Daily Archives: Friday May 22nd, 2020

The covid-19 epidemic has changed our way of working. How is this affecting female versus male researchers?

Early analyses discussed in a recent article in Nature (10.1038/d41586-020-01294-9) suggest that female academics are posting fewer preprints and starting fewer research projects than their male peers.

COVID-19 is changing the way research is done. World-wide lockdowns mean that, overnight, many households worldwide have become an intersection of work, school, and home life. The new mechanisms of accelerated peer review, the increased quantity and speed of available data, and the distribution of funding across sectors are changing the equilibria of the academic world. We therefore need to pay attention to the effects this has on disparities. What happens when a couple is at home? Is it exacerbating gender inequality? In a commentary in Nature (doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-01135-9) very early during the pandemic, Alessandra Minello suggested it is disproportionately affecting the productivity of female academics, because they often do more caregiving than men.

Megan Frederickson, an ecologist at the University of Toronto being COVID-19-quarantined herself, looked at preprint servers to investigate whether women were posting fewer studies than they were before lockdowns began (https://github.com/drfreder/pandemic-pub-bias/blob/master/README.md). Peer review takes time, it is still too soon to see COVID-19’s effects on the numbers of journal articles published by female versus male academics. However, a growing number of academics make their submitted or in-progress manuscripts available on preprint servers, meaning it might be possible to measure the pandemic’s effect on preprint submissions in real time. She looked at arXiv (physical sciences), and bioRxiv (life sciences) to determine the gender of studies posted between March 15 and April 15 in 2019 and in 2020. The number of women who authored preprints at arXiv increased by 2.7% from 2019 to 2020 — but the number of male authors grew by 6.4% over the same period. The numbers for bioRxiv were 24.2% vs. 26%. A similar trend was found in a separate study including nine popular preprint servers (https://www.natureindex.com/news-blog/decline-women-scientist-research-publishing-production-coronavirus-pandemic). Thus, women’s publishing rate has fallen relative to men’s amid the pandemic.

In another study by the information scientist Cassidy Sugimoto at Indiana University Bloomington on three registered-report repositories including ClinicalTrial.gov, there was a decrease in the proportion of submissions by female principal investigators from March and April of 2019 to the same months in 2020, when lockdowns started. Hence, women are registering a smaller proportion of new research projects than before the pandemic.

What are the likely causes for this effect? Increased household labor and childcare responsibility are probably the major reasons. Also, women more often take care of ailing relatives. The sudden shift to online teaching might mean more work for women as they in average probably have more teaching commitments than men, while the shutdown of the universities might free more time for men to write papers as they more often have non-research commitments.

What can be done to mitigate this effect? Our scientific environment requires the participation of all members of the population; a crisis requires that we draw from the intellect of the full population. As the effects and the pandemic are likely to linger, we must consider how our evaluation systems and resource allocation mechanisms take into account the inequities in labor distribution for women. We need to create infrastructures to allow for all populations to participate, and to acknowledge systematic differences in their ability to do so.

Enjoy your week-end!

PhD defense – Thomas Aga Legøy

Thomas Aga Legøy will defend his PhD thesis on Tuesday 26th May 2020

Trial lecture: Tuesday 26th May at 10:15
Topic: «Pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes»                                                                                             Place: https://tinyurl.com/ThomasLegoys

Public defense: Tuesday 26th May at 12:15                                                                                            Title of dissertation: «Investigating cell fate decisions in the pancreatic islet»                        Place: https://tinyurl.com/ThomasLegoys

1st opponent: Professor Valerie Schwitzgebel, University of Geneva

2nd opponent: PhD Marijana Licina, University of Geneva

3rd member of the committee: Professor Thomas Arnesen, Universitetet i Bergen

The defense will be led by professor Gunnar Mellgren

PhD defense – Hildegunn Høberg Vetti

Hildegunn Høberg Vetti will defend her PhD thesis on Friday 29th May 2020

Trial lecture: Friday 29th May 2020 at 09.15
Topic: “Hvordan kunnskap om arvelighet ved kreft kan endre situasjonen for pasienten, familien og samfunnet”                                                                                                                        Place: https://tinyurl.com/HildegunnVetti

Public defense: Friday 29th May 2020 at 11.15                                                                                  Title of dissertation:«New procedures for genetic testing and counselling of patients with breast or ovarian cancer»                                                                                                                    Place: https://tinyurl.com/HildegunnVetti

1st opponent: Ph.d. Marie Stenmark Askmalm Skånes, Universitetssjukhus, Sverige

2nd opponent: Dr. scient. Grethe S. Foss, Helsedirektoratet

3rd member of the committe: Professor emeritus Ole-Erik Iversen, Universitetet i Bergen

The defense will be led by professor Line Bjørge

PhD-defense – Karl Erik Müller

Karl Erik Müller will defend his PhD thesis on Friday 29th May 2020

Trial lecture: Friday 29th May 2020 at 10.00
Topic: «Vaccine development challenges and implementation of control strategies for elimination of Leishmaniasis in endemic areas»                                                                                Place: https://tinyurl.com/KarlErikMuller

Public defense: Friday 29th May 2020 at 12.00
Title of dissertation: «Characterisation of Leishmania amino acid permease 3 (AAP3) coding sequences and flanking regions as a target for detection and diagnosis of the leishmaniases»      Place: https://tinyurl.com/KarlErikMuller

1st opponent: Professor Anja Tatiana Ramstedt Jensen, University of Copenhagen, Danmark

2nd opponent: PhD Alvaro Acosta Serrano, Liverpool School of tropical Medicine, Storbritannia

3rd member of the committee: Professor Emerita Birgitta Åsjø, Universitetet i Bergen

The defense will be led by professor Silke Appel

This week`s employee – Kristina Strand

I’m a PhD candidate at the Hormone Laboratory Research group and I started in the group as a master student in molecular biology in 2015. After I finished my master degree I was hired as a technician and I was working on the project that turned out to be my PhD-project. In the project we receive blood and adipose tissue biopsies from morbidly obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery. We characterize immune cells, with focus on macrophages and NK cells, in these samples to determine how the tissue inflammation is connected to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. We want to determine which subgroups of immune cells are important in adipose tissue inflammation and to get a better understanding of why some morbidly obese individuals develop insulin resistance whereas others do not.

The working environment on K2 is very good, with a lot of nice and welcoming colleagues. I wanted to do my master project at K2 because of the connection to Haukeland hospital and the possibilities to do exciting medical research. The research environment at K2 is interdisciplinary, where molecular biologists, doctors, surgeons, bioengineers and others work together and contribute with different knowledge into the research projects.

Norwegian: Hjemmekontor – Magdalena Keindl

Mens mange sliter, har jeg egentlig ikke hatt noen produktivitetsproblemer med hjemmekontor ennå. Jeg var heldig med at jeg ikke hadde lab-arbeid planlagt i denne perioden, så dagene mine består av å skrive manuskripter og planlegge fremtidige prosjekter. I løpet av pandemien lærte jeg at vi absolutt er klare for å leve i en digital verden, og som lar oss jobbe fra hvor som helst og gi oss mye friheter og muligheter som kan benyttes i framtiden. Dessuten setter jeg enda mer pris på «open-access» publikasjoner, men jeg må innrømme at Sci-Hub definitivt ble flyttet opp et hakk i bokmerke-listen.

Når jeg jobber hjemmefra får jeg også hjelp av mine to katte-sekretærer som passer på at det akkurat er nok kattehår på tastaturet mitt til enhver tid. I tillegg har hjemmekontoret mitt en fin utsikt mot Haukeland og Ulriken, som gir meg følelsen av å være på jobb – med mindre mai-snøen blokkerer utsikten. For å være unngå å miste lab-ferdighetene mine, sammenligner jeg cellekultur med frø og planter.

Vanligvis mister jeg mye tid gjennom dagen på pendling, men nå er det kort vei fra senga til kontoret og til og med til yogasenteret i stua. Jobbantrekket har begynt å bevege seg mot en «business on top, party on the bottom» stil hvor jeg kombinerer bluser med pyjamasbukser. Det er ikke så farlig så lenge man ser profesjonell ut foran kamera. Jeg håper bare at ingen kommer til å spørre meg om å stå opp under neste Zoommøte.

Mest sannsynligvis er jeg ikke den eneste som er i et dypt forhold med mute-knappen. Jeg har allerede vitnet til flere Zoom-uhell, og er fryktelig redd for å være den neste som forårsaker uønskede bakgrunnsstøy. Bare husk alle de pinlige øyeblikkene under online møtene, for disse historiene blir gøye å høre om når vi endelig kan spise lunsj sammen igjen.

New publications

Here are recent publications with contributions from K2 based on last week’s search on PubMed (and optionally articles that have not been included in previous lists). This time the list includes in total 12 recent publications. The entries appear in the order they were received from NCBI. If you have publications that are not included in this or previous lists, please send the references to Oda Barth Vedøy.

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