AIBS is pleased to announce the addition of three members to the BioScience Editorial Board. Editorial Board members advise the editor in chief about all aspects of manuscript selection and editing. These new members will strengthen BioScience's presence in important areas of biology.
The new Editorial Board members are Rita R. Colwell (a past-president of AIBS), David L. Evans, and David M. Leslie Jr. All have expertise in editorial work and have made distinguished contributions to biology. They will provide input and guidance for BioScience particularly in the areas of environmental microbiology, human biology, and mammalogy. AIBS is grateful for their willingness to serve.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI), perhaps the defining injury of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was diagnosed in 43,779 patients by the Military Health System between 2003 and 2007. TBI can cause a stunning range of immediate and delayed functional brain changes that affect memory, language, learning, emotion, and behavior. These sometimes-unidentified injuries can cause phantom sensation and epilepsy, and seem to increase the risk for Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other age-associated brain disorders.
Although TBI is devastating to individuals, families, and society, the biomechanical mechanisms behind what happens when a blast wave meets a human head are incompletely understood.
In 2007, AIBS SPARS (Scientific and Peer Advisory and Review Services) recruited neurophysiologists and blast experts to review research that sought to describe how the blast-wave energy is transferred to the human head at different blast strengths and head angles.
That research explained mathematically that shock waves can be focused in the orbital cavities—the eye sockets—and that the strength of the blast can be amplified by 10 times or more, "like the headlights of a car, a parabolic mirror," according to the principle investigator.
The resultant model showed that the blast hits the inner part of a soldier's helmet, travels through the space between the head and helmet, and then washes up and over the skull to hit the back of the soldier's head. Using information culled from this research, engineers may change the shape of military helmets to mitigate the effects of the wave. What's more, associated research used the original data to continue to describe the physiology of blastinduced brain injury—not just what happens in the instant of the blast impact but also what occurs in the brain for minutes, even hours, after the blast. This is knowledge that will guide immediate treatment and subsequent therapy.
AIBS has selected Meredith Niles, a graduate student at the University of California, Davis; Ryan Richards, a graduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park; and Leslie Smith, a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, to receive the 2010 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award.
"AIBS is committed to fostering a productive dialogue between policy-makers and scientists," said Richard O'Grady, executive director of AIBS. "We applaud Meredith Niles, Ryan Richards, and Leslie Smith for exemplifying this commitment through their work."
Since 2003, AIBS has recognized the achievements of biology graduate students who have demonstrated an interest in and aptitude for contributing to science and public policy. AIBS brought Niles, Richards, and Smith to Washington, DC, in April to meet with their congressional representatives and to attend a briefing on the federal budget for scientific research. These events were in conjunction with the annual Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition Congressional Visits Day. Niles, Richards, and Smith also received also a certificate and one-year membership in AIBS, which includes a subscription to the journal BioScience.
"By participating in the 2010 Congressional visits event, Meredith, Ryan, and Leslie are playing an important role in bridging the communication gap between our nation's policymakers and the scientific community," said AIBS Director of Public Policy Robert Gropp.
"Engendering collaborations between scientists and policymakers is vital for the continuation and success of both disciplines," Niles said. "I hope to be a part of the future generation making such efforts possible."
Niles is a former Fulbright scholar who is pursuing a PhD in ecology at the University of California, Davis. Her thesis research on sustainable agriculture practices has implications for climate change mitigation and adaptation. She is a trainee of the National Science Foundation's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (NSF IGERT) program. Her work has included directing a national campaign to increase public awareness of the effects of climate on food production. Niles is a former employee of the US Department of State, where she worked on policy and public affairs relating to the international fight against AIDS. She earned a bachelor's degree in politics from Catholic University of America.
Richards, who is pursuing dual master's degrees in conservation biology and environmental policy at the University of Maryland, said "Congressional Visits Day will provide a valuable opportunity to interact with elected leaders and relate the importance of science and federal funding for research."
Richards's research has taken him to Namibia to study the impacts of bush encroachment on rangeland. As part of his graduate work, he is developing guidance for the Namibian government to address invasive species. Richards has worked on wildlife conservation policy at a number of scientific and conservation-focused organizations, including the Society for Conservation Biology and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Richards earned a bachelor's degree in wildlife, fish, and conservation biology from the University of California, Davis.
Smith is a PhD candidate in biological oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. While interning for Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, she wrote a report on the effects of climate change on coastal ecosystems in Rhode Island. She later presented this information to government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and local schools. For her graduate research, Smith is studying the environmental impacts of pollution on coastal waters. The models she is developing could be used by state managers to better anticipate and prevent episodic events of poor water quality. Smith has also participated in the NSF IGERT program. Her undergraduate degree in biology is from Davidson College in North Carolina.
"This experience will give me the opportunity to communicate first hand with federal decisionmakers, not just on the facts of the present state of science, but the necessity of scientific research itself," Smith said.
Original article in English
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