Friday, June 6, 1997
1. FUTURE SCHLOCK? ANALYSIS SHOWS A 16% DROP IN R&D BY 2002.
Congress yesterday finally approved the five-year budget plan.
Despite intense activity by the science community, according to
George Brown (D-CA), neither Congress nor the President did
anything to protect R&D (WN 23 May 97). Brown urged scientists
to redouble their efforts. A story in Business Week offered
suggestions for getting more science with fewer bucks, including:
downsize weapons labs, reduce time wasted chasing grants, and cut
the space station. Explain that to Congress and the White House.
2. ENERGY CRISIS? HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE SEEKS TO ABOLISH DOE.
The FY 98 Budget Resolution would exceed President Clinton's
budget request for energy research by $400M over the next five
years. You would never have guessed it from the House Budget
Committee Report accompanying the resolution. The report starts
with a tirade over the Carter administration's creation of DOE to
deal with an artificial energy shortage and ends: "Given DOE's
questionable origin and poor track record, it's an ideal place to
start downsizing government." The report carries about as much
weight as a snowflake, but DOE isn't helped by recent events.
3. BROOKHAVEN? GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE ASKED TO FIX THE BLAME.
Science Committee Chair James Sensenbrenner and Ranking Democrat
George Brown, yesterday asked GAO to find out "who was at fault"
in the events surrounding problems at the lab and the breakdown
of public trust. The study will focus on the role of AUI and DOE.
The Committee declared its intention to review Secretary Pena's
decision to terminate AUI's contract (WN 2 May 97). Meanwhile, a
group of scientists at Brookhaven decided to form their own
organization, "Friends of Brookhaven"(FOB), which is working to
calm the crisis, reach out to the local community and elected
representatives, and enlist other scientists to gain support for
science done at Brookhaven (for information:
4. PEER REVIEW? IT HELPS TO HAVE A Y CHROMOSOME AND CONNECTIONS.
It used to be said that women have to be twice as good as men to
succeed. In Sweden, a more precise number is 2.5 times as good --
and Sweden is generally regarded as the world's leader in gender
equality. A study of postdoctoral fellowship awards found that
reviewers gave women far lower rankings than men with the same
publication impact as measured by citation count. "Anyone who is
surprised is naive," shrugged Laurie McNeil of the APS Committee
on Status of Women in Science. At NSF, funding rates for female
PIs have been higher than for males for five of the last seven
years, but Luther Williams, Assistant Director for Education and
Human Resources, agrees that the figures ignore relative impact.
He believes NSF should carry out such a study. The Swedish study,
which appeared in Nature, found another variable that correlated
with high scores: having a colleague on the review committee.