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Elsewhere in Science, 23 October 2015

Bjørn Lomborg
Credit: Emil Jupin/Wikimedia Commons

Every Friday, Science Careers points to articles in the Science family of publications that are relevant to careers in science and other technical fields. Some of them are accessible to anyone, but access to articles appearing in Science Translational MedicineScience Signaling, and Science may require AAAS membership (AAAS is the publisher of Science Careers) or a site license.

► “Many Canadian scientists are celebrating the result of [Monday’s] federal election, which saw Stephen Harper’s Conservative government defeated after nearly 10 years in power,” Brian Owens wrote at ScienceInsider on Tuesday. Securing 184 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons, “[t]he center-left Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau won an unexpected majority government,” he wrote. “The Liberals have promised to reinstate the position of chief scientific officer, restore the mandatory long-form census, lift the ‘muzzle’ on government researchers, and invest more in basic research. Trudeau has also said his party will embrace ‘evidence based policy’ and ‘data-driven decision-making,’ do more to address climate change, protect endangered species, and review the environmental impact of major energy and development projects.”

► “The field of astronomy has been reeling since one of its most prominent members, exoplanet pioneer Geoff Marcy, was found guilty of sexually harassing female students at the University of California, Berkeley, over a decade,” Daniel Clery wrote at ScienceInsider on Wednesday. To find out more about how the harassment came to light and what could be changed going forward to improve how these cases are handled, Clery spoke with “Joan Schmelz, chair of the American Astronomical Society’s … Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy for 6 years until she finished her second term in August, [who] played a key role in identifying victims of Marcy’s activities and letting them know they were not alone.” Among other points, Smelz said that “[o]ne of the problems with the current system is that one individual complaint feels very much like a he-said/she-said. The he in this situation is almost always a professor, and the she is always a student or postdoc. As he has a lot more power than she, that means that she doesn’t come forward.”

► “Once the darling of Australia’s conservative government, controversial climate contrarian Bjørn Lomborg has lost his Down Under caché—and cash. Yesterday, education minister Simon Birmingham, told a Senate committee that the government had withdrawn its offer of $3 million toward establishing an Australian version of Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Center,” Leigh Dayton reported Thursday at ScienceInsider. “[F]ormer Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who in 2009 dismissed climate change as ‘absolute crap,’ had been keen to support an Australian Consensus Centre,” Dayton wrote, but “Malcolm Turnbull replaced Abbott as leader of the Liberal Party on 15 September. Long in favor of action on climate change, Turnbull is gradually shifting the government’s course.”

► In this week’s issue of Science, Rafael E. Luna of Harvard University reviewed Houston, We Have a Narrative by Randy Olsen. In the book, Olsen writes that “[s]cience is a narrative process … therefore [it] needs a story.” Luna, who is the author of The Art of Scientific Storytelling, noted that this is becoming a popular idea, as “a growing list of publications, scientific conferences, and academic institutions [are] encouraging scientists to integrate narrative elements into research and public communications.” Olsen offers a number of communication strategies, but Luna pointed out that “the book could have done a better job of describing which tools would work best for which audiences.” Overall, Luna wrote, “[t]he speed with which scientists can hope to achieve narrative proficiency using the tools in the book is one of its remarkable strengths and a testament to Olson's straightforward advice.”   

► In this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life story, entrepreneur Carol Lynn Curchoe writes about how mentoring has helped her find her way through career twists and turns. Read the full story to find out how she is paying it forward.