Daily briefing: Stunning science images shortlisted for the Wellcome photography prize

Amazing science, technology and medicine photography, how to explain a bad year to grad schools and a call to make research misconduct reports public.

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Doctors and documentarians gather around a human face on a surgical table.

Lynn Johnson/Wellcome Photography Prize 2019

The face of modern medicine

This arresting image of surgeons about to transplant a human face removed from its deceased donor has been shortlisted for the 2019 Wellcome photography prize. “There was complete silence in the room as the surgical team absorbed the gravity of their mission,” says the prize’s description of the image. The face was given to 21 year-old Katie Stubblefield, who became the youngest person ever to receive a successful full face transplant.

The Guardian | 8 min read

Illegal aubergines fuel GM fight in India

A farmer in the Indian state of Haryana has been found growing banned genetically modified (GM) aubergines (also known as eggplant, brinjal, or 🍆). The farmer, who is illiterate, “apparently bought the seedlings from a vendor at a bus stop,” reports Chemistry World. The discovery prompted anti-GM protests and some calls for a complete moratorium on cultivating GM crops. Cotton is the only GM crop currently approved by the Indian government.

Chemistry World | 4 min read

Sweetness from garbage

A researcher working on a cheaper process to make the artificial sweetener xylitol from waste corn cobs has won the US$310,000 Chivas Venture prize. Biochemical engineer Javier Larragoiti says he was inspired by his father’s diabetes — and his home country of Mexico’s addiction to sugary drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.

The Guardian | 7 min read


AI bridges the US-China trade war front lines

Despite obstacles, such as the ongoing trade war between China and the United States, artificial-intelligence researchers are working to ensure they can collaborate internationally. “AI research is about openness and speed,” says computer scientist Yunji Chen. “If you don’t share your work, it’s meaningless.”

Nature | 9 min read

Make research misconduct public

Even when investigations are exemplary and findings clear, universities rarely report them publicly, says research ethicist C. K. Gunsalus — and that perpetuates misbehaviour and breeds mistrust. Gunsalus argues that open misconduct reports would create a virtuous circle of mutual learning and trust among institutions, leaders and researchers.

Nature | 4 min read

How to explain a bad year to grad schools

When applying to graduate school, neuroscience PhD student Jasper Elan Hunt had to explain a year of ‘F’ grades earned during a difficult time as an undergraduate. He explores how to be open about an academic gap, clear up any doubts about your qualifications and tell a story of personal success.

Nature | 4 min read


Good news! Drinking 25 cups of coffee a day doesn’t stiffen your arteries any more than drinking one — although I’m still not sure it’s such a good idea. Maybe forgo that 25th cup of the day and refresh yourself by sending me your feedback on this newsletter instead.

Thanks for reading!

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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