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March/April 2005

Sigma Xi International Newsletter
Volume 4, Number 3/4
March/April 2005

This electronic bulletin is designed to keep subscribers updated on developments in Sigma Xi’s international activities and to provide links and articles on topics of interest to researchers around the world. To submit an item to the newsletter, contact the Manager of the International Program at international@sigmaxi.org. You can also download and print a PDF version of this issue. To subscribe to this newsletter, please use this online form.

Past Issues

In This Issue

Making Computers Accessible
Often referred to as “assistive technology” or “adaptive technology,” many hardware and software options have been developed to assist individuals who have difficulty using computers in the traditional way. There are a number of technologies available to adapt computers for a variety of special needs, including vision and hearing impairment, limited dexterity and learning disabilities. This article will serve as a broad overview of the existing technology and point you to other Web sites for further details. Most computer operating systems have several accessibility options, either built in or added on. For more specifics, you can refer to the accessibility Web site for your specific operating system:
Apple, Linux or Microsoft. Basic ways to adapt a computer for vision-impaired users include adjusting settings such as the screen resolution, font size and color schemes. Multiple software options are also available, including speech recognition, screen readers and screen magnifiers. Available hardware includes refreshable extra-large or Braille keyboards, Braille displays and Braille embossers. Hearing-impaired users can enable the visual alerts option that is available on most operating systems. Additional utilities include closed captioning, software to turn your computer into a virtual teletypewriter (TTY/TDD) and videoconferencing that is of high enough quality to broadcast sign language over the Internet. For those with limited dexterity, special keyboard and mouse settings, such as StickyKeys (which allows you to use a single finger keystroke in place of multiple key combinations), MouseKeys (which allows you to control the pointer with the keyboard rather than a mouse), ToggleKeys (which plays a tone when you press the Caps, Num or Scroll lock keys) and other keyboard filters that help to ignore inadvertently pressed keys, may prove useful in addition to word prediction programs. Further resources/sites of interest include:

[Source: Accessibility Options]

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New Global Climate Change Campaign
At the beginning of March, the British Council announced the inception of a global campaign to raise public awareness of climate change. The campaign will focus on cities—their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and practical ways they can reduce emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. The program will emphasize mitigation, adaptation and practical measures that people can adopt. This “
ZeroCarbonCity” campaign, with funding of nearly US$8 million, will involve activities in more than 100 cities in over 60 countries. Featured activities include a global online debate, a public debate series in each country, a touring exhibition and dissemination of supporting materials. The organizers expect the campaign to reach a total of six to eight million people. The British Council is a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to build mutually beneficial relationships between people in the UK and other countries and to increase appreciation of the UK’s creative ideas and achievements. [Source: SciDev.Net]

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World Water Day
World Water Day (WWD) 2005 will be observed on 22 March. WWD 2005 is also the launching of what the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the International Decade for Action, 2005–2015. Both WWD 2005 and the International Decade for Action will focus on the theme “Water for Life.” The
WWD Web site has background material, an advocacy guide and listings of events around the world. First observed in 1993, WWD was instituted as a result of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.

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Society of African Journal Editors Launched
The Rural Outreach Program (ROP) in Kenya and the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND) recently hosted the launch meeting of the Society of African Journal Editors (SAJE). In a two-day meeting in Nairobi last December, the group rectified the draft constitution, adopted a logo and developed a strategic plan. The organization’s mandate is to oversee scholarly publishing on the continent and facilitate and promote both human and institutional capacity-building initiatives. For more information on this association and a soft copy of the proceedings of the launch meeting, please contact
Prof. Ruth K. Oniang’o, Editor-in-Chief, AJFAND.

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New Research & Development Park Planned
In February, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched a project to create a US$400 million research and development park in Dubai, to be called DuBiotech. This project will create an “industrial cluster” as well as a Foundation for Research and Innovation. Proclaimed “the world’s first free zone dedicated to the biotechnology industry,” DuBiotech will offer several incentives to attract biotech and pharmaceutical companies from around the world. Included in the project are companies providing local support services such as venture capital, legal services, and training tailored to the biotechnology sector. Construction is slated to begin in the second half of 2005. The Foundation for Research and Innovation will channel government funding into research and development in fields such as medical genetics and stem cell research, crop biotechnology and pharmaceutical research. UAE has several existing and forthcoming free zone projects, including Dubai Aid City, Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Maritime City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Dubai Techno Park and Dubai Textile City. [Sources:
SciDev.Net and Developments in Dubai]

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Proposals Sought for 2nd EuroScience Open Forum
The EuroScience Open Forum, first held in 2004 in Stockholm, is a pan-European scientific meeting staged to provide an interdisciplinary forum for open dialogue, debate and discussion on science and technology in society. The second forum,
ESOF2006, is scheduled for 15–19 July 2006 in Munich and will be held concurrently with the German national science week (“Wissenschaftssommer”). Individuals are invited to submit proposals between 15 March and 15 July 2005 on one of 18 broad topics highlighting current developments in research and science policy. [Source: EuroScience News]

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Science, Technology and Industry Outlook Released
Every other year the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) publishes their comprehensive Science, Technology and Industry (STI) Outlook, a comprehensive review of key changes and important trends in science, technology and innovation policy in OECD countries and the factors driving these trends. Released this past December, the 2004 STI Outlook examines the role of public/private partnerships in stimulating innovation, determinants of service sector innovation, global challenges related to the supply of human resources for science and technology and the contributions of multinational enterprises to productivity growth and innovation. A statistical annex provides the latest statistics on R&D funding, patents, researchers and other indicators of innovative performance. Although the document is available only by subscription or purchase, the table of contents, a brochure of the highlights and each participating country’s response to the questionnaire on national science, technology and innovation policies are freely available
online.

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BioMed Central Celebrates 25 Million Downloads
BioMed Central, “The Open Access Publisher,” was launched in May 2000 as an independent publishing house committed to providing immediate free access to peer-reviewed biomedical research. As a measure of their success, the total number of downloaded articles published in their journals recently surpassed 25 million. Since the publisher’s inception, more than 15,000 articles have been submitted and 7,500 have been published. According to their calculations, each article published in a BioMed Central journal has been downloaded more than 3,500 times on average. [Source: BioMed Central Update]

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Knowledge-Sharing Workshop
In preparation for the 2nd World Summit on the Information Society in November 2005, the United Nations Development Programme’s Special Unit for South-South Collaboration (UNDP/SSC), The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) and the Third World Network of Scientific Organizations (TWNSO) are collaborating to produce a new volume of case studies in the Sharing Innovative Experiences series. Case studies to be included in the publication will be presented at a workshop, and the resulting volume will focus on successful applications of knowledge-sharing initiatives for local development in transitional countries. National and local governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations and scientific/technological institutions are invited to propose potential contributors with case studies that focus on either: a) networks and other conduits for sharing knowledge in the broadcast or print media or b) using new information and communication technologies. An expert advisory board will review all the proposals and select 20–30 to be presented at the July 2005 workshop. Nominations must be submitted either by
e-mail or online by 31 March 2005. [Source: SciDev.Net]

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Major Improvements Seen in US Visa Process
In February 2005, the US Department of State and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a fact sheet entitled “U.S. Government Border Security Initiatives.” This document reported on the recent improvements in the visa application process, noting that the average time to obtain a Visas Mantis security clearance dropped in one year from 75 days to less than 14 days. (See our
March 2004 article for an explanation of the Visas Mantis program.) These improvements are the result of several actions taken by the government agencies, including adding additional staff to process Mantis cases; providing additional guidance and feedback to the consular officers; implementing an electronic Mantis tracking system; eliminating the need for routine Federal Bureau of Investigation clearance; reiterating that priority scheduling should be given to students and scholars; agreeing across agencies to clear Mantis cases in 10 working days; and extending the validity of the Mantis security clearances to a maximum of four years for students, two years for temporary workers, exchange visitors and intra-company transferees and one year for business visitors and tourists. While visa reciprocity with China was improved for tourism and business travel (visas are now 12-month/multiple-entry), the Chinese government did not agree with a proposal to extend visa validities for students and scholars. Notably, more than half of the requests submitted for Visas Mantis security clearance are for Chinese applicants. The presidents of the US National Academies issued a statement commending the Department of State and DHS in their decision to extend the visa security clearances given to most foreign scientists, engineers and medical researchers.

Also in February 2005, the US General Accounting Office (GAO) released their follow-up report entitled “Border Security: Streamlined Visas Mantis Program Has Lowered Burden on Foreign Science Students and Scholars, but Further Refinements Needed.” This 2005 report examined the actions taken to improve the visa situation (mentioned above) and noted a few unresolved issues—consular officers need more direct interaction with officials from the Department of State to understand the Visas Mantis program, government agencies receiving Mantis cases are not yet fully connected to the electronic tracking system, and visa validity of Chinese students and scholars needs to be extended. [Sources: Chronicle of Higher Education and International Visitors Office]

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Did You Know?
The
Alcan Prize for Sustainability is awarded each year to a not-for-profit, civil society or non-governmental organization based anywhere in the world for their contributions to addressing and furthering economic, environmental and/or social sustainability. The prize of US$1 million recognizes past performance and helps winning organizations continue to contribute to and impact sustainability through their ongoing activities. Entries are due by 31 March 2005. [Source: Digital Dividend Digest]

The Inlaks Foundation sponsors several award schemes for talented young people in India. The Inlaks Scholarships Abroad fund up to two years of study at top institutions in Europe, the UK and the US for advanced degrees in a variety of subjects (but not engineering or computer sciences). The Inlaks Take-Off-Grants finance work, research or training within India. Applications for the Scholarships Abroad are due by 15 April 2005, and applications for the Take-Off-Grants are accepted throughout the year.

The Association Liaison Office for University Cooperation in Development and the US Agency for International Development (USAID)/Mexico have issued a request for applications for the United States-Mexico Training, Internships, Exchanges, and Scholarships (TIES) Initiative. Eligible fields include environment and health. Successful applicant institutions will have significant private sector involvement and propose at least ten long-term (two academic semesters) scholarships for Mexicans to be embedded within a partnership, in addition to other training, internships and exchanges. Approximately 10 awards of up to US$500,000 each will be made through the program. The closing date for applications is 15 April 2005. [Source: Chronicle of Higher Education]

The Foundation For the Future’s Research Grants Program provides financial support to scholars undertaking research at a macro level that is directly related to better understanding the factors affecting the long-term future of humanity. Individuals and organizations may apply for grants of US$5,000–25,000 addressing one of the four questions listed on their Web site. Preliminary applications are due by 30 April 2005.

Every year, the Third World Organization for Women in Science offers Postgraduate Training Fellowships for Women Scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa or Least Developed Countries (LDC) at Centres of Excellence in the South. Applicants must be young, female science graduates who plan to pursue postgraduate studies leading to a Ph.D. in an LDC country other than their own. Fellowships are awarded for studies in agriculture, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, medicine, earth and environmental resources, and engineering and technological sciences. Applications must be received by 30 May 2005.

The International Foundation for Science (IFS) accepts project proposals for IFS Research Grants from developing-country scientists who meet the eligibility criteria and conduct research on the sustainable management of biological resources. Proposed projects must be related to the sustainable utilization of the biological and/or water resource base. IFS specifically targets scientists in countries with developing science and technology infrastructures. Research grants for the purchase of equipment, expendable supplies and literature are awarded up to a maximum value of US$12,000 for a period of one to three years and may be renewed twice. The next application deadline is 30 June 2005.

The Rotary Foundation awards Grants for University Teachers to serve in low-income countries. The primary purpose of the Rotary Grants for University Teachers program is to build understanding while strengthening higher education in low-income countries. Grant recipients teach at universities and colleges in developing countries and promote the exchange of teaching methods and ideas between the recipients’ home institutions and the host institutions. This program also helps to advance development in low-income countries through sponsoring educators to teach subjects of practical benefit to the host country. Applications are submitted through local Rotary clubs, so deadlines vary but usually range from April to August.

The Royal Academy of Engineering offers multiple awards and fellowships to UK engineers and scientists, including programs to prepare young, outstanding engineers and life scientists for senior management careers in UK industry. Sainsbury Management Fellowships are designed to allow highly motivated engineers to complement their technical qualifications and skills with a first-class business education in an international environment. Sainsbury Management Fellowships in the Life Sciences support young scientists of high career potential to undertake activities related to their personal development plans. Both schemes are funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and applications are accepted throughout the year.

Financed by the Government of Japan, the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-Japan Scholarship Program (JSP) aims to provide an opportunity for well-qualified citizens of the ADB’s developing member countries to pursue postgraduate studies in economics, management, science and technology, and other development-related fields at participating academic institutions in the Asia and Pacific Region. The ADB-JSP provides full scholarships for one to two years and currently enrolls about 300 students annually in 20 academic institutions located in the region. Applications are submitted directly to the academic institutions and are accepted throughout the year; they should, however, be submitted at least six months prior to the planned commencement of studies.

The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) accepts applications year-round from institutions to become ICTP Affiliated Centers (ICACs): institutes or university departments of physics or mathematics that agree to carry out specific long-term research projects with well-defined purposes. The ICAC program was created to initiate, stimulate or make applicable research and training in the fields of physics or mathematics; to form and strengthen national or regional communities and research groups by supporting institutions or national societies for physicists and mathematicians at all levels; and to enhance physics and mathematics teaching. An ICAC is expected to have a regional character and to be strongly supported by the local authorities and the hosting institution.

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Upcoming Meetings
Third International Conference on Water Management; Algarve, Portugal;
11–13 April 2005

16th Global Warming International Conference; New York, New York, US;
19–21 April 2005

Bridging the Divide: Technology for Developing Countries; Berkeley, California, US; 21–23 April 2005

e-Learning—A Challenge for Modern Education; Warsaw, Poland;
1–17 May 2005

From Science to Business (STCU-NATO Workshop); Kyiv, Ukraine;
25–26 May 2005

Best Practices in Transfer of Science and Technology; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; 26–27 May 2005

European Research and Innovation Exhibition; Paris, France; 3–5 June 2005

ICTIS 2005: "Cooperation for the Present Millennium: Systems, Services & Technologies"; Tetuan, Morocco; 3–6 June 2005

International Sociology Conference "Environment, Knowledge and Democracy"; Luminy, Marseille, France; 6–7 July 2005

8th International Conference on Technology Policy and Innovation; Łódź, Poland; 6–8 July 2005

R&D Management Conference 2005; Pisa, Italy; 6–8 July 2005

22nd International Conference for History of Science; Beijing, China;
24–30 July 2005

Forces and Factors Affecting Higher Education in Europe and the Americas; Bremen, Germany; 24–30 July 2005

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For more information on any of the programs mentioned in this newsletter, please contact:

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
P. O. Box 13975, 3106 East NC Highway 54
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 USA
Telephone: +1-919-549-4691 or +1-919-547-5246
Fax: +1-919-549-0090
E-mail: international@sigmaxi.org

 

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