One of science's best known names, Stephen Jay Gould, has been chosen as the next president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Gould, a Harvard University palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist as well as a best-selling author, assumes the post on 18 February, at which time M. R. C. Greenwood, a former associate director of the White House science office and now chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz, will become president. Gould will then succeed her in January 1999.
Gould is best known scientifically for his work in developing the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which holds that evolutionary change occurs in sporadic bursts rather than at a steady, gradual pace. He has also written 15 books on science for general readers, and is expected to emphasize public understanding of science during his tenure.
“I want to make people less scared of science so they won't see it as arcane, monolithic and distant, but as something that is important to their lives,” Gould said in a statement following the announcement of his election last month.
“We have to ask ourselves why so many people have become so afraid of science — it is no more difficult to learn than other things.”