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Coming soon: The NSDL Scout Reports
“The Internet Scout Project is proud to announce a new series of reports funded by the National Science Foundation. Part of the National Science Digital Library Project, these reports will cover the best new and newly discovered resources in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. They will include resources for nearly everyone -- kids, researchers, life-long learners, and those teaching in K-12 and higher education. Next week, you will be sent information on how to subscribe and where to find more detailed information about these reports.”
PubMed is one of my favorite databases, but I don't do a lot of medical literature searching. Don't be fooled by the name. PubMed is a premiere database for medical literature, of course, but besides that it also contains:
I have successfully used Pubmed for searches in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, even geoscience, on occasion. It is a terrific database, very clean and well indexed. In fact, I don't know a single database in any subject that is put together better than PubMed. It also contains citations back to the mid-1960s, so it is very deep. Try a search on biodiversity, for instance, or epiphytes, robotics, biodegradation . . . You will be surprised at how much you find and how easily and cleanly you can find it.
It has some very nice search features. The initial screen allows you to do a “plain vanilla” search, but you don't need to stop there. There is a well-written help screen, an excellent tutorial and additionally a well-written FAQ to help you get the most out of searching the database.
The PubMed Journal Browser allows you to look up journal names, MEDLINE abbreviations, or ISSN numbers for journals that are included in the PubMed system.
PubMed Citation Matcher allows users to match their own single or list of citations to PubMed entries, using bibliographic information such as journal, volume, issue, page number, and year. Very handy when you have the citation to an article, but need the actual article title.
The MeSH Browser lets you efficiently explore and use the elegant tree of medical subject headings used to index the articles.
You can, in fact, search by any of the “tags” used in the PubMed indexing. These include those you would expect, such as author, title, etc., but many of which you may not be aware because they do not all display in the default mode. (If you want to see the tags, choose the “Medline” display to see all tags). These tags include author affiliation (Oh, yes! PubMed does indeed have author contact information!), publication type, name of substances listed in an article, and more.
Once you identify the proper MeSH subject term, you can limit your search, if you desire, to only those articles in which it is a “major” term. You can limit by language, by human/non-human research, by gender. You can use elaborate boolean structures for your searching. In fact, if you read the documentation, you will find that you can do with PubMed just about anything you can do with any other database. It is rich, and it is flexible!
But you must be aware of one very important idiosyncrasy. If you choose to use boolean logic in your PubMed search, your connectors (AND, OR, etc.) must be in ALL CAPS. Strange, but true.
If you are looking for information in any subject that impinges in any way on the fields of medicine (and that covers a lot of territory), give this fabulous resource a try.
Growth Continued in 2000 in Graduate Enrollment in Science and Engineering Fields.
Review of Middle School Physical Science Texts.
Global Networks and Local Values: A Comparative Look at Germany and the United States.
Coal Waste Impoundments: Risks, Responses, and Alternatives.
Capitalizing on New Needs and New Opportunities: Government - Industry Partnerships in Biotechnology and Information Technologies.
Genetic Status of Atlantic Salmon in Maine: Interim Report.
Cybersecurity Today and Tomorrow: Pay Now or Pay Later.
The Missouri River Ecosystem: Exploring the Prospects for Recovery.
Predicting Invasions of Nonindigenous Plants and Plant Pests.
The Knowledge Economy and Postsecondary Education 2001 Report.
Public Opinion on Poverty, Income Inequality and Public Policy 1996-2001 Report.
The Liveliest Effusion of Wit and Humor
“. . . it can be argued that scientists have left the field (of humor in science) wide open for others to exploit because they have failed to undertake the critical analysis of humor that they would apply to their research. The present article . . . is an attempt to put the field of scientific humor on a firm footing, or at least to persuade scientists to take humor seriously, for it is a serious matter with important implications for scientific creativity. Audrey Wells , for example, has described the results of research carried out by Vaughan Goddard. He reported that watching a humorous videotape led to higher scores on a creativity test than did watching a videotape of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. It was not reported whether the difference was because the audience for the latter video had fallen asleep.” A lovely article by Jan A. Witkowski, published at the BioMedNet website (free registration required).
Lichens of North America
“Uniquely beautiful but easily overlooked composite life-forms, lichens partner with bacteria or algae in a symbiotic relationship to manufacture food by photosynthesis. Tiny, slow-growing lichens pioneer difficult ecological niches where they serve as sensitive monitors of ecosystem changes. Check out the extraordinary diversity of color, pattern, and form in photographs by Stephen and Sylvia Sharnoff. There's a lot to lichen here.” (From Yahoo's Picks of the Week)
The Alfred Russel Wallace Page
“Alfred Russel Wallace was a naturalist who explored the Amazon, the Malay archipelago, and Indonesia, gathering countless samples of plant and insect life. An evolutionist whose thoughts are sometimes mistakenly assumed to precede those of Darwin, he was also a prodigious author, lecturer, and spiritualist. The material is well organized, extremely legible, and easy to access. The work of a scholar who has researched the works of Wallace for over 20 years, what might have developed into a dry read is, instead, filled with fascinating information about a remarkable individual. A portrait of the scientist emerges, fleshed out with his very human tribulations. There is a section devoted to correcting Wallace misinformation. You will have to search a bit, but Wallace's enthusiastic response to durians is here as well. Rating: 9 out of 10 AD” (From New Scientist Picks)
BioMedia: Learning programs for biology
“A collaboration between teachers, biologists, and filmmakers, this site offers educational materials for use in classrooms. Selections from these products are shown, and it is a tasty, colorful, and well laid-out sampler. Animations are used sparingly, and enhance rather than detract. Space is devoted to the diversity in eye formation, and fans of rotifers will find those whirly creatures featured in another section. There are contests (open to high school students and their instructors)with vaguely sinister organisms, and an archive of mystery quizzes involving forehead mites and other exotic lifeforms. Educators are offered free downloads, movies, and annotated web link sets for class enrichment. Rating: 7 out of 10 AD” (From New Scientist Picks)
BIODIDAC: A Bank of Digital Resources for Teaching Biology
Physiology Educational Research Consortium
“The Physiology Educational Research Consortium (PERC) is a collaborative research and development effort among 13 physiologists and physiology educators representing 12 post-secondary institutions, ranging from community colleges to medical schools. PERC develops materials and techniques that can help students build ‘better mental models of physiological systems’ and, in order to create more productive learning environments, educates teachers on how to incorporate these techniques into a classroom setting. The site offers research papers, abstracts, workshop and course information, and network support for those needing ideas on how to approach a topic or set of topics in physiology. [MG]” (From the Scout Report)
“This searchable site provides ‘background information on every species of whale, dolphin and porpoise known to humankind....’ In addition to the entries for each species, there are FAQs, a glossary, essays on Cetacaen evolution and conservation, and information on whale watching opportunities.” (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
Computerworld Honors Program
“Documenting ‘case studies of a revolution in progress,’ this site pays tribute to the people, institutions and organizations nurturing ‘the global information technology revolution.’ Each year, a committee identifies ‘those organizations whose use of information technology has been especially noteworthy for the originality of its conception, the breadth of its vision, and the significance of its benefit to society.’ Here find archives of symposia and award ceremony pictures and video clips. Searchable.” (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
Alliance to Save Energy (ASE)
“This organization assembles ‘leaders in the public and private sectors in a unified effort to promote a national commitment’ to an efficient, secure energy future. Find here content about energy conservation education, advocacy, and policy formulation, including elementary, middle, and high school lesson plans; sustainable school design; home and business energy check-up tools; and legislative analysis and updates. Many links to other relevant sites are gathered and described. Searchable.” (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
“This site advocates energy efficiency, economic prosperity, and environmental preservation. Staff and experts from universities, laboratories, and the private sector collaborate to analyze technology, legislation, and policy; to publish; and to educate. The site contains extensive links to other sites concerned with energy efficient utilities, vehicles, business practices, and building technologies.” (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
World's Longest Tunnel
Not a single tunnel, this webpage is about tunnels all over the world. Choose your country, it will present a table of data on the road tunnels, subsea tunnels, railroad tunnels and canal tunnels. It will also link you to webpages for the particular tunnels, if available. Additional information and links are provided on tunnel history and current and future tunnel projects.
San Diego's Ocean
“Information on ‘a variety of ocean-related resources for the waters off San Diego,’ including surf cams, marine weather forecasts, tide predictions, whale migrations, seal protection, grunion-hunting, fish and game laws and regulations, ocean maps, and geodetic survey charts. Other resources include lifeguard services, scuba diving guides, underwater parks, aquariums, water quality, and much more. From the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library.” (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
Lost in the Grand Canyon
“In the summer of 1869 a one-armed Civil War veteran, John Wesley Powell, led an epic journey down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. It was the last important exploration within the continental United States. Powell wrote a literary classic about his trip, explored the region for another ten years, studied Native American cultures, and used his position as director of the U.S. Geological Survey to argue against the over development of the West.” This website is about the PBS “American Experience” program of this title. It has biographies of people involved with the Canyon, an interactive map of Powell's journey, a timeline, a fascinating chart of the creation of the canyon, and the “Granite Rapid Run.”
Santorini Decade Volcano, Greece
Everything you ever wanted to know (geologically, at least) about Thera, the volcano that is reputed to be the cause of the collapse of the Minoan civilization. Tom Pfeiffer of Geologisk Institut, Universitet Århus, Denmark, has put together this well done website about this infamous volcano, complete with geologic history, tectonics, and photographs, as well as links to related sites.
“While the majority of earthlings contemplate day-to-day life, the brainiacs at NASA and JPL are hot on the trail for elusive Earth-like exoplanets. This is a serious hunt for another Earth -- entailing light-seeking interferometers, interstellar telescopic wizardry, massive budgets, and a molten core of scientific passion that aims to rejuvenate the sometimes questionable space program. It's pretty heady stuff. But with our deepest fantasies and perhaps future survival at stake, this incredible undertaking could very well launch humanity into a new age (and solar system).” (From Yahoo's Picks of the Week)
VRML Gallery of Electomagnetism
“This gallery of appealing visualisations provides a virtual reality round-up of the work of several researchers in the field of electromagnetism put together by Syracuse University PhD physicist Rob Salgado. Salgado has included representations of the likes of Ampere's law, a line integral, charged points and others. Each VRML production shows the vector, or rather the k- form, of the electromagnetic field. Salgado confesses that he is no authority on the applications of electromagnetism. But, he is a graduate student with a nice idea on how to visualize the electromagnetic field. The underlying layout of the site is very ‘old school web’ but as such means the basic pages load relatively quickly. Of course, to get the full benefit of the site, you need to download a VRML-enabled browser or plug-in. Thankfully, Salgado has provided links to suitable packages for several operating systems, and while some of these are fairly hefty to download, they are generic and will come in useful when visiting other VRML sites. DB” (From New Scientist Picks)
Figure This! Math Challenges for Families
“This colourful site presents maths challenges and brainteasers using cartoon characters to demonstrate the scenarios. Hints can be obtained to help solve the puzzles. The main disadvantage with this site is the graphics-intensive environment, which means that each page takes a long time to load. In fact, the slowness of this site is its downfall. Although there is plenty to investigate, the time it takes to load each screen will probably deter all but the most determined. However, it is possible to print the questions as PDFs, which may overcome this problem. It would also be helpful if the puzzles were listed in order of difficulty, as some questions are suitable for younger children, but some would tax most adults. However, despite these points, with some digging it is possible to find challenges suitable for most of the family. With a bit of work, this site could be wonderful, and a really useful tool, both in the classroom and at home. SC” (From New Scientist Picks)
“This is a really neat JAVA toy. You use some ‘laws’ of physics to build things. In the end, many times the result is almost organic in how it moves. And so, they have a zoo for you to look at. However, the real challenge is in building your own. Read how it works. Explore. I do want to share this from the FAQ. Q: ‘help me! i've been playing with sodaconstructor for hours. i don't work, i don't eat, i don't sleep. am i an addict?’ A: ‘yes’ ” (From Finger Searcher Science Seeker)
Icebergs of Newfoundland and Labrador
“The main page of this site has FAQs about icebergs, including size, shape, movement, and origins. There are also photographs and some interesting facts about icebergs.” (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
Shackleton's Antarctic Odyssey
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure
These two websites focus on the IMAX movie of Shackleton's incredible story of survival in the Antartic.
The second site has a film trailer (I was not able to view it) and e-postcards you can send, as well as a film schedule. The first website is more extensive: “In October and November, NOVA journeyed into ice-choked Antarctic waters and onto the shores of rugged Elephant and South Georgia Islands as we followed in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton. This legendary explorer's 1914-1916 Endurance expedition is one of the greatest survival stories of all time. Now we return to document Shackleton's final trial: the crossing of South Georgia by three of the world's most distinguished mountaineers, Reinhold Messner, Conrad Anker and Stephen Venables. Follow the story as it unfolded in real-time on this Web site, and in a NOVA Giant Screen Film and a NOVA program scheduled for broadcast on March 26, 2002.”
Both sites are well worth the visit, and are to some extent intertwined with each other.
“This site showcases a collection of more than 3,800 images of original manuscripts, broadsides, photographs, prints, and artifacts relating to the Haymarket Affair -- the violent confrontation between Chicago police and labor protesters in 1886. Materials cover the May 4, 1886 meeting and bombing, the trial, the conviction and subsequent appeals of those accused of inciting the bombing, the execution of four of the convicted, and the later pardon of the remaining defendants. The site also has a ‘special presentations’ area, containing the Haymarket Affair chronology and autobiographies of two of the defendants. Viewers can search the site by keyword, or browse by subjects, names, or transcripts and exhibits from the trial. For more information on this topic, viewers can also visit The Dramas of Haymarket web site covered in the May 12, 2000 edition of the Scout Report.” [MG] (From the Scout Report)
African Writing Systems
“The African Writing Systems Web page highlights different forms of writing systems used on the African continent, such as pictographic, alphabetic, and petrographic. Writing systems are defined as ‘philosophical because they assist in synthesizing ideas, thoughts, and deeds through the use of signs, symbols or other pictorial renderings.’ A collaborative effort between Cornell University assistant professor Ayele Bekerie and the university's John Henrik Clarke Africana Library.” (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
The Virtual Inca Trail
“The real Inca Trail is a walking route that leads through the mountains above the Urubamba river, following (at least partly) the course of an old Inca roadway leading to the city of Machu Picchu. The virtual Inca Trail has the following advantages:
On the other hand, my photographs are no substitute for the real thing.” Thus begins a website of breathtaking photographs and interesting narration by Angus McIntyre.
Virtual Museum of Cham Architecture
A website “dedicated to the temples of the rarely-known Kingdom of Champa. Located in southern and central Vietnam, the Kingdom was traditionally founded in A.D. 192. It officially ceased to exist in 1832, although it never really recovered from the military defeat of 1470. It was one of the great Indianised cultures of South-East Asia, something clearly reflected in its architecture.” This site is under construction (notably missing the expected “introduction to the Cham,” but the photographs of the sites are exquisite and fascinating.
Friends and Descendants of Johnson's Island
Johnson's Island was a prisoner of war depot during the American Civil War. This intersting personal website has been put together by D. Bush. It describes the history of Johnson's Island and the use of the site as an experiential learning project in history archaeology. It isn't a large website, but it is a small jewel.
The following items are from Edupage. To subscribe to Edupage: send mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the message: subscribe edupage Anonymous (if your name is Anonymous; otherwise, substitute your own name). To unsubscribe send a message to: email@example.com with the message: unsubscribe edupage. (If you have subscription problems, send mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAP
Australian researchers at the Center for the Mind, a joint venture between the University of Sydney and the Australian National University, are working on rolling out the world's first thinking cap. Spearheaded by esteemed physicist Allan Snyder, the project was inspired by the study of brain functions in autistic children. After determining that some damaged areas in the brains of autistic children were actually areas that allowed healthy people to see the world subjectively, Snyder decided to try and stimulate that condition in another person, using magnets. By deactivating the subjectivity centers of the brain, “we have been able to enhance objectivity,” he said. The research could yield techniques to boost the cleverness of workers and ease the decision-making process. (InformationWeek, 7 January 2002 via Edupage)
OPENCOURSEWARE: SIMPLE IDEA, PROFOUND IMPLICATIONS
MIT's OpenCourseWare (OCW) project is an effort to freely disseminate content for over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate courses over the Web. Anyone in the world can make use of the course materials, but the exact nature of OCW has stirred up confusion. OCW does not offer online degrees, or even enrollable courses; it also lacks the student-faculty interaction critical for learning. Rather, it provides insight, either from faculty or the university itself, into the kind of material needed to achieve an MIT education. Furthermore, MIT's often harried faculty only have 10 years to post all the material online; the learning objects have yet to be rendered reusable; and the site must be designed to offer both individuality and scalability for content development. OCW is meant to counterbalance the increasing privatization of education. Participation “reflects the idea that, as scholars and teachers, we wish to share freely the knowledge we generate through our research and teaching,” according to S. Miyagawa, professor of linguistics at MIT. (Syllabus, January 2002 via Edupage)
RESEARCHERS RECRUIT PC USERS FOR ANTHRAX PROJECT
The Anthrax Research Project has launched a distributed computing project to try to develop a cure for anthrax, using computer-aided molecular analyses. Individuals can download a screen saver program and contribute some of their PC's unused processor cycles to the effort, creating a supercomputer that analyzes billions of molecules, the group said. Members of the group, including Intel, Microsoft, United Devices, the National Foundation for Cancer Research, and Oxford University, promise users that the system is secure and private. The screen saver operates whenever resources are available for computation; results are sent back to a data center run by United Devices. (Reuters, 22 January 2002 via Edupage)
The Dandin Group's Dewayne Hendricks is setting up a wireless network at Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation that could be a model of the kind of network he wants -- one that may have to circumvent FCC regulations on frequency, power, and transmission technology to deliver high-performance broadband. Complaints or blockage attempts by the FCC may be negated if the tribe asserts its Native American sovereignty; more importantly, Hendricks hopes it will put public pressure on the FCC to open up the spectrum. The FCC is concerned that unlicensed access to the full spectrum would give rise to too much transmission interference. Hendricks is convinced that spread spectrum technology will make a common-use spectrum workable, with technologies such as ultrawideband and dense-packet networks shoring things up if spread spectrum comes up short. So far, Hendricks' team has set up wireless connections for Turtle Mountain Community College and a small group of other buildings. Turtle Mountain is one of four reservations whose colleges are being equipped for wireless as part of a $6 million National Science Foundation initiative administered by EDUCAUSE. (Wired, January 2002 via Edupage)
RAISE OUR TECHNOLOGICAL IQ
More Americans believe they are computer literate than they really are, concluded a recent poll by Gallup and the International Technology Education Association. Roughly three-fourths of all respondents said they can understand and use the technology to a “somewhat or great extent.” But Gerard Salinger of the National Science Foundation said the approximation is overestimated and that most people are not as computer capable as they would like to believe. The report calls for better technological education in both schools and the workplace. It recommends that technology content be infused more widely in kindergarten through high school. “We need to include subject matter beyond math and science so that people do not think of technology as science but as fundamental social questions,” insisted Columbia University's provost and dean of faculties, Jonathan Cole, who co-authored the report. (Medill News Service, 18 January 2002 via Edupage)
UNITED STATES URGED TO ADD MORE PROTECTION TO GPS SYSTEMS
The Sept. 11 attacks and the growing threat of wireless hacker intrusions has spurred a homeland security task force to urge the government to designate the Global Positioning System (GPS) as a critical national infrastructure in need of beefed-up protection. In addition to providing precision navigation, the GPS satellite network supplies timing support for a spate of electronic systems, including back-up systems for the Internet, cell phones, financial network encryption, and the electric power grid. The task force, which is backed by The Heritage Foundation, said President Bush should issue a new presidential order that categorizes GPS as a critical infrastructure. It is not hard to jam GPS signals, warned Major Barry Venable of the Pentagon's Space Command. He said, “In the military, we encrypt all of our data, but that is not necessarily happening in the commercial sector.” Former CIA scientist Allen Thomson said satellite defense will be a much more complicated proposition than has been suggested. (Computerworld Online, 24 January 2002 via Edupage)
STANFORD TO TEST A COMPUTERIZED TRANSCRIPTION SYSTEM
Stanford University is taking part in a pilot program to test a system that improves the odds of students with learning disabilities performing well in college. Test results of students who participated in the Liberated Learning Project (LLP) found that they no longer had to take notes at lectures where LLP was used. LLP uses voice-activated software, which immediately translates the instructor's words into print that flashes onto a large screen. Students with or without learning disabilities can get a copy of the lecture online, as can visually impaired students, who can have the notes translated into Braille. Hearing impaired students especially stand to benefit from the system. LLP has been tested at colleges and universities in Canada, Britain, and Australia. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 24 January 2002 via Edupage)
MAKING COMPUTER SCIENCE MORE OPEN TO WOMEN
Jane Margolis of UCLA and Carnegie Mellon University's Allan Fisher propose ways that high schools and colleges can encourage more women to take computer science courses in their new book, “Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing.” The authors contend that society discourages women from taking an interest in computer science as early as childhood, while a prevailing “geek culture” further estranges them. Margolis and Fisher conducted a four-year study of female Carnegie Mellon students as the university retooled its school of computer science, instituting new admissions policies, community groups, and interdisciplinary courses. These programs, along with a “ferocious attention to the quality of student experience,” have yielded positive results, according to the professors. Between 1995 and 2000, the percentage of female computer science majors leapt from just 7 percent to roughly 40 percent. Furthermore, the concluding surveys indicated that female students were no more likely than their male counterparts to leave the major, whereas they were twice as likely to do so in 1995. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 25 January 2002 via Edupage)
DEPT. OF EDUCATION TO GAUGE TECH ROLE IN THE CLASSROOM
Department of Education Secretary Rod Paige called on educators and school boards to support a new push on using technology to enhance the quality of the educational experience. “It's pointless to integrate [computers and online links] if they don't add value to the curriculum,” he said. Paige aired his agency's views at a conference hosted by the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training. He advised that it would be in the best interests of schools to collaborate with private industry. Paige noted that the White House's $860 million education reform bill earmarks $15 million for an effort to learn how education can be improved through technology. However, Roy Pea of Stanford University cautioned that most studies have not yielded any solid conclusions on the effectiveness of technology-enhanced instruction. (Newsbytes, 25 January 2002 via Edupage)
NEWSPAPER DATABASES HAVE BECOME UNRELIABLE AND FRUSTRATING
Academic scholars who rely on newspaper databases for research material have been significantly affected by the Supreme Court's decision in the case of The New York Times Company v. Jonathan Tasini. The court ruled that the rights to publish articles online are separate from other rights, a move that prompted publishers to purge online databases of freelance articles rather than negotiate with writers for permissions. Scholars are unsure how much archival material from the late '70s, '80s, and early '90s has been deleted. Determining what articles are missing can be an arduous and complex undertaking. Princeton University history professor Stanley N. Katz called the publishers' actions “devastating” and added that it severely handicaps research by social scientists and historians. For example, a study of trends in multiple cities can only be practically accomplished electronically; the alternative is to visit each city and plumb through its records, an unaffordable proposition for most researchers. But not all scholars consider the purging to be a bad thing. Bonnie Sue Brennen of the University of Missouri at Columbia said less reliable databases could force lazy students to avoid online short-cuts and use hard copy as a research resource. (Chronicle of Higher Education, 25 January 2002 via Edupage)
All items from the Scout Report are copyright Susan Calcari, 1994-2002. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the Scout Report provided the copyright notice and this paragraph is preserved on all copies. The InterNIC provides information about the Internet to the US research and education community under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation: NCR-9218742. The Government has certain rights in this material.
Blue Web'n is a searchable library of Blue-Ribbon Web sites categorized by grade level, content area, and type. Visit Blue Web'n online at http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/bluewebn/.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this newsletter are those of the participants (authors), and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the National Science Foundation.