U.S. National Academy Gives Itself a Facelift

Jeffrey Mervis, ScienceInsider , 1 May 2012

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is regarded as the most prestigious honorary scientific society in the country. But it also has a reputation for being old, white, and male. Today its members took a big step toward changing their image by inviting a younger and more diverse group of scientists to join them.

This year's class of 84 new members includes 26 women. That number far exceeds the previous record of 19, set in 2005. In addition, the class's average age has dropped by 3.5 years from last year, to 58.

"We are trying to become more diverse by age, gender, geographic location, and ethnicity," says Susan Wessler, a plant geneticist at the University of California, Riverside, and NAS home secretary. "But we haven't changed the criterion—it's still outstanding science."


The Lurie Prize in the Biomedical Sciences


In 2013, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) will present the first Lurie Prize, an annual award recognizing outstanding achievement by a promising young scientist in biomedical research. The Prize amount is $100,000, to be used as the awardee chooses.  It is made possible by a generous gift from FNIH board member Ann Lurie.

The Awardee will be selected by a jury of six distinguished biomedical researchers, chaired by Solomon H. Snyder, M.D., Distinguished Service Professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology & Psychiatry, The Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The Award will be presented to the selected scientist in the spring, 2013, in Washington, DC.


Obama honors Mildred Dresselhaus with Fermi Award

President Barack Obama has named MIT's Mildred S. Dresselhaus and Stanford University's Burton Richter '52 PhD '56 as winners of the Enrico Fermi Award, one of the government's oldest and most prestigious awards for scientific achievement. The award, administered on behalf of the White House by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), carries an honorarium of $50,000, shared equally, and a gold medal.

"The scientists being recognized today with the prestigious Enrico Fermi Award have provided scientific leadership throughout their careers that has strengthened America's energy and economic security," Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said in a statement. "I congratulate them for their achievements as pioneers in innovative research and thank them for their service."


Obsessed: Rosalind Franklin

Inspired by one professor's infectious enthusiasm for Emily Dickinson, Obsessed is a new HuffPost Culture series exploring the idiosyncratic, all-consuming passions of public figures and unknowns alike. Through a mix of blogs and interviews, these pieces will highlight the elusiveness of whatever it is you just can't live without -- whether it's blue jays, Renaissance fairs, fan fiction, or in the case of David Lynch, coffee.


Why Engineering, Science Gender Gap Persists By: Jenny Marder

Shree Bose, who won the grand prize at this year's Google Global Science Fair, credits her love of science to her big brother, Pinaki. As a child, he had a habit of teaching her what he'd just learned in science class. How atoms work, for example.