Meanwhile, Over At The National Academies, Some Name Changes

Two items of note over at the National Academies – the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Medicine.

One of them is in that last sentence.  The National Academy of Medicine is new as of July 1st.  It will take over from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) its membership and honorific functions, as well as certain non-study programs.  The IOM, established in 1970, will now function as one of several program units of the National Academies (what has also been called the National Research Council, though using that name seems to be in decline).

This is more than a drive for unity in nomenclature.  By explicitly integrating the study units of the National Academy of Medicine into the larger National Academies study structure, it should be easier for units to work together and to connect people together who might not otherwise be in a position to share information.

While I have not seen official word on this, it would make sense if the National Academies is working toward a similar reorganization for the National Academy of Engineering.  It won’t require as much of a reorganization, as there already exists a Division of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

But the previous paragraph is speculation.

In other Academies news, it has opted to join the 20th century where its leadership is concerned.  The National Academy of Sciences has announced that Marcia McNutt, the current editor-in-chief of Science and former Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), has been nominated to become the Academy’s next President.  McNutt would be the first woman to serve in the position, some 44 years after the organization formerly known as the American Association for the Advancement of Science elected Mina Rees.  (To be fair, the same organization dragged its heels by appointing the first female editor-in-chief of Science as recently as 2013.)

While other nominations could be made, this has – according to the Academy – never been done.  (That AAAS has already announced it will start a search process to replace McNutt would seem to confirm this.)  The balloting would take place in January, and, assuming no other extraordinary occurrences, McNutt would take office next July 1.

This would mark the third time McNutt will serve as the first woman leading a major scientific institution (USGS, Science and the National Academy of Sciences).  Commence throwing metaphorical hats on the ice rink of science.

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