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AIBS News April 2002

From the pages of BioScience magazine, the online version of our current events column, with discussions of the latest happenings at AIBS in support of our mission.

  • AIBS Presents Awards at 2002 Annual Meeting

    At its annual meeting each March, AIBS presents a number of awards, including the Distinguished Scientist Award, Education Award, Outstanding Service Award, and Media Awards. Recipients of this year's awards are profiled below. Additional awards will be reported next month.

  • AIBS Distinguished Scientist Award

    The 2002 Distinguished Scientist Award winner is Stephen Jay Gould. Since 1972, the AIBS Distinguished Scientist Award (previously named the Distinguished Service Award) has been presented annually to individuals who have made significant scientific contributions to the biological sciences, and in particular to integrative and organismal biology.

    Stephen Jay Gould is among the best known and widely read scientists of our generation. A member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1989, he is a paleontologist by profession and has achieved equally great distinction for his contributions to evolutionary theory and the philosophy and history of science. Gould received his PhD from Columbia University in 1967. He is currently the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, professor of geology, curator in invertebrate paleontology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and adjunct member of the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. Since 1996, he also has been Vincent Astor Visiting Research Professor of Biology at New York University.

    Gould's empirical field studies have concentrated on fossil mollusks and snails found in Bermuda. His first major monograph, Ontogeny and Phylogeny (1977), treated the theory of recapitulation in evolutionary biology. Known to scientists in particular for his measurement of ontogenetic and evolutionary rates, he is known to a wider readership as one of the ablest expositors of biology since Thomas Huxley. The author of nearly a thousand scientific papers and 300 essays for his monthly magazine column, "This View of Life," in Natural History, Gould has also written over 20 best-selling books, including Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (1989), winner of the Science Book Prize for 1990, and seven volumes of essays (most of which were from "This View of Life" ) that were published over a span of 20 years, especially the volumes The Panda's Thumb (1980), which won the 1981 American Book Award for Science, Bully for Brontosaurus (1991), and Dinosaur in a Haystack (1995). Last month, Harvard University Press published his encompassing major work, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory.

    In addition, Gould has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the Medal of Edinburgh, and the Silver National Medal of the Zoology Society of London.

  • AIBS Education Award

    The winner of the 2002 AIBS Education Award is John A. Moore. Instituted in 2001, the AIBS Education Award is presented annually to an individual (or group) who has made significant contributions to education in the biological sciences, and in particular to integrative and organismal biology, at any level of formal or informal education.

    Widely hailed as one of the nation's leading science educators, John A. Moore was a member of the Department of Biology at the University of California at Riverside, specializing in evolution, population genetics, and developmental biology of amphibians, until his retirement in 1982. He received his PhD from Columbia University in 1944. Moore was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1963 in recognition of his early work in developmental biology; his seminal book, Heredity and Development; and his chairmanship of a number of National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences committees that focused on developing and strengthening undergraduate biology curriculum.

    In 1958, Moore took a leadership role in the American Institute of Biological Sciences Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (now the independent BSCS, based in Colorado Springs) to develop high school biology textbooks. Books in this series, known to many as the "Blue Version," "Green Version," and "Yellow Version," are still in use. During the 1970s, Moore became involved in controversies about the teaching of evolution in schools and began to confront the rise of creationism as a "science" in the public's eye. In the 1980s, Moore undertook a 7-year project, Science as a Way of Knowing, with the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (then called the American Society of Zoologists). The seven volumes, printed in the American Zoologist, are collections of essays written by Moore and used in many biology undergraduate classrooms. Moore's most recent book, From Genesis to Genetics, was released by the University of California Press in January.

  • AIBS Outstanding Service Award

    Eugenie C. Scott and the National Center for Science Education are the recipients of the AIBS Outstanding Service Award. Instituted in 2002, this award will be given annually in recognition of an individual's and organization's noteworthy service to the biological sciences, especially integrative and organismal biology. Founded in 1981, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a membership organization of scientists and others who work to improve public understanding of the nature of science and the science of evolution. As director, Eugenie C. Scott works with NCSE staff, members, and volunteers to counter creationist strategies aimed at removing evolution education from public schools. NCSE promotes the approach that "the best guarantee of good education is public understanding of the issues."

    Scott, who holds a PhD in physical anthropology from the University of Missouri, taught 15 years at the university level before coming to NCSE. Currently, she is president-elect of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. She has received awards for her promotion of the separation of church and state and of public understanding of science, including the Isaac Asimov Science Award from the American Humanist Association, the Bruce Alberts Award of the American Society of Cell Biologists, and the 2002 National Science Board Public Service Award.

    Although the courts have consistently denied any legal right to have creationism taught in schools and have struck down laws banning the teaching of evolution, Scott notes that antievolution groups continue to develop new strategies of political activism at local, state, and federal levels. In recent years, this has led to what she calls "perhaps the most damaging" effect of those forces: voluntary self-censorship of evolution education by teachers seeking to avoid controversy. One of NCSE's tasks, says Scott, is to supply teachers with information, tools, and an understanding of their responsibility to teach evolution, despite political pressure. AIBS partners with NCSE on the AIBS/NCSE Evolution List Server Network, which offers scientists, teachers, and other interested parties in the United States and Canada a forum for discussions, alerts, and collective action related to evolution education.

  • AIBS Media Awards

    Gary Polakovic, environmental writer for the Los Angeles Times, is the winner in the print journalism category, for his article "Deaths of the Little Bighorns" (29 August 2001). The AIBS Media Awards, established in 1995, recognize outstanding reporting on biology to a general audience. The award is limited to nontechnical journalism in the print and broadcast media. The judges noted that "the winning entry weaves a strong narrative, combining colorful writing and new science to keep readers interested throughout."

    Susan Milius, life sciences writer at Science News, received an honorable mention in the print journalism category for "Torn to Ribbons in the Desert: Botanists Puzzle over One of Earth's Oddest Plants" (29 October 2001). The judges recognized this article for the author's skill in painting "a vivid picture of plant science, cleverly turning what could be a dense topic into an entertaining read."

    Serving on the distinguished panel of judges for the 2002 AIBS Media Awards were Josh Fischman, deputy editor of the health and medicine section of US News and World Report in Washington, DC; David Kestenbaum of National Public Radio, Washington, DC; Kathryn Brown, a freelance journalist in Alexandria, Virginia; and Valerie Chase, a staff biologist at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Chase is a member of the AIBS Education Committee and an AIBS council member at large. She is a former president and board member of the National Marine Educators Association and a professional fellow at the Aquarium and Zoo Association. She has been active in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Teachers Association.

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