Elsewhere in Science, 27 June 2014

Each week, Science publishes a number of articles that are likely to be of interest to career-minded readers. Because those articles are published on the other Science sites, Science Careers readers could easily overlook them.

To remedy that, every Friday we’re pointing our readers toward articles appearing in Science (the print magazine), online news, Science Translational Medicine (Sci. TM), and Science Signaling—that hold some relevance to careers in science and other technical fields. (Note that articles appearing in Sci. TM, Science Signaling, and Science may require AAAS [the publisher of Science Careers] membership, a Science subscription, or a site license.)

► On the News site on Sunday, Sarah C. P. Williams wrote about a recent study that suggests a possible mechanism for how stress can lead to cardiovascular disease. There’s probably no need to point out the relevance to careers—just utter the word “stress,” and most aspiring scientists will understand—but to make the point explicitly, one of the study populations was medical residents, who share many characteristics with science postdocs. (The other study population was “harassed rodents.”)

In the study, biologist Matthias Nahrendorf of Harvard Medical School in Boston noticed that in medical residents, certain leukocytes were elevated during periods of high stress. So he and his colleagues turned to mice, “tilting their cages, rapidly alternating light with darkness, or regularly switching the mice between isolation and crowded quarters.” They found that in mice, too, those leukocytes were elevated. Ah, postdoc life!

► A Wednesday Shot reveals a new conservation law: conservation of the amount of time it takes to pee. No matter how big an animal is—from small cats to large elephants (starting from a minimum weight of 3 kilograms)—emptying the bladder takes about 21 seconds. What’s more, there’s video.

What’s this got to do with careers in science? Glad you asked. Scientists, too, need something to talk about at cocktail parties. Plus, this information may help you plan experiments.

► Far fewer scientists are expected to attend this year’s International AIDS Conference than in previous years, according to a ScienceInsider by Jon Cohen—about half as many as attended the 2012 meeting in Washington, D.C. Why? The meeting’s Melbourne, Australia, location makes it difficult (and expensive) to get to.

► On Thursday at ScienceInsider, Jeffrey Mervis described a report from the U.K. Royal Society on improving science and mathematics education. Upper-level high school students, the report says, should take far more science and math classes, and a larger proportion of college graduates should go into teaching.

An expansion of science teaching could mean more jobs for postgraduate scientists, and that would be welcome news. How likely is any of this to happen? “There will be pushback from the politicians because we are asking them to relinquish some of their meddling powers,” says Julia Higgins, a professor emeritus of chemical engineering at Imperial College London and former foreign secretary of the Royal Society, quoted in the article. “Education is a political football. So we’re saying we need a Manhattan Project, a man on the moon, or something that will get the political parties to stop batting the thing back and forth. And they won’t like that. But we are doing our best to talk to them, and we have hopes.” We thought so.

► Thursday in ScienceInsider, Martin Enserink reported on “[t]he 2014 Longitude Prize, a new British award aimed at stimulating innovation.” Funded by innovation charity Nesta and the Technology Strategy Board, the €10 million prize will give the awardee 5 years to “create a cost-effective, accurate, rapid and easy-to-use test for bacterial infections that will allow health professionals worldwide to administer the right antibiotics at the right time.” Although Nesta and the Longitude Committee have not finalized the criteria for awarding the money, some say that it is big news for antibiotic researchers.

► In ScienceInsider, Leigh Dayton reported that in Sydney, Australia, some 1000 scientists are protesting pending job losses at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). “Job cuts at CSIRO are the direct result of the government’s decision last month to slash AU$115 million, or 16%, from the organization’s budget over 4 years. As many as 420 staff members, mostly scientists, could be out of work by June 2015, according to a memo circulated to staff members on 14 May by CSIRO chief Megan Clark,” Dayton wrote. “Currently, CSIRO has 5500 positions. The pending cuts could leave the agency with 1000 fewer staff members than last year, and up to 2500 fewer than it had in the 1990s.”

► In a News feature in this week’s Science special issue section “Gas Revolution,” Robert Service profiles Roy Periana, a scientist at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, who has dedicated his career to turning gaseous methane into methanol, cheaply and efficiently. If he succeeds, the breakthrough is likely to change the world. “He’s getting close,” Service wrote.

► In this week’s Science—inside the back cover—is “Brewing a career,” the latest in the Science Careers-produced series Working Life. This week, Trisha Gura interviews protein engineer Jasper Akerboom, who left his job as a research specialist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia to pursue a career as a brewmeister. You can read a longer version of the interview here.

► A Letter in this week’s Science, from Brett Favaro of the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, considered the issue of carbon emission by scientists in the course of their research and suggested adoption of a “carbon code of conduct” for scientists. The key to the code is the three Rs: replace, reduce, and refine. “For scientific activities that require the emission of carbon, researchers should replace with less carbon-intensive activities, reduce the scope of the activity, and refine their research plan to maximize the scientific return for each unit of carbon emitted,” Favaro wrote.

► In AAAS news and notes, published in this week’s Science, Earl Lane noted the 40th anniversary of the AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship program. Since its inception in 1974, the program has trained 620 participants, “and many of them have gone on to distinguished careers in journalism and science communication,” Lane wrote. According to preliminary survey results, 76% of respondents said the fellowship “program was ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important to their success, and 37% said that it completely changed the course of their career.” “Without this fellowship, I swear I’d be selling aluminum siding somewhere in New Jersey,” said Steve Mirsky, columnist and podcast editor for Scientific American, quoted in the article. The article also notes the 10th anniversary of the AAAS Minority Science Writers Internship program for undergraduates.

Top Illustration credit: Robert Neubecker

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