Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

PREVIEW Inner Workings: Researchers race to develop in-home COVID-19 testing, a potential game-changer

For most people, a COVID-19 test entails a swab up the nose in a doctor’s office or drive-in site. The sample then goes out to a lab. Results come back within a few days to a week—a waiting period that’s … Continue reading

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The hippocampus has brief but critical role in early task learning

How the brain learns new tasks is among the biggest and oldest questions in neuroscience. A recent study in Nature Neuroscience offers a new, potentially key part of the answer: the dorsal hippocampus is involved in the earliest stages of … Continue reading

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Insects, not just wind, offer an ancient mechanism of orchid seed dispersal

On Yakushima Island, at the southern tip of Japan, an orchid employs a very unusual strategy to disperse its seeds. Crickets visit the orchid at night, eat its fruits, and defecate the seeds in the vicinity. The discovery, reported recently … Continue reading

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Satellite monitoring may help preserve the Chesapeake Bay by improving farming practices

  Restoring the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, has for decades proven to be a fraught enterprise, beset by the interests of researchers, farmers, anglers, multiple governments, and a host of others. A new approach, recently reported in Remote … Continue reading

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Deep-sea mussels still show biological rhythms tracking sunlight, tides

Like many land animals, marine organisms follow daily and seasonal clocks—in the water, those clocks are set by the cadence of the sun and the moon. But researchers hadn’t known if deep-sea creatures also exhibit biological rhythms, tucked away in … Continue reading

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Future choices may be guided by our memories of past ones

When it comes to making choices, past decisions may play a surprisingly large role. The traditional view of decision-making is that our choices are guided by what we remember about the outcomes of previous choices we’ve made. But in recent … Continue reading

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People who are likely to dismiss journalism as “fake news” tend to believe the world is predictable

The notion of “fake news” spread like wildfire in the United States after the 2016 election. Recent research in Psychological Science tried to determine what psychological factors drove this concept—generally defined as the suspicion that politically-biased news outlets produce deliberately … Continue reading

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PREVIEW Editorial: Scientific versus Public Debates: A PNAS Case Study

Douglas S. Massey1 and Mary C. Waters2,3 1. Office of Population Research, Princeton University, Wallace Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544 USA 2. To whom correspondence may be addressed. Email: mcw@wjh.harvard.edu 3. Department of Sociology, Harvard University, 540 William James Hall, 33 … Continue reading

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Seasonality shapes coevolution of parasites and hosts

Parasites and their hosts coevolve in an arms race influenced by environmental conditions. Seasonal change, for example, can shape the course of evolution, but precisely how has been something of a mystery. A recent study used lab experiments and mathematical … Continue reading

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Country-level assessment hides big variations in soy’s carbon footprint

Analysts usually estimate a crop’s carbon footprint based on country-level factors. But that formulation isn’t adequate, according to a new analysis of soy exports from Brazil. Published in Global Environmental Change, the study tracked soy from specific production sites in … Continue reading

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Snake venom evolved in fits and spurts

The cocktail of toxins in snake venom experienced constant change with pulses of rapid evolution over the last 60 million years, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Venom, the researchers report, has changed … Continue reading

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