An ongoing fight over overtime pay rules has left many US postdocs in financial limbo. Labour regulations set to take effect on 1 December would have effectively increased wages for many of these researchers, but on 22 November a US federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the new rules. “The injunction coming down, especially right before the holiday weekend, was really disheartening,” says Colm Atkins, a postdoc at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has quietly reinstated its programme to support biological specimen collections that are important for studying disease, invasive species, climate change and conservation. Scientists had protested against the agency’s decision, announced in March, to suspend the programme pending an evaluation that is due later this year.
In a piece published in the New York Times last month, Amy Harmon wrote about “rogue” biologists publishing their research directly to the Web. But as Harmon noted, this kind of activity is hardly news for physicists, who have been publishing these so-called “preprints” — that is, research published digitally, prior to appearing in a formal, peer-reviewed journal — on the website arXiv.org since 1991.
The cabinets of the Field Museum in Chicago hold a collection of eggs that led to one of the most famous conservation discoveries of the twentieth century: that the pesticide DDT was causing widespread nesting failures in birds of prey.
But such specimen troves — which are used to identify species, track diseases and study climate change — have lost a valuable means of support. Last week, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it would indefinitely suspend a programme that provides funding to maintain biological research collections.