San Francisco bans sale of water bottles in city limits San Francisco bans sale of water bottles in city limits Capitol Connection April 8, 2014 San Francisco continues to live up to its progressive standards—last month the city moved to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles. Starting this October, city funds will no longer be used to buy these bottles. Further restrictions on using water bottles on public city grounds, such as for food trucks and events held outdoors, will be phased in starting in 2016. The legislation states that the city will install water fountains and filling stations in public places to encourage residents to continue drinking water. Benefits and drawbacks of privatizing science Benefits and drawbacks of privatizing science Capitol Connection April 7, 2014 Recently, The New York Times published an interesting article about the increasingly large role that billionaires are playing in paying for scientific research. What are the benefits and drawbacks of this increased privatization of science? Identifying math anxiety in the classroom and at home Identifying math anxiety in the classroom and at home Driving Force April 9, 2014 Racing pulse and sweaty palms—math tests can cause symptoms that are similar to a heart attack, but are in fact the signs of math anxiety. I saw it for the first time last week at a learning center where I tutor kids in chemistry. A young girl walked in and she was nearly paralyzed with fear over her math homework. This form of angst is unlike other forms of anxiety; it has nothing to do with intelligence or working memory, yet it has been defined as a negative affective response to mathematics. Should universities nurture in-house startups? Should universities nurture in-house startups? Driving Force March 24, 2014 What’s the best way for new findings in basic research to be translated into economic growth? For years, the standard model has been for technology transfer offices at universities to offer patent licenses to the highest bidders. A recent report from the Brookings Institute suggests there is a better way: nurturing university startups. Getting more scientists into politics? There’s a PAC for that Getting more scientists into politics? There’s a PAC for that Capitol Connection March 21, 2014 I recently wrote about the importance of getting politicians to think more like scientists and getting more scientists actively involved in politics. It turns out that I’m not alone in thinking this is a good idea. A new group called Franklin’s List is committed to sending STEM professionals to Washington. What if politicians thought like scientists? Capitol Connection March 17, 2014 The scientific community is about to lose one of its major champions in the United States House of Representatives. One of the two physicists in Congress, Rush Holt (D-NJ), has decided not to seek reelection when his term ends. Representative Holt previously worked as assistant director of Princeton’s Plasma Physics Laboratory before becoming a politician; he also beat IBM supercomputer “Watson” on Jeopardy. Holt has been a champion for science during his congressional tenure and continues to speak out about scientific issues. He’s a prime example of how “thinking like a scientist” can be an asset for politicians. FDA considers allowing embryos with three genetic parents Capitol Connection March 27, 2014 Each year, around 4,000 babies are born with inherited mitochondrial diseases in the United States. Problems can include blindness, epilepsy, movement disorders, liver failure, necrotizing brain lesions, and other serious maladies.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now considering whether to allow mitochondria replacement to be used in humans to prevent these diseases. Improving diversity interventions: An empirical approach is not enough Driving Force March 7, 2014 I don’t like to split hairs, especially when I agree that a critical issue deserves attention. What follows, then, should be read as addressing means, not ends. AAAS CEO praises neuroscience initiatives in appropriations testimony Friday, February 28, 2014 The Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) held a hearing on February 27 where AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner gave testimony on the federal government’s role in neuroscience research. Brain research has progressed at an "explosive rate" since Leshner's own days a neurosist. He praised the array of major multi-sector neuroscience initiatives like the European Commission's Human Brain Project, and the U.S. government's Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) project as game changers that will yield countless new understandings about the brain. S&E indicators show shifting trends in global research Capitol Connection March 31, 2014 Industries relying heavily on technology and knowledge accounted for more than a quarter of world’s gross domestic product in 2012, according to the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2014 report. This finding and other trends described in the report highlight the effects of investment, education and innovation in science and technology on the global movement toward knowledge-intensive economies.