Three newly named beneficiaries of the Joshua E. Neimark Memorial Travel Assistance Endowment are investigating an unusual program to spark young children's interest in insects, an effort to fine-tune DNA analysis, and a strategy that might someday suggest a way to lower the cost of a key HIV medication.
The award recipients will receive partial financial support to attend America's largest general scientific conference, the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 18-22 February in San Diego, Calif. (See www.aaas.org/meetings.)
All three recipients – Michele A. Korb, a new faculty member in the Department of Teacher Education at California State University, East Bay; Kim Har Wong, a University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB) graduate student; and Timothy D. Panosian, a Vanderbilt University graduate student – submitted posters selected to be presented at the AAAS Annual Meeting.
Korb's poster presentation highlights a science teaching strategy called "Bugscope" and its use in classrooms from kindergarten through fifth grade. Through the Bugscope program, students and teachers can use an advanced electron microscope, or ESEM (environmental scanning electron microscope) to study insects and arachnids, Korb explained. Classrooms mail insects to the Bugscope program coordinators, then log onto an Internet browser to examine their prepared specimens by remotely operating the ESEM.
"I wanted to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting to strengthen my contacts with a well-connected community of scientists and educators who are convening for the common goal of increasing science literacy," Korb said. "The meeting will allow me to share information related to preparing future elementary science teachers, and to explore new ideas that may inform positive changes in my teaching and research habits."
Panosian's poster presentation – describing a novel, biosynthetic pathway to produce the HIV medication didanosine – is entitled "Engineering a new pathway for didanosine synthesis through the structural and biochemical characterization of the Bacillus cereus phsphopentomutase." Didanosine, also known by the trade names Videx and Videx EC, helps to inhibit HIV replication and therefore is routinely prescribed as part of an antiretroviral therapy regimen.
While pursuing a graduate degree within Vanderbilt's Department of Pharmacology, Panosian wrote in applying for Neimark Travel Assistance: "I have been afforded ample intellectual freedom and have enjoyed learning the intricacies of how one makes a drug, and how X-ray crystallography can be used as a tool to facilitate this design process."
Vanderbilt faculty member Dr. Tina M. Iverson reported that Mr. Panosian is an "outstanding graduate student" who also is "interested in the intersection between scientific research and public policy." Toward that end, she reported, he has participated in campus governance activities, and he also provided "an extensively researched presentation on the economic benefits of biomedical research" in a meeting with U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.).
During his stay in San Diego, Panosian will take part in a workshop on communicating science, an event organized by AAAS and the National Science Foundation to help scientists and engineers more effectively engage reporters, policy-makers, and the public.
Ms. Wong, the third Neimark Travel Assistance recipient, will describe her efforts to determine the integrity of DNA samples using a simple analysis method or "assay" that can be applied to tissues undergoing programmed cell death, even with many samples running in parallel. "Her early results define the limits and boundaries" of applying certain fluorescent dyes (PicoGreen) to ensure the integrity of DNA being investigated, UMB faculty member Kenneth L. Campbell explained.
About Joshua E. Neimark
Joshua E. Neimark was born in March 1931 in Sea Bright, New Jersey. He demonstrated extraordinary intelligence, but he also was prone to serious respiratory disease. He completed public school with distinction, then received an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a master's degree from the California Institute of Technology, and a doctorate from MIT. He succumbed to illness in April 1961, at the age of 30, and his doctoral dissertation was published posthumously. The award, established in his memory by his sister, Edith D. Neimark, is intended to assist young scientists in attaining a career in their chosen field, a goal that Joshua Neimark did not live to achieve.
About the Endowment
The Joshua E. Neimark Memorial Travel Assistance Endowment provides a limited number of grants to support travel for accepted poster presentations at the AAAS Annual Meeting.
The AAAS Poster Sessions provide individuals with an opportunity to present their research, offering an excellent venue for extended informal discussion with meeting attendees. All posters are peer-reviewed, and accepted posters are listed in the AAAS Annual Meeting Poster Book. Abstracts appear on the Annual Meeting Abstract CD, within the Program Book.
Applicants must have already registered for a full-meeting passport for the AAAS Meeting. Eligibility is restricted to graduate students, or those who have received an advanced degree within the past three years. Bachelor's degree students (undergraduates) are not eligible. The field of study must be in one of the following areas: life, physical, or social sciences, engineering; or in an interdisciplinary field that includes one of these. The grants are not generally intended to cover all travel expenses but to serve as a supplement to other sources of support.
CONTACTS: Korb can be reached at (414) 339-0593 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Wong can be reached at (617) 605-2051 or email@example.com. Panosian can be reached at (607) 738-6448 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information on the AAAS Awards ceremony or other background, Communications Officer Molly McElroy of AAAS can be reached at (202) 326-6434, or email@example.com. From February 18- February 22, Molly can be reached at 619-525-6252.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science (www.sciencemag.org) as well as Science Translational Medicine (www.sciencetranslationalmedicine.org) and Science Signaling (www.sciencesignaling.org). AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.
For more information on AAAS awards, see http://www.aaas.org/aboutaaas/awards/.
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