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The United States will not issue H-1B visas for the rest of the year. Tens of thousands of university researchers and industrial scientists and engineers use the visas to enter the country each year. The Trump administration says the suspension will help to prioritize the US workforce during the pandemic. Exemptions are possible, but the path ahead is not clear for foreigners working in or hoping to work in the United States. “It is really sad that when this country has so many of the greatest research institutions in the world, greatest universities in the world, that when something like a pandemic happens, one of the first things the government does is to blame international researchers for unemployment,” says Mehmet Doğan, a Turkish physicist at the University of California, Berkeley. “That’s crazy, but it’s also very sad.”
The proportion of people in science and engineering jobs in the United States who were born outside the country, according to the National Science Foundation. (Nature | 4 min read)
Features & opinion
“I say to my white colleagues: you have the most power in the geosciences; you benefit the most from racism and lack of diversity,” says geophysicist Vashan Wright. “It is therefore your job to fix the system. But I’ll help you.” He is one of six Black scientists who spoke to Nature about the effects of racism on their careers, their advice to white colleagues and their thoughts on meaningful institutional actions.
On an undisclosed Caribbean island, researchers are poised to test whether green sand could help to clean up our atmospheric mess. Project Vesta aims to sequester carbon by speeding up the natural weathering process of a mineral called olivine. The olivine will be ground up into sand and spread on the beach, where — in theory — the wave action will accelerate the sequestration process. The project hopes to show whether ‘enhanced mineral weathering’ can be done in a cost-effective way that’s safe for the marine environment (and acceptable to people who might not fancy the idea of a green-sand beach).
On International Women in Engineering Day, historian Emily Rees Körner writes about Britain’s Women’s Engineering Society (WES) — the world’s first organization of its kind. WES was founded in 1919, a time when women were being forced out of their engineering jobs to make space for men coming back from the First World War. WES founders were fresh from having forced UK elections to include women voters for the first time, and they delighted in breaking stereotypes and telling tales of their “unladylike exploits with wiring”. But despite a century of efforts, to this day only 12% of practising engineers in the United Kingdom are women.
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With contributions by David Cyranoski and Davide Castelvecchi