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January 13, 1997

Chancellor Greenwood chosen as president-elect of national science association

By Robert Irion

Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood, a nationally recognized biologist, spokesperson for higher education, and an experienced voice in the arena of national scientific policy, has been chosen by her peers as the next president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Greenwood's one-year term as president-elect will start on February 19, immediately after the association's annual meeting in Seattle. She will become president in 1998, and then will chair the AAAS Board of Directors for one year beginning in 1999. Greenwood is the tenth woman--and the fourth consecutive woman--elected to lead AAAS in its 149-year history.

With 143,000 members and 300 affiliated science and engineering societies, AAAS is the world's largest general science organization. It also publishes the prestigious weekly journal Science.

"I am honored by my election and pleased to serve AAAS in this important role," Greenwood says. "As the broadest-based scientific organization in the country, AAAS plays a very important role in communicating about science funding, public education, and other issues facing our community as we approach the 21st century."

Greenwood identifies two sets of priorities for AAAS during the next several years. In the short term, she says, researchers must advocate for stability and subsequent growth in the national budget for science education and research. "It's critical for scientists to learn about the budget process and to use every opportunity to make it clear, both to legislators and the general public, what science has to offer to this country," Greenwood says. Without such a unified approach, she believes, there's a danger that scientific illiteracy will become the norm in the U.S., leaving the country behind in terms of both the discovery of new knowledge and a citizenry prepared for the next century.

In the longer term, Greenwood envisions AAAS as leading the charge to regain public understanding of science and to encourage more bright young people to pursue scientific careers. "Without strong public support, it becomes more and more difficult to inspire the next generation of scientists," she notes.

"In the 21st century, all of our citizens will need enhanced science, mathematics, and technical skills," Greenwood adds. "We need to work within the association to strengthen science education at all levels of our schools and society, and we need to improve the accountability of the science sector to the American taxpayer. Within the higher education community, we need to reharmonize the disciplines and reconsider both the graduate and the undergraduate curricula in science."

Greenwood will approach these and other issues of national science policy from a unique dual perspective. In July 1996, President Clinton nominated her to a six-year term on the National Science Board, a 24-member panel of leaders from academia and industry that recommends overall policies for promoting basic research and education in the sciences. The U.S. Senate is expected to approve Clinton's nomination of Greenwood and four other candidates early this year.

Greenwood began her tenure as chancellor at UCSC on July 1, 1996, following seven years at UC Davis as dean of graduate studies, with one year also as vice provost for academic outreach. From November 1993 to May 1995, Greenwood took a leave of absence from UC Davis to serve as associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. There, she advised the Clinton administration on issues related to national budgetary priorities and federal investment in fundamental scientific research.

In her own research, Greenwood has focused upon cell biology, genetics, physiology, and nutrition, with a particular emphasis on the genetic causes of obesity. Her research teams have examined the complex interplay among metabolism, development, behavior, and genetics that can lead to obesity. In 1992, she was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of her contributions.

Greenwood received her A.B. in biology from Vassar College, summa cum laude, and her Ph.D. in physiology, developmental biology, and neurosciences from Rockefeller University. She has held faculty positions at Columbia University and Vassar College.

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