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IN THIS ISSUE Across the Divide | 8 Three experts, Alberts, Ejeta, & Holdren, shed light on the role of scientists in meeting grand challenges. Voices | 40 Young scientists from around the world share their thoughts on their role in science communication and policy making. Sharing the Vision | 50 Staff from the American Chemical Society share their /// Š2014 / American Society forleveraged Microbiology / Cultures / Vol 1 / Issue 1 / Page 1 perspective on how societies can be to meet today’s scientific needs.


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Acevedo Ugarrizar Wolfe









My Life as a Science Envoy


Global Food Security: Humanity’s Foremost Challenge of the 21st Century


Climate Change: Closing the Misinformation Gap


Bruce Alberts

Gebisa Ejeta

John Holdren


Q&A with Former ASM President Jo Handelsman Interview by Sarah Allibhoy



Early-career Scientists on Careers, Communication, and Policy Making Written by ASM Young Ambassadors of Science



The ACS International Center™: A Tool for Scientific Collaboration American Chemical Society, an ASM sister society



What Scientists Are Doing to Save the World


Check out our online version of Cultures at

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JASON RAO See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.

In 2011, I left the White House for a position at the American Society for Microbiology. As the oldest and largest society of the life sciences, with nearly 40,000 members across the globe, I was eager to become a part of ASM and strengthen the voice of its members by advocating, educating, and connecting to advance science and society as a whole. With the collective power of so many individuals, scientific societies are poised to do great things, particularly for the so-called grand challenges we share around the globe. My friend and colleague, Dr. May Chu, joined ASM on nearly the same day as the Chair of the International Board, and together we crafted a plan to renew ASM’s international affairs. Central to this was the creation of a new kind of publication, one that would foster the voices of an increasingly diverse and broad set of players in the world of science, and one that would provide a platform for all, particularly early-career scientists around the globe. From this, Cultures was born. In considering the inaugural issue, we posed a question: “How can individual scientists help meet the global grand challenges we share in health, energy,

security, and the environment?” John Holdren, Bruce Alberts, and Gebisa Ejeta each answer from their unique vantage points while drawing from personal experiences. Each is a champion who illustrates the (awesome) power of the individual. In addition, a cohort of early-career scientists, ASM’s own “Young Ambassadors of Science,” contribute a piece on how young scientists can shape solutions for these global challenges. Despite representing an incredibly diverse set of countries, this group of eight talented scientists have one thing in common: passion for the global good. Their energy leaps from the page as they thoughtfully add to the discussion as well as articulate a path forward.

Words cannot express our gratitude for cannot be measured, but will surely be felt these contributions to Cultures. Bruce Al- for generations to come. A special thanks berts, who has inspired so many young also to another Science Envoy and World graduate students to do more with their Food Prize Laureate, Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, for science, not only through his textbook his pioneering efforts to use science to ad“the Cell” but also outside the laborato- dress one of the most daunting challengry, speaks for the first time on his role as es we all share: food security. His article a Science Envoy. As a graduate student captures the urgency of the challenge and many years ago, my own career path was what we can and must do to help. altered after hearing Bruce talk about science in global development and his expe- Finally, we are equally grateful to the rience as then Presi“Young Ambassadors of dent of the National Science,” who give Cul“SCIENTISTS OUGHT TO Academy of Scienctures the most important ‘TITHE’ TEN PERCENT OF es. Nearly a decade dimension: hope. Each THEIR TIME TO THINKING later, I would find of the authors recently ABOUT AND ENGAGING AT myself traveling THE INTERSECTION OF THEIR visited Washington, DC with Bruce in his SCIENTIFIC WORK WITH WIDER for a behind-the-scenes PUBLIC ISSUES. THE WORLD role as U.S. Science experience of science WOULD BE THE BETTER FOR IT.” policy and international Envoy to Indonesia; both of us working affairs. Many came to the - JOHN HOLDREN to realize President United States for the first Obama’s vision of bringing America’s vast time. During their visit, there was a rush Science and Technology enterprise for a of enthusiasm; their passion for making “New Beginning” with our friends around a difference through science was evident. the world. We were led then by the Presi- Seeing these young scientists’ excitement dent’s Science Advisor, John Holdren, who gives great hope, and even confidence, in has taken the time in this issue to con- what is to come. I hope Cultures serves as tribute a piece on climate change. John a platform for individuals across the globe speaks not just from his unique perspec- to channel their energy and act on their tive at the White House, but also as a sci- passion to make the world a better place entist and citizen. We can think of no bet- through science. John Holdren says it best; ter author on such a complex issue; John “scientists ought to “tithe” ten percent of defines integrity and is above all dedicat- their time to thinking about and engaging ed to restoring science to its rightful place at the intersection of their scientific work (on a daily basis) for all of us. His contribu- with wider public issues. The world would tion to science, policy, and the good fight be the better for it.” SNAPSHOT OF ASM TODAY


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ACROSS THE The role of scientists in meeting global challenges.


In each issue, we ask three experts to write an essay from their perspective on one central theme. In this issue, they discuss the role of scientists in meeting global challenges.

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BY: DR. BRUCE M. ALBERTS, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, USA Dr. Bruce M. Alberts served as Editor-in-Chief of Science (2008-2013) and as a U.S. Science Envoy (2009– 2011). Alberts holds the Chancellor’s Leadership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, to which he returned after serving two six-year terms as the president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Dr. Alberts is noted as one of the original authors of The Molecular Biology of the Cell, a preeminent textbook in the field now in its fifth edition. Alberts has earned many honors and awards, including 16 honorary degrees. He currently serves on the advisory boards of more than 25 nonprofit institutions, including the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP).

GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY: HUMANITY’S FOREMOST CHALLENGE OF THE 21ST CENTURY | PAGE 18 BY: DR. GEBISA EJETA, WEST ETHIOPIA Dr. Gebisa Ejeta is a Distinguished Professor of Plant Breeding & Genetics and International Agriculture at Purdue University. He was born and raised in a small rural community in west-central Ethiopia before attending graduate school at Purdue University. Dr. Ejeta has served the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the largest publicly funded agricultural research consortium in the world as a member of its Science Council (2008–2010) and currently as a member of its Consortium Board. He is also a board member of Sasakawa Africa Program. He was recently designated special advisor to USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. Dr. Ejeta was the recipient of the 2009 World Food Prize and a national medal of honor from the President of Ethiopia.

CLIMATE CHANGE: CLOSING THE MISINFORMATION GAP | PAGE 26 BY: DR. JOHN P. HOLDREN, WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, USA Dr. John P. Holdren is Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and cochair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Before joining the Obama administration, Dr. Holdren was Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, as well as professor in Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Director of the independent, nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center. Previously he was on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where he cofounded in 1973 and coled until 1996 the interdisciplinary graduate-degree program in energy and resources. During the Clinton administration, Dr. Holdren served as a member of PCAST through both terms and in that capacity chaired studies requested by President Clinton on preventing the theft of nuclear materials, disposition of surplus weapon plutonium, the prospects of fusion energy, U.S. energy R&D strategy, and international cooperation on energy-technology innovation.


Sporting batik, Alberts meets with President Yudhoyono of Indonesia and his cabinet. See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.


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During a lunch break at a meeting of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), President Obama’s Science Advisor, Dr. John Holdren, approached me with a startling request. Would I agree to serve as one of Obama’s first three Science Envoys to Moslem-majority nations? It was October 2009 and four months earlier, in his famous Cairo speech announcing a new approach to the Muslim world, the President had announced that “We will…appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops.” The other two envoys would be Elias Zerhouni, a distinguished U.S. science leader born in Algeria, and Ahmed Zewail, an Egyptian-born Nobel Prize-winning chemist from Cal Tech. I was born and raised in Chicago and, unlike these other envoys, I knew almost nothing about the two countries that I would be assigned to—Indonesia and Pakistan—nor could I speak the relevant languages.

that placed heavy demands on my time. And I had serious concerns about the proposed Science Envoy program. During my service as president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences from 1993 to 2005, I had witnessed the U.S. government sign many formal bilateral science and technology agreements. Repeatedly, expectations would be raised by promises of support for activities that were never undertaken in the end because of a lack of follow-up funding from our government. As one example, in the late 1990s, I participated in an elaborate high-level meeting sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with South Africa, attended by Thabo Mbeki (then South African Vice President, soon to be President) and other dignitaries. From a subsequent visit to South Africa, I learned that very little of what was promised in the agreements signed at that meeting had actually come to pass. Might the high-profile Science Envoy program also create unrealistic expectations that could not be met, thereby negating the goodwill toward the United States that it aimed to create through a new form of science diplomacy?

There were other reasons to consider turning down the offer. Until mid2013, I would be the Editor-in-Chief of Science magazine, a weekly journal

On the other side of the argument, while at the Academy I had become a strong advocate for a much larger role for both science and scientists in

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the relations between nations. (see twelve National Academy of Sciences annual meeting speeches at www. I appreciated the fact that the envoys would be serving as volunteers, with only our travel expenses paid; thus, we would be acting as individuals whose statements would not need to be approved by the U.S. government. And very importantly for me as a scientist, the Science Envoy program was an “experiment.” The initial set of three envoys would play a major part both in defining what it meant to be a “science envoy” and in shaping the program to help make it a long-term success. This final point proved to be decisive. In the end, I accepted the appointment because it promised to be an adventure from which both I and the U.S. government could learn a great deal.

FIRST EFFORTS IN INDONESIA I would focus most of my effort in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation—with 250 million people spread out over more than 10,000 islands that span a considerably greater distance than the continental United States. Very importantly, I was quickly introduced to a wise and reliable partner in Indonesia, Dr. Sangkot Marzuki. Marzuki is a molecular geneticist who heads the outstanding Eijkman

Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta, while also being the president of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI). By working closely together, we aimed to design activities of high potential impact—both for Indonesia and for the United States. It turned out that Marzuki and I share a strong interest in supporting and empowering the best young scientists as the future science leaders of our two nations. This focus has guided many of our activities in Indonesia. We were fortunate that Dr. Jason Rao had moved from the U.S. Department of State to oversee the new Science Envoy Program at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). He was instrumental in lining up funding from the U.S. Department of State to support some initial joint activities, thereby overcoming my fear that my service as Science Envoy would be remembered as “all talk and no action.” Skillfully supported by Embassy staff, Jason and I spent a very productive eleven days in Indonesia in May 2010. I met with President Susilo Bambang Yodhoyono for an hour and visited some of Indonesia’s leading science centers. But even more impactful for our future activities was the 3-day meeting that Marzuki organized on the remote “spice island” of Ternate. He had invited 40 of Indonesia’s best

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The local Sultan officially welcomes Alberts and delegation to Ternate, one of the oldest Muslim kingdoms in Indonesia. See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.

younger scientists, ages 35 to 40, in order to solicit from them what they most wanted from a scientific partnership with the United States. After lively initial discussions, these scientists broke up into 3 groups that worked late into the night to prepare their summary recommendations for the final morning of the meeting. Most memorable for me was their repeatedly stated desire for a “merit-based system of science and education.” They were also enthusiastic about establishing an annual U.S.-Indonesia Frontiers of Science meeting that would bring together 40 of Indonesia’s best young scientists with a similar number of young Americans, a shared goal that we would soon be able to meet.

BUILDING INTERNATIONAL BRIDGES BETWEEN YOUNG SCIENTISTS To date (September 2013), I have completed five trips to Indonesia— the most recent in June of this year, even though my formal Envoy appointment ended in 2011. As part of my latest visit, I attended the third annual U.S.-Indonesia Frontiers of Science event. Modeled after similar workshops that the U.S. National Academy of Sciences conducts with China, Germany, India, Japan, and other nations, each Frontiers meeting is organized by a bilateral committee of young scientists who select six different topics for a 3-day workshop (see The multidisciplinary Frontiers

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format promotes creative thinking through interactions of scientists from disparate backgrounds, stimulating what I like to call a “random collision of ideas.” The young scientists are encouraged to apply for competitively awarded Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) collaborative grants—which are funded by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) jointly with the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and our National Institutes of Health. During the three Frontiers meetings that I attended, I met many talented young Indonesian scientists, and, thus far, Indonesia has been highly successful in competing for PEER awards. I view the annual Frontiers of Science meetings as a valuable legacy from my term as Science Envoy, one that is building strong personal relationships of trust between the future scientific leadership in our two nations. I am pleased that the fourth such meeting in Indonesia will be held in the summer of 2014.

INCREASING THE INFLUENCE OF SCIENCE ON GOVERNMENT POLICY A second focus as Science Envoy has been to increase the influence of the Indonesian science community on government policy making. On issues that range from the health hazards of drinking water, to the use of vaccination or genetically modified crops, wise long-range decisions can only be made if each nation’s scientists play important roles in educating and informing both their fellow citizens and their government. This requires building institutions in each nation that become effective and respected conduits for providing such advice. In the United States, the primary such conduit is the National Academies, which publishes more than 200 reports a year, most of which present the scientific consensus on a topic relevant for government decision makers (see Building on past efforts with the South African Academy of Sciences and other academies (see, we have sought with USAID support to help the Indonesian Academy of Sciences become a trusted, independent

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advisor to the Indonesian government through a series of joint studies by the U.S. and Indonesian academies on Indonesian issues. The first such report, entitled Saving Lives, Saving the Future: Reducing Maternal and Newborn Mortality in Indonesia, has recently been completed and is scheduled for release in late 2013 (see This report is extremely relevant and timely, because Indonesia continues to fail to meet this important United Nations Millennium Development goal. As a central part of this project, an experienced staff officer of the U.S. Academy, Dr. Michael Greene, has

Alberts plants roots at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.

worked closely with the Indonesians. With support from USAID, a second joint report is planned.

CREATING A MERIT-BASED SYSTEM OF SCIENCE AND EDUCATION The mission most urgently desired by the young Indonesian scientists in our initial workshop in Ternate was that of helping Indonesia create a “merit-based system of science and education.” In my first visit, I was amazed to learn that Indonesia has essentially no competitive grant programs to make resources available for scientific research by their most outstanding scientists. Instead, very limited resources are provided to research institutions, amounting to only about 0.06 percent of gross domestic product (20-fold lower than in more developed nations). As a result, Indonesia, which is the 4th most populous nation in the world, ranked 64th among nations in numbers of research publications in the period 1996–2010 (OECD, Science, Technology, and Industry Scoreboard 2011). Indonesia lacks a vibrant industrial base, at least in part because there are not enough scientists and engineers to support one.


How might Indonesia do a much better job of investing in its future, given its widely expressed aim to become an “innovation nation”? With the support of the World Bank and Australia, the Indonesian Academy of Sciences has produced a very important report entitled Creating an Indonesian Science Fund (see Coauthored by Dr. Michael Greene from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the newly elected Vice President of the Indonesian Academy, Dr. Satryo Soemantri Brodjonegoro, this 50-page report skillfully analyzes the current problems with Indonesia’s scientific funding system. It recommends that a new independent agency be established in Indonesia to administer an NSF-like competitive grant program that is designed to directly fund the best Indonesian scientists, regardless of their age. Representatives from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) have made major contributions to this effort, and our nation has promised to help both with grant reviewers and the grant review process. My

most recent trips to Indonesia have placed great emphasis on the importance for Indonesia’s future of establishing such a new funding agency.

SUPPORTING THE PROMOTION OF SCIENCE IN INDONESIA BY U.S. EMBASSY STAFF Last but not least, I believe that my role as Science Envoy has been useful to our Embassy in Jakarta in encouraging talented people from different parts of our government to work synergistically and more effectively to promote quality science and science education in Indonesia. I view it as a great sign of progress that the USAID Mission in Jakarta will be the first USAID Mission in recent times to have a science, technology, and innovation track as one of its four formal development objectives. Hopefully, the Indonesian Embassy can serve as a model for many other U.S. embassies to follow, as the U.S. government strives to use our global leadership position in science and technology to help all nations develop in highly productive ways.

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My service as Science Envoy would not have been possible without the strong support of energetic and impressive U.S. government staff in both Jakarta and in Washington. In addition to Dr. Jason Rao, special appreciation is due to Dr. Kendra Chittenden and Dr. Ali Douraghy at USAID/Indonesia, and to Dillon M. Green with the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta—and to many others, as well.

ABOUT BRUCE ALBERTS Dr. Bruce M. Alberts served as Editor-in-Chief of Science (2008–2013) and as a United States Science Envoy (2009– 2011). Alberts is also

It will take more time to judge how successful the ongoing Science Envoy Program has been. However, I now believe that this experiment has great potential for deepening the connections between the United States and other nations, with the critical aim of harnessing science to create a more rational and peaceful world.

Chancellor’s Leadership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, to which he returned after serving two six-year terms as the president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

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Ejeta, director of the Purdue Center for Global Food Security, surrounded by a crop of sorghum. Ejeta earned the 2009 World Food Prize for his work in developing sorghum varieties resistant to drought and the parasitic weed Striga. See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.


Feeding humanity sustainably has emerged as a serious agenda for our society. We have entered the new era with serious doubts about our ability to feed future generations sustainably. These doubts are results of the multiple changes we face. A steadily growing world population is projected to rise to over 9 billion, generating a concomitant increase in food demand. We have also

grown increasingly cognizant of the fragility of our ecosystems and the need for greater stewardship of our natural resources. Our challenge, therefore, is to drastically increase global food production with the prudent use of essential inputs, and minimal impact on soil, water, and land resources, as well as biodiversity of plants, animals, and microbes.


Science, technology, innovation, and the commercial infrastructure that were laid out in the 20th century changed the way we produce and use food, the way we take care of our health, and the ways we travel and communicate. The spread of this knowledge has literally shrunk the world into a global village, with changed lifestyles and diets adding greater economic opportunities, but also increasing the pressure on our global utilization of renewable and nonrenewable resources. An additional dimension of these advances is how hunger that takes place in the far fringes of the world can impact others, including those in more developed nations. The fast-growing global demand for food, feed, fiber, and energy has resulted in the emergence of a rare sense of food insecurity, even in the Western world that had enjoyed relative food abundance in much of the past century. It is clear that population growth, rises in urban and rural unemployment, and the spread of poverty are aligned with hunger and political instability, as evidenced by the riots in several countries in recent years that were linked to price spikes in food commodities. Concerns about global food security, therefore, are primarily about hunger and poverty and the social inequities that continue to exist in all societies,

since, in both poor and rich nations, it is only the poor who are always hungry. But, global food security also encompasses higher-level issues: the utilization and conservation of our natural resources, food production practices, utilization patterns, and diets. Global food security is also tied to national and global policies and our collective commitment to the stewardship of the endowments of our planet Earth. Agriculture in the 21st century faces great biophysical challenges. Imminent threats from climate change, a looming global water crisis, declining soil and water quality, diminishing areas of new arable land resources, and concerns about the growing demand for, and depletion of, nonrenewable energy sources, do not bode well for our ability to efficiently produce more food or to manage our biodiversity and conserve our natural resources. We are left with one choice. We must sharpen our focus, restore our commitment to science and technology and the power of trade and business, and strengthen our public and private institutions with a 21st century vision and infrastructure to enhance our mitigation and adaptation capabilities. As imminent as these dangers are, I am hopeful that we can meet them

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Challenges of Future Food Production Globally





head-on, provided there is the political will to embrace the opportunities that our vision, our creativity, and our science can bring to grow economies and address the issues of food, agriculture, and natural resource conservation and management in a responsible and holistic way. We have scored successes in crisis situations before. In the 1930s, discoveries made at U.S. universities in the new science of genetics created hybrid-corn technology, which was followed by the ingenuity and innovation of American rural communities, and spurred development of an agriculture-industry complex that created jobs for millions of people and changed the face of rural America. In the 1960s, Norman Borlaug, a young American scientist who grew up in the rural Midwest during the Depression and witnessed the opportunities brought to rural America by science, technology, innovation, and business, figured out a way to take his own scientific discoveries to the fight against hunger in Asia and Latin America, in the Green Revolution that is known to have fed and saved billions of people since. In the 1980s, building on the discoveries of the double-helix structure of DNA and other pioneering molecular research, and the advent of biotechnology, American scientists broke new ground in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) through the transfer of single genes from other sources, including simple (single-cell) organisms, to complex (higher-level) organisms, such as crop plant cultivars, endowing them with favorable traits of disease

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or insect resistance, and/or traits that add nutritional value. Its leadership in these three remarkable agricultural revolutions made the United States a global leader in advancing agricultural science, technology, and innovation to spur rural economic development for its people and, in turn, for other nations around the world. Fundamental to these successes is America’s early vision and commitment to science-based farming, building functional institutions, and providing policy environments conducive to innovating agricultural industries. The United States is the undisputed global leader in successful agricultural enterprises through the science and technology that stream out of its universities and research institutions, and the innovations that continue to emanate from its agricultural and food business communities. The United States not only set an example of science-based economic development in agriculture, but provided the technical assistance and resources to support and sustain the agricultural and food systems of the world. It started with a series of brilliant legislation in the 1860s that established

the U.S. Land Grant University system, with its tripartite functions of educating young men and women from rural America at public colleges, establishment of Agricultural Experiment Stations and Cooperative Extension Services, and—perhaps as importantly—recognition of the ability of businesses to produce and utilize their own fundamental scientific discoveries toward building economic opportunity, employment, and wealth for local communities. The legacy of American leadership in agricultural revolutions is also evidenced in its pioneering commitment to advancing public-private partnerships to drive the agriculture-industry complex. U.S. leadership, in wisely merging the virtues of public and private research and development investments, was responsible for the transformative changes in global economic development improving livelihood, including nutrition and health. While the gains from scientific advances of the 20th century have been widely celebrated, the environmental impacts of our accelerated food production, utilization, and consumption patterns are fiercely debated. There is a call for 21st century science to guide our production and consumption trajectory toward a more

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Food scarcity, which is exacerbated by climate change-induced floods during Ramadan, threatens Pakistan’s poorest. See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.

environment-friendly future for global agriculture. Although the premise of science-based solutions for society’s new agricultural and natural resource problems and the principles for generating policy commitment to attain those solutions remain the same, the specifics have changed. The challenges of meeting current and future food demands are infinitely more complex, requiring more integrative and transdisciplinary approaches. They may not lend themselves to dissection of problems into simpler components as we have been used to in the past. New advances in science, technology, and innovation

will be needed to support agriculture in both poor and rich nations. It is difficult to identify in advance the specific scientific breakthroughs that the world will find essential to cope with the looming challenges. What we do know is that the necessary scientific discoveries we seek are unlikely to occur in the absence of increased, sustained public research investments in our centers of research excellence. In the developed world, public investments in agricultural sciences must be significantly increased to supplement the steady growth in private sector investments. Funding for research is needed to generate

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A Climate Smart Village project in Vaishali, Bihar, India raises awareness in the farming community about various technological, institutional, and policy-oriented options that have the potential to increase their climatic resilience, adaptation, agricultural productivity, and income, while reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.

new powerful tools for crop and animal management, natural resource management, fighting plant and animal diseases, generating fundamental knowledge, and advancing biotechnology to address the more intractable problems of agriculture in a wider array of agricultural and food systems, including nutrition and health. The United States has the advantage and capacity to continue to offer leadership in global development for decades ahead. America can also assist poorer nations by helping build their human capacity, strengthening their public institutions, influencing local governance, and encouraging them to instill the right policy environments in their own nations.

Support for agricultural research in poor nations has been woefully lacking. Africa has been dubbed the new frontier for accelerated agricultural development. Regrettably, of the 53 African heads of state, who at the turn of this century agreed to allocate at least 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture and livestock by 2008, only seven reached the target. During the same time, technical assistance from rich nations also declined. Investments in the agricultural industries of developing countries are needed to increase production, enhance nutrition and utilization, reduce food loss, improve storage and transport, and devise new processing and distribution systems to encourage trade, business, and overall growth of entrepreneurial capacity.

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With increased agricultural research and development support, poor developing nations will be able to feed their people reliably and contribute to feeding the world. All of this will take time, serious effort, and a commitment to change the complacency of the developed world, and the traditions and corrupt political systems of many developing nations, as well. But with a growing recognition and sense of urgency created by the changing realities of the new global economic order, and the ensuing competition for essential global resources, there may be a new window of opportunity for a concerted effort. With America’s leadership, it has been demonstrated that modern

agricultural science, combined with policy that is friendly to global trade and business, can generate dramatic increases in agricultural productivity, meet the growing demand for global food supply, increase profitability, and catalyze growth in regional and global economies. Our new efforts to meet the combined challenges of 21st century agricultural farming practices, environmental stewardship, and sustained growth of our global economy catalyzed by agricultural enterprises, must include learning from the past while meeting both current needs and future demands for food, feed, and fiber. This piece was excerpted from a presentation prepared for an Aspen Institute Congressional Program (August 2013).

ABOUT GEBISA EJETA Dr. Gebisa Ejeta is Distinguished Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics, and International Agriculture at Purdue University and the 2009 World Food Prize Laureate. He was appointed by President Obama to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) in 2011. Since 2010, he has served as a U.S. Government Presidential Science Envoy and Special Advisor to USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah.

Read ASM’s FAQ: How Microbes can Help Feed the World to learn about the intimate relationship between microbes and agriculture including why plants need microbes, what types of microbes they need, how they interact, and the scientific challenges posed by the current state of knowledge. To read the report, visit images/stories/documents/FeedTheWorld.pdf. /// ©2014 / American Society for Microbiology / Cultures / Vol 1 / Issue 1 / Page 25


See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.

On June 25th of this year, addressing an outdoor audience of students, educators, government officials, and business leaders on the Georgetown University campus, President Obama laid out a comprehensive plan for a “coordinated assault� on climate change. Wiping his brow as temperatures climbed into the 90s, he made a commitment to cut U.S. contributions to climate change, expand preparations for climate-related impacts that can no longer be avoided, and redouble international efforts to address the threat on a global scale. Page 26 /// Across the Divide / Alberts / Ejeta / Holdren


He also made clear that the challenge of climate change is not one his Administration—or indeed any government—can meet by itself. “I’m convinced this is a fight that America must lead,” the President said. “But it will require all of us to do our part.” When it comes to tackling the thorniest issues we face as a nation—issues of economic fairness, access to quality health care, the need to make higher education affordable—President Obama often calls for an “all hands on deck” approach. He recognizes that a government “of the people” works best when it takes full advantage of the expertise, resources, capabilities, and enthusiasm of those very people. So when it comes to the daunting task of addressing climate change, he has made it very clear that everyone in America has a role to play—students and educators, state and local officials, builders and city planners, inventors and entrepreneurs, and, of course, scientists of all kinds.

Scientists have been central to defining the problem of climate change. Through painstaking observation, experimentation, modeling, and analysis, they have unveiled many of the mysteries of the Earth’s climate system; quantified the impacts that human activities are having on it; and assessed many of the options that individuals, communities, and governments now have for mitigating and adapting to those impacts. The President’s Climate Action Plan is grounded in this accumulated scientific evidence, but the responsibilities of scientists and the scientific community do not stop there. First, there is still a tremendous amount to learn about the biological and geophysical processes that shape global climate—to help engineers develop climate-relevant technologies and tools, and to help decision makers develop policies that support our climate goals. Atmospheric chemists, oceanographers, ecologists, modelers, and countless other species of scientists all have important parts to play in the effort to advance climate-related

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knowledge—knowledge that in many cases resides at the intersection of basic and applied research. As readers of this inaugural issue of Cultures will appreciate more than many, microbiologists are clearly among those with much to offer in this regard. After all, humans are not the first critters to affect atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases: microbes have been having major impacts on global gas flux—and, in particular, CO2 flux— for billions of years. Plants tend to get all the credit, but the microbes today account for about one-half of all the carbon fixed through photosynthesis, with most of that activity happening in the oceans. But we still know too little about how those dynamics may shift in response to anthropogenic influences on terrestrial, marine, and atmospheric conditions. And while scientists have plumbed many aspects of microbial ecology and physiology in exquisite detail—with special attention, of course, paid to those bugs that tend to live on and inside us—large gaps remain in our understanding of the metabolism and community structures of environmental microbes. We need to understand the direct effects of climate change on these

microbes—how changes in rainfall, temperatures, and ocean pH may affect their activity and community structures—and what kind of havoc those changes might wreak on ecological systems. And we need to understand the indirect effects of climate change on microbes— through, for example, changes in plant growth patterns and soil characteristics that in turn have impacts on the structure and activity of microbial communities. And, of course, it is not just about CO2. Thirty to forty percent of global emissions of methane―the second most important long-lived greenhouse gas after CO2―are produced by microbes in rice paddies, natural wetlands, and moist soils; in landfills; in the guts of ruminants and termites; and even in the open oceans. How these emissions might grow in response to climate change—when, for example, the huge store of carbon locked in frozen arctic and alpine soils becomes susceptible to microbial activity because those soils are thawing for the first time in thousands of years―is a potential climate-change feedback of great importance. In addition, of course, there is the need for advances in the domain of biofuels, where many of the most promising production methods

Page 28 /// Across the Divide / Alberts / Ejeta / Holdren

History has shown time and again that where there is a vacuum of credible scientific information, misinformation will flow.

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depend on microbes. Microbes such as bacteria and fungi are exceptionally good at breaking down certain complex polymers in plants, and some single-celled algae are positively obese with energy-rich lipids. Clearly, then, microbiologists have a lot to contribute as the United States and the world take on the challenge of climate change. Of course, so do solid-state physicists, plasma physicists, organic and inorganic chemists, and materials scientists, not to mention mathematicians, engineers, and social scientists of all varieties. Their work in their offices and laboratories to expand and apply relevant scientific understandings is not all that scientists can contribute to meeting the climate-change challenge, however. They also have an important role in informing and empowering decision makers and the public with credible, actionable information. Oceanographers, meteorologists, and soil scientists, for instance, need to engage with city planners, architects, and engineers who are deciding how best to gird shoreline properties against sea-level rise—or to help justify tough calls about when not to build at all because the risks of inundation have simply become too

great. These inputs need to be sustained, candid, and understandable to nonscientists, without sacrificing scientific rigor. Complementing efforts like these, scientific associations such as ASM can and should empower their members to fulfill this important charge by amplifying their collective voice, disseminating the scientific knowledge they generate, and promoting the promise of science and technology to solve our toughest problems. History has shown time and again that, where there is a vacuum of credible scientific information, misinformation will flow—at best driven by sloppiness and at worst by deliberate attempts to mislead. Climate science, more than many sciences, has in recent years been subject to both of these influences, resulting in a damaging communication gap. According to one report published this year, while 97% of peer-reviewed papers in the climate science literature clearly affirm the reality of human-caused climate change, only 41% of Americans agree with the premise that global warming is happening and is caused by humans.1 Such a lack of public understanding of the climate-change problem

Page 30 /// Across the Divide / Alberts / Ejeta / Holdren

undermines the political imperative to take action to address it—and we simply cannot afford to wait. Scientists can help close this gap by speaking up about their relevant areas of expertise at every opportunity and proactively communicating credible scientific information to audiences outside their usual professional circles. Whether presenting findings at community meetings; discussing research results with family members; taking advantage of opportunities to talk to the media about new data; teaching and mentoring students; or explaining scientific concepts to faith leaders, teachers, and other trusted sources, scientists can make a difference. Scientists are not responsible for advocating for any particular policy, but they are responsible, in my view, for proliferating understandings derived from their scientific expertise when these are germane to the welfare of the public. I have argued elsewhere―and so again here―that scientists ought to

‘Tithe’ ten percent of their time to thinking about and engaging at the intersection of their scientific work with wider public issues. The world would be the better for it.

ABOUT JOHN HOLDREN Dr. John P. Holdren is Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and cochair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Scientific and Public Perceptions on Climate Change, June 3, 2013, Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. Consensus_Gap_May2013_FINAL6.pdf 1

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Page 32

See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.


What are your thoughts on the role of scientific societies as a whole in addressing global grand challenges? JO: I think that professional societies can often provide the critical momentum needed to get grand challenges worked on and implemented. Societies provide an organizing principle, a lot of visibility for the grand challenges, and a sense of mission that can mobilize their membership.


Is there a particular challenge you think is the most pressing, or one that you think ASM could have the most impact in? JO: There are many, but two big challenges that come to mind are global climate change and antibiotics and antibiotic resistance. With regard to the former, it seems the public is at last coming around to appreciating that climate change is real, is largely caused by human activity, and requires our immediate attention, but I think a lot of people do not appreciate the important role that

In each issue, young staff at ASM informally interview a distinguished leader in science.

/// American Society for Microbiology / Cultures / Vol 1 / Issue 1 / Page 33

microbes play in our planet’s bio-geochemical cycles, the important impacts climate change is likely to have on these crucial communities, and how microbiology will be important in our efforts to predict and plan for the changes in climate that lie ahead. With respect to the latter, infectious diseases are coming back with strength and an impact that was not anticipated. In the preantibiotic era, the Earth was much less populated, urban centers were much smaller, less dense, and transportation was so much more limited. When the antibiotics we rely upon now lose their effectiveness, and we have no replacements for them, we are going to be in a very, very serious worldwide dilemma in terms of infectious bacterial disease. So both of these issues are so pressing and are definitely ones where ASM and related organizations have great potential to have an impact.


ASM has made a huge push this year to expand programs and membership internationally. Where would you like to see ASM stand in the international sphere in the coming years? JO: Well, the two grand challenges that we just talked about are serious international challenges and have implications for every country on Earth. ASM can have a tremendous role in unifying the scientific community, in this case, the

Page 34 /// In Conversation

microbiological community specifically, around those challenges. ASM’s global efforts can foster collaboration and bring together different kinds of expertise and local knowledge from various parts of the world. But it also can make the entire microbiology community feel much closer, particularly when we are dealing with issues like infectious disease where intercountry discussion, conversation, and connection is so critical. I think that will be a tremendous help in the future.


One of the biggest challenges that the scientific community has seen in addressing global challenges has been science communication and how to best present research in a way that is understandable and digestible by the general public. How can scientists better communicate their work? JO: I think we need more training in how to communicate. I often hear a lot of criticism about how scientists present to the public poorly by using language that is off-putting and confusing . It is essential that we start instituting training for public communication in our graduate programs. Some leadership groups around the country are starting to work on this and have some very interesting strategies to teach scientists to communicate more broadly. I do not think that it is reasonable to expect scientists to innately know the best way to talk to the public about science.


Can you be more specific as to which groups you think are doing well in training scientists to communicate?

JO: Well, the one that I know the best is the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. He has come up with a very interesting approach of teaching scientists how to use [improvisational] training to improve their communication skills to all groups, but particularly for the public. There are also a number of programs that train scientists to teach in the classroom, with obvious impacts on their general communication effectiveness. ASM has a professional development program that focuses in part on science communication, there is a network in the United States known as CIRTL that links together many campuses in a national program for training graduate students in teaching and communication, and the National Academy of Sciences has a Summer Institute for faculty to learn to teach.

Twenty-four faculty members from colleges and universities around the country participated in Yale’s Small World Initiative to develop a series of undergraduate research courses in antibiotic discovery. See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.

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Switching gears slightly, I know your Small World Initiative exists at this intersection between communication, grand challenges and science education. Could you give a brief overview of what the program is and where this idea initially came from? JO: The two parts of the Small World Initiative are the teaching goal of introducing people to microbiology and research early and the goal of addressing the global grand challenges of infectious disease by developing a new way of finding antibiotics. Microbiology is becoming more and more important in people’s lives, and yet college graduates, even in some cases biology majors, are incredibly ignorant about microbiology. The Small World Initiative is partly in answer to that: an introductory-level biology course that not only teaches the basic principles of biology, but also uses microbiological examples and gets people excited about microbiology. Part of the reason we have made it a laboratory course is that the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology report from February 2012, “Engage to Excel,” recommends courses that introduce authentic laboratory research to the freshman and sophomore curriculum to attract and keep more people in science.

Page 36 /// In Conversation

We wanted to make it possible for faculty to implement that recommendation without having to develop their own courses. A colleague at Yale, Scott Strobel, has developed a course that involves isolating specific fungi from tropical forests and looking for new compounds from them. My group got very interested in developing a similar course, and we thought that one way to make it not only microbiological, but also something that would address the grand challenges that face the world today, and thereby excite the students, would be to bring students together to look for new antibiotics. We are looking at soil microorganisms, and not in exotic environments, but wherever the local environment is, and screening them for antibiotic production. We call it crowd sourcing antibiotics because we imagine that, if this course is downloaded across the world in many, many different colleges and universities, and the students are using local samples, we will have this fantastic breadth of research across the world using all sorts of natural local resources to find new antibiotics. The idea then is to have a communal laboratory notebook that people across the world can use. Students will be able to upload their data and we can look at their total data set. That will be a fundamental part of the Small World Initiative.

Researcher hunts for signs of antimicrobial resistance. See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.


Where would you ideally like to see it in 5 years or 10 years down the line?

JO: I would like to see two things. First, I would like to see it implemented in a few hundred classrooms around the world. And I think that is feasible and likely to happen. Second, we would have a chemical hub that can perform analysis on active isolates. At some universities, there may be a follow-up course to the Small World course, where students can get more into the chemical analysis. In other universities, there may be collaborations with chemists who can begin structural analysis on the antibiotics. The first part is easier because we can train people very easily and quickly to teach the course. In July we held our first training session with instructors from 24 colleges and universities around the country.


How did it go?

JO: Fantastic! It was so exciting, and they were so excited about going back to their institutions and teaching the course. So we are all going to teach this course in the spring simultaneously and communally work on the materials for the course and make sure they are complete, easy to use, and accessible to instructors around the world. Then, we will release those and hopefully the course will be taught by many, many more people.


How are selected?



JO: In the first group we accepted anyone who could come to the training and was able to teach the course in the spring.

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The next step is to collaborate with ASM to train international microbiologists particularly focusing, we’re hoping, on the Young Ambassadors who represent a worldwide network of early-career microbiologists who are committed to building connections among microbiologists and between ASM and microbiologists in their own countries.


One last question, on a more fun note. If you were to have a dinner party, with your top three all-star guest list of scientists, living, dead, fictional, who would you would invite, and why? JO: Marie Curie is one that I would be very interested in meeting because she sounds so brilliant and interesting. I think her experiences as a scientist and her triumph over horrid discrimination would be interesting to learn about. And Julian Davies. He is so smart, funny, and interesting to talk to about microbiology. You can throw in a nonscientist too as a third one. Oh, ok, nonscientist. Mozart! Because I’ve always wondered what he would think of modern music.

Page 38 /// In Conversation


Jo Handelsman Past ASM President Jo Handelsman speaks to ASM Staff on global challenges, the INTERVIEWER

Sarah Allibhoy Sarah is a senior studying Development Sociology and International Relations at Cornell University. She was a Summer 2013 Global Health Diplomacy Fellow at ASM and is currently President of the Cornell International Affairs Review.

responsbilities of scientific societies, and her new “Small World” project. Dr. Jo Handelsman is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and Frederick Phineas Rose Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University. In addition to her microbiology research, Handelsman is also known internationally for her efforts to improve science education and increase the participation of women and minorities in science at the university level. She cofounded the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute at UW-Madison, which designed and evaluated interventions intended to enhance the participation of women in science, and founded The Center for Scientific Teaching at Yale, which provides local and national leadership in transforming classroom teaching in science and engineering.

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Check out our website to see video interviews with these Young Ambassadors of Science and more: http://www. ambassadors.








The phenomena and laws of the material universe have always stimulated

In each issue, we highlight

the human imagination. Consequently,

diverse unheard voices that

every year more and more students complete advanced degrees in scientific

bring unique perspective to the conversation.

fields and look for formal positions in research and academia, as many before them have done. Unfortunately, in this current economic climate, universities and research centers do not have the capacity to employ such a large number of young scientists. To their benefit, science is not limited to the academic arena and increasing numbers of those with scientific expertise are pursuing nontraditional careers paths and contributing in new and exciting ways. Here, we briefly survey some of these nontraditional opportunities for young scientists.

Page 40 /// Voices


8 YOUNG INTERNATIONAL SCIENTISTS WEIGH IN ON THE QUESTION: What are nontraditional career paths that are emerging for young scientists, and how can they help meet the global challenges in health, environment, energy, and security?

See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.

SCIENCE COMMUNICATION With the rise of the Internet and the dawn of the information age, there is a growing demand for scientific evidence from government, business, and the general public. Clear descriptions of scientific processes and data tailored to specific audiences are becoming increasingly important. Effective science communication allows scientists to provide evidence-based information to consumers, business, and policy makers. It is also an essential tool for

the engagement and education of the next generation of scientists. Some career opportunities involving science communication include medical or technical writers, journalists, journal editors, and careers involving translation and interpretation with the use of a variety of media. Even nontraditional platforms such as animation, science fiction novels, and movies utilize the expertise of scientists in some capacity to accurately communicate stories that incorporate scientific principles.

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In New Zealand, science communication is important for the establishment and maintenance of relationships between scientists, meat exporters, and government ministries. Meat exports constitute 24 percent of all food exports from New Zealand. To solve the challenge of meeting the quality and safety requirements for the export products, scientists work closely with industry to develop innovative methods for increasing shelf life and pathogen mitigation strategies. The accurate and concise description of scientific data plays an integral part in the success of the collaborative efforts between research scientists and industry technical staff, and the protection of New Zealand’s reputation as a premium meat producer. Effective and accurate communication can also have a drastic impact on the health of a nation. In Cameroon, the success of a polio vaccination program was the result of a shift of focus toward effective science communication. The vaccination program began in 2001 and was initially rejected by the general public because of rumors that the polio vaccine has adverse effects, such as sterility in vaccinated children. This was largely due to the lack of public education about vaccination before the implementation of the program. To resolve this issue, health professionals became involved in education campaigns to publicize the safety and benefits of the vaccine

Page 42 /// Voices

by using media such as television advertisements, posters, and pamphlets to combat the rumors and misinformation that arose. Education of the public through effective science communication contributed to the eventual success of the program. According to the World Health Organization, today, 85 percent of the population in Cameroon is now vaccinated against polio, compared with 43 percent in 2001.

SCIENCE ENTERPRISE Commercialization of scientific ideas, particularly in the biotechnology field, creates new opportunities for young scientists with business interests. Young scientists who have professional knowledge and other specialized skills can contribute in the business world and provide innovative solutions to existing and emerging challenges in government organizations, as well as in the private sector. More specifically, consultancy and advisory roles are emerging for young scientists within companies focused on environmental sustainability. For example, draft standards for light-duty (weighing less than 3.5 tons) vehicle emissions were announced by Beijing City Environmental Protection Bureau in March 2013. Light-duty gasoline vehicles, heavy-duty diesel vehicles, and motorcycles must cut nitrogen oxide

For years, polio had been eliminated in west Africa, but it has come back. The first cases were in Guinée Forestière which borders Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cote d’Ivoire. Polio vaccination campaigns by WHO and UNICEF continue to prevent the spread. See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.

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In Brazil, the majority of biofuel is produced from sugarcane. Flexible-fuel vehicles that have the ability to run off of either gasoline or ethanol or a mixture of the two, correspond to 90 percent of all new car sales in the nation. See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.

emissions by 40 percent and particulate matter (PM2.5) simultaneously. China is not the only country that has set limits on emissions and targets for reducing them. Young chemists, biologists, and physicists have a great opportunity to contribute to the development and application of novel off-gas cleaning systems that can remove pollutants or to engineer high-efficiency engines that minimize the use of fuel. Another example where scientists can influence activities in the private sector is the quality control of timber and bark from Portuguese pine. Portuguese pines are screened for the pine wood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus. Proper identification requires the technical knowledge and accuracy associated with a background in science. Timber companies in Portugal rely on the scientists for certification and advice prior to sales within the country and also exports to the international market. Scientists with effective communication skills, biological expertise, and an understanding of regulatory policies have the opportunity to be involved in implementing new technologies and mediating relationships between the timber industry, researchers, and policy makers.

Page 44 /// Voices

SCIENCE POLICY Government policy has a tremendous impact on science research, funding, and health care priorities. Young scientists can have a wide impact when involved in policy making by critically examining data and providing objective advice to governments on both national and global issues. The challenge of developing sustainable alternative energy sources is an area in which government policy formation relies heavily on the accurate portrayal of scientific data. Climate change is arguably the greatest challenge of this generation and has thus sparked global interest in the search for, and production of, renewable

energy worldwide for the past decade. Development of sustainable biofuels is one of the most promising research areas among alternative energy sources. However, several unresolved issues remain: the choice of raw material for biofuel production, the balance between fuel production and food production, and the economic value of biofuel production versus the use of fossil oil. Flexible-fuel vehicles that have the ability to run on either gasoline or ethanol or a mixture of the two, correspond to 90 percent of all new car sales in Brazil. The ethanol is produced from Brazilian sugarcane. Until a few years ago, the harvest process for sugarcane relied on manually

cutting the cane and then burning the field. This process increased the amount of particulate matter in the air (34 μg/m3 to 93 μg/m3) and greenhouse gas emissions of carbon monoxide and methane. Thus, in 2007, the “Protocolo Agroambiental do Setor Sucroalcooleiro Paulista” was implemented to promote machine cutting for the harvest that would decrease air pollution. The feasibility evaluation, performed by government scientists, resulted in a policy that enforced machine cutting for sugarcane harvesting and a plan to gradually substitute the gas vehicles for flexible-fuel vehicles.

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ENSURING SUCCESS IN NONTRADITIONAL PATHS As with any emerging field, the critical question is how to prepare young scientists for these nontraditional roles. Obviously, academic knowledge is vital, but communication skills and the awareness of the contribution of science to the grand challenges of the global community are equally important. For those with a passion for promoting science to a wider audience, the practice and use of effective communication techniques can convey complex scientific ideas to those without a scientific background in a simple and clear manner without technical jargon. When learning science communication, some powerful tools that may be useful include using appropriate analogies to convey abstract scientific ideas, using the appropriate medium for communication, identifying and focusing on the key message you wish to convey, and preparing the communication with the audience’s perspective in mind. Young scientists can develop these skills by participating in social events related to science. For instance, volunteering

Page 46 /// Voices

in nongovernmental organizations, actively engaging with domestic and international scientific societies, liaising with media, and being politically active. Learning effective science communication is not easy. Formal training in science communication is not readily available in the majority of countries. What is worse, it can also be a challenge for young scientists to commit time and money to formal education in fields outside their area of research. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of online, nontraditional, scientific career-training programs that may solve this problem. The use of free Internet resources from reliable providers, such as ASM, can also give young scientists a chance to get a taste of media, business, and policy fields before committing to any formal training. In addition to scientific communication skills, young scientists who want to pursue nontraditional career paths must first prepare their minds. Awareness of the inherent differences in culture between scientists, private organizations, government, and industry is very

important. Cultural differences in terms of priorities and perspectives can lead to miscommunication and relationship strain if scientists do not seek to understand the position of others. For example, the duration of scientific research is quite often longer than the term of a government official and most likely longer than the financial forecast of most nonscience industries. And, while science is driven by the gathering and validation of information, the government and industry often focus on the implementation of strategies or the sale of a commercialized product.

differences between the scientific world and the real world, being able to make an early decision about a career path would greatly benefit the career development of young scientists such as Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral fellows. However, it could be a paradoxical situation for young scientists to make the decision to quit academia while investing so much time into a career in academia. Our suggestion would be to focus on your research but seriously prepare for the possibility of a nontraditional career path.

Difficulties also arise when the goals of private organizations, government, and industry are different from those in the scientific community. Scientists, especially young scientists, would prefer to publish their work in scientific journals rather than industry reports, and without appropriate communication and understanding, solutions proposed by scientists may not be applicable or economically viable for private organizations or industries even if they are scientifically valid. Besides realizing the

THE WAY FORWARD There is no standard formula for success for young scientists interested in nontraditional career paths. The passion to make a difference in the world by using science, however, is necessary to ensure a fulfilling career in whatever field you choose. Although there may be a lack of formal training in communication, business, and policy making designed specifically for scientists, young scientists now have the choice of

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showing the initiative to network with nonscientists in their community, university, or workplace. Although the Internet has provided scientists of this age with a wealth of information and tools to interact with people from distant countries, the power of face-to-face interaction with people from all walks of life is by far the best

skill a young scientist can gain to prepare for a nontraditional career path. When opportunities to engage with people and institutions outside of the scientific community arise, go after them and seek to learn as well as contribute.

See Photography + Art Credit on page 59 for copyright information.

ASM Young Ambassadors of Science are dynamic young leaders, who represent ASM in their home country, facilitating networking, professional development, and collaboration to strengthen science globally. ASM Young Ambassadors of Science mobilize the next generation of scientists to develop innovative approaches to meet the grand challenges in science. To learn more, visit



countries represented among our members


Country Ambassadors


increase in international members since October 2012


Sub-Saharan African membership increase over the past 5 years



In each issue, ASM’s sister societies share their take on the central theme.

The American Chemical Society’s International Center™ - A Tool for Scientific Collaboration On Wednesday, October 9, 2013, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was jointly awarded to three individuals: Dr. Martin Karplus, Dr. Michael Levitt, and Dr. Arieh Warshel. The scientific achievements of these three individuals was unto itself outstanding, but just as amazing was the history and character of international mobility that enabled them to collaborate in the first place. Among them they represent three separate countries of birth, seven national citizenships, but, importantly for chemistry and the world, career journeys that all ended at U.S. universities. The fact that these three individuals converged at the right time from disparate origins is emblematic of the importance that global mobility has on the advancement of science and the careers of individual scientists. Interest in science characterized by international experience is growing, and studies have shown that “global knowledge” can contribute greatly both to individual success and to advancements within a scientific field.

With more than 163,000 members, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is the world’s largest scientific society and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information. ACS is a global professional society at the forefront of the evolving worldwide chemical enterprise and the premier professional home for chemists, chemical engineers, and related professions with more than 25,000 members living abroad and innumerable other members with international interests. ACS is committed to providing solutions and resources for chemists and allied scientists and engineers in the United States and abroad to facilitate a global conversation, inspired by the careers of this year’s Nobel Chemistry Prize winners, as well as countless researchers worldwide focusing in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

GLOBAL CHALLENGES International collaboration is of heightened importance in the 21st century, as global challenges become more pressing. Yet, according to 2011–2012 data from Project Atlas,1 scientists in the United States, in general, have low rates of international mobility. According to Project Atlas, the rate at which students are enrolling at foreign institutions worldwide has doubled over the past 10 years. In the United States alone, foreign student enrollment jumped by 5.7% between 2011 and 2012. Conversely, the rate at which U.S. students are studying abroad is comparatively low. According to the same report, U.S. study-abroad rates increased by only 1.3% between 2011 and 2012, with an average of only 1% of undergraduates engaging in a studyabroad endeavor; only 12% to 13% of those undergraduates being from STEM fields.1 U.S. faculty fare slightly better than their pupils, but, comparatively, their rates are similarly below the rates of their international peers.3 Is there professional value for scientists and engineers to collaborate freely and in great numbers across borders? Certainly, there are

numerous individuals who have tangible scientific interests and collaborations. Among ACS’s membership, a recent 2013 survey showed that about one-third of its total membership community had traveled abroad for work in the past two years.2 This is an encouraging statistic and speaks highly of the increasingly global nature of science, but there is still plenty of room to continue advancing in this regard. While governments, nongovernmental organizations, nonprofits, companies, professional societies, and other top-level actors all play a role in encouraging these global collaborations, ultimately the decision to have a global career is made at the individual level. The role of the top-level actors in these exchanges should be to facilitate and provide assistance where needed, and, in general, to step aside and allow innovation to take its course. And yet, it is essential that scientists of all backgrounds have the opportunity to be proactive in addressing global challenges. The risks we face today—issues with global health, energy, environment, clean water and food, sustainable development, and security—affect us all, indiscriminant of our citizenship,

Footnotes 1. Press-Releases/2012/2012-11-13-Open-Doors-International-Students



national origin, or where we live, work, study, or conduct research. These challenges are altogether best addressed with solutions arising from the researcher-to-researcher interactions. The newly named Nobel Chemistry laureates most likely followed their scientific interests irrespective of national boundaries—although certainly the ease of these transits was facilitated by international structures, networks, and connections.

A PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY’S ROLE The American Chemical Society takes an active approach in addressing the impediments that may keep individuals from an international experience be they informational, economic, or logistical.

scientists internationally and shall be concerned with the worldwide application of chemistry to the needs of humanity. The American Chemical Society is an example of an international organization that is helping to change these trends and by enabling researchers in the STEM community to follow their scientific passions while encouraging international exchange and collaboration in the pursuit of global solutions and discovery. ACS is a U.S.-based scientific organization with global interests, and its Office of International Activities endeavors to catalyze greater scientific mobility by promoting on a global scale the value of international scientific mobility. Some of the ways that ACS contributes to this are through: 1. Scientific conference and meeting opportunities

The American Chemical Society holds as one of its key objects the contributions made by the individual researcher to the global sphere of chemistry. This value is reflected in the Society’s Constitution, Sections II and III of which follows:

2. Soft-skill development and short courses

SEC. 2: To foster the improvement of the qualifications and usefulness of chemists, the SOCIETY shall be concerned with both the profession of chemistry and its practitioners.

5. Information dissemination

SEC 3: To foster the objects specified in this Article, the SOCIETY shall cooperate with Page 52 /// Sharing the Vision

3. Networking opportunities 4. Travel and research funding (scholarships, fellowships, internships)

All of these avenues ensure that members and potential members have access to the resources they need when they are ready themselves to engage in the global chemical enterprise. Of the various ways in which ACS helps to disseminate information, one

SALARIES (IN THOUSANDS) OF CHEMISTS BY CATEGORY, 2012-2013 Salaries dropped only for bachelor’s holders and permanent residents


96 90









stands out, in particular. The ACS International Center™, one of the American Chemical Society’s newest resources, is an online database connecting users to available opportunities for global collaboration (www. The ACS invites scientists to use the ACS International Center™ to facilitate their international exchange by providing resources on the option.







2013 and engineering disciplines (both foreign and U.S.-based) at every level who are interested in going abroad. The ACS International Center™ also offers details on logistics such as travel guidelines, visa requirements, international educational systems, credit transfers, and language needs, making it the essential guide for scientists and engineers looking to study, work, and conduct research overseas.

The site hosts a library of over 600 curated scholarships, internships, and other funding programs available for STEM researchers from all scientific /// ©2014 / American Society for Microbiology / Cultures / Vol 1 / Issue 1 / Page 53


25,000 International ACS members


Domestic ACS members


Briefings to policy makers annually


of ACS members have degrees in Chemistry


countries represented among ACS members

THE ACS INTERNATIONAL CENTER™ AS TOOL FOR SCIENTIFIC COLLABORATION The ACS International Center™ was created in response to a need arising from the ACS membership community. Many members either had interests in gaining international experience or were going to be looking for these experiences soon. At the same time, those organizations that managed the international programs were having difficulty reaching the right audience. An unpublished survey of members and nonmembers investigating what prevented them from gaining these experiences showed that the number one obstacle was a lack of access to information. Individual scientists simply did not know where to start their search and oftentimes just turned to asking peers about what programs they already knew of. Seventy-two percent of respondents reported using wordof-mouth to learn about potential international experiences. But what if your network contained no one that had ever been abroad?

Administered through the Society’s Committee on International Activities and the ACS Office of International Activities, the ACS International Center™ aims to close the gap between the desire for information and available resources on opportunities to get globally involved—through research, summer courses, internships, and much more. The ACS International Center™ seeks to provide the most reliable resource to those in the global scientific community seeking information on international collaboration and exchange by collecting the information found in these channels and collating them in one centralized location. The ACS International Center™ highlights the importance of international collaboration particularly when it comes to helping address global challenges. As U.S.-based scientists become more involved overseas, there is a demand for more information to help guide professional interests and careers toward exchange and research collaboration opportunities. Our aspiration for the Page 54 /// Sharing the Vision

ACS International Center™ is to help prioritize the need for more international scientific mobility among chemists and allied scientists and engineers in the United States and worldwide exemplified in the journeys and success of Dr. Martin Karplus, Dr. Michael Levitt, and Dr. Arieh Warshel, this year’s recipients of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

If you are interested in learning more about the ACS International Center™, you can visit the website at; email the Center at; follow it on Twitter @ACS_IC; or sign up at for upcoming webinar session to hear from individuals from international funding organizations.





Director, ACS Office of International Activities

Manager, ACS Office of International Activities

Senior Associate, Office of International Activities

Bradley Miller, Director, American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of International Activities, has worked for ACS since 1999 developing programs, products, and services to advance chemical sciences through collaborations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. At ACS, he works with ACS committees, technical divisions, local sections, and members to create opportunities for chemistry to address global challenges through in-person and Web-based scientific network development, research collaborations, and educational exchange.

Steve has worked at ACS since 2011 managing international exchange and training opportunities for students, fellows, faculty, and industrial chemical scientists and engineers. Before joining ACS, he served as a project manager for an IUPAC/NSF transnational funding call in polymer chemistry and worked as a research scientist at start-up companies.

Julia has worked at ACS since 2012 and supports international collaborative efforts to extend the Society’s engagements in international education and training and in fostering collaborations. Before joining ACS, she worked as a consultant/translator for local companies in Shanghai, China and was a contributing writer for the Boston Phoenix.



Principle investigator and career scientist Santé Rurale de Maferinyah, Republic of Guinea

“As a professor, director and consultant, I dedicate myself to researching and training health providers in the prevention and management of malaria disease. Malaria is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the Republic of Guinea, and I’ve worked to better understand the disease in order to shape policy and strategies for the control and management of malaria.”

MARIA BONATELLI, 26 Graduate student

Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil

“Super powers? No! You don’t need to be a superhero to save the world. The world can be saved with daily needs. When you do your job well, when you help others, and when you treat others with respect. These good actions influence those around you. Like a “good virus,” these attitudes will spread to people around you. And you know a virus; sooner or later, it will infect the whole world!”

ELLEN JO BARON, 66 Professor Emerita

Los Altos, CA, USA

“As cofounder of the non-profit corporation Diagnostic Microbiology Development Program, I work to improve microbiology laboratory capacity in resource-poor settings. In 2007, I developed a basic microbiology training program which is being used throughout the developing world.” Page 56 /// In Your Words


WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD? Do you have a collaboration off the beaten path? Send us a photo along with a short 100-word description of the work and its impact. Submit your responses to or tweet or Instagram @ASMicrobiology using the hashtag #ASMCultures for a chance to be featured in the next issue!

/// Š2014 / American Society for Microbiology / Cultures / Vol 1 / Issue 1 / Page 57



We want to know what you think. Was there an article you particularly enjoyed? Or something you want to read more about? Maybe, you saw a mistake (hey, we’re human)! Reach out to us at or tweet or Instagram @ASMicrobiology using the hashtag #ASMCultures. Post a picture of yourself reading Cultures and you may even see it in the next issue!

Acknowledgments SARAH ALLIBHOY















Photography + Art Credit Page 6: Courtesy of Jason Rao Page 8: Licensed by istock/pridumala Page 10: © 2006-2009 Official Website of the President of the Republic of Indonesia Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Page 13: Courtesy of Bruce Alberts Page 15: Courtesy of Bruce Alberts Page 18: Purdue Agricultural Communication file photo by Tom Campbell © Purdue University Page 23: “Pakistan Floods” by Abdul Majeed Goraya / IRIN is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Page 24: “Climate smart villages in South Asia” by Climate Change, Agriculture

Page 35: By Rachel Lipstein © Yale University Page 37: By Rachel Lipstein © Yale University Page 40: “Egmont National Park” by David Young is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Page 43: “Polio Vaccination” by Julien Harneis is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Page 45: “Sweet Tooth” by Cookie Flores is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Page 48: “Untitled” by Valentina_Pova is licensed under CC BY 2.0. For more information on reuse of any photographs or art featured in this issue, please contact us at

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Cultures: Volume 1, Issue 1  
Cultures: Volume 1, Issue 1  

What is the role of scientists in meeting today's global challenges?