Elsewhere in Science, 15 November 2013

Each week, Science publishes a few articles that are likely to be of interest to career-minded readers. But because those articles aren’t featured on Science Careers, our readers could easily overlook them.

To remedy that, every Friday we’re pointing readers toward articles appearing in Science—the print magazine as well as the other Science-family publications (ScienceInsider, ScienceNOW, Science Translational Medicine—Sci. TM—and Science Signaling)—that hold some relevance or nuggets of advice for readers interested in furthering their careers in science. (Please note that while articles appearing in ScienceInsider and ScienceNOW can be read by anyone, articles appearing in Sci. TM and Science may require AAAS membership/Science subscription or a site license.)

• Science has a long, distinguished history of self-experimentation, going back at least to the early 17th century and Sanctorius of Padua, who measured his own secretions. In ScienceNOW last Friday, Gretchen Vogel wrote about Marlene Thielecke, a Ph.D. student at Charité University Medicine in Berlin, who, while studying ways to prevent tungiasis—sand flea—infection in Madagascar, noticed that she was hosting a flea in her foot. She decided to leave it there and watch it develop. Her observations led to a publication in the Elsevier journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease.

• How much did the government shutdown harm science? Overall, wrote David Malakoff in SInsider, it cost the government about $2 billion in lost productivity and helped edge up the nation’s unemployment rate, according to a new government report. But what about science specifically?

 – Many workdays were lost, including about 16,000 at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and about 192,000 at NASA. – “[M]ost Federal government support for new basic research” stopped during the shutdown “due to furloughs of 98 percent of NSF employees, nearly three quarters of the NIH [National Institutes of Health], and two thirds of the CDC.” Some 765 grants that would normally have been issued by NSF in a 2-week period were not issued.

There’s much more, so read Malakoff’s report.  

• According to a survey of members of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Jeffrey Mervis wrote on Monday, federal government sequestration has led to fewer student positions (31% of respondents), a reduction in temporary or part-time staff positions (30% of respnodents), and a decline in postdoctoral fellows (24% of respondents). “Some 22% of respondents said they also have had to reduce the number of permanent staff members.”

• On Tuesday on ScienceInsider, Jocelyn Kaiser wrote about bioRxiv, a new preprint server launched by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory that hopes to do for biology what arXiv did for physics and related fields.

• Later in the week, several ScienceInsider posts reported on various pieces of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate that could affect science funding levels, mostly for the better.

• In News & Analysis, Jon Cohen reported on an AIDS meeting in San Francisco that was provocatively titled, “What Will it Take to Achieve an AIDS-free World?” While it’s much too soon for a victory lap, says Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, an AIDS-free world is ” ‘not an audacious notion. … We have a scientific and public health basis for in fact talking about this.’ ” The article suggests that the principle remaining challenges lie mostly in the realm of public policy and public health—a fact with obvious implications for scientists considering careers helping to eradicate AIDS.

• A Letter from Francis Collins and others from NIH described NIH efforts to diversify the biomedical research workforce.

• In Association Affairs, AAAS President William H. Press asked, “What’s So Special About Science (And How Much Should We Spend on It?)”—and provided some interesting answers.

• In News Focus, Elizabeth Pennisi profiled Richard Lenski, whose 25-year-old experiment in bacterial evolution continues to yield surprises. “It was a study with no defined endpoint, so risky that he didn’t try very hard to get outside funding for it,” Pennisi writes, and “[a]fter 25 years and 58,000 bacterial generations, Lenski’s bacteria are still growing, mutating, and evolving. They are proving as critical to understanding the workings of evolution as classic paleontology studies such as Stephen Jay Gould’s research on the pace of change in mollusks.” Christopher Marx, a microbiologist from Harvard University and a former Lenski postdoc, says that Lenski ” ‘created his own Galápagos Islands.’ ” It’s a great profile, with much to learn for aspiring scientists.

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