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Uncertainty Ahead

The coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing lab shutdowns and policy changes are creating an environment of uncertainty for graduate students and postdocs, Wired reports, adding that the situation could have run-on effects on their careers.

For instance, it notes that Anzela Niraula, a postdoc at the University of Washington had to sacrifice a number of mice she was studying when the school closed down, pushing her research back and, in turn, possibly affecting her ability to win subsequent grants. At the same time, she worried that new immigration policies would affect her ability to stay in the US, Wired adds. 

Other early-career researchers, it notes, are in similar situations, which are coming at a time when grants and papers are a key part of becoming established as a scientist. "The longer-term question now," Mike Solomon, a dean at the University of Michigan tells Wired, "is what does career development look like for graduate students? What are the opportunities? It's an ongoing question for us."

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.