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Education Report for November/December 2005

The AIBS Education Office provides analysis and communication for the AIBS Board, Headquarters Office, and Education Committee on issues of import to the AIBS membership and the larger scientific community. Reports are broadly disseminated by email every few months to AIBS membership leaders and contacts. Special reports are sent more frequently as needed. We have archived these reports here for your information and attention. Read about each report's contents below, then click to read the complete text.

Two New Evolution Teaching Resources

Now available In the AIBS Webstore at http://webstore.aibs.org/:

  • Evolutionary Science and Society: Educating a New Generation. 2005. Edited by Joel Cracraft and Rodger Bybee. 202 pp. Published by Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. Based on the symposium that AIBS and the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study held at the 2004 annual convention of the National Association of Biology Teachers. This book presents the proceedings of the two-day symposium, which featured 17 lectures by research scientists in evolutionary biology and 5 panel sessions led by educators who teach evolution at the secondary and postsecondary levels in schools, as well as to the general public in science centers. For a list of contributors, see http://webstore.aibs.org/Evolutionary-Science-and-Society-Educating-a/M/1929614233.htm

  • Evolution-Why Bother? 2005. DVD and VHS format. The Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, AIBS, and Why Bother Films have produced a 27-minute video that is an excellent, nontechnical exploration of evolution and natural selection in our daily lives. Endorsed for classroom use by the National Association of Biology Teachers, "Evolution-Why Bother?" consists of eight self-contained chapters optimized for both individual viewing and classroom use. Intriguing photography, special effects, and upbeat pacing will captivate viewers. Prominent biologists and science educators--including Patty Harmon, David Mindell, Carl Bergstrom, Paul Gepts, Lynn Caporale, Kenneth Miller, Jerry Waldvogel, and Joel Cracraft--explain how an understanding of evolution is being used today to guide our search for new medicines, help solve crimes, develop vaccines, combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, deal with invasive species, grow our food, provide a rational basis for managing resources, protect endangered species, and identify emerging diseases. This program explores the practical reasons why evolution is important in our daily lives--why we should bother with evolution. For more information, go to

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Career Resources from AIBS

AIBS has revised the "Careers in Biology" information found online at http://www.aibs.org/careers/. This website includes basic information about the myriad careers available in biology, things one should do to prepare for a career in biology, and job outlook. The site also provides links to valuable resources already on the web, as well as to a table with links to the career resources of the AIBS member societies and organizations: www.aibs.org/careers/mso_career_links.html. The table indicates which organizations have their own specific career information and/or opportunities such as grants, fellowships, or internships. A shorter hard-copy version, which highlights the information available on the web, is also available for those interested in making brochures available to students. For more information, contact Abe Parker at aparker@aibs.org.

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AIBS Diversity Programs Seek Applications and Nominations

AIBS is now accepting applications and nominations for two awards geared toward promoting the participation of underrepresented minorities in the sciences:

  • AIBS Diversity Scholars Program: Recognizes outstanding minority undergraduate and graduate students. Award includes travel and registration support to scientific meeting of choice, invitation to AIBS annual meeting, and AIBS membership for a full year.

  • AIBS Diversity Leadership Award: Recognizes programs and initiatives that actively promote a diverse community of biologists. Nominations from scientific societies, k-12 institutions, colleges and universities, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and community groups, as well as institutions such as museums, botanic gardens, and field stations, are all welcomed.

Nominations for the Diversity Leadership Award are accepted throughout the year, with reviews conducted twice a year (end of January and end of July). The deadlines for the Diversity Scholar Award are January 15, 2006 (for meetings held between July 1 and December 31, 2006) and July 3, 2006 (for meetings held between January 1 and June 30, 2007). For selection criteria and more information, and to download application and nomination forms, please visit the AIBS Diversity Programs website.

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Call for Mentors from MentorNet

The MentorNet (www.mentornet.net/) One-on-One Mentoring Programs are a chance to make a big difference in the life of a student in as little as 20 minutes a week. MentorNet seeks science and engineering professionals in industry and government, either currently active, on leave, or retired, to mentor engineering and science community college, undergraduate, and graduate students, particularly women and underrepresented minorities, who are interested in pursuing a professional future in an engineering and science field. MentorNet also seeks tenured faculty members to mentor graduate students, postdocs, and untenured faculty pursuing faculty careers.

Mentoring relationships last 8 months. Because mentors and students communicate entirely by email, they can communicate wherever and whenever they choose. MentorNet's research-based programs provide students with "real world" information, encouragement, advice, and access to networks, particularly for those students underrepresented in engineering and science fields. "My mentor always gives me the encouragement that I need," says one MentorNet student. "Sometimes those few words make a big difference to me." Since 1998, MentorNet has matched more than 20,000 protégés and mentors with strong results. We hope you will join them!

How can you volunteer to be a mentor? Join the MentorNet Community (www.mentornet.net/join) or follow the One-on-One Mentoring Programs links to create a mentor profile.

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Summer Internships in Germany for Undergraduates

The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, DAAD) is seeking applicants for its Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program. The program matches students with a German PhD student during the summer break to work on a research topic in biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, or engineering at leading universities and research institutions across Germany. Funding and housing assistance are provided. Research topics are announced online on December 5, 2005. Applications are due February 1, 2006. For more information, please contact Michaela Gottschling at rise@daad.de or visit their website at www.daad.de/RISE.

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Call for Proposals from NCEAS

The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), a research center of the University of California, Santa Barbara, is currently accepting applications for Working Groups, Center Fellows (sabbatical visitors), and Postdoctoral Associates. Postdoctoral appointments offer an unusual opportunity for interdisciplinary research with the advantages of both independence and collaboration with scores of researchers in diverse fields. Postdoctoral applications are open to all areas of inquiry in ecology and allied disciplines.

NCEAS stimulates cultural shifts in collaboration, synthesis, and education and promotes the analysis and synthesis of scientific data across many ecology-related disciplines. Projects range across the core areas of ecology and into many adjacent disciplines including economics, the sociology of science, and informatics. The center's work is based on the use of existing data and information and does not support field or laboratory research.

NCEAS promotes training at all levels. Graduate students in the United States and South Africa participate in distributed, web-based collaborative seminars where they learn the concepts and data-sharing tools to synthesize information across geographic areas or habitat types. The center is involved, through collaborations with the LTER Network Office, in training young scientists about the concepts of informatics and the use of data access tools. NCEAS is home to an international and interdisciplinary team of scientists committed to fostering a diverse community of ecologists. For additional information and application instructions, see www.nceas.ucsb.edu/opportunity.

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ASM Scholars-in-Residence Program

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Scholars-in-Residence Program advances the scholarly teaching of microbiology. The ASM is one of the first disciplinary societies to recognize research in learning by establishing the ASM Scholars-in-Residence Program (ASMSiR). The initiative is an outgrowth of the ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE).

This year-long residency program seeks to develop faculties' ability to conduct evidence-based research in microbiology learning. Faculty members will design an experiment using their classes to test a research hypothesis, identify existing resources regularly used to assess student learning, learn about methods of collecting and interpreting data to measure student learning according to IRB requirements for conducting research on students, and identify appropriate venues for publishing their research.

The program begins with a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Summer Workshop at ASM Headquarters in Washington, DC, July 26-29, 2006. Space is limited to 16 scholars. For more information, contact Kelly Gull at kgull@asmusa.org or visit www.asmcue.org/index.asp?bid=2688. Application deadline is February 1, 2006.

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Commission on the Future of Higher Education

On October 17, 2005, US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings delivered the opening remarks at the first meeting of the secretary's Commission on the Future of Higher Education. Secretary Spellings had announced the commission's formation on September 19, stating, "It is time to examine how we can get the most out of our national investment in higher education. We have a responsibility to make sure our higher education system continues to meet our nation's needs for an educated and competitive workforce in the 21st century." The commission members were sworn in at this meeting and formally initiated a national dialogue aimed at addressing the state of higher education in the United States.

The new commission is charged with developing a comprehensive national strategy for postsecondary education that will meet the needs of America's diverse population and also address the economic and workforce needs of the country's future. Its 19 members include university presidents, community college presidents, corporate CEOs, policymakers, professors, and researchers. They will lead a national leadership effort aimed at ensuring that America's system of higher education remains the finest in the world and continues to meet the needs of America's diverse population by expanding opportunity, innovation, and economic growth. The secretary has asked the commission to complete their work and deliver their report by August 1, 2006. This report will contain policy recommendations and action items in four key areas: accessibility, affordability, accountability, and quality. This report will serve as a blueprint for the American higher education system in the 21st century. For more information and a list of commission members, please visit www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/hiedfuture/index.html.

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Upcoming Conferences

  • AAAS Annual Meeting: Grand Challenges, Great Opportunities. February 16-20, 2006, St. Louis, MO. There will be three events that focus on challenges to teaching evolution in science courses at the AAAS annual meeting. On Friday, February 17, there will be two events: a symposium titled "Teaching and Learning about Science: Challenges and Opportunities Concerning Evolution," and a workshop on "Teaching and Learning about Science: Addressing Challenges Collaboratively." On Saturday, February 18, there will be a topical lecture by Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of Science, on "Teaching and Learning about Science: Challenges and Opportunities." For more information, visit www.aaas.org/meetings/Annual_Meeting/.
  • Evolutionary Bioinformatics: Microbial Analysis from Sequence to Structure to Function to Ecology. March 2-4, 2006, Washington, DC. The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has teamed with BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium to present a three-day institute for faculty to develop their understanding of the microbiological (as compared to the computational or mathematical) aspects of bioinformatics analyses. Discussions will cover (1) analyzing data, (2) implementing bioinformatics investigations across the undergraduate curriculum, and (3) developing collaborations. Each full participant will receive a copy of the book Microbes Count! Problem Posing, Problem Solving, and Persuading Peers in Microbiology, which contains seven bioinformatics labs that to be used in the workshop. The deadline for applications is December 10, 2005. Space is limited to 24 participants due to the highly interactive discussions. Registration is $250 for ASM members and covers participation in the institute and some meals. For information and application, visit http://bioquest.org/bedrock/washingtondc_03_06/.
  • Enriching the Academic Experience of College Science Students. May 17-19, 2006, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. The conference will provide a gathering place for a diverse group of educators, including learning center professionals, program directors, faculty, and others who are committed to supporting undergraduate science students outside of the formal classroom. We are inviting educators from all types of colleges and universities, including two-year community colleges and four-year comprehensive, liberal arts, and research institutions. The conference will include presentations on a diverse range of topics that highlight new and innovative programs, connections between current theory and practice, and discussions about the important questions facing science educators. More information is available at www.umich.edu/~slc/conf/homeslc.htm.
  • AIBS 2006 Annual Meeting: Biodiversity: The Interplay of Science, Valuation, and Policy. May 24-25, 2006, Washington DC. Plenary speakers, breakout sessions, and a poster session are planned. Please visit www.aibs.org/annual-meeting/ for program updates and registration, when open. The annual meeting will be preceded by an AIBS business meeting for the general membership, combined with a meeting of the AIBS Council of member societies and organizations.

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