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Education Report for July/August 2007

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.

AIBS Education Events Calendar Launches

The AIBS Education and Outreach Office’s web page now features an interactive calendar listing upcoming conferences, workshops, and symposia related to education and outreach that are offered by AIBS Member Societies and Organizations. Each calendar entry features registration and exhibitor information, costs, and a web link. Education committee chairs and staff members at societies and organizations are encouraged to contribute to the calendar and list their upcoming events. There is no fee for this service. For more information on how to add events, please contact Samantha Katz, AIBS Director of Education and Outreach, at skatz@aibs.org or 202-628-1500 x 206. To view the calendar, visit www.aibs.org/education.

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Fourth Annual Evolution Symposium at NABT: Evolution: Applications in Human Health and Populations

AIBS, in conjunction with the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), will host the fourth annual evolution symposium at the National Association of Biology Teachers annual conference on Saturday, December 1, in Atlanta, GA. The theme for the 2007 symposium is “Evolution: Applications in Human Health and Populations.” Speakers will provide current information about the role evolution plays in disease, medicine, and human health, and the ethical questions surrounding these issues. Admission is free, and all attendees will receive a complimentary instructional CD, developed specifically for this symposium by NESCent, which contains teaching resources, curricular materials, video and audio clips, and other useful tools for your classroom.

The following speakers have been confirmed:

Carlos Bustamante, assistant professor, Biological Statistics and Computational Biology, Cornell University (http://bustamantelab.cb.bscb.cornell.edu/). Bustamante’s work focuses on developing statistical methods for inference in population and comparative genomics. He is particularly interested in approaches for testing evolutionary hypotheses regarding the importance of natural selection and demographic history in patterning genetic variation. Much of his work deals with development of population genetic theory, as well as the application of tools to make inferences from genome-wide data sets. His recent work with domestic dogs was highlighted in the journal Science.

Gregory Wray, director, Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, Duke University (www.genome.duke.edu/people/faculty/wray). Wray has a long-standing interest in the evolution of developmental mechanisms. Through his research, he has addressed the evolution of life history modes and larvae in echinoderms, the evolution of embryonic patterning mechanisms in metazoans, the timing of metazoan radiation, and the role of regulatory gene expression in testing hypotheses of anatomical homology. His current projects focus on the evolution of developmental gene networks and mechanisms of transcriptional regulation. These projects use a variety of approaches and organisms to ask questions about the role that developmental processes play in the evolution of the genotype-phenotype relationship.

Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, senior research scholar, Standford Center for Biomedical Ethics, Stanford University (http://bioethics.stanford.edu/people/resumes/lee). Lee is an anthropologist who studies race, ethnicity, and culture in science, technology, and biomedicine. Her research focuses on the social and scientific implications of race in human genetic research and their implications for understanding of human differences. She has conducted a study on the social and ethical issues related to DNA sampling of human populations, as well as examining policies surrounding the use of racial taxonomies by publicly funded cell repositories. Her current project on race in pharmacogenomics research includes the anthropology of racial justice and focuses particularly on health disparities among populations.

For more information, visit www.aibs.org/special-symposia/2007_evolution-in-human-populations.html.

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Updates to AIBS Student Chapter Program

The AIBS Student Chapter program has recently undergone a series of updates. New online resources for chapters have been added, such as activity guides, links to internships and research opportunities, and planning guidebooks. An e-mail discussion list allows students and faculty to network and get connected with biological scientists, students, and scholars across the United States.

AIBS maintains student chapters to serve the intellectual and professional interests of students in the biological sciences. These chapters are dedicated to the broader AIBS mission to advance biological research and education for the good of science and the welfare of society. Applications are accepted from student groups at the high school, community college, and college or university level. For more information, and for application materials, visit www.aibs.org/student-chapters.

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IUBS Conference: Sustainable Development, Ethics, and Education for the 2020s: What Challenges for Biology?

The International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS) and its Education Commission (EC-IUBS) are very pleased to announce that BioEd 2008 will be held in Burgundy, France, June 24-28. The subject is “Sustainable Development, Ethics, and Education for the 2020s: What Challenges for Biology?”

Building on the BioEd 2000 conference in Paris and the BioEd 2004 conference in Rio de Janeiro, the goals for BioEd 2008 are to explore the linkages among biological sciences, the environment, sustainable development, and society; promote bioliteracy and education reforms that integrate biology, sustainability, health, well-being, ethics, and citizenship; and provide recommendations for improving education worldwide in support of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainability, adopted for 2005-2015. For more information about the conference and to register, visit www.ldes.unige.ch/bioEd/bioEd2008.

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2007 Healthy Sprouts Award

In an effort to encourage the growth of health-focused youth gardens, the National Gardening Association recognizes outstanding programs through the Healthy Sprouts Award, sponsored by Gardener’s Supply. These awards support school and youth garden programs that teach about nutrition and the issue of hunger in the United States. Independent school districts, nonprofits, and community-based organizations planning to garden in 2008 with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18 are eligible. The selection of winners is based on the demonstrated relationship between the garden program and nutrition and hunger issues in the United States. The deadline for applications is October 15, 2007. Applicants are notified of their status by November 15, 2007. Approximately 20 awards up to $500 are available. For further information, visit www.kidsgardening.com/healthysprouts.asp

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No Child Left Inside Bill

On July 16, 2007, Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes introduced the No Child Left Inside Act of 2007 to the House Committee on Education and Labor (H.R. 3036). This bill urges Congress to include critical environmental education measures in the No Child Left Behind Act, primarily by providing incentives and funding for state agencies and schools to develop and implement environmental literacy plans. For more information, and for the full text of the bill, visit www.naaee.org/ee-advocacy/ee-and-the-no-child-left-behind-act.

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Fourth International Conference on Environmental Education: Tbilisi Plus 30

The Fourth International Conference on Environmental Education, “Environmental Education towards a Sustainable Future: Partners for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development”, will be held November 26-28, 2007, at the Centre for Environmental Education in Ahmedabad, India. This conference marks the 30th anniversary of the first International Environmental Education Conference and aims to identify the role that environmental education can play within the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, under way from 2005 to 2014. For more information, visit www.tbilisiplus30.org.

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Science and Engineering Alliance Works with NEON to Broaden Representation

The Science and Engineering Alliance (SEA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in the sciences, has received a National Science Foundation grant to broaden minority participation in the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). This grant will specifically allow SEA to develop a model and process to engage students and faculty at minority-serving institutions in NEON. For more information, visit the Science and Engineering Alliance website, www.sea2.org, or the NEON website, www.neoninc.org.

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US House of Representatives Launches Diversity and Innovation Caucus

On Thursday, June 28, 2007, the US House of Representatives’ newly formed Diversity and Innovation Caucus formally kicked off with an inaugural luncheon. Organized by the Society of Women Engineers and cosponsored by several other professional societies and scientific associations geared toward minority and women science and technology professionals, the luncheon featured remarks by three of the representatives who initiated the caucus: Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Michael M. Honda (D-CA). There were also talks and discussion by college faculty who have been actively involved in this issue. The Diversity and Innovation Caucus aims to focus attention on increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. For more information, visit www.swe.org/stellent/idcplg?IdcService=SSGETPAGE&ssDocName=swe_007015&ssSourceNodeId=110.

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New York Times Article on Creationist Book

Early in the summer of 2007, hundreds of faculty members in biology departments at colleges and universities across the United States, professionals in scientific societies (AIBS included), museum staff, and even members of Congress began receiving multiple copies of a book titled Atlas of Creation, by Turkish writer Harun Yahya. The book, which presents the origin of life from a creationist perspective, dismisses the theory of evolution, and supports intelligent design, arrived unsolicited at all these institutions. It is not known who sent the books or paid for the production or shipping costs. New York Times science reporter Cornelia Dean has written an article about this phenomenon, which may be found online at www.nytimes.com/2007/07/17/science/17book.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2.

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PBS TeacherLine

Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, PBS TeacherLine offers over 100 online professional development courses to individual preK-12 teachers and school districts. These standards-based courses cover mathematics, reading/language arts, science, instructional technology, and instructional strategies. For more information and to register, visit teacherline.pbs.org/teacherline/about.cfm

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NSTA Web Seminars

NSTA Web Seminars are 90-minute, online, live professional development experiences for educators. Participants can interact with nationally acclaimed experts, NSTA Press authors, and scientists, engineers, and education specialists from NSTA government partners. Among this fall’s topics are nutrition and food safety, living and working in space, nanoscale science, science careers, and the International Polar Year. To find out more, to register for upcoming courses, and to view archived courses, visit learningcenter.nsta.org/products/webseminars.aspx

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