Elsewhere in Science, 10 July 2015

Every Friday, Science Careers points to articles in the Science family of publications that are relevant to careers in science and other technical fields. Some of them are accessible to anyone, but access to articles appearing in Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, and Science may require AAAS membership (AAAS is the publisher of Science Careers) or a site license.

► Last week’s issue of Science featured a Q and A with geologist and petroleum consultant Xue Feng upon his release from a Chinese prison. In 2007, “Feng was on a business trip in Beijing when he was abducted from his hotel room. Chinese security personnel charged the Chinese-born U.S. citizen with selling state secrets. … In 2010, Feng was convicted and sentenced to 8 years in prison, including the 3 years he had already spent in detention. He was finally released in April—10 months before his sentence was set to expire—and immediately deported to the United States, where he rejoined his wife and two children in Houston. Feng spoke with Science about his time in prison and what other researchers working abroad might glean from his experiences.”

Now for this week’s news:

► On Monday, Erik Stokstad reported how the tumultuous financial situation in Greece is affecting researchers in the beleaguered country. “The decisive rejection of bailout terms in Greece yesterday has ratcheted up an already tense situation in Europe and left Greek researchers wondering about the fate of hundreds of millions of euros that fund science in their debt-ridden country,” he wrote. “‘I feel horrible,’ says Achilleas Mitsos, an economist and science policy expert at the University of the Aegean, Mytilene, and a former director general for research at the European Commission. ‘I’m really worried about science but I’m worried about my country, more than anything else.’” The future remains uncertain as Greece works to find its way past the current crisis.

►Also on Monday, “Science Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt, a geophysicist who has served as editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals since 2013, … was nominated to stand for election as next president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). If elected, as expected, McNutt would become the first woman to head the U.S. government’s premier science advisory organization, which was founded in 1863,” Marianne Lavelle reported. “McNutt is slated to take the helm at NAS on 1 July 2016. … [She] plans to remain at the helm of the Science journals until she formally takes the NAS post.”

On Wednesday, Lavelle provided an update, writing that McNutt’s nomination “has won praise as a move that will bolster women in the profession while providing knowledgeable leadership in the policy challenges ahead on climate change.” “McNutt noted that NAS has had women in top leadership roles, such as home secretary, and has many women on the council. She said she’s not sure why it has taken so long for a woman to be nominated for the president’s role. ‘But the larger significance will possibly be one less reason for any person, male or female, to argue that women are not as capable as men in the role of scientist,’ she said.”

► Japanese scientists and policy makers are struggling to figure out how to hasten women’s “agonizingly slow progress in academia,” Dennis Normile wrote in this week’s issue of Science. “To increase the participation of women in the academic workforce, the government has set numerical targets for recruiting for academic positions in two successive 5-year basic plans for science and technology adopted since 2006. However, targets were dropped from the draft of the next 5-year plan. The omission has sparked a debate over what is holding women back and the most effective way to boost their participation in academia.”

► In this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life, biochemist Eleftherios P. Diamandis argues that “[g]etting noticed is half the battle” when working to establish an academic career.

Taking the road less traveled

Putting women at the controls at NASA