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AIBS BioScience Editorials

A Forum for Integrating the Life Sciences

From the pages of BioScience magazine, the online version of our editorial column.

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Columns

November 2014: Working across Boundaries

For many years, the scientific community has drawn attention to the potentially transformative discoveries that become possible when scientists from...

October 2014: Are You Ready for Open Data?

Regulations about access to research data can be complicated, but their arc through history is clear. Although some exemptions will...

September 2014: Understanding the Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) was established by BP immediately after the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon incident at the...

August 2014: Watch Your Words

Three articles in this issue encourage--or should encourage--biologists to be more self-conscious in their use of language. All three deserve...

July 2014: It's 2014... Do You Know Where Your Data Are?

Monsanto's FieldScripts service, now being rolled out in the US Midwest, apparently represents a breakthrough in integrating scientific data and...

June 2014: Explain or Expire

If anyone still needs convincing of the importance of scientists' working harder to communicate more effectively about their work, the...

May 2014: Can Ecosystem Services Thinking Help with Climate Change?

The National Council for Science and the Environment's annual national conference has become a must-go event for anyone interested in...

April 2014: Catalyzing Change in Bringing Biology to Life

AIBS is launching 2014 with a new tagline. After several years of introspection, organizational development, and research on the changes...

March 2014: But What Does AIBS Do All Day?

Early in my career, I struggled to explain myself to my blue-collar parents, neither of whom had a college education....

February 2014: Ushering for Success

Members of biology departments and laboratories, synthesis centers, and other places that host biological research might be puzzled by the...

January 2014: Slow but Steady or Bureaucratic Quagmire?

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which had its second plenary session in Turkey last month, has...

December 2013: A Sweet and Sour Celebration

This month marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's signing into law of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This...

November 2013: Getting Your Word Out

For almost a decade, AIBS has hosted the popular, free-access, educational Web site ActionBioscience (www.actionbioscience.org). Designed to inform the public...

October 2013: Integrating and Fragmenting Biology, Under Pressure

We live in an age of biology, as Karl J. Niklas and his colleagues remark at the start of their...

September 2013: The Twisting Path to Collaboration

Eric D. Roy and his colleagues provide, in their article that starts on page 745, important data substantiating often-heard individual...

August 2013: How to Win Friends and Influence

Biologists who wish that the public better understood and appreciated their work have a valuable chance to learn why general...

July 2013: Disorient Yourself for Science

I was attracted to science because it offers insiders powerful rules that explain how things work. The rules' power was...

June 2013: Functions for Genomics and Philosophy

Genomic researchers in the ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) project, which published a mammoth series of biochemical studies of the...

May 2013: An Edit Too Far

The article on the overlooked terrestrial impacts of mountaintop mining that appears on p. 335 of this issue provides a...

April 2013: Talk About Biology—Online

Neuroscience researchers in the United States and Germany share a lack of enthusiasm for using social media and blogs to...

March 2013: Just Act Normal

How can governments persuade their publics to participate in protecting the environment for the common good, even though the needed...

February 2013: Building a Better Biology

A wise colleague once told me that colleges are permanent construction zones. He meant it literally—he said this as we...

January 2013: Defending the Faith

For researchers of all stripes, the meat-cleaver approach to tackling the United States' unsustainable deficit that has been at the...

December 2012: Science n.0

The new millennium ushered in Web 2.0: a game changer. Virtual sharing, connecting, communicating, and collaborating change the way we...

November 2012: Seeing the Big Picture

Even before the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) was published some seven years ago, forward-thinking governments and scientists recognized the importance...

October 2012: Biofuels Reassessed

It is understandable that biologists would hope to see their field put to use creating new sources of energy. The...

September 2012: Quarantine the Caves

The fungal disease that has killed millions of bats in the United States since its discovery 6 years ago, white-nose...

August 2012: Increasing Access to Biological Collections

For years, many scientists and scientific organizations have argued—often in the pages of BioScience—that the nation's natural science collections are...

July 2012: Evidence for Biodiversity Action

The imperative to protect species from extinction is one that to most readers of BioScience will hardly seem to need...

June 2012: Political Animals

If animals have personalities, as is indicated by the research discussed by Lesley Evans Ogden in her article starting on...

May 2012: After Amateur Hour

Researchers and resource managers must make ever more use of computer programs to handle data, modeling, and analysis. Nowhere is...

April 2012: Expanding the Integration and Application of Long-Term Ecological Research

In 1980, the National Science Foundation boldly funded six Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites to pursue sustained ecological studies....

March 2012: A Route to Boundary Crossing?

Many thoughtful observers of the scientific scene have stressed the need to encourage more research that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries....

February 2012: A Time for Unity

Although the US public remains for the most part favorably disposed to scientists, politically inspired efforts to discredit some kinds...

January 2012: The Journey Continues: AIBS Moves Forward

AIBS is at a defining moment. Although the organization's constitution, drafted in 1947, still declares that "the Institute will assist...

December 2011: A Forum for Integrating the Life Sciences

Scientific societies have long held an important place in the history of science. The first scientific academy, or what we...

November 2011: Pulling at a Tangled Web

It will strike most readers of BioScience as obvious that the political debate surrounding environmental issues is often sadly misinformed...

October 2011: If Not You, Who?

As Americans witnessed this year, partisan bickering and deep ideological policy differences nearly shut down the federal government and forced...

September 2011: How to Get Real about Biotechnology

A commentary paper from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) neatly puts a finger on a commonly ignored...

August 2011: How to Change Professional Evaluation in Biology

A bold call for a new assessment system for professional productivity in biology appears on p. 619 of this issue....

July 2011: Know Thyself

The inscription reputedly once engraved on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi remains good advice, including for biology instructors. Programs...

June 2011: Algal Turf Scrubbing: Boon or Blip?

An article in this issue by Walter H. Adey and colleagues, which begins on p. 434, provides a fascinating look...

May 2011: The Ideal Article for BioScience

It seems worthwhile occasionally to redescribe for the benefit of readers and potential authors the sort of articles that we...

April 2011: Showing Why Biology Matters

The annual fights in Congress over research funding may be unusually tough in 2011, given the new strength of fiscal...

March 2011: Trust and Action

Scientists are a cerebral lot, for the most part, and that trait certainly helps in trying to understand the natural...

February 2011: Peak Phosphorus

Just as we were facing up to peak oil—the maximum in the rate of global oil production that is imminent...

January 2011: Science and Engineering Unlimited by Borders

Discoveries in the life sciences, along with biology's integration into engineering and the physical and social sciences, make it clear...

December 2010: Change Is Constant

Scientists love dynamic environments. After all, the goal of the scientific enterprise is to constantly improve how we understand and...

November 2010: Emotions and Engagement

Does the rapid pace of extinctions put a moral obligation on conservation scientists not just to analyze and write papers...

October 2010: Biological Carbon Sequestration

The eminent mathematical physicist and writer Freeman Dyson is known for his optimism about technology and bold thinking. Dyson recognizes...

September 2010: The Environmentalist's Paradox

Average human well-being is improving globally, despite resource depletion and degradation of ecosystems. Why? So ask Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne and her...

July 2010: The Biologist's Burden

Scientists worldwide were doubtless relieved earlier this year to learn the results of inquiries into the integrity of controversial research...

June 2010: Sustainability for Here and Now

Two articles in this issue of BioScience address a perennial question in ecosystem management: how to trade off competing goals...

May 2010: Disentangling Complexity in Biology

The discussion by Norman C. Ellstrand and his coauthors (p. 384) of the difficulties surrounding the regulation of hybrids serves...

April 2010: Food for the Future

Readers energized by Fred Powledge's Feature about hunger and global food insecurity (p. 260) would do well to digest the...

March 2010: Responses Under Pressure

As some of the broader impacts of the cultivation of biofuel feedstocks have become more apparent—not just the direct effects...

February 2010: Broadening Biology

Those of us who once learned that genes are entities that propagate and manifest themselves within species may find their...

January 2010: Refining the Biologist's Sense of Identity

While the biological sciences cover a broad terrain of ideas and subjects, we who explore that terrain have always defined...

December 2009: Eradicating Ignorance

Sometimes scientists despair at the challenge of expanding the public's under­standing of science. Progress, however, is tangible, and one telling...

November 2009: An Agenda for Our Science?

(Read "Refining the Biologist's Sense of Identity" -- a related editorial by AIBS President Joe Travis, January 2010.) Biologists of...

October 2009: Genes for the Planet

Two articles in this issue of BioScience illustrate the power of new molecular techniques to give wings to very different...

September 2009: Spreading the Words

In the Forum article that begins on page 699, Stephen R. Carpenter and 18 distinguished coauthors argue for a national...

July 2009: Malawi as Microcosm

One talk at the AIBS meeting in May on sustainable agriculture stood out both for its immediacy and for the...

June 2009: Beyond the Envelope

Biologists are familiar with studies that estimate the range of temperatures that must prevail for a species to survive and...

May 2009: Forward Steps for Science

The century of biology is almost a tenth complete, and its first decade seems to have delivered more pain than...

April 2009: The Individual Benefits of Evolution

The 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, widely and properly celebrated last 12 February, was a gratifying event for biologists....

March 2009: Stimulating Conservation

It may be cold comfort to struggling alternative-energy entrepreneurs, but it is now close to a done deal that investment...

February 2009: Boosting Biology

When I first studied—if that is the word—biology, in high school in the 1970s, it seemed uncompelling: the lab demonstrations...

January 2009: Revving Up for the Year of Science

The year 2009 has been designated the Year of Science (www.yearofscience2009.org). The Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS)...

December 2008: New Year, New Administration, New Opportunities

The economy took a nose-dive in the fall of 2008, with all indicators showing a free fall: inflation at nearly...

November 2008: Preventing Patent Purgatory

The idea of a state license that allows an inventor to prevent others from copying an invention for a fixed...

October 2008: Glimpses of a Hidden Realm

Charismatic they are not, but fungi have a vastly larger impact on the flow of essential elements through ecosystems than...

September 2008: Something Like This?

In 1974, Thomas Nagel famously grabbed the attention of philosophers by asking, “What is it like to be a bat?”...

July 2008: Penguins in Peril

Global circulation models have long predicted that greenhouse warming would be greatest in polar regions, and abundant data confirm strong...

June 2008: An Epidemic with Global Consequences

Although East Coast residents may be little aware of the devastation being caused by the tiny mountain pine beetle, lodgepole...

May 2008: The Right Fight for Biologists

Deadly food riots in Haiti and Egypt, together with recent price-related unrest in several other countries, are disturbing reminders of...

April 2008: Let’s Talk

Even as calls grow for a presidential debate on science and technology—see the Washington Watch column on p. 296—advocates of...

March 2008: Onward and Outward

The philosophical tension between researchers who pursue explanations of complex phenomena in terms of small-scale, even molecular, events and those...

February 2008: A Magisterial Mutualism

Despite repeated court decisions establishing that creationism in all of its guises has no place in public school science classrooms,...

January 2008: Silent Sputnik

In the mid-1960s, America was awakened by the beeping of Sputnik, launched by the former Soviet Union. The nation was...

December 2007: Unifying Biology

As a first-year graduate student in zoology in the 1960s, I faced a three-day written examination that would determine whether...

November 2007: The Earth Above

By the time you read this issue of BioScience, the California Academy of Sciences should have started moving its collections...

October 2007: Road to Nowhere?

Years ago, many of us slogged through exercises involving null hypotheses, postulates that some suspected effect does not exist. We...

September 2007: Back to the Future

The promise of using human embryonic stem cells to create customized tissue to replace that lost to disease has been...

July 2007: Enlightening Self-interest

With long-term policymaking apparently gridlocked on even such a vital topic as global warming, it is heartening to learn that...

June 2007: Evolution’s Next Move

If a candidate for administrator of NASA disavowed the heliocentric theory of the solar system, the outcry would dispatch his...

May 2007: Help for Teaching Biology

In this issue, AIBS introduces a new feature for BioScience: “Teaching Biology,” a series of state-of-the-science, example-rich, well-referenced papers that...

April 2007: Where the Birds Are Going

For those who see science as an ever finer parsing of causes and effects, the article in this issue of...

March 2007: Policies for Biodiversity

The overview article by R. Edward Grumbine on China’s emergence and global sustainability, which begins on p. 249, is an...

February 2007: Progress on Roads Well Traveled

Animal migration fascinated the ancients and continues to fascinate researchers today. An often highly complex, synchronized suite of changes in...

January 2007: Science’s Greatest Challenge

The pace of progress in biological science, as in science generally, is staggering. As a young faculty member in the...

December 2006: A New Era for the Public Understanding of Science

As the Civil War raged—just four months before the battle of Gettysburg—President Abraham Lincoln, recognizing the importance of science in...

November 2006: Green Plants, Fossil Fuels, and Now Biofuels

For 700 million years, green plants contributed to the formation of soil, oil, natural gas, and coal. As the human...

October 2006: Conflict and Harmony

Two articles in this issue of BioScience have the word “conflict” in their titles. The parallels—and the differences—are instructive. In...

September 2006: Where to Find Allies?

Good news from the conservation front is rare, so the article that starts on p. 723 of this issue of...

August 2006: Perennials Forever

Humanity has achieved its present world-dominating status fueled largely by annual crops, principally maize, rice, wheat, and other grains, as...

July 2006: Framing Biology

A word to readers who may be spending the summer under a rock, in a swamp, or in some other...

June 2006: Predicting Aquatic Threats

With luck and considerable pushing by political leaders, efforts to alleviate some of the ecological stresses in the Great Lakes...

May 2006: Teaching for Success

Students or postdocs in biology who are thinking of embarking on a career in academia will do themselves a favor...

April 2006: Insect Accounting

Insects don't get enough respect. Yes, their depredations of structures and plants of all types, especially crops, are famed and...

March 2006: Catastrophe in the Wings?

Authorities on avian influenza are close to united in believing that a global pandemic of the H5N1 strain of that...

February 2006: Teaching the Public about Science

For years the National Science Foundation (NSF) has recognized the importance of communicating research findings to the public. Thus, NSF...

January 2006: Answering Challenges to Biological Research and Education

On 2 November 2005, President Bush asked Congress for $7.1 billion to prepare the United States for a global epidemic...

December 2005: Vital Support for the Biological Sciences

The year 2005 has been a time of accomplishment and self-assessment for AIBS, including an examination of our responsibility for...

November 2005: How Can We Help Students Really Understand Evolution?

Public understanding of science in the United States leaves much to be desired. Scientists frequently put the blame for this...

October 2005: Science in the Spotlight

The fearful truth about the hurricane that wrecked the Gulf Coast in late August is that one of similar intensity...

September 2005: A Hit Where It Hurts

Biologists of many persuasions are now grappling with the difficult problem of identifying the effects of climate change on species...

August 2005: What Is Bioscience?

Credible answers to the question posed above—which refers to a term of art, not this journal—are varied and becoming more...

July 2005: Lost in Space: Episode II

President Bush’s vision for the US space program turns out to be no vision at all for many biologists. To...

June 2005: Energy and Ecosystems

The release in March of the synthesis report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), an authoritative, multistakeholder scrutiny of 24...

May 2005: Safety in Numbers?

Editors attending editors' conferences like to scare each other with (sometimes apocryphal) horror stories. One perennial favorite goes along these...

April 2005: A Database for the ESA

The Forum article that begins on page 360, "The Effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act: A Quantitative Analysis," by Martin...

March 2005: Observations and Biological Futures

Natural scientists by now need no reminding of the already documented effects of global warming on natural habitats and the...

February 2005: The Right Time for Synthesis in Evolutionary Biology

It is 2005, and I find myself leading the new National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, North Carolina. NESCent...

January 2005: A Busy, Innovative Year for AIBS

As we embark on a new year in which science continues to hold the key to success in many major...

December 2004: Who Pays for Publication?

Allow us one end-of-year, self-congratulatory paragraph. BioScience has published 1176 pages in 2004, of which about 800 were peer reviewed....

November 2004: A New AIBS for the Age of Biology

Joel Cracraft

In these early years of the 21st century, scientific discovery and understanding are playing an important and growing role in...

October 2004: Onward NEON

Jeffrey A. Goldman

On 15 September 2004, AIBS—in partnership with a score of scientists, engineers, and educators—entered into a 2-year cooperative agreement with...

September 2004: More Education for Evolution Teachers

Robert E. Gropp

An energized and vocal conservative religious movement has in recent years demonstrated a desire to reshape our nation’s K–12 curricula...

August 2004: Your Convention Needs YOU!

Timothy M. Beardsley

Researchers depressed about the extinction crisis might lift their spirits by volunteering to work on behalf of the Convention on...

July 2004: Beautiful Biology

Timothy M. Beardsley

During 2003, BioScience invited readers to nominate worthy candidates for a short list of "the most beautiful biology experiments" in...

June 2004: Integrating Remote Sensing and Ecology

Warren B. Cohen

The special section beginning on p. 511 of this issue contains six overview articles about remote sensing. The last time...

May 2004: A Warning in the West

Timothy M. Beardsley, Editor-in-Chief

West Nile virus began its season early this year, with infected dead birds recorded in April in California. Indications are...

April 2004: Science Living Dangerously

Timothy M. Beardsley, Editor-in-Chief

Relations between many senior scientists and the Bush administration have gone from sad to scary. In February, the Union of...

March 2004: Opportunities in Confinement

Timothy M. Beardsley

Government overseers of biotechnology, as well as developers of genetically engineered organisms, should pay careful attention to the exhaustive January...

February 2004: A New Online Education Resource at AIBS: ActionBioscience.org

Richard T. O'Grady

At the start of this year, AIBS took an important new step in fulfillment of its mission to advance research...

January 2004: A Busy, Innovative Year for AIBS

As we embark on a new year in which science continues to hold the key to success in many major...

January 2004: The New Creationism and Its Threat to Science Literacy and Education

Joel Cracraft

Just how widespread is science literacy in the United States? That this country is the acknowledged leader of scientific research...

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