women in Academic Science and Engineering held by the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research and Science Education. Chairman Baird (D-WA) and Ranking Member Ehlers (R-MI), along with several witnesses, argued that not only are scientific departments often unwelcoming environments for women, the criteria used for advancement in these fields do not reward work disproportionately provided by women, such as support and mentoring of younger scientists.
Amidst recommendations for reforming the scientific system, the NSF Advance program received praise at the hearing as a model for encouraging institutional transformation. The program aims to enable the full participation of women in academic science and engineering by providing grants for comprehensive programs to facilitate institution-wide change, as well as awards that support the analysis, adaptation, and dissemination of practices for increasing the representation of women in these fields. Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, testified that the Advance program should be expanded and the lessons learned through its grants should be applied at other institutions. Dr. Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and Chair of the NAS report, called for similar programs to be put in place at the National Institutes of Health and other funding agencies.
Rep. Johnson’s Gender Bias Elimination Act of 2007 takes almost verbatim the recommendations of the NAS report, requiring federal granting agencies to provide mandatory workshops for department chairs, members of grant review boards, and agency program officers about methods to minimize gender bias. The bill also demands that agencies enforce non-discrimination laws and conduct compliance reviews at universities as well as collect and publish data on the demographics and funding outcomes for all grant applications. With provisions for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Departments of Energy and Defense, the bill has now been referred to the Committee on Education and Labor as well as the Committees on Science and Technology, and Armed Services.
One recommendation of the NAS report that was not included in the legislation was allowing grant money to be applicable to dependent care costs—an issue that Dr. Shalala continued to push in her testimony before the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education. At the hearing Shalala also took the recommendation for compliance reviews a step further in advocating the establishment of a regulatory body which would hold universities accountable for Title IX provisions in academics as the NCAA does in athletics.
Even as congressional debates move toward addressing the issues raised by the NAS report, not all parties are in agreement as to the existence of biases against women in science. A conference held last month by the American Enterprise Institute analyzed the veracity of these biases, examining alternative explanations for the underrepresentation of women in the sciences, such as sex differences in aptitude or interest in the subjects. Even after debates on the merits of these arguments, panelists and speakers generally agreed that we must encourage the full capabilities of all.
-- Alexis Walker
As discussions in Congress shift away from debating the causes of climate change to examining solutions to address it, increasing attention is being paid to the research that supports these decisions. In particular, the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), which funds approximately $1.5 billion in research and development across 13 government agencies, has come under scrutiny and several efforts are underway to refocus its research portfolio to emphasize information relevant to policymakers.
A National Academy of Sciences report Evaluating Progress of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program: Methods and Preliminary Results captures many of the issues raised by Members of Congress and other stakeholders. The NAS report found that the research program has been successful in identifying and attributing global temperature trends and their corresponding environmental effects. But the report notes that the program has been less successful in understanding local temperature trends and regional impacts of climate change and their impacts on society. In addition, the NAS report found that CCSP has failed to sufficiently analyze adaptation plans and mitigation tactics.
Most of the witnesses at a November 14 Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing shared these concerns and voiced their support for the Global Change Research Improvement Act (S. 2307) introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME). The bill seeks to realign the research program to "a comprehensive and integrated United States observation, research, assessment, and outreach program which will assist the Nation and the world to better understand, assess, predict, mitigate, and adapt to the effects of human-induced and natural processes of global change."
The bill calls for a new strategic plan for the program and would establish a program office within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to coordinate research activities and budget proposals. S. 2307 would create a National Climate Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that includes a network of regional and local facilities for operational climate monitoring and prediction. The bill also directs agencies to adopt policies that ensure the integrity of scientific communications.
A related bill, the Global Climate Change Research Data and Management Act of 2007 (H.R. 906) introduced by Reps. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Bob Inglis (R-SC), is included in the House’s energy package. This bill emphasizes the need to conduct and communicate adaptation and mitigation research of interest to policymakers. It directs the President to develop a new research plan that is updated every five years, with vulnerability and policy assessments on an ongoing basis.
A related issue that emerged during the Senate hearing was the need for a national assessment. Under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the Administration must produce a national climate change assessment every 4 years. Only one has been produced; it was completed in 2000. In lieu of a single assessment, the Bush Administration decided to issue a series of 21 technical reports. Thus far, only 3 reports have been completed, though others are well into the review process.
In response to the delay, the Center for Biological Diversity and several other environmental groups, supported by a memorandum of Amici Curiae from Senator Kerry and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), filed suit. In August 2007, a federal court ruled that the Administration had violated the Global Change Research Act by failing to produce a national assessment and ordered completion of the reports by May 2008. OSTP Director John Marburger testified at the hearing that the Administration will meet these deadlines, stating, "I take very seriously the findings of a federal court that this is not appropriate, and I'm taking steps to ensure these will come out on time." The completion of these reports will likely do little to satisfy Kerry, who believes the series of technical reports are not comparable to a single assessment.
-- Kasey White
- Comparative Clinical Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness Research: Background, History, and Overview (RL34208)
This report examines health technology assessment tools, such as comparative clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness testing, and cost-benefit analysis, as used by the U.S. government. This report explores research efforts that have been funded and conducted, largely by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Some have argued that a new comparative clinical effectiveness research entity in the U.S. could increase the efficiency and coordination of research, boost the perceived independence and scientific integrity of the research, and generate research not currently being conducted.
- Managing the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Policy Implications of Expanding Global Access to Nuclear Power (RL34234)
This report examines the renewed interest in nuclear power in the U.S. and abroad, spurred by the 2005 Energy Policy Act and concerns about climate change. The report examines the U.S. Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which facilitates technological transfer of nuclear reprocessing technology while not requiring participating countries to relinquish domestic fuel cycle programs. The report notes that there are concerns that increasing global access to nuclear power may lead to the spread of sensitive nuclear technology.
- Fusion Energy: Definitive Cost Estimates for U.S. Contributions to an International Experimental Reactor and Better Coordinated DOE Research Are Needed (GAO-08-30)
On November 21, 2006, the U.S. signed an agreement with five countries and the European Union to build and operate the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) to explore magnetic fusion energy. The Department of Energy (DOE) has estimated that it will spend $1.12 billion to help build ITER over the next 9 years. The costs, however, may rise due to the management challenges of coordinating an international effort. While funding for ITER-related research has increased, funding for the most innovative alternative magnetic fusion research activities within DOE have decreased from 19 percent of the fusion energy research budget in 2002 to 13 percent in 2007. GAO suggests that the decreased funding has led to a decline in innovative research opportunities.
- Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites: Progress Has Been Made, but Improvements Are Needed to Effectively Manage Risks (GAO-08-18)
This report is one in a series that investigates the progress on the development of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites-R (GOES-R) by NOAA and NASA. NOAA’s recent estimates suggest that the first satellite will cost about $7 billion and will be ready to launch in 2014. However, independent estimates suggest that the cost will be about $9 billion with a launch date in 2016. GAO found that the program has multiple risk watchlists that are not always consistent and key risks are missing from the watchlists, including risks associated with unfilled executive positions, limitations in NOAA’s insight into NASA’s deliverables, and insufficient funds for unexpected costs.
- Climate Change Research: Agencies Have Data-Sharing Policies but Could Do More to Enhance the Availability of Data from Federally Funded Research (GAO-07-1172)
This report on the sharing of data from federally-funded climate change research was requested by Reps. Barton (R-TX) and Whitfield (R-KY) as part of their investigation into Michael Mann's “hockey stick” graph during the 109th Congress. Though the scientific community supports sharing of data, there are statutory and practical limits that inhibit the process. In response, GAO recommends that agencies examine opportunities in the grants process to ensure data availability and determine if additional archiving strategies are necessary.
- Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program (ISBN-10: 0-309-11124-2)
This report concludes that the Department of Energy's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) “should not go forward and that it should be replaced by a less aggressive research program." The report recommends that the GNEP R&D program should be scaled back and more emphasis be placed on the Nuclear Power 2010 program. Key elements of Nuclear Power 2010 include identifying sites for new nuclear power plants, completing the design engineering of advanced light water reactors, and assisting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in its efforts to grant both construction and operating licenses in one action.
- Earth Observations from Space: The First 50 Years of Scientific Achievements (ISBN-10: 0-309-11095-5)
This report explores the importance and advancement of satellite development in the last 50 years after the launch of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik. Satellites have revolutionized earth research initiatives, leading to new discoveries and new fields of science. Satellites have vastly improved weather imagery and forecasting, enhanced pollution and ozone depletion tracking, revolutionized climate science, improved monitoring of agricultural lands and contributed to the development of the Global Positioning System. The report concludes that earth observation satellites are a vital resource and that government should continue to invest in satellites as well as training and maintaining the workforce required to continue to develop and use them.
- Ready, Set, Science!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms (ISBN-10: 0-309-10614-1)
This book synthesizes research into a comprehensive summary of the types of institutional experiences that help students in kindergarten to 8th grades learn science. The book is based on the National Research Council’s Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8 report. The book includes classroom case studies that illustrate recent research findings and discusses ways teachers can design rigorous and engaging instructional materials, manage classrooms, and facilitate discussions with culturally and linguistically diverse groups of students.
- Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities (ISBN-10: 0-309-11191-9)
This NRC report calls for the United States to ensure the open exchange of unclassified research despite the small risk that it could be misused for harm. While concerns about certain types of research findings falling into the wrong hands are legitimate and safeguards are needed, the gains in science and technology that flow from the free exchange of information far outweigh the slight risks. Extreme measures to curtail the flow of essential information or people would significantly disrupt advances that are critical to U.S. military and economic security. The report recommends that U.S. universities and research institutions continue to welcome foreign-born science and engineering students.
- Water Implications of Biofuels Production in the United States (ISBN-10: 0-309-11361-X)
This report examines the impact of biofuel production on water resources in the U.S., finding that increased biofuel production may stress already limited water supplies. The impact on water resources will depend on the type of feedstock used for biofuel production, with corn-derived ethanol requiring more water than biofuels based on other feedstocks. Biofuel production will also impact water quality. Transforming grasslands and pastures into farm land will increase soil erosion and sedimentation and require increased use of fertilizers that can contaminate groundwater. The report highlights several water conservation techniques that should be considered as U.S. farmers proceed with biofuel production.
- InterAcademy Council
Lighting the Way: Toward a Sustainable Energy Future
This report was commissioned by the governments of Brazil and China to investigate energy policy frameworks that will allow developing countries to continue development while addressing global climate change. The report highlights options that will allow both developing and developed nations to transition to cleaner energy technologies. The report underscores the importance of incentives for and investment in research and development for innovative new technologies, including improved energy efficiency. The report stresses disparities in access to energy and the need to develop equitable allocation of clean energy worldwide.
- Center for a New American Security and
Center for Strategic and International Studies
The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change
This report examines the foreign policy and national security implications of three scenarios of global climate change. Among all three scenarios - expected, severe, and catastrophic - the report finds that though a few countries may benefit from climate change in the short term, there will be no "winners." The report states that climate change will aggravate existing international crises and identifies large-scale migration as "the most worrisome" impact.
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AAAS Briefing Unveils New Diversity Report
The AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Congress held a congressional briefing in October to unveil, to a standing-room-only crowd, new survey data on the number of women and minorities in faculty positions at the top 100 science and engineering departments in the U.S. The report revealed that between 2002 and 2007, the number of minority faculty in science and engineering disciplines increased by only 0.5 percent, to 5 percent; while female faculty members increased by 3 percent, to 17 percent.
Genetic Doping Briefing Attracts Attention on Capitol Hill
On October 22, AAAS and the Hastings Center held the first in a series of collaborations between the two nonprofit organizations for an open discussion on science and bioethics. The briefing focused on gene doping: a process by which athletes may seek to gain an edge against their opponents by deliberately altering their genes to increase muscle mass, quickly recover from a sprint, or more efficiently use oxygen.
For centuries, scientists and inventors have been attempting--nearly always unsuccessfully--to adapt the movements of a bird's wings for mechanical flight. In a new strategy, researchers used a computer program that simulates evolution of birds and created flying machine from the design.
Margerie, et al, 3rd US-European Competition and Workshop on Micro Air Vehicle Systems (MAV07) & European Micro Air Vehicle Conference and Flight Competition (EMAV2007), 17-21 September 2007, Toulouse, France.