Changes At The Top Of Several Science Organizations

Over the last month there have been changes at the top of a few national science organizations.

The National Academy of Sciences made it official earlier this month and elected Marcia McNutt to be its first female president.  She was nominated last July and will take office on July 1st of this year.  It marks the third time she will be the first female in a particular science position.  McNutt is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Science Magazine and was the head of the U.S. Geological Survey.  Also of note is that McNutt is the second consecutive geological scientist to become president of the National Academy of Sciences.  It is apparently tradition that the officeholders alternate between the physical and geological sciences.  She will take office from Ralph Cicerone, an atmospheric scientist and former Chancellor of the University of California at Irvine.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) held its annual presidential transition, and Barbara Schaal is the new President of the organization.  She will serve for one year while continuing in her position as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington at St. Louis.  Schaal has also served as a science envoy at the State Department and as a member of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST) under President Obama.

(The election process for the AAAS also has a long lead time.  The new President-elect of the organization, Susan Hockland, was selected in late 2015 and will take over from Schaal next February.  Once a AAAS President completes their one-year term, they become Chair of the Board for the following year.)

There is also a new head for the Italian National Research Council (CNR).  Massimo Inguscio, an optical physicist at the University of Florence, has experience in running scientific organizations, but the CNR is a much larger and more multi-disciplinary institute.  He takes over at a time when Italian scientists are initiating a national discussion over research funding.

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