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Launch of The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center

American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS)
1444 I (Eye) Street NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 628-1500
http://www.aibs.org/

For Immediate Release
20 December 2004

For more information, contact:
Oksana Hlodan, Editor, ActionBioscience.org
941-423-8636
editor@actionbioscience.org

New Center to serve the evolutionary biology community and foster a greater understanding of evolution to the general public, students, and educators

Washington, DC. The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), in Durham, North Carolina, has been launched. The NESCent website is http://www.nescent.org. Established with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the center is a collaboration of Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is providing education and outreach services to NESCent on a sub-award. The National Science Foundation’s press release is available at: http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/newsroom/pr.cfm?ni=15300000000135.

NSF’s goals for NESCent—which is modeled after the highly successful National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), at the University of California, Santa Barbara http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu —are to “…serve the needs of the evolutionary biology community by providing mechanisms to foster synthetic, collaborative, cross-disciplinary studies. It will play a pivotal role in the further unification of the biological sciences as it draws together knowledge from disparate biological fields to increase our general understanding of biological design and function. Finally, the center will play a critical role in organizing and synthesizing evolutionary knowledge that will be useful to policy makers, government agencies, educators and society.” (From the April 2003 NSF program announcement.)

AIBS is now in the process of hiring an education and outreach manager to work at NESCent headquarters (see the Classifieds section of http://www.aibs.org for details). This staff member will facilitate the integration of evolution research at NESCent into the development of pedagogical resources, curricula, and learning materials for diverse audiences across the country, promote a better, broader, deeper understanding of evolution, promulgate public awareness that such an understanding is essential to human well-being, and advance other education and outreach activities. Several educational initiatives are planned, including regular meetings of evolution-education specialists with NESCent scientists, development of educational materials based on NESCent activities, a NESCent exhibit booth, and articles and interviews with NESCent scientists — in both English and Spanish, with accompanying lesson plans — for ActionBioscience.org, AIBS’s free-access education website. AIBS will also publish a major article for lay readers and an “Eye on Education” column about the research and education at NESCent, in the AIBS journal, BioScience, at least once a year, free online.

NESCent contact: Cliff Cunningham, NESCent Director, Duke University, cliff@duke.edu. AIBS contact: Richard O’Grady, AIBS Executive Director, rogrady@aibs.org. For information about ActionBioscience.org, an AIBS education resource, contact the editor, Oksana Hlodan, at editor@actionbioscience.org or ohlodan@aibs.org. For information about other AIBS education initiatives, contact Susan Musante, Education and Outreach Program Manager, at smusante@aibs.org.


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