In DepthThe New Normal

A few lucky researchers return to the field

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Science  23 Jul 2021:
Vol. 373, Issue 6553, pp. 374-375
DOI: 10.1126/science.373.6553.374

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Abhimanyu Lele, a third-year graduate student at the University of Chicago, was one of the lucky few this spring. In a typical year, thousands of graduate students and faculty fan out across the world to tackle important research in climate change, fragile ecosystems, animal populations and more. But the pandemic shut down travel, and fieldwork can't be done via Zoom, depriving young scientists like Lele of the data and publications they need to climb the academic ladder and help advance science. Now, he and a few others are venturing out—into a very different world. Most researchers have not been able to go overseas. They are quick to say their frustration pales in comparison with the losses many worldwide are enduring. But delays can be career breaking, forcing those stuck at home to be creative about how and where they do this year's fieldwork.

  • With reporting by David Grimm.

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