Sophie L. Wilkinson wrote an article about adjunct professors in which I was quoted (C&EN, Jan. 6, 2003, page 34). I would just like to comment on continuing adjunct professor problems.
I was rehired for the fall 2003 and spring 2004 semesters at the University of Arizona and taught general and organic chemistry to almost 800 students. Two weeks before the academic year ended, I was once again told that I was not needed for fall 2004. One reason was given to me as purely financial, and another was inadequate student evaluations. Evaluations! That is a joke. I had two people sit in on my classes. One told me that my handwriting was too small and the other remarked that my attendance that day was low. I was also told that I was rehired because "they could not find anyone else."
There was and still is no coordination among faculty who teach the same courses, and tenured faculty could not care less as to what is going on in the undergraduate classrooms. Everyone I spoke with--from other faculty all the way up to the university president--gave me a different story as to why I was chosen to be dropped.
The fate of the adjunct is still sad, and no one seems to care that many of my students sent me cards, letters, e-mails, and even gifts thanking me for being their instructor.
After retiring from a major university after many years, it is disheartening to have been treated in such an insulting manner. I hope and pray it was not due to either age or ethnic prejudice.
Sheldon I. Clare
Putting pop fiction to good use
I do not believe that Michael Crichton's book "Prey" need elicit an immediate defensive posture from those in the nanotechnology field (C&EN, April 12, page 31). After all, our colleagues in nuclear physics have borne the responsibility of producing every monster that ever stomped a city (from giant ants to Godzilla) with good humor. Popular fiction is often the first introduction to science that many young people experience. A book like "Prey" may lead as many young people to study chemistry in the future as the original "Star Trek" spurred kids of my generation to study science.
And as for Crichton's evil nanobots? Well, as of this writing, no one of my acquaintance has been eaten by a raptor, and I still can't get in a transporter instead of an airplane. Let us use the publicity to steer up-and-coming minds into science.
Mary V. O'Connor
Legitimate objections to GM
I take exception to the contents of your editorial "Biotech and Nanotech" and the general disrespectful attitude that the contents displayed, including your use of the term "mindless" toward many of us all over the world who are concerned that genetically modified (GM) food can be a danger to us, our children, and our grandchildren (C&EN, April 12, page 3).
First, you want us to take the word of the U.S., and I presume you mean, at least in part, the Department of Agriculture--the same organization that believes that there is no good scientific basis for testing every cow to ensure that our meat supply is safe and in fact will not allow any company the right to do that testing!
You are to be commended for at least not denying that there have been tests that show that GM products can cause injury to man, other animals, and plants. While I will concede your right to contest the protocol, results, and conclusions of those tests, the fact remains that no tests have been performed on the long-term effects of any GM foods.
Your apologies for past misdeeds of the agbiotech industry provide no assurances or evidence that these same companies today function ethically and truthfully. For example, Monsanto, which has spent millions of dollars in the U.S. fighting any and all labeling legislation, then runs advertisements in Europe in order to win hearts and minds, implying that they are for full labeling disclosure. This is the same Monsanto that takes small dairy farmers into court, or threatens to, because that farmer states his milk does not contain a GM component sold by Monsanto.
In California, there is currently a debate on exposing profitable native rice crops to experimental planting of GM seed. If the term mindless is to be used, it should apply to those who, for the sake of profits, are willing to endanger the whole of humanity.