Research news and notes from the National Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Education
Digital Library (NSDL) Program [Back Issues]

The Whiteboard Report
November 2007, Issue #126



All-Time High For Science Ph.Ds
U.S. institutions awarded 29,854 science and engineering doctorates in 2006, the fourth consecutive year of increase. All-time high numbers of doctoral degrees were awarded in biological sciences, computer sciences, mathematics, chemistry, social sciences, and engineering, according to the NSF’s annual Survey of Earned Doctorates. However, nearly half (45%) of new Ph.Ds who reported citizenship status said they were not American citizens. Most new Ph.Ds were non-citizens in all engineering fields plus computer sciences (65%), mathematics (57%), and physics (58%). More than one-quarter of all Engineering doctorates awarded by U.S. institutions in 2006 went to citizens of China; another 10 percent were given to citizens of India, and 7 percent went to Koreans.

NSDL/NSTA Web Seminar: Computational Biology
Computational Biology is the subject of the fifth web seminar co-sponsored by NSDL and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) this fall. Jeff Krause, staff computational biologist and educator for the Shodor Foundation, has produced award-winning multimedia educational materials on topics in bioinformatics and post-genomic biology. Krause will show how models, simulations, and other tools of computational science can be used in the classroom to help students learn how to solve problems and visualize concepts. The seminar will be held on Tuesday, December 11 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm Eastern time, and is designed for teachers of grades 6 to12. Free pre-registration is required: Computational

Careers In Science: Fieldwork At A Resort
Help Wanted! The Careers in Science Blog, part of NSDL's Expert Voices, seeks people willing to pursue and share their passions, break through gender stereotypes, and travel and study in interesting places. Careers in Science needs personal stories of experts in their fields and how they were drawn to careers in science and science education. Dr. Rob DeSalle, a researcher in genomics, originally wanted to study whales. He says the best piece of advice he got from his thesis advisor was to choose a research subject that lives in a nice place, "because then you get to go there and collect them." Rob chose fruit flies (Drosophila), and it so happened that the most fascinating and diverse examples of the species lived in Hawaii. This ongoing conversation is lead by presenters at the upcoming NSDL/NSTA web seminars (above). Materials from LaSalle's seminar, "Studying Genomes," are available here:

Free Open-Source Data Provider
Researchers at Virginia Tech and Villanova University are offering an open-source OAI (Open Archives Initiative) data provider. Their open-source license allows you to download and use the data provider code so that other repositories can harvest content from your own projects. This implementation follows the OAI PMH 2.0 Protocol and is written in object-oriented PHP5 with a MySQL database backend. It is currently used to export structured syllabus content gathered by the two universities under a joint NSDL project.

Best Practices For Educational Technology
Indiana University's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP) and a private contractor have received a $3.1 million federal grant to examine how new technologies are being used in classrooms and how to prepare teachers to use these tools. The 18-month "Leveraging Educational Technology" project will be the first large-scale investigation of several areas, says Jonathan Plucker, director of CEEP. "For example, the topic of gaming is really hot right now," he said. "People are saying that it would be great if we could find ways to make games better learning tools. Well, is it going to be great? Do we really know?" The answers will be complex, and large-scale studies have the best chance of finding them.



Alice Hagar Curriculum Resource Center
Science textbooks at the Alice Hagar Center at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse are supported by a fine collection of digital resources in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Elementary and middle school teachers from the area combine the textbooks with the Hagar Center’s online resources to enhance their lesson plans. The staff chooses texts that have been named to Science Books & Films’ Best List, or to the National Science Teachers Organization’s list of Outstanding Trade Books. The Hagar Center STEM site was recently added to NSDL’s collection.
SB&F Best List:
NSTA Outstanding Trade Books:

A Window On Science's Deep Web, a project of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), uses a technology called "federated search" to comb through 24 large international English-language science databases, including the national science gateways of 19 nations. Many of the materials accessible through the site are in sources that are not reachable through common search engines. This hidden content, which is sometimes referred to as the "Deep Web," is estimated to be many times larger than the information pool accessible to Yahoo! and Google. WorldWideScience follows the model of, the U.S. interagency science portal that relies on content published by each participating U.S. agency. It was recently added to NSDL's collection.

Puzzles For Science Librarians
Matthew Willmott, MIT’s Library Liason for Physics, is an enthusiastic puzzle-builder. He has created three puzzles for the library’s web site that are geared toward the unique knowledge sets of librarians. Puzzle number three, which is taking entries until December 11, is a series of township-level maps of American coastal communities with mysterious numerical labels beneath them. If you’re an MIT student, a correct answer could win you an Ipod nano; if you’re not, it could still cost you the afternoon. Willmott says he will continue the series next spring.

Strongly Legitimate Words
"Good Word Attacks on Statistical Spam Filters" by Daniel Lowd and Christopher Meek describes a trick spammers use: identifying a list of words considered "strongly legitimate" by spam filters and using those words to mount a "good word attack" on e-mail in-boxes. Here is a sample of good word attacks recently received by the NSDL server:
Farm Patrick Their Sun-drenched Left
Window Aeroplane Alphabet Teeth
Car-race Cycle Feather
Skeleton Button Eraser Umbrella Airforce
Bible Button Map Sun Backpack
Milk Bank Shoes Circus Saddle Radar
Chess Board Necklace Torpedo Butterfly Sandpaper Web Robot Girl
Robot Leather Jacket Clown Car Onion
Live Get Fresh-picked In The And
Desk Cappuccino Fork Chess Board Meat
Staircase Feather Insect Bathtub Milkshake
Bee Treadmill Meat Carpet Airforce
Prison Child Record Cycle Planet

Imagine if this kind of creativity was used for something other than selling sub-prime mortgages.


Published from 2000 to September 2009, NSDL Whiteboard Report Archives provide access to prior issues of the bi-weekly newsletter published by NSDL. To subscribe to current news and information about NSDL, go to the NSDL Community Network site, register as a user, subscribe to and participate in selected features found there. For more information contact Eileen McIlvain