Featured Interviews> September 2010

Current Author Commentaries

In these interviews, scientists talk to ScienceWatch.com and offer behind-the-scenes insights into their research: reflections on what led them to their chosen field, the motivation driving their work in a given direction, and the challenges encountered along on the way. These authors also offer their views on why their work has wielded particular influence in the scientific community, as indicated by Clarivate Analytics citation data, and on how research in their respective fields has progressed over time and will likely unfold in the future.

Featured Interviews for September 2010


Andrew Feinberg

Andrew Feinberg from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA, discusses his 2007 NATURE paper, "Phenotypic plasticity and the epigenetics of human disease." This paper has been named as a Current Classic (Multidisciplinary) paper for April 2010.
Listen: MP3 ¦ WMA.


Katherine Flegal

"We’re not counting the number of different deaths in different categories, we’re predicting the number of deaths that would occur if you were in the different categories. So of people in this overweight category, how do their deaths predict if they’re overweight, compared to deaths we would predict if they were normal weight. And we predicted there would be fewer deaths than we’d expect relative to these lower weights. We got a lot of publicity for this..."
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Douglas D. Heckathorn

"This paper further improves my sampling method, Respondent-Driven Sampling (RDS), which has become the method of choice for studies of geographically dispersed hard-to-reach populations. Studying these populations is challenging because they lack a sampling frame (i.e., an exhaustive list of population members), and they are usually small relative to the general population with social networks which are difficult for strangers to penetrate. Examples include groups such as drug users, prostitutes..."
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Anke Hoeffler

Anke Hoeffler is from the Centre for the Study of African Economies, Department of Economics, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. In this podcast she discusses her 2004 OXFORD ECON PAP-NEW SER paper, "Greed and grievance in civil war," which has been named a Current Classic (Economics & Buinsess) paper for February 2010.
Listen: MP3 ¦ WMA.


John P. Huelsenbeck

John P. Huelsenbeck is a Professor at the Department of Integrative Biology at the Center for Theoretical Evolutionary Genomics, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA. His 2003 BIOINFORMATICS paper, "MrBayes 3: Bayesian phylogenetic inference under mixed models," has been named a Current Classic (Computer Science) paper for February 2010.
Listen: MP3 ¦ WMA.

Martin Maiden

"The puzzling thing about meningococcus is that it is ubiquitous; most people carry many meningococci harmlessly. These papers show the extent of diversity in meningococcal populations, but also that this diversity is structured. There are 13 meningococcal serogroups, five of which are responsible for most cases of disease. These correspond to different capsular polysaccharides, which contributes towards virulence. Beneath that primary distinction, gene sequencing has elucidated a huge amount..."
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Jeffrey A. Martin

"What we were really getting down to in this paper is the idea that managers matter. Managers can be better or worse at doing this stuff. Two firms can have the same capabilities to do acquisitions to prepare for an uncertain future, but the firm that has the better managers will do a better job. History has born this out. Most firms, for instance, don’t do acquisition very well. Most firms see their stock value go down after they acquire another firm – like Ford..."
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Andre Nel

"Our paper is highly cited because it considers the interdisciplinary interactions that are needed for the safe implementation of nanotechnology in humans and the environment. Not only is the topic of nanomaterial safety of great importance to the global economy, industry, regulatory agencies, scientists, and the public at large, but it also introduces a level of complexity that requires a new level of thinking. Our paper has contributed to the developing insight into this area because of our past experience in air pollution..."
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Douglas J. Parker

"The significance of the paper is to describe a set of measurements which are now being used by scientists around the world to answer questions about the climate of West Africa. This is a part of the world where rain-fed agriculture is critical to the livelihoods and survival of millions of people, and yet it is a region where our weather and climate prediction models are fundamentally unreliable. We have made the first set of upper-air measurements of sufficient quality to measure the water budget in the atmosphere over a river catchment in Africa, and thereby to begin to test improve..."
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Mark J. Reid

"This paper collected new results of extremely accurate distance measurements to regions of star formation across the Milky Way. The measurements came from the (USA) Very Long Baseline Array and (Japanese) VERA radio telescopes. We used the "gold standard" of astronomical distance techniques called trigonometric parallax (essentially triangulation using the Earth's orbit as one leg of a triangle). For the first time, we were able to locate a substantial number of sources with reliable distances..."
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Stanley D. Rice

"...because Exxon Valdez is the most studied spill in history, there are lessons learned that can be applied to the gulf. Fauna that live or breath at the surface will be grossly affected (Exxon Vadlez is not new with this observation, but it has excellent documentation- 500,000 birds, 5000 sea otters for example died in the first weeks of the spill). Oil will persist a long time if it gets into anoxic sediments, yet be toxic and damaging if perturbed. Embryos are easily affected by low concentrations of toxic chemicals. Embryos..."
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J. Murray Roberts

"This was the first paper that tried to draw together biological and geological work on cold-water coral ecosystems. From the mid-1990s work on the cold-water corals of the deep ocean has increased exponentially. There have been dramatic discoveries of deep-sea coral reefs and giant coral carbonate mounds. In our paper we tried to review this information and summarise exciting new work on environmental records of ocean climate locked away in the skeletal remains of these corals..."
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Kári Stefánsson on deCODE’s Road Back; Science Watch Newsletter Interview

Kári Stefánsson

"Kari Stefansson, founder of deCODE genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland, discusses his firm’s recent emergence from bankruptcy and its current concentration in DNA-based diagnostics, including tests for prostate-specific antigen and breast cancer. He also comments on deCODE’s highly cited papers on type 2 diabetes, as well as its findings on genetic diversity—specifically, the relationship between reproductive success and recombination..."
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Bridget Stuchbury

"Billions of individual songbirds leave their breeding grounds in North America and Europe and fly thousands of kilometers to spend the winter in tropical countries, creating one of the most spectacular animal migrations in the world. We were the first in the world to track individual songbirds to their tropical wintering sites and back; previous tracking devices (like GPS or satellite tags) were too heavy for small birds. Until our study, researchers..."
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"Seismic tomography is a new and powerful technique to determine the 3-D structure of the Earth’s interior, and it is just like a lamp to enlighten a dark room. In the last 10-15 years I and my coworkers have been using my seismic tomography methods to study detailed 3-D Earth structures in various scales, from seismogenic fault zones, large earthquake source areas, active volcanoes, to the Asian continent, and even the whole Earth’s..."
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