MacArthur Foundation awards 2013 ‘genius grants’

Astrophysicist Sara Seager is named a 2013 MacArthur Fellow

Twelve US scientists number among the 24 MacArthur Fellows chosen this year by the philanthropic MacArthur Foundation, based in Chicago, Illinois. The designation honours creative and accomplished individuals in any field with strong potential for future achievements. Winners will receive ‘no-strings-attached’ awards—commonly called ‘genius grants’—worth US$625,000, paid over five years.  Read more

Obama nominates astrophysicist to lead NSF

Under Cordova's presidency, Purdue University attracted record levels of research funding.

Astrophysicist France Anne Cordova has been tapped to head the US National Science Foundation (NSF), which has been run by an acting director since March 2013. President Barack Obama announced the pick on 31 July. If confirmed, Cordova would fill the gap left by Subra Suresh, who announced his resignation in February, after serving less than half of his six-year term leading the US$7 billion agency.  Read more

Neuroscientists brainstorm goals for US brain-mapping initiative

More than 150 neuroscientists descended on Arlington, Virginia this week to begin planning the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative—an ambitious but still hazy proposal to understand how the brain works by recording activity from an unprecedented numbers of neurons at once.  Read more

US budget cuts inevitable as science agencies brace for next fight


After months of anticipation and weeks of escalating political rhetoric, the axe is about to fall. At 11:59 pm tonight, US federal agencies will absorb across-the-board budget cuts — known as sequestration — to all government programs, including 5% decreases in science and other non-military operations.  Read more

US lawmakers propose easing limits on foreign scientists and engineers

America is starting to look like a more welcoming place for foreign scientists and engineers. On 29 January, a group of US senators proposed legislation to vastly increase the number of visas for skilled workers. And earlier this week, President Barack Obama and a group of lawmakers separately floated more sweeping proposals to liberalize immigration policy.  Read more

Now, where did I put that Ebola?

Report suggests high compliance with regulations on research involving Ebola and other dangerous pathogens.

In the first study of its kind, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled statistics on problems related to the handling of hazardous biological agents, such as Ebola, SARS, and anthrax, at hundreds of academic and government research centres.  Read more

Hurricane Sandy relief bill clears first barrier, stirs debate

Hurricane Sandy relief bill clears first barrier, stirs debate

The US House of Representatives on 15 January passed the second and third installments of a piecemeal Hurricane Sandy disaster relief plan, adding about $50 billion to $9.7 billion in flood insurance funds that were authorised on 4 January.  Read more

Fish biologists claim political interference over salmon studies

Fish biologists claim political interference over salmon studies

Seven US  fisheries scientists have raised a formal complaint claiming that a supervisor threatened to eliminate their research division after the team produced controversial model predictions of survival and recovery of the threatened coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in the Klamath River Basin in Oregon.  Read more

NIH sends chimps to sanctuary with help from animal activists

Chimpanzees at the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana will soon have a new home.

In the latest step toward shrinking chimpanzee research in the US, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on 18 December a plan to retire its stock of 113 research animals from the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in Louisiana to Chimp Haven, a federally funded sanctuary in Keithsville, Louisiana.  Read more