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The 'Permadoc' Problem

Some scientists are spending a dozen years as a postdoc, and while some find careers elsewhere, others become a sort of 'permadoc,' Nature News says. It notes that of 40,000 postdocs in the US, some 4,000 have been a postdoc for six or more years.

Labor economist Paula Stephan at Georgia State University notes that principal investigators have a strong incentive to rely on postdocs: they are skilled, but low-paid workers.

Others like Shirley Tilghman, the president emerita of Princeton University, have also pointed out problems with the postdoc system and have suggested fixes such as limiting the number of years a scientist may spend as a postdoc or the total number of postdocs, encouraging PIs to rely on staff scientists, and changing the structure of labs to make them smaller.

"We've always been at risk of producing more scientists than we have places for, but the stresses and strains were not harmful in the way they are now," Tilghman tells Nature News. "Some changes will have to happen."

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.