Elsewhere in Science, 16 August 2013

Crab nebula


Every week, Science publishes a few articles 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/Science subscription or a site license.)

• Since 1948, researchers with the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) have been monitoring a group of men and women from Framingham, Massachusetts for cardiovascular disease risks. In the News & Analysis section of Science this week, Jocelyn Kaiser writes about the budget cuts faced by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-sponsored program.

What's the connection to science careers? For one thing, a few people will lose jobs: "In response to this year's cut, FHS plans to lay off 19 of 90 staffers as well as scale back clinical exams and laboratory work," Kaiser writes. But the really important connection to careers is that the cuts threaten to compromise a study that has been going strong for 65 years and has delivered many important insights into cardiovascular disease. For scientists to do their work well, they need steady, adequate funding. When they don't get it, the cost can be high.

• Also in News & Analysis, Jeffrey Mervis writes about the National Science Foundation's (NSF's)  decision to cancel this year's round of funding for political science while keeping the program in place. NSF isn't saying much, but the move "appears to reflect an impasse between NSF's desire to preserve its highly regarded peer-review system and the need to abide by language in a government-wide funding bill that restricts NSF's ability to support research in the discipline," Mervis writes. An amendment to the 2013 spending bill passed in March limits NSF's political science funding to cases "when a project is deemed vital to national security or the country's economic interests."

"The casualties," Mervis writes, "include this year's edition of Duke University's long-running Ralph Bunche Summer Institute for promising minority students considering academic careers in political science. 'We were told this winter we had been recommended for renewal and were waiting for the paperwork when Coburn was passed,' says Paula McClain, a professor of political science and dean of the graduate school at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Then NSF put its $160,000-a-year contribution on hold. 'The students would have started in early June, and in late April I finally decided I couldn't keep people hanging on any longer.' "

• This week's juiciest career-related story is Yudhijit Bhattacharje's engaging look back at the discovery, by Marco Tavani's AGILE research team, of anomalous gamma radiation from the Crab nebula. "For decades, the three pulsars had emitted radiation so steadily that astronomers had come to rely on them as cosmic standards to calibrate their instruments—AGILE included," Bhattacharje writes. "Geminga, being closer, normally shines brighter than the Crab. But in the AGILE map, the Crab blazed brighter and larger than Geminga. The anomaly raised the troubling prospect of a flaw in the telescope's detectors. Tavani wanted to wish it away."

Tavani and his team eventually won awards for the discovery, but Tavani dismissed it when it first appeared in 2007—despite protestations from members of his team—because the observations seemed too weird. " 'For the moment, we put this week of observations in our drawer,' " Tavani told the group. " 'And we do not talk about this to anybody.' "

• Finally, TODAY—16 August—is the deadline for the NextGen VOICES "Work-Life Balance" survey. The best responses will be published in the 4 October issue of Science. You can also read this Science Careers story on the topic.

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