1997-1998 AAAS Awards For Scientific Achievement Announced

December 10, 1997

December 10, 1997 -- Washington, DC-- The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today named its 1997-1998 awards to honor scientists and engineers for their achievements. The awards will be presented at a ceremony at the 1998 AAAS Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on February 16 at the Marriott Hotel at 6:30 p.m.

Founded in 1848, AAAS represents the world's largest federation of scientists and has more than 144,000 individual members. The Association publishes the weekly, peer-reviewed journal Science and administers EurekAlert!, the online news service featuring the latest discoveries in science, medicine, and technology. The Association will launch a host of activities at the Annual Meeting to celebrate its 150th anniversary

The recipients are as follows. Note that winners of the AAAS Science Journalism Awards will be announced on January 2. A description of the awards and the recipients follows:

1997 AAAS Philip Hauge Abelson Prize honors either a public servant for making sustained, exceptional contributions to help advance science, or a scientist whose career has been distinguished both for scientific achievement and for other notable services to the scientific community.

Peter H. Raven is being recognized for his proven service to science as one of the world's leading ecologists. A forerunner in the study of coevolution, biodiversity, and systematics, in 1971 he became Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, where he improved finances, expanded scientific programs, and developed new exhibits. Raven is currently a member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology and is the Home Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences. From 1990 to 1994, he served on the National Science Board. In 1990, he and colleague E. O. Wilson were awarded the prestigious Environmental Prize from the Institut de la Vie Council. Raven continues to serve as a leader in efforts to achieve sustainable agriculture and forestry in the tropics, as well as to preserve plant and animal species around the world.

1998 Award for International Scientific Cooperation honors an individual or small group working together in the scientific or engineering community for making outstanding contributions to furthering international cooperation in science or engineering.

Bert Richard Johannes Bolin is being honored for his leadership in international research programs for the study of global climate and his scientific contributions to that field. He has advised policy and science communities around the world on the critical issue of local, regional, and global climate change caused by human activity. Currently, Bolin is the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assesses the latest scientific, technical, and socio-economic information in the field of climate change.

From 1957 to 1990, Bolin was the director of the International Meteorological Institute in Sweden, advancing research in global atmospheric circulation patterns, atmospheric chemistry, and biogeochemical cycles. For more than 30 years, until 1992, he also served as editor of the internationally influential Tellus, a journal for atmospheric and oceanic sciences. His other achievements include chairmanship of scientific committees in the International Council of Scientific Unions, the Global Atmospheric Research Program, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In addition, he held the post of science advisor to the Prime Minister of Sweden for five years, until 1991. His 1986 book The Greenhouse Effect, Climatic Change, and Ecosystems, of which Bolin was senior author, synthesized current knowledge of the global climate and its impact on the Earth's ecosystems. Its revelations were reported to be the primary reason that world leaders at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro decided to take serious steps to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. That decision was reaffirmed at the 1996 summit in Geneva.

1997 AAAS Mentor Award honors individuals who, during a period of ten years or less, demonstrate extraordinary leadership to increase the participation of underrepresented students in science and engineering (women of all racial/ethnic groups; African American, American Indian, and Hispanic men; and/or people with disabilities).

Judy Goldsmith earned the AAAS Mentor Award for her commitment to providing a wide array of mentoring services to meet the emotional and financial needs of her students. An assistant professor in the department of computer science at the University of Kentucky at Lexington, she raised funds for graduate fellowships; built informal support networks for women; and provided advice on grant writing, job applications, and the tenure process. Dr. Goldsmith has mentored 13 underrepresented students at the bachelor's or master's level who went on to the doctoral level at other institutions and four underrepresented students at the doctoral level.

1997 AAAS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement honors individuals who have mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students in science and engineering (women of all racial/ethnic groups; African American, American Indian, and Hispanic men; and/or people with disabilities) and/or who has affected the climate of a department, college, or institution in such a manner as to significantly increase the diversity of students pursuing and completing doctoral studies.

Richard Tapia, of the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University, is honored for mentoring 60 underrepresented students at the bachelor's and master's level who went on to the doctoral level at other institutions, and 17 underrepresented students at the doctoral level. He also serves as the director of Rice University's Spend a Summer with a Scientist program, which has paired Rice University researchers with 104 minority and female undergraduate and graduate students over the past eight years. With his Mathematical and Computational Sciences Awareness Workshop, Dr. Tapia has reached hundreds of K-12 educators from schools with large minority populations, updating them on current issues in mathematics and computational science. Moreover, Dr. Tapia's department at Rice has accepted 18 minority students at the doctoral level, making it one of the most diverse in the United States.

1997 AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology is intended to encourage and acknowledge talented scientists and engineers who popularize their work; to recognize and support scientists and engineers who promote their research in a responsible manner; and to emphasize that the scientific community regards communicating to the public as a valuable and prestigious activity.

Barry T. Peterson is being honored for his many efforts to communicate science to the public while simultaneously maintaining a full-time, productive research career as a professor of physiology at the University of Texas. Through the university health center's Summer Minority Internship Program, Peterson works with middle- and high school teachers and with their students. At the end of the summer, he continued his ties with the participants through an innovative approach -- exchanging faxes on a wide range of issues, he keeps in contact with classrooms in the Tyler school district. In 1995, he was able to expand this program, which he named The PowerTools Project, to develop creative ways to enhance students' understanding basic scientific concepts. Presently, Peterson is collaborating with a local hands-on science museum to establish a clearinghouse of science resources for teachers, students, and their families and to help ensure science education is in the everyday life of the community as a whole.

1998 AAAS Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award is awarded to scientists who have acted to protect the public's health, safety, or welfare; or focused public attention on important potential impacts of science and technology on society by their responsible participation in public policy debates; or established important new precedents in carrying out the social responsibilities or in defending the professional freedom of scientists and engineers.

JoAnn Burkholder is being recognized for her unflagging dedication in focusing public attention on how U.S. rivers and fish could be devastated by a specific aquatic microbe, Pfiesteria piscicida. An associate professor of Aquatic Ecology and Marine Sciences in the Department of Botany at North Carolina State University, she identified and named Pfiesteria (pronounced fee-STEER-e-ah) and its possible role in the deaths of millions of fish in North Carolina waters. Her research put her at the center of one of today's most contentious debates involving science and public policy. Although Burkholder's research is finally being recognized as both creative and credible, she had long endured challenges from her critics. Some denounced both her personal reputation and professional competency as she sought to link Pfiesteria to such pollutants as human and hog sewage and agricultural runoff. Her efforts are responsible for the current intensive research into the extent of Pfiesteria's role in degrading the coastal environment and what that may mean to public health.

1996-1997 AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize is awarded to the authors of an outstanding paper published in Science that includes original research data, theories, or syntheses and that are fundamental contributions to basic knowledge or technical achievements of far-reaching consequence.

Nicholas C. Wrighton, Francis X. Farrell, Ray Chang, Arun K. Kashyap, Francis P. Barbone, Linda S. Mulcahy, Dana L. Johnson, Ronald W. Barrett, Linda K. Jolliffe, and William J. Dower for the research Article "Small Peptides as Potent Mimetics of the Protein Hormone Erythropoietin" and Oded Livnah, Enrico A. Stura, Dana L. Johnson, Steven A. Middleton, Linda S. Mulcahy, Nicholas C. Wrighton, William J. Dower, Linda K. Jolliffe, and Ian S. Wilson for the Research Article "Functional Mimicry of a Protein Hormone by a Peptide Agonist: The EPO Receptor Complex at 2.8Å".

Both articles were published in the July 26, 1996 issue of Science. Bridging the fields of molecular biology, combinatorial chemistry, and experimental therapeutics, the researchers developed small peptides that mimic the effects of erythropoietin (EPO), a large polypeptide hormone that helps to make red blood cells and that is sometimes administered intravenously to chemotherapy patients and others who have low red blood cell counts. The research may lead to a more conveniently administered treatment. The peptides were discovered by selection from a combinatorially-assembled collection of billions of small peptides. The selected peptides activated the receptor in a manner similar to that of the natural hormone EPO. The structure of the complex of peptide and receptor was determined by X-ray crystallography, and that structure revealed how peptides activated the receptor. This work showed for the first time the ability of molecules much smaller than the natural protein hormones to activate growth factor receptors, and points the way toward the development of new types of drugs acting on this medically important group of receptors.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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