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Sigma Xi International Newsletter
Volume 5, Number 7/8
July/August 2006

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.

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In This Issue

  1. Science and Technology News
  2. International Cooperation, Fellowships and Scholarships
  3. Sigma Xi News
  4. Upcoming Events

A. Science and Technology News

Large Cassava Plants May Reduce Hunger in Africa
The genetically modified cassava plants developed by Ohio State University molecular biologist Richard Sayre could help solve food shortages in Africa and other nations. His study reports that his genetically modified cassava plants produced roots that were an average of 2.6 times larger than those produced by regular plants. Sayre used a gene from the bacterium E. coli to genetically modify normal cassava plants. Cassava is the primary food source for more than 250 million Africans - about 40 percent of the continent's population, and the plant's starchy tuberous root is an important foodstuff for nearly 600 million people worldwide. Sayre said he hopes to offer these plants to countries where cassava is a significant part of the diet. The researchers used a variety of cassava native to Colombia. They inserted into three cassava plants an E. coli gene that controls starch production. According to Sayre's research Cassava actually has this same gene, but the bacterial version of the gene is about a hundred times more active. Consequently, the modified plants converted more of their sugar into starch, as shown by an increase in root size as well as the number of roots and leaves produced by each modified plant. The results of the research showed that the roots of the modified plants were up to 2.6 times larger than the roots of a non-modified plant and produced a third more leaves - a maximum of 123 leaves per modified plant vs. 92 leaves per non-modified plant. "Not only did these plants produce larger roots, but the whole plant was bigger and had more leaves," Sayre explained, adding that both the roots and leaves of the cassava plant are edible. For more information, please visit Web site: http://snipurl.com/tyge.

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Early Earthquake Warning System Developed in Japan
It may now be possible to warn people of an earthquake before the most destructive tremors strike. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) plans to provide emergency quake information directly to railway operators, fire departments, and other key institutions. When earthquakes occur, preliminary tremors called primary waves are detected first. These occur at high speeds and are followed by the slower and bigger main tremors, called secondary waves. In the Emergency Earthquake Warning system, the difference in the speeds of the two types of waves is analyzed to estimate the time the secondary waves will arrive and their intensity before the main tremors take place. This information is then immediately announced. Researchers at the JMA think they can use the technology to create a home warning system as well, which would reduce earthquake damage by quickly and automatically shutting off gas and electricity supplies. Furthermore, such a system could give household members precious seconds to shelter themselves in a safe place, such as under a table. For details, please see http://snipurl.com/tygh.

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Market Drives New Solar Technology
The booming solar-cell industry is driving investment in newer technologies that could make solar power as cheap as electricity from the grid. Indeed, demand for solar power due to rising energy prices, supportive government policies, and a solar industry suddenly with enough revenue to support new marketing campaigns, has outpaced the ability of manufacturers to produce conventional crystalline silicon solar cells. It is believed that demand for solar power at current prices is around double the expected production capacity this year. In order to cope with the demand, at least 50 companies are developing unconventional solar cell technologies, most of which are planning pretty significant expansions of production. These initiatives are based on second-generation solar technologies, many of which were discovered decades ago, but have taken years to develop to the point where they can convert light into electricity efficiently and be manufactured reliably. Dye-sensitized solar cells, non-crystalline silicon cells, cells based on organic materials, and thin-film solar cells using inorganic semiconductors made of elements such as cadmium and tellurium or, in the case of Nanosolar and many others, copper, indium, gallium, and selenium (CIGS) are some of the examples. However, despite the fact that the new technologies are expected to be cheaper than conventional solar cells, crystalline silicon will not disappear anytime soon. Moreover, third-generation solar technology will be designed to breakthrough a major problem with today's new technologies, which, although are cheaper and easier to make than crystalline silicon cells, are not much more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity (Source: http://snipurl.com/tygj).

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Low Representation of Women in S&T
Women are persistently under-represented in the science and technology (S&T) enterprise that greatly hindrances to strengthening science capacity worldwide. The new report by the Inter-Academy Council (IAC), an organization created by 90 science academies across the globe, stressed the need for immediate action to help overcome this situation. In its advisory report Women for Science, the IAC revealed that only 5 percent of the academy's members are women, and many research institutions in the world are not fully opening their doors for women scientists resulting in significant drop of young women scientists in S&T careers compared to men. The report advocates for commitment to the full inclusion of women in all scientific organizations. The report concludes that various measures, such as commitment from the top leadership, clear criteria for promotions and awards, professional training and mentoring, and inclusion of women in formal and informal organizational networks should be undertaken to attain this goal. For more details, please see: http://snipurl.com/tygm.

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B. International Cooperation, Fellowships and Scholarships

UN Launches Global Alliance for ICT
The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and Malaysia's Prime Minister launched the Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Development at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, on June 19th. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that the Alliance recognized ICT as a vital tool for development and he hoped that with the lead given by the United Nations to this Alliance it would possible to see more widespread applications of ICT where poorer nations will benefit through greater access to technology and to knowledge. The Alliance's Strategy Council also met for the first time. The 60 members of the Council, from the fields of ICT, development, public policy, education, health and other spheres, will establish priorities for the Alliance's work. After two days of meetings, involving over 700 experts from around the world, the Alliance has established a framework for their activities. Pledging to overcome the social and digital divides between developed and developing world, the Vision promotes policies and partnerships that can help create an "arc of digital opportunity." For more, please see: http://snipurl.com/tygn.

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Libyan-US Cooperation in Science Resumes
During a recent visit to Libya by Paula Dibriansky, the US under secretary of state, the United States and Libya have agreed to cooperate in various fields of science and technology. The move, first in more than quarter of a century, is the latest effort to improve diplomatic relations between the two countries. Under the new arrangement, the two countries will cooperate on issues including education, health, water and the environment (Source: SciDevNet: http://snipurl.com/tygp).

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Japan's Dissertation PhD Program for Asia
Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) invites application for Dissertation Ph.D. Program from young scientists in Asia. Under this program, called RONPAKU, a young scientist in Asia can obtain a Ph.D. degree from Japanese universities through submission of a dissertation without going through a doctoral course. Recipients of this program are allowed to visit their supervisors in Japan once a year to obtain direct supervision at the Japanese universities where they will submit their Ph.D. thesis. JSPS will provide airfare and other expenses related to submission of the dissertation. Citizens of the selected Asian countries are eligible to apply for the fellowship. Applicants are required to submit their application to the Japanese advisor in a prescribed form. For details, please see: http://snipurl.com/tygr.

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Australian Research Council Offers Research Awards
Under its Linkage International scheme, the Australian Research Council (ARC) is inviting applications for the third round of Linkage-International Award. Under this program funds are provided to Australian-based researchers to participate in joint research projects with overseas researchers, establishing new collaborations and strengthening ongoing collaborations that build links among researchers, research teams and/or centers of research excellence in Australia and overseas. The closing date for the third round of the funding is 13 October 2006. In addition to Linkage International Awards, ARC provides two other types of support, namely International Fellowships (ARCIFs) and Internationally Coordinated Initiatives (ICIs). For eligibility, rules and other information, please visit Web site: http://snipurl.com/tygv.

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ASM International Fellowship for Latin America
Applications are invited for ASM Fellowships offered to the citizens of Latin America. American Society of Microbiologists (ASM) annually provides five international fellowships to promote collaborations between North America and Latin America in microbiological research and training. Application deadlines are 15 April and 15 October of every year. Under this arrangement, the investigator from the target countries of Latin America should be a member of ASM or any other microbiological society, actively involved in research in the microbiological sciences. The host scientist must be an ASM member. For terms and conditions, submission of application and other related matters, please see: http://snipurl.com/tyh2.

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Research Fellowship Program on Saving Wildlife
Proposals are invited from the nationals of selected countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America on field research projects that have a clear application to the conservation of threatened wildlife and wildlife habitat. This Research Fellowship Program (RFP) is administered by WCS-International Conservation's Training & Capacity Building Program and jointly funded by the BP Energy and Environment Program/BP Conservation Program. The average grant is $11,000 which may go up to $25,000, and is for no longer than one year. The deadline for submission of the proposal for the current round is 1 September 2006 (http://www.wcs.org/international/rfp).

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C. Sigma Xi News

Sigma Xi Postdoc Forum Report Available Online
A report of the national forum on postdoc policies and issues is now available online. The forum which was attended by more than 80 research administrators and post-doctoral fellows was a follow-up of the Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey, the most comprehensive study of its kind. The purpose of the forum was to discuss the policy strategies and promote networking among postdocs, postdoc office personnel, fund-providers of pstdocs and policymakers. The link to the report in pdf format is: http://snipurl.com/tyxs.

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D. Upcoming Events

International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICNSNT 2006);
Chennai, Tamilnadu, India; 26 - 28 August 2006; http://www.unom.ac.in/seminars.php"

International Conference on Physics of Optical Materials and Devices; Herceg Novi, Montenegro; 31 August - 2 September 2006 http://snipurl.com/tyia

European Nuclear Power Debate; London, United Kingdom; 4 - 5 September 2006; http://snipurl.com/tyha

Trends in Nanotechnology - TNT2006; Grenoble, France; 4 - 8 September 2006; http://www.tnt2006.org/

EuroStemCell International Conference - Advances in Stem Cell Research; Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; 8-10 September 2006; http://snipurl.com/tyhr

International Brainstorming Session on Geochemical Precursors for Earthquakes; Kolkata, India; 11 - 13 September 2006; http://snipurl.com/tyhu

Romanian Conference on Advanced Materials; Bucharest, Romania; 11- 14 September 2006; http://rocam.unibuc.ro/

Frontiers in Basic Immunology; National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA; 28 -29 September 2006; http://snipurl.com/tyi2

International Conference of Immunogenomics and Immunomics; Budapest, Hungary ; 8 - 12 October 2006; http://www.bcii2006.org

The 7th International Conference on Systems Biology (ICSB-2006); Yokohama, Japan; 8 - 13 October 2006; http://www.icsb-2006.org/

Materials Science and Technology 2006 Conference and Exhibition; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; 15-19 October 2006; http://www.matscitech.org/index.htm

International Science Conference - Rapid Climate Change; Birmingham, UK; 24 - 27 October 2006. http://snipurl.com/tyic

2020 Vision: Variations and Function in the Genome; Château Frontenac, Québec City, Canada; 25 - 27 October, 2006 http://www.genomecanada.ca/conference/

Eighth International Congress on Drug Therapy in HIV Infection; Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow, UK, Glasgow, United Kingdom; 12-16 November 2006; http://www.hiv8.com/Page_Default.asp

International Forum on Quality & Safety in Health Care; Palau de Congressos, Barcelona, Spain; 18-20 April 2007 http://www.quality.bmjpg.com/

We Welcome Your Comments and Suggestions
As part of our continued efforts to improve the Sigma Xi's International Newsletter we seek your comments and suggestions on its content, format and presentation. You may suggest inclusion of any new item or exclusion of any existing item from the newsletter giving the reason. Please your comments and suggestions. Thank you for your cooperation.

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