Elsewhere in Science, 13 February 2015

Disclosure

Credit: Jared Rodriguez/Truthout/Flickr

Each week, the Science family of publications publishes articles that are likely to be of interest to Science Careers readers. So we're pointing our readers toward articles relevant to careers in science and other technical fields. Many of the articles appearing in Science Translational MedicineScience Signaling, and Science require AAAS membership (AAAS is the publisher of Science Careers) or a site license.

►This year’s AAAS meeting is being held in sunny San Jose, California, from 12 to 16 February. The meeting features panels on everything from communicating science to infectious diseases. You can check out the coverage at Science Careers and on Science’s News site

► How do you help early-career scientists get a faster start on their careers? Give grants to late-career scientists! That, anyway, is a proposal that the National Institutes of Health is seeking feedback on. The idea, apparently, is to encourage older scientists to retire by giving them grants to help them hand off their labs to protégés. Hard as it is to imagine, some people think it's a dumb idea.

► “A panel of the National Research Council (NRC) is calling for federal funding of research into two controversial areas of climate science,” wrote Eli Kintisch Tuesday at ScienceInsider: “removing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and albedo modification (AM), or shading the planet from the sun by tinkering with the sky.” 

► We cross-posted this ScienceInsider story earlier this week: A new simulation finds that just a little bias in reviewing grant applications can have a big effect on funding. Viviane Callier wrote about it Tuesday.

► Here’s an odd story: On Tuesday at ScienceInsider, Ahn Mi-Young and Dennis Normile wrote that, according to a Korean newspaper, notorious fraudster Woo Suk Hwang (who “claimed to have created embryonic stem cells matched to human patients”) is joining forces with U.S.-based stem-cell pioneer Shoukhrat Mitalipov (who actually created them) in a research program to be funded by a Chinese regenerative medicine company.

► Later that afternoon, Normile reported that “RIKEN, the network of nationally supported Japanese labs, today handed out disciplinary measures for those involved in the STAP [stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency] stem cell scandal who remain under its authority.” 

Masatoshi Takeichi, former director of RIKEN’s Center for Developmental Biology (CDB), was given a reprimand but remains a CDB adviser. He will give back 10% of 3 months’ salary. Hitoshi Niwa, a co-author of the STAP cell paper, also received a written reprimand but also will remain at RIKEN. “Even though she has already resigned, RIKEN judged [STAP cell paper lead author Haruko] Obokata’s actions worthy of dismissal for cause,” Normile wrote. “For his role in the affair, Teruhiko Wakayama, a co-author who left RIKEN for a position at the University of Yamanashi before the papers were published, should have been suspended for cause, according to RIKEN. RIKEN also revoked his ongoing appointment as an associate researcher.”

► In 2012, six scientists were convicted of manslaughter for being too reassuring in advice they gave ahead of the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake. Later—last November—they were acquitted on appeal by a three-judge panel. “In a 389-page document deposited in court on Friday and since released to the public,” Edwin Cartlidge wrote Tuesday at ScienceInsider, “the trio of magistrates attack the convictions on multiple grounds and state that no blame can be laid on the scientists for the risk analysis they carried out. … Other scientists, however, accuse the judges of failing to understand modern seismology.”

► Can transparency be bad? In a Wednesday ScienceInsider and in this week’s issue of Science, Keith Floor reported that U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit group that is opposed to genetically modified products, “filed a flurry of freedom of information requests late last month with at least four U.S. universities, asking administrators to turn over any correspondence between a dozen academic researchers and a handful of agricultural companies, trade groups, and PR firms.” The group “has targeted only researchers who have written articles posted on GMO Answers, a website backed by food and biotechnology firms, and work in states with laws that require public institutions to share many internal documents on request, Executive Director Gary Ruskin told Science.”  

Today, ScienceInsider learned that some of the researchers have no connection to the website.  The updated post is here.

And in a Friday ScienceInsider post, Puneet Kollipara presented details of a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists that “documents numerous examples of university researchers becoming engaged in often lengthy and complex battles with outside groups requesting internal records.” The report, presented at the 2015 AAAS meeting in San Jose, California, underscores “the need for states to revisit how the laws are implemented and for universities to clarify how they balance privacy, transparency, and academic freedom in responding to requests for e-mails, letters, and other documents.”

► Geoscientist Hugues Lantuit, who is featured in this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life column, built a career using data, charisma, and connections.

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