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Pilot project helps scientists give their research expertise broader impact

National Science Foundation : 26 August, 2005  (Company News)
The National Science Foundation has named a second round of fellows to its Discovery Corps: a pilot program that is exploring innovative ways for scientists to combine their research expertise with service to society as a whole.
The seven new fellows are Roald Hoffmann, Cornell University; Susan Jackels, Seattle University; Omowunmi Sadik, State University of New York at Binghamton; Laren Tolbert, Georgia Institute of Technology; Anne Bentley, Purdue University; Stephanie Gould, UCLA; and Rachel Morgan Theall, University of Arizona.

This new group will undertake projects that range from intensive chemistry workshops that draw young scientists from across the Middle East, to service-related research in Nicaragua, to the creation of new molecular machines for 'green chemistry.'

Each project will be based in the chemical sciences, says Katharine Covert, program officer for the Discovery Corps, since all the funding for the program, a total of $1,334,000 this year, is being provided by NSF's Division of Chemistry and Office of Multidisciplinary Activities. But, she says, 'the program is left very open to allow applicants to design a project that reflects their own interests and skills.'

Discovery Corps projects can also be tailored to meet the needs of the host organizations, says chemistry division director Arthur B. Ellis, who notes that the program requires each fellow to obtain support and oversight by affiliating with at least one host institution. 'This provides the hosts with an opportunity to move in new directions,' he says,' just as it gives the fellows an opportunity to broaden their horizons.'

To help achieve the latter goal, he adds, the Discovery Corps program offers two types of awards. The 1-year senior fellowships are intended for mid-career scientists who have already accumulated substantial independent research experience, and who are looking to strike out in new directions. The 2-year postdoctoral fellowships are intended for recent Ph.D.s who are seeking alternatives to the traditional postdoctoral experience, in which they would work in the research group of a senior principal investigator. But in both cases, says Ellis, 'the Discovery Corps fellowship program recognizes that expertise in scientific research can give value to our society in many ways.'

NSF has already released a solicitation for the next round of applications to the Discovery Corps fellows; the application deadline is Dec. 2, 2005.
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