Elsewhere in Science, 30 August 2013

Every 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 may be read by anyone, articles appearing in Sci. TM and Science may require AAAS membership/ subscription or a site license.)

• In an editorial, Science Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt bemoans the pace of exploration of ocean ecosystems, which she says is “woefully inadequate” to establish a first-order baseline against which rapid changes can be measured. She calls, in particular, for the expanded use of autonomous platforms, telepresence—i.e., allowing scientists to participate in research cruises via satellite links—and crowd-sourcing (“citizen science”) approaches. Despite her focus on nonhuman and nonprofessional resources, such an expansion will require new scientists with new skills to engage with technology and the public.

• ScienceInsider reports that only two competitors entered the $10 million Archon Genomics XPRIZE challenge, causing the foundation to cancel the contest.

• In other funding news, the National Institutes of Health announced a new $17 million program to investigate whether extracellular RNA plays an important signaling role in people, and whether it can be harnessed to diagnose and treat human diseases, Mitch Leslie reports in News & Analysis.

• In News Focus, Jeffrey Mervis tells the story of biologist Steve Robinson, a former college professor who left his lab to become a schoolteacher, and later became a high-level White House adviser. Robinson recently left his White House position to return to teaching high school students.

• In both a Perspective and a Research Article, the connection between poverty and cognitive performance is examined. The authors conclude that poverty has a direct negative effect on cognition, which tends to perpetuate the cycle of poverty. The connection to careers in the sciences may seem oblique, but here it is: The findings suggest that poverty is a direct impediment to performance at school, and thus to entering cognitively demanding careers.

• In Sci. TM’s cover story, “Curing Consortium Fatigue,” Magdalini Papadaki and Gigi Hirsch, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, call for the creation of a new scientific discipline focused on the science of collaboration. (While you’re at it, see Cassandra Willyard’s story this week in Science Careers about the benefits and perils of cross-disciplinary collaboration.)

• Also in Sci. TM, in “Building a Life Sciences Innovation Ecosystem,” scientists from the University of California Berkeley’s California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences have the audacity to suggest that funding for academic science in the United States is “generous”, and that “what the government gets in return may not be proportional to its investment.” They go on to explore how to improve the situation by creating an environment in which commercialization of new technologies can thrive:

Many universities, including our own, are exploring innovative ways of interfacing with the private sector to reinvigorate themselves and the floundering life science industry and to improve the quality of health care delivery. We need a dialogue among these academic scientists to know where best to invest scarce funds and to gain insights into predicting how quickly we might see a return on investment. We offer our experience over the last 8 years in a novel University of California institute as our contribution to this dialogue.

• Finally, because we’re so focused on the people doing science in the trenches, especially graduate students and postdocs, we’re especially fond of the Labor Day holiday. So, we hope those of you who work hard throughout the year to advance human knowledge, for lower pay and less recognition than you deserve, enjoy a relaxing, well-earned holiday. We intend to do just that—so don’t expect anything new at Science Careers on Monday. We’ll be sitting back and enjoying the last days of summer.

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