Annual Reviews publishes first multidisciplinary autonomous systems review journal

The Annual Review of Control, Robotics, and Autonomous Systems, led by Editor Naomi Ehrich Leonard, highlights theoretical and applied research in control and robotics that drives and enriches the engineering of autonomous systems.

Annual Reviews, a nonprofit publisher of scholarly review journals for more than 85 years, announces the publication of the first volume of the Annual Review of Control, Robotics, and Autonomous Systems, its 49th review journal. The new journal is the first of its kind to cover both the broad fields of control and robotics and their fundamental roles in the increasingly important area of autonomous systems.

Topics in the first volume cover control and its connections to game theory, distributed optimization, Kalman filtering, geometric mechanics, privacy, data-driven strategies, and deep learning, together with robotics and its connections to manipulation, materials, mechanisms, planning, decision-making, and synthesis. Applications include artificial touch, soft micro and bio-inspired robotics, minimally invasive medical technologies, rehabilitative robotics, autonomous flight, airspace management, and systems biology.

Tremendous progress across industry and academia has advanced the theory and applications of control, robotics, and autonomous systems. The global robotics market is expected to reach $67 billion by 2025, with significant annual growth rates, according to industry analysis conducted by Boston Consulting Group. Autonomous vehicles are already on the road and in the air, while robots vacuum floors at home. Scientists explore the ocean with fleets of autonomous underwater vehicles. At hospitals, surgeons and engineers are supported by robotics to deliver minimally invasive medical interventions, diagnostics, and drug delivery. Veterans and many others benefit from advanced prosthetics. The comprehensive reviews in the Annual Review of Control, Robotics, and Autonomous Systems provide expert syntheses that cover decades of foundational research and assess the challenges and potential future directions of these fields.

On publishing the inaugural volume, the journal’s Editor, Dr. Naomi Ehrich Leonard, addressed her vision for the journal and the value of review articles in a highly multidisciplinary field:

“The opportunities are enormous for control, robotics, and autonomous systems to help make the world a better place. Search and rescue, environmental monitoring, surgical assistance, and smart grids are just a few high-impact applications. This journal provides a much-needed unifying forum for the richly varied and ever-evolving research that promotes creativity and advances control, robotics, and the engineering of autonomous systems. Researchers and practitioners alike will find the articles of great value in learning and integrating across the many interconnected disciplines that contribute to this fantastically exciting field.”

The control field features innovation, development, and application of methodologies for the design and analysis of autonomous system response to sensory feedback, with the aim of regulating the stability, speed, accuracy, efficiency, reliability, and robustness of autonomous system behavior. The robotics field features innovation, design, analysis, creation, operation, and application of robots from industrial to nano-scale, from the bottom of the ocean, to the inside of the human body, to the surface of Mars, and everywhere in between. To fully cover the research at the nexus of control, robotics, and autonomous systems, the journal’s articles connect to many related fields, including mechanics, optimization, communication, information theory, machine learning, computing, signal processing, human behavioral sciences, and biology.

Dr. Leonard, who is the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University, has been recognized as a MacArthur Fellow. She pursues collaborative, multidisciplinary research in control, dynamics, and robotics with engineers, oceanographers, biologists, and choreographers. She has explored the mechanisms that explain the collective dynamics of animal groups, including killifish, honeybees, caribou, and starlings, and has developed bio-inspired methodologies for control of robot teams. One of Dr. Leonard’s largest projects culminated in a field demonstration in Monterey Bay, California, of an autonomous ocean-observing system that featured a coordinated network of underwater robotic gliders.

The full volume, publishing online May 29, 2018, will be freely available online for an initial preview period.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge to stimulate the progress of science and benefit society. For more than 85 years, Annual Reviews has offered expert review journals which today span 50 titles across the biomedical, life, physical, and social sciences.  Annual Reviews launched Knowable Magazine in 2017, an open access digital magazine to explore the real-world significance of this highly cited scholarship and make it accessible to broad audiences.

Making Realistic 3D Printed Organs to Plan Surgery

What if a surgical model not only could mimic the look and feel of a patient’s organ but also give surgeons quantitative feedback as they use it to practice the procedure? A team of scientists in the McAlpine Research Group at the University of Minnesota have been trying to answer this question, creating a prostate model that accomplishes exactly that.

In their article for the Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry, titled “3D Printed Organ Models for Surgical Applications,” Kaiyan Qiu, Ghazaleh Haghiashtiani, and Michael C. McAlpine from the University of Minnesota, review current materials used in 3D printed patient-specific organ models used in surgical pre-planning, as well as the state-of-the-art materials and techniques that allow them to replicate many kinds of human tissue.

The use of 3D models in medicine and anatomy is not new. Centuries ago, they were fashioned out of clay, wax, wood, glass, plaster, or even ivory, and they served as teaching tools or as illustrations of the mechanisms of disease, without having to resort to human dissection.

More recently, the boom in 3D printing technology has allowed medical professionals to visualize organs that might require surgery. Using data collected with imaging techniques such as CT scans, MRIs, or ultrasounds, these models can be fabricated to the exact specifications of a person’s organ.

This is of vital importance. A recent study has shown that an average of more than 250,000 people die each year in the United States as a result of medical errors, including more than 4,000 “never events” in surgery — events that should never have happened. Although complete elimination of errors is impossible, proper surgical planning and rehearsal can be key to reducing their occurrence. Model organs are quickly becoming invaluable tools to help prepare for surgery, not just allowing doctors to get a better feel for the organ on which they must operate, but also letting them plan the procedure. Recently, a 3D printed model of a patient’s hip joint changed the surgical team’s minds about the best treatment plan and resulted in performing a hip replacement instead of reconstruction of the damaged hip joint.

Current materials used in 3D printing have limitations, however. Compared to 2D slices of MRI or CT scans, 3D hard plastic models have helped increase the accuracy of surgeons by helping them to visualize the organ. They can also help inform the patients about their conditions and show inexperienced surgeons what to expect from the operation. Their main flaw is that they are not pliable enough to allow for surgical rehearsal. In contrast, rubber-like materials can provide a tactile feel closer to the actual organ they are meant to model and allow for cutting and suturing, but their properties do not precisely match those of an actual organ in elasticity, hardness, or color.

“These present the correct anatomy, but they’re incapable of providing quantitative feedback or even accurate tactile sensation,” said Dr. Qiu, a postdoctoral researcher in the McAlpine group and lead author of the article.

To remedy this, the three co-authors and their team have developed silicone-based 3D printing materials, or “inks,” that can be finely tuned to mimic these properties. Using a customized direct-write assembly 3D printer with a fine nozzle, they were able to construct a prostate model whose dimensions were obtained with MRI imaging and whose physical properties were established by mechanical tests on actual patient prostate samples, which informed their inks.

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 11.52.08They were also able to print and integrate electronic sensors onto and within the model that, when connected to a computer, provided quantitative feedback. This capability could enhance surgical precision in an actual procedure, as well as help train surgeons for steadiness, flexibility, and dexterity, just like a high-tech game of “Operation,” where a loud buzz goes off every time the player is too heavy-handed.

“When surgeons practice using different surgical tools, they can know how much force to apply as they get real-time feedback,” said Dr. Qiu. “They can adjust it and use that knowledge in real surgery to avoid damaging tissue.”

They’re not stopping there, setting their sights on more complex 3D models. Some could account for different types of tissue simultaneously printed with different inks. “We could replicate cancerous tissue and healthy tissue within the same model,” says Ms. Haghiashtiani. Another direction is to develop dynamic models, such as a 3D printed heart that can beat like a real one. A third idea is to create models that integrate sensors capable of taking various types of measurements at once, like temperature and multidirectional pressure.

Ultimately, they say, it is possible that their models could replace real organs.

“We are also working on bioprinting, where we can print organs that can replicate biological functions,” said Dr. Qiu.

“If we could get to this point, if we have the technology, you could say ‘why not use this for transplants?’” added Ms. Haghiashtiani.

Read more about prior limitations, current progress, and future perspectives in this important area in their Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry article. 

The Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry, first published in 2008, provides a perspective on the field of analytical chemistry. The journal draws from disciplines as diverse as biology, physics, and engineering, with analytical chemistry as the unifying theme.

 

 

The Edifying Beauty of Geysers

Old Faithful Geyser erupts on a clear winter day in Yellowstone National Park (Credit: Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service. Public domain.)

Geysers are a rare occurrence. There are only about 1,000 of them in the world, half of which are located in the United States’ Yellowstone National Park. They also take different forms, with varying frequencies, sizes, or lengths of eruption. Despite over 200 years of study, they are still poorly understood, but scientists persist in their exploration: geyser processes provide a scale model for the processes of volcanic eruptions, and they could give us clues on how to predict and prepare for such events.

In the 2017 Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Shaul Hurwitz, of the U.S. Geological Survey, and Michael Manga, of the University of California, Berkeley, discuss the current state of the science on geysers. They also delineate the questions that must yet be answered. The article, titled “The Fascinating and Complex Dynamics of Geyser Eruptions,” was highlighted by the U.S. Geological Survey.

They examine the geography and geology of geysers, their chemistry, the dynamics of their eruption. They ask why some erupt continuously and others only from time to time, why some erupt at great heights and others don’t, why some erupt regularly and other unpredictably.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society. To find out how we create our highly cited reviews and stimulate discussion about science, please watch this short video. Journalists and bloggers who require journal access, please visit our Press Center.

Board Member Sandra Faber receives 2017 Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize

Annual Reviews is fortunate to have many scientific luminaries serving on its Board of Directors. One of these is Professor and Astronomer Sandra Faber, who is the Board’s Vice-Chairperson, and Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. We are delighted to announce that today she has won the prestigious Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize for her groundbreaking studies of the structure, dynamics, and evolution of galaxies.

Computer simulation of a galaxy. Credit: Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

Among the key accomplishments of her more than four decades of research is pioneering work on the study of dark matter and its relationship to formation of galaxies, and the demonstration that black holes reside at the heart of most large galaxies. She has also made significant contributions to innovations in telescope technology that have revolutionized modern astronomy.

Sandra, who is Professor Emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Astronomer Emerita of the University of California Observatories believes that “Astronomical knowledge is probably the most important single discipline that you need to know in order to be an informed citizen of earth.”

Please join us in congratulating Professor Sandra Faber on this award celebrating her extraordinary achievements in Astronomy.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society. To find out how we create our highly cited reviews and stimulate discussion about science, please watch this short video. Journalists and bloggers who require journal access, please visit our Press Center.

Treasure trove of expert Public Health content now publicly available – what’s inside?

Today (and every day!) we want to encourage those in the Public Health community and beyond to freely explore the expert content published in the Annual Review of Public Health over the last 37 years. No matter who you are, what you do or where you work, if you have access to the internet then you can now freely read all the articles and read, share and re-use those from the 2017 volume. Support for this initiative to increase openness and transparency in research is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Let’s start our journey by picking a newsworthy and important topic. Take Gun Violence, which is of particular significance within the USA. An initial search reveals that the Annual Review of Public Health has published 35 articles of relevance to this topic.

A first observation is the sheer breadth of topics that are covered: from measures to deter gun violence and keep firearms away from high risk individuals to the effects of pervasive media violence and the emerging practice of legal epidemiology. It’s also immediately clear that the authors are thought leaders in their fields working at leading institutions such as Carnegie Mellon; John Hopkins; UCLA; University of Glasgow; McGill University; the Norwegian Institute of Public Health; Utrecht University and more.

From this starting point, it’s possible to explore the content in greater depth. For example, the article entitled “Cure Violence: a public health model to reduce gun violence” from the Annual Review of Public Health (March 2015) sounds intriguing and it is. Here’s an excerpt:

Cureviolence.org, @CureViolence

“Cure Violence (formerly known as Chicago CeaseFire) seeks to create individual-level and community-level change in communities where it is a norm for young people to carry a gun and—for some—to use a gun to settle various forms of conflict. The Cure Violence (CV) model attempts to stop the transmission of violence in a manner similar to that of public health interventions designed to curtail epidemics or to reduce the impact of harmful behavior such as smoking and overeating. The CV model identifies the individuals most at risk of spreading gun violence, and it intervenes to change their behavior and attitudes. Next, it tries to demonstrate to those individuals, and to the broader community, that there are more acceptable and less harmful ways to resolve personal conflicts and disputes. The CV model does not involve the use of force or the threat of punishment. It presumes that violent behavior—like all behavior—responds to structures, incentives, and norms”.

From this article, we took a detour beyond Annual Reviews and paused for a while to watch this video:

Returning to Annual Reviews, in addition to in-depth writing, multi-media options are available to help visual learners gain a deeper understanding, for example this animated video about patterns of gun violence in the United States.

Many articles also feature clear diagrams, figures, and illustrations that help explain key concepts and all contain links to other Annual Reviews articles that can be initially explored.

We hope this short tour encourages everyone to explore their access to the Annual Review of Public Health. We welcome feedback via Twitter, Facebook or as a comment to this post. Enjoy!

 

The Annual Review of Public Health is now freely available to read, reuse, and share.

We are pleased to announce that the 2017 volume of the Annual Review of Public Health, online today, is published open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license. This influential content is now freely available to read, reuse, and share. Additionally, all 37 back volumes (1980-2016) are now free to read. Support for this initiative to increase openness and transparency in research is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Thanks to the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the public health community will now be able to freely access expert reviews which critically summarize what is known about the most important health problems affecting our populations and gain insight into what can be done to improve collective outcomes,” said the journal’s Editor, Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the Fielding School of Public Health and the Geffen School of Medicine.

He added, “All Annual Review of Public Health articles summarize research findings, draw together and integrate strands of knowledge, assess practical applications, and point to unanswered questions. Expanding the availability of these articles and increasing the dissemination of the actionable information they contain has the potential to accelerate research and the speed at which new findings are assessed and implemented.

The Foundation’s support for the Annual Review of Public Health covers the costs of open access for one year, plus the exploration of sustainable funding mechanisms for future years.

“The opportunity to work with Annual Reviews is an exciting one for the Foundation. Reviews are important contributions to the evidence base for a Culture of Health and it’s important that they reach the widest audience possible,” said Dr. Brian Quinn, Associate Vice President for Research-Evaluation-Learning at the Foundation.

The focus of the open access movement to date has been on primary research papers and data sets; the public benefit of converting high-quality review journals to sustainable open access has yet to be assessed.

“I am confident that converting to open access will significantly benefit readers and researchers in the field of public health and beyond,” said President and Editor-in-Chief of Annual Reviews, Richard Gallagher. “We track downloads, citations, and altmetrics article by article, so we will be able to compare data before and after the switch to open access.”

Annual Reviews is establishing a collective fund to support the publication costs for the journal to sustain long-term open access. Customers who have paid a 2017 subscription for this journal will be asked permission to assign this payment to the collective fund. Our team will be in touch with current online subscribers to discuss this and other options available for those who do not wish to participate which include receiving a credit towards their 2018 subscriptions, selecting another 2017 Annual Review volume or receiving a full refund.

About the Annual Review of Public Health: The Annual Review of Public Health, in publication since 1980, covers significant developments in the field of public health, including key developments in epidemiology and biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, issues related to social environment and behavior, health services, and public health practice and policy. For further information about this post please email us.

Welcoming the Annual Review of Cancer Biology

I’ve been looking forward to this series for a long time, and I’m glad to see the first volume fully published. Browse the table of contents for the Annual Review of Cancer Biology, Volume 1.

The autobiography by Harold Varmus, “How Tumor Virology Evolved into Cancer Biology and Transformed Oncology,” is a wonderful starting place for this series.  As Dr. Varmus tells his story, he introduces us to a field that constantly changing:

The story I will tell here is about the path that led to this new state of affairs. In that sense, this article differs from the kind of intellectual autobiography that commonly opens a volume of an Annual Reviews journal. Those articles, which I have read with pleasure over several decades, instructively track the development of new methods and the discovery of new facts within a single laboratory in the course of a senior scientist’s long career. I intend to provide my perspective on how a field of biological research—represented by this first volume of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology—began, grew, evolved, and prospered: not an impersonal account, but one that discusses my views of changing tides in cancer research more than the ebb and flow of people, ideas, and findings in my own laboratory.

ca1-varmusIt is a thoughtful and interesting history of not only Dr. Varmus’s career but how the field of cancer biology has developed.

Brandon Faubert & Ralph J. DeBerardinis introduced me to new methodologies in their article “Analyzing Tumor Metabolism In Vivo.” Working with live tumors is a new idea for me, and I was amazed at the wealth of information researchers are obtaining.

A comprehensive description of the pathways altered in cancer, the mechanisms by which they are perturbed, and the resulting metabolic vulnerabilities could drastically alter how we understand cancer and how we treat it. A key challenge is to apply systems that reliably report the metabolic features of intact tumors, particularly in patients. Although many current concepts in cancer metabolism derive from observations made in cultured cancer cell lines, research on the metabolic features of living tumors in mice and humans has begun to accelerate. We review some classical concepts in metabolic reprogramming, asking why metabolism is altered in cancer cells (i.e., the benefits of metabolic reprogramming to the cell) and how it is altered (i.e., the mechanisms of metabolic reprogramming). From there, we discuss approaches to investigating the metabolism of intact tumors and new principles in cancer biology arising from these studies.

Last on my reading list is “Resisting Resistance” by Ivana Bozic & Martin A. Nowak because I wanted to know more about the difficulties with targeted therapies and what the latest research looks like.  What I discovered was that I’m going to need to dust off my biology textbooks to refresh my background, and that these therapies can evolve resistance.

Targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and improved chemotherapies are being developed to reduce the suffering and mortality that come from human cancer. Although these approaches, and in particular combinations of them, are expected to succeed eventually to a large degree, they all suffer one obstacle: Populations of replicating cells move away—typically in a high-dimensional space—from any opposing selection pressure they encounter. They evolve resistance. It is possible, however, to develop a precise mathematical understanding of the problem and to design treatment strategies that prevent resistance if possible or manage resistance otherwise.

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

Annual Review of Cancer Biology – now available online

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology, the 47th in our collection of highly cited review journals. It seems appropriate to focus on Cancer Research, a field that is deeply linked to the investigation of central themes in the life sciences, during our 85th year of service to the research community. It is also a natural fit for the interdisciplinary coverage of our portfolio of existing journals.

Co-Editors Dr. Tyler Jacks (Director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT) and Dr. Charles L. Sawyers (Chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering) said:

“Cancer Biology covers a wide range of disciplines that are converging to provide a deep understanding of the cancer cell and the various biological and physiological processes that contribute to tumor initiation and progression. These advances—coupled with the application of an increasing array of powerful technologies—have paved the way for the development of numerous new medicines that are greatly benefiting cancer patients.”

Annual Review of Cancer Biology cover icon

Their introduction to the first volume summarizes the goals of this new publication. The first volume of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology contains more than twenty reviews that address the basic mechanisms of cancer development and the translation to therapeutic strategies today and in the future. The journal scope includes three broad themes to cover a broad spectrum of the rapidly moving cancer biology field: Cancer Cell Biology, Tumorigenesis and Cancer Progression, and Translational Cancer Science.

The first volume also contains a review by Dr. Harold Varmus (Weill Cornell Medical College) entitled How Tumor Virology Evolved into Cancer Biology and Transformed Oncology (published Open Access). Dr. Sawyers expanded, “Cancer research has become deeply linked to investigation of the central themes in the life sciences. Dr. Varmus’s work has been important to the evolution of our interdisciplinary science.”

Tyler Jacks, MIT.

Dr. Jacks is also involved in the Cancer Moonshot, where he serves as the Scientific Panel Co-Chair. Former US Vice-President Joe Biden updated attendees of SXSW on March 12th with progress of the Moonshot. To learn more about Dr. Jacks’ dedication to cancer research, check out his presentation at TEDxCambridge: Tyler Jacks (Life lessons from 34 years of fighting cancer.)

Charles L. Sawyers, MSKCC.

Dr. Sawyers is involved in Stand up to Cancer, a groundbreaking initiative created to accelerate innovative cancer research and quickly provide patients with access to new therapies in the hope of saving lives. He is the co-leader of the Scientific Research Dream Team on Precision Therapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer.

This journal is now available online (March 6th, 2017). If you are a journalist, writer, or blogger who wants access to this and/or other Annual Reviews journals, please email us. The official Press Release is available in our Press Center.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society.

 

Ken Arrow and the Annual Review of Economics

From Sam Gubins, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Annual Reviews

Kenneth Arrow.

It is achingly sad to report the passing of Kenneth Arrow. As described by Michael Weinstein in Monday’s New York Times, Ken Arrow was a brilliant economist, the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics. He was also the founding Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Economics.

At a lunch at the Stanford Faculty Club in April, 2007, I invited Ken to launch an Annual Review in economics. Although Annual Reviews had been publishing journals in the social sciences for several decades, none were in economics. While this publishing house is well known in many disciplines, it was largely unknown among economists. For this reason I was concerned that Ken would be unconvinced of the need for extended reviews written by leading economists, and additionally, that leading economists would not easily be persuaded to write them. Ken quickly dispelled both concerns. He said that he was a regular reader of articles in many Annual Reviews series and understood how valuable they were in synthesizing developments in fields. He had been introduced to them by the sociologist Robert K. Merton and the psychologist Gardner Lindzey. In addition to the social science journals, Ken read articles in several Annual Reviews, including Public Health, Neuroscience, Environment, Ecology, and others. So to my request that he take on the task of serving as inaugural editor, he agreed enthusiastically, inviting Timothy Bresnahan to serve as a Co-Editor.

Most of those he invited to join him on the inaugural editorial committee were unfamiliar with Annual Reviews, yet all agreed to serve.  And most of those invited to write reviews accepted and delivered a manuscript.  Ken was so beloved and revered that the community was eager to join any endeavor of which he was a part.

His colleagues persuaded Ken to write an essay for Volume 1, Some Developments in Economic Theory Since 1940: An Eyewitness Account, which is a personal reflection on his relationship to the development of economic theory over 70 years.

Tim Bresnahan captured the essence of Ken when he wrote, “he was a great man, a great colleague, and a great economist.” We were privileged to have known him.

Photo credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Annual Review of Animal Biosciences, Volume 5

See the full table of contents for the Annual Review of Animal Biosciences, Volume 5.

av5-behrThe autobiography in Volume 5 of the Annual Review of Animal Bioscience, “My Scientific Journey: From an Agrarian Start to an Academic Setting” by Janice M. Bahr, explores her research in reproductive physiology with an emphasis on her relationships with her mentors and students. After completing her PhD, she planned to take a postdoctoral position or attend medical school; however, she learned that the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign was hiring. “Having been raised on a farm and milked enough cows to have a degree in it, I did know a lot about domestic animals.”

The job did come with challenges:

Little was I aware of the challenges of being the first woman hired in the Department of Animal Sciences of 40 men. I was the only female permanent faculty member for about 20 years. Even though I progressed through the academic ranks at an unprecedented speed, becoming an assistant professor in 1974, an associate professor in 1979, and a full professor in 1983, I was paid less as a full professor than the male associate professors in Animal Sciences. I described this experience as swimming upstream in a stream that had no water. Fortunately, Dr. Reginald Gomes, a distinguished reproductive biologist who became head of Animal Sciences in 1985, realized I was significantly underpaid based on my scholarly accomplishments. Women professors receiving a lower salary compared with their male counterparts were not unusual.

Even after many years of reading autobiographies from female scientists, stories like that still surprise me.

I grew up next to a dairy farm in Southwestern Virginia. Upon moving to Northern California, I found the sight of cows grazing with an ocean view rather befuddling.  Reading Dr. W. Barendse’s article “Climate Adaptation of Tropical Cattle” gave me a similar feeling. There are a lot of variables in how “tropical” is defined, and the cattle that live within these regions face a host of challenges that I had never considered:

The issues associated with cattle in the tropics have been known for some time, and few new issues have arisen. For example, Bonsma identified (a) heat, including radiation, temperature, and humidity; (b) feed, including feed quality and the ability to use the feed available; (c) resistance, including to parasites, especially ticks, and to photosensitivity, especially eye cancer and keratosis; and (d) the ability to avoid noxious plants, not only as a feed source but also the physical aspects of thorns and other plant defenses.

I was also intrigued by Dr. Gerald Shurson’s article “The Role of Biofuels Coproducts in Feeding the World Sustainably.”  I especially appreciated the section on the debate over food versus fuel, which opened up an interesting perspective on how biofuels could be competition for feedstock:

Grains, sugar, and oilseeds are the primary feedstocks used to produce biofuels, but they are also valuable commodities in food production. Thus, increased competition for these resources between biofuels, food, and food animal industries has served as the foundation for the food-versus-fuel debate. Although increases in biofuels production are expected to continue in some countries, production limits will likely be imposed for future expansion. Incentives for using alternative feedstocks (e.g., cellulosic materials) to produce biofuels are being implemented to maintain or reduce competition for traditional grains and oilseeds in biofuels and coproduct production.

Comments are open if you’d like to share what you found most interesting in this volume.

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.