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Pandemic Push for Grad Student Unions

In part spurred by the pandemic, more graduate students are seeking to unionize, Science reports.

It notes that after unsuccessfully petitioning the University of New Mexico to extend graduation and funding timelines during the pandemic, graduate students there determined they needed a "more formal voice." According to Science, about 60 percent of graduate students at UNM have signed on to join a union that the state union board is expected to certify.

Similarly, it says that graduate student researchers at the University of California are moving to unionize – teaching assistants there already are – and that graduate students at the University of Vermont are in the early stages of organizing. Marcus Weinman, a PhD student at UVM, tells Science that he had sought safety changes to the room where he taught a microbiology lab last year to no avail. "I would be lying if I said there wasn't a desire to do this before the pandemic started," Weinman adds at Science. But the pandemic "turned that up from kind of a small little ember into more of a pretty long-burning fire."

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.