Table of Contents
Earth Sciences Education Engineering Environmental Issues Health and Medicine New at the National Academies Open Meetings Policy and Research Issues Transportation

Earth Sciences

Forest Management Important for Water Supplies

Modifications to forests’ structure and composition -- whether caused by manmade or naturally occurring phenomena, such as wildfires, insects, climate change effects, road networks, or chemicals like fertilizers and fire retardants -- can alter water quantity and quality, says a new report from the National Research Council. More research should be pursued to address critical water issues, and watershed councils and citizen groups should work with agencies to better protect and sustain water resources.

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Global Challenges and Directions for Agricultural Biotechnology: Workshop Report

Many developing countries are exploring whether biotechnology has a role in addressing national issues such as food security and environmental remediation. Some policy leaders worry that their governments are not prepared to take control of this evolving technology and that introducing it into society would be a risky act. Others have suggested that taking no action carries more risk, given the dire need to produce more food. Global Challenges and Directions for Agricultural Biotechnology: Mapping the Course, organized by the National Research Council, focused on the potential applications of biotechnology and what developing countries might consider as they contemplate adopting biotechnology.

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Professional Science Master's Degree Programs Should be Expanded

U.S. policymakers, universities, and employers should work together to speed the development of professionally oriented master's degree programs in the natural sciences, says a new report from the National Research Council. Graduates of these programs -- which build both scientific knowledge and practical workplace skills -- can contribute significantly to the nation's competitiveness, the report says.

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NAE Identifies Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering

Encouraging young people to make a difference in the world through an engineering career is more likely to attract them to the field than emphasizing the challenge of math and science skills, says a new report from the National Academy of Engineering. The report offers tested messages that reposition engineering as a satisfying profession that involves creative ideas and teamwork. It also recommends that the engineering community begin using these messages in a coordinated communications strategy.

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Environmental Issues

With Government and Industry Support, Hydrogen Vehicles Could Reduce U.S. Oil Use and Emissions

A transition to hydrogen vehicles could greatly reduce U.S. oil dependence and carbon dioxide emissions, but challenges remain, including high costs and a lack of infrastructure, says a new report from the National Research Council. These obstacles could be overcome, however, with continued support for research and development from the automotive industry and the federal government.

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Health and Medicine

Assessment of the Role of Intermittent Preventive Treatment for Malaria in Infants: Letter Report

Intermittent Preventive Treatment for Malaria in Infants (IPTi) is a new strategy which aims to combine the short-term protection of chemoprophylaxis with the long-term protection of naturally acquired immunity. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) conduct an independent assessment (with emphasis on the work done by the IPTi consortium) of the utility, safety, and operational aspects of IPTi to provide a comprehensive, and transparent analysis. In order to fully examine the issue of IPTi, the IOM convened a committee to evaluate the evidence concerning Intermittent Preventive Treatment for Malaria in Infants using sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPTi-SP). Overall, the Committee finds that the evidence presented supports the case for continued investment in IPTi-SP as a promising public health strategy to diminish the morbidity from malaria infections among infants at high risk.

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Challenges and Successes in Reducing Health Disparities: Workshop Summary

In early 2007, the Institute of Medicine convened the Roundtable on Health Disparities to increase the visibility of racial and ethnic health disparities as a national problem, to further the development of programs and strategies to reduce disparities, to foster the emergence of leadership on this issue, and to track promising activities and developments in health care that could lead to dramatically reducing or eliminating disparities.

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New at the National Academies

New NAP Publications Online

To review all recent National Academies publications, visit The National Academies Press website.

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The Sounds of Science Podcast from the National Academies

This informative and entertaining weekly series of audio podcasts puts the spotlight on the high-impact work of the National Academies. Focusing on a wide range of critical issues in science, engineering, and medicine, these short 10-minute episodes are a quick and easy way to tune in to all the key findings and important recommendations made by the Academies.

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Open Meetings

EVENT: 4th Meeting of the Committee on State Voter Registration Databases

This workshop (the fourth in a series of eight) is designed to provide state and local election officials with an opportunity for interactive dialogue, regarding current implementation and future directions for HAVA-mandated state-wide voter registration databases, with the National Academies’ Committee on State Voter Registration Databases. The sessions will focus on current and future policy issues and technical implementation decisions regarding interstate voter registration data sharing and data matching efforts.The workshop will take place on Wednesday, July 30th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Kansas City, MO.For more information, please contact Morgan Motto at

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EVENT: America's Energy Future: Technology Opportunities, Risks, and Tradeoffs

This study will critically evaluate the current and projected state of development of energy supply, storage, and end use technologies. The study will not make policy recommendations, but it will analyze where appropriate the role of public policy in determining the demand and cost for energy and the configuration of the nation’s energy systems. The committee will develop a “reference scenario” that reflects a projection of current economic, technology cost and performance, and policy parameters into the future. The next open meeting will take place at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, CA from September 18-19. Please contact LaNita Jones at or by calling 202-334-3344 if you would like to attend the public sessions.

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EVENT: Engineering, Social Justice, and Sustainable Community Development

The NAE Center for Engineering, Ethics, and Society will convene a workshop on October 2-3, 2008, in Washington, D.C. The workshop will explore 1) engineering and special vulnerabilities that may arise from conflicts, crises, or lack of development; 2) the interface of engineering, ethics, and practice; and 3) implications for engineering education. The workshop will also feature discussions on early career perspectives, how engineering might better address complex choices and cultural conflicts, and potential action items. The full program and registration information for this free, public event are available online.

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EVENT: Learning What Works:Infrastructure Required to Learn Which Care is Best

Assessments of the quality and efficiency of the nation’s healthcare delivery system find its performance far too often inconsistent, expensive, inequitable, and sometimes harmful--certainly delivering overall value far below what should be expected. The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine is sponsoring a series of workshops to explore issues, strategies and opportunities for the development of a learning healthcare system—one structured to ensure that each patient receives the right care at the right time. The 7th public meeting will take place from July 30-31 at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, DC.

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Policy and Research Issues

New York City to Implement New Poverty Measure

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City has announced the implementation of an alternative to the current poverty measure. It will be the first time any local government has reformulated the nation's 40-year-old standard for determining poverty levels, which is based primarily on food expenditures. The initiative is based on recommendations from the National Research Council report Measuring Poverty: A New Approach, released in 1995. The report recommends revising the poverty measure and poverty thresholds to take into account a variety of factors that are not currently accounted for. The New York City measure closely follows the recommendations in the Research Council's report.

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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the Division on Earth and Life Studies (DELS) have released the pre-publication version of TRB Special Report 290, The Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation, which explores the consequences of climate change for U.S. transportation infrastructure and operations. The report provides an overview of the scientific consensus on the current and future climate changes of particular relevance to U.S. transportation, including the limits of present scientific understanding as to their precise timing, magnitude, and geographic location; identifies potential impacts on U.S. transportation and adaptation options; and offers recommendations for both research and actions that can be taken to prepare for climate change.

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Transit Systems Are Not Well Integrated Into Local Emergency Plans

Millions of people each day rely on transit, yet few urban area emergency plans have focused on its role in an emergency evacuation, says a new report from the National Research Council. Transit systems could play a significant role in transporting carless and special needs populations in times of emergency, but these groups are inadequately addressed in most local emergency plans.

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