Europe’s latest research-funding programme includes, for the first time, money for ‘low-performing’ member states to set up research centres in their regions, in partnership with well-established institutions from other countries. But some observers were disappointed earlier this month when the European Union (EU) announced that the host countries will manage the centres — a rule that critics say could be challenging for fledgling institutions and perhaps perpetuate problems, such as nepotism, that have contributed to their poor performance in the first place.
“There are lots of really good scientists [in southern and eastern Europe] but it’s the management of institutions that is inefficient, old style, corrupt,” says Botond Roska, a neuroscientist at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland.
Continue reading Europe waters down transnational ‘research buddy’ plan
Spain’s National Research Council (CSIC) and Germany’s Max Planck Society agreed late last month to major budget cuts at the Hispano-German Astronomical Observatory at Calar Alto, Spain. Continue reading Cutbacks kick off kerfuffle over Spanish-German observatory
Tropical climates are famously rich in biodiversity, perhaps because old lineages persist well in those regions instead of being simply replaced by new ones, or perhaps because the tropical environment promotes fast speciation. A new study of the ant family tree suggests that both these explanations may be right.
Continue reading Why the Tropics are an evolutionary hotbed
Men and women wanted for hazardous duty. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Compensations include off-road driving, penguin spotting and no-hassle waste disposal.
That could be a job advertisement for station staff at Fildes Peninsula Antarctic research stations. It’s not as noble as the apocryphal advertisement for explorer Ernest Shackleton’s expedition in the early twentieth century, which promised honour and recognition, but then some of the site’s modern occupants deserve neither, according to a report released last month by Germany’s Federal Environment Agency.
Continue reading Researchers put pristine Antarctic peninsula at risk