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A Quiet Interest in Hobbies

Are scientists supposed to be well-rounded? Scientist and comedian Adam Ruben writes at Science Careers that there was a shift in expectations between applying for college and applying for graduate school. Colleges, he says, "don't just want good students. We want biomedical-engineer-Civil-War-reenactor-Olympic-gymnasts who breed turtles and founded a charity while editing the yearbook!" As for grad programs, he says some wanted well-rounded students, while others want those that were laser-focused on science.

It didn't stop there, Ruben says. "Scientists with outside interests are often regarded with suspicion in the lab; we can be seen as undedicated, unfocused, easily distracted, and so divorced from the scientific frame of mind that we'll probably end up working in — oh, the shame — industry," he says.

He then kept his second job — "telling math puns to drunk people" — to himself, and he notes that many of his colleagues actually also had hobbies. "Despite what half of the grad schools told me, tunnel vision is not a virtue, he writes, later adding that for most people, "outside interests keep us sharp. We're more productive, more creative. We're happier."

The Scan

Guidelines for Ancient DNA Work

More than two dozen researchers have developed new ethical guidelines for conducting ancient DNA research, which they present in Nature.

And Cleared

A UK regulator has cleared former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in concerns he should have registered as a consultant-lobbyist for his work with Illumina, according to the Financial Times.

Suit Over Allegations

The Boston Globe reports that David Sabatini, who was placed on leave from MIT after allegations of sexual harassment, is suing his accuser, the Whitehead Institute, and the institute's director.

Nature Papers on Esophageal Cancer, Origin of Modern Horses, Exome Sequencing of UK Biobank Participants

In Nature this week: genetic and environmental influences of esophageal cancer, domestic horse origin traced to Western Eurasian steppes, and more.