Discovering A Distant Planet Rather Like Earth Scientists scouring the sky found a planet roughly Earth’s size that could theoretically host liquid water. This was a landmark on the road to discovering habitable planets orbiting stars besides our Sun. (Quintana et al., Science, 18 April)
Estimating an Unhinged Glacier’s Evolution Researchers investigating a particularly unstable member of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the Thwaites Glacier, suggest that early-stage collapse of this glacier has already begun. Their results further reveal that rapid and irreversible collapse of this glacier is likely to begin in the next 200 to 1,000 years, propagating to adjacent areas and undermining much of the ice sheet covering West Antarctica. (Joughin et al., Science, published early online, 12 May)
Building the Avian Tree of Life Scientists conducted a comparative analysis of 48 avian genomes, with results that help to explain why bird genomes are about 70 percent smaller than those of mammals. The scientists also identified specific regions of the birds’ genomes that have been conserved for more than 100 million years, as the animals adapted to similar environments. (Zhang et al., Science, 12 December; News release)
Sampling Comet Water to Know Our Oceans’ Origin Direct measurements of the deuterium-hydrogen ratio in water from the Jupiter Family comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko suggest that asteroids (not comets) were the original reservoir for Earth’s oceans. The European Space Agency’s Rosetta space mission landed its Philae probe on the duck-shaped comet in November of 2014. (Altwegg et al., Science, published early online, 10 December)
Engineering a Computer Chip to Mimic the Brain Researchers designed a computer chip with brain-like wiring and architecture that can perform sophisticated tasks in real-time, while consuming very little energy. The chip paves the way for the design of computer devices suited to tasks conventional computer chips can’t do well. (Merolla et al., Science, 8 August)
Evaluating Wastewater Disposal’s Link to Earthquakes Scientists reported that some of the recent surge in earthquake activity in central Oklahoma potentially resulted from the disposal of wastewater generated during oil and gas extraction processes at a small number of highly active state wells. (Keranen et al., Science, published early online, 3 July; News release)
Uncovering New Capabilities of a Gene Editing Tool Two Science papers revealed the flexibility of a gene-editing tool known as CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), showing that it can be used to screen for and identify genes essential for important cellular processes, and cancer. (Shalem et al. and Wang et al., Science, published early online, 12 December, 2013)
Designing a Drug to Protect Against Marburg Virus A drug given at the onset of disease symptoms saved the lives of monkeys with Marburg virus, a deadly virus closely related to Ebola virus. This study is the first to show protection against Marburg-Angola virus at a late stage of infection. (Geisbert et al., Science Translational Medicine, 20 August)
Discovering How Worms Subvert Plant Attack A type of reactive molecule known to boost plants’ immunity to pathogens might also help some pathogens be more effective, scientists discovered. The reactive oxygen species not only plays a positive role for plants during infection, fending off parasites, but also gives a boost to the parasite invaders. (Siddique et al., Science Signaling, 1 April)
OTHER SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS
Powerful Special Issues: Science published 15 substantive special issues on a range of topics, from “Vanishing Fauna” to “The Aging Brain” to “Parenting.” On 23 May, for example, a special issue on “The Science of Inequality” explored various facets of economic inequality, including how it can make an impression at an early age, even prenatally. Science’s news department contributed 20 pages of news to the special issue that discussed the origin of the 1 percent in prehistory; health inequalities; and, a surprise to many economists, the egalitarian nature of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
On 6 August, Kent Anderson, a past president of the Society for Scholarly Publishing, was named Publisher of the Science family of journals. Among Anderson’s initial endeavors was the launch of AAAS’s first open-access journal, Science Advances. Spanning science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the social sciences, the new digital publication leverages Science’s uniquely broad scope to help speed scientific progress by promoting the rapid communication of current research.
Science in the Classroom, a program launched in October 2013 with support from the National Science Foundation, continued to help students across the country better understand core science concepts. The freely available site, still under development with the help of a high-level advisory team, features specially developed learning exercises and Science research articles annotated by student volunteers.
An award-winning online career-planning tool called myIDP, launched in 2013 at the Science Careers website, was further enhanced with a new printable certificate of completion. Scientists and career advisors developed myIDP as a way to guide trainees through the challenging process of career planning. Currently, the tool has about 68,000 registrants, more than the U.S. population of 63,415 postdoctoral researchers, who increasingly must look beyond academia for rewarding career paths.
Honors we brought in
AAAS’s Office of Publishing, Marketing, and Sales (OPMS) won a MarCom Platinum Award and two MarCom Gold Awards. The MarCom Awards were created by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. AAAS won the Platinum Award for its “Every scientist has a story” booklet, which curated the best of AAAS Member Central’s articles. The “Greatest Innovators in History” T-shirt campaign won a MarCom Gold Award through its hand-drawn sketches showing Leonardo Da Vinci’s flyer, Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine, and Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. OPMS’s launch campaign for AAAS’s new open-access journal, Science Advances, also garnered a Gold with the print ad, “This is the start of something big.”
Honors we gave out
On 2 July, AAAS and the journal Science Translational Medicine honored two researchers with the AAAS Martin and Rose Wachtel Cancer Research Award. The prize was shared by Jeffrey Tyner of the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University and Li Ma of MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. This $25,000 prize recognizes outstanding work by young scientists performing breakthrough cancer research. Tyner leveraged both functional and genomic screening methods to discover regions of the genome that are particularly sensitive to anti-cancer drugs, while Ma uncovered new molecular determinants of breast cancer progression, like the microRNA miR-10b and the enzyme PTEN.
The 2013 AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize was awarded to Travis A. Jarrell, Yi Wang, Scott W. Emmons and colleagues for the report, “The Connectome of a Decision-Making Neural Network,” published in Science on 27 July, 2012. This paper provides a comprehensive reconstruction of the neuronal circuits that influence mating behavior in adult male roundworms. The researchers used a series of 5,000 electron micrographs to reconstruct every neuron and synapse, including chemical synapses and gap junctions, in a male roundworm’s tail ganglia. The resulting network helps to explain how sensory neurons interpret signals from the environment and translate them into mating behavior.