Restart science stronger after COVID-19

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Science  17 Jul 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6501, pp. 262
DOI: 10.1126/science.abd5780

As the scientific enterprise and its supporting institutions rebuild from the disruptions caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, we must support the graduate students and young investigators whose developing careers have been interrupted or irretrievably damaged. Even before the pandemic, the next generation of the scientific workforce faced problems such as limited job opportunities and narrow career training, inadequate mentoring, and a less diverse and inclusive scientific establishment (1, 2). Studies of these challenges have yielded recommendations for at least partial solutions, but few changes have been implemented (1, 2). The pandemic has now increased the urgency of these issues, which must be addressed if science is to thrive in the future.

More than 60% of new Ph.D.s will not pursue careers in academic research. Graduate curricula must therefore be at least partially redesigned to accommodate their broader career interests (3). Mentorship quality can be improved with appropriate faculty training (4). The lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in science must be taken seriously and ameliorated. Resources may have to be redistributed to ensure that younger scientists have independent careers earlier than has become common. Let us not waste the opportunity presented by this crisis to address longstanding problems. As we rebuild, we should look hard at our own enterprise, make some changes, and restart science stronger.

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