If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Reactions: Remembering Mohammed Yahia and defending tenure

October 9, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 33


Letters to the editor

Mohammed Yahia

Please accept our deepest condolences for the loss of Mohammed Yahia, C&EN’s new editor in chief. We join the science journalism community as well as his family and friends in grieving his untimely death.

Many of us at the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing first met Mohammed more than a decade ago, when he volunteered to help our group and the National Association of Science Writers develop the 2011 World Conference of Science Journalists. The conference was initially to be held in Cairo. Organizers eventually relocated it to Doha, Qatar.

Despite the challenges that Mohammed then faced in building his early career as an international science journalist, he worked tirelessly to ensure the meeting’s success and to build relationships among journalists in his region and worldwide.

In his 20s at the time, Mohammed was already making a difference in science communication. After training and then working briefly as a pharmacist, he had shifted to dedicating himself to bringing reliable, accessible information about health and medicine to the public.

This mission mattered to him. And that commitment was a defining feature throughout his career.

Without question, Mohammed was a bright, talented journalist and a natural organizer. These shining qualities naturally combined to aid his individual accomplishments and leadership efforts in our field. His myriad and generous contributions to science writing, including his part in founding the Arab Science Journalists Association, his job as a regional editor for the Middle East and North Africa at SciDev.Net, and his service as president of the World Federation of Science Journalists from 2017 to 2019, reflect his determination and unusual set of skills.

But Mohammed was always people first. He fostered the careers of many young writers from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. He cared passionately about helping others succeed.

We knew Mohammed as one of those inspiring people who truly wanted to make the world a better place. As he moved into his new role at C&EN, he clearly held the potential to do even more good for science journalism, international readers, and the public at large. This is only one of the reasons why his death is such a loss for all of us.

We draw some solace, and hope that others do too, in knowing that his memory and legacy will continue to inspire all who work to advance science journalism locally, regionally, and of course, globally.

Board and staff of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing


The article on tenure in the Sept. 4 issue of C&EN (page 24) raises the important issue that “few industries offer their employees the long-term job security that tenure grants professors. Why should academia be any different?” Education is not an industry!

Like law and medicine, in higher education, tenure is a license to practice that exacts both proven competence and, of equal importance, a level of responsibility. Physicians and attorneys are licensed to practice for life, subject to standards defined by their accrediting agencies, and federal judges are appointed with lifelong tenure.

Full-time academic positions routinely require candidates upon hiring to have advanced degrees in their chosen disciplines. Tenure candidates serve multiyear “internships,” on trial, judged by standards of productivity established by institutions. Finally, their candidacy must be recommended by committees of tenured faculty, usually with tight deadlines.

Most importantly, rather than a paying customer, a professional serves the best interests of a patient in medicine, a client in law, and scholars in the case of a tenured professor.

R. G. “Bob” Landolt
Arlington, Texas


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.