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  • Many graduate students experience mental health struggles that lead them to question their place in academia. Two scientists who experienced extreme lows in graduate school reflect on what helped them during their low points, and suggest strategies for everyone to contribute to mentally healthier workplaces in academia.

    • Zachary F. Murguía Burton
    • Xiangkun Elvis Cao
  • Producing low-carbon hydrogen to use as a clean energy carrier is an important step towards a decarbonized economy. Plasma pyrolysis is an emerging technology that has great potential for the large-scale production of low-carbon and affordable hydrogen.

    • Guoxing Chen
    • Xin Tu
    • Anke Weidenkaff
  • Solar fuel production provides a sustainable route towards simultaneous energy harvesting and storage. However, this technology is hampered by the complexity and slow manual screening of the chemical design space to find suitable catalytic and light-harvesting materials. One solution is offered by automation, which has begun changing the landscape of material discovery and energy research.

    • Katarzyna P. Sokol
    • Virgil Andrei
  • Chemistry plays a determining role in every stage of the plastic life cycle. We reflect on the challenges and limitations of plastics — their sheer abundance, chemodiversity and imperfect recoverability leading to loss of material — and on the need for chemical and non-chemical approaches to overcome them.

    • Vânia G. Zuin
    • Klaus Kümmerer
  • Environmentally benign and sustainable chemistry has the potential to address negative environmental impacts associated with the production and degradation of synthetic polymers. In particular, green synthesis of plastics could be achieved by the convergence of visible-light-driven photocatalysis and reversible-deactivation radical polymerization.

    • Yungyeong Lee
    • Cyrille Boyer
    • Min Sang Kwon
  • The positive benefits afforded by the widespread use of plastics need to be reconciled with negative impacts on the environment and health across the entire plastics life cycle. Optimizing the balance in several facets of plastics production, use and waste management is necessary for a more sustainable relationship with these materials in the Anthropocene.

    • Denise M. Mitrano
    • Martin Wagner
  • Bioengineered platforms, intended to be used in the investigation of human health and disease, often incorporate cells of unknown ancestry or that lack diversity. To develop tools and platforms that benefit the entire human population, we must consider the ancestry of cells and intentionally diversify the cells we use in our designs.

    • Erika Moore
    • Josephine B. Allen
    • Elizabeth C. Wayne
  • Scientists have reacted to COVID-19 restrictions by organizing virtual seminars and journal clubs to maintain engagement. The authors reflect on their experiences and lessons learned from organizing such initiatives and highlight how, far from being temporary substitutes of in-person counterparts, they can help foster more diverse, inclusive and environmentally friendly scientific exchange.

    • James P. K. Armstrong
    • Irene de Lázaro
    • Shrey Sindhwani
  • Silica nanoparticles have entered clinical trials for a variety of biomedical applications, including oral drug delivery, diagnostics, plasmonic resonance and photothermal ablation therapy. Preliminary results indicate the safety, efficacy and viability of silica nanoparticles under these clinical scenarios.

    • Taskeen Iqbal Janjua
    • Yuxue Cao
    • Amirali Popat
  • Service activities are critical in the pursuit of a more equitable and inclusive academic environment. We must ensure that the efforts required by these activities are properly recognized through rebalancing the academic workload, such that service is not provided at the expense of career progression.

    • Andrea M. Armani
    • Christopher Jackson
    • Jessica Wade
  • The experiences of Black scientists and engineers reveal that science is not a meritocracy. Here is a list of recommendations to combat anti-Black racism in academic institutions.

    • Audrey K. Bowden
    • Cullen R. Buie
  • Computational sustainability harnesses computing and artificial intelligence for human well-being and the protection of our planet. Materials science is central to many sustainability challenges. Exploiting synergies between computational sustainability and materials science advances both fields, furthering the ultimate goal of establishing a sustainable future.

    • Carla P. Gomes
    • Daniel Fink
    • John M. Gregoire
  • Good mental health and wellbeing of research staff and students lead to better science: it is time to reflect on what we can do as team leaders to create a positive research culture.

    • Zoë Ayres
  • The defossilization of our economy requires that materials for renewable energy conversion technologies are themselves green, renewable and circular. To this end, components such as batteries, electronic devices and electric motors should be recycled and regenerated, and produced solely from secondary raw materials.

    • Anke Weidenkaff
    • Ronja Wagner-Wenz
    • Angelika Veziridis
  • The green energy revolution is heavily reliant on raw materials, such as cobalt and lithium, which are currently mainly sourced by mining. We must carefully evaluate acceptable supplies for these metals to ensure that green technologies are beneficial for both people and planet.

    • Richard Herrington
  • Following the 2015 migration wave to Europe, numerous French academic institutions organized themselves to welcome refugee students and researchers. As witnessed in the past, initiatives coming from universities largely preceded national dispositions, which took place in a second phase and worked towards reinforcing them. These initiatives provide some examples demonstrating the commitment of academic communities as a whole to crucial societal issues.

    • Marc Mézard
  • Intense efforts are underway to produce circuits that integrate a technologically relevant number of qubits. Although qubit control in most material systems is by now mature, device variability is one of the main bottlenecks in qubit scalability. How do we characterize and tune millions of qubits? Machine learning might hold the answer.

    • Natalia Ares
  • The European Environmental Agency (EEA) has formulated five early warning signs to be considered by regulators when it comes to materials and substances. These warning signs reflect many concerns raised about plastics and are thus worth considering during the design and regulation of new and established polymeric materials.

    • Freja Lund Paulsen
    • Maria Bille Nielsen
    • Steffen Foss Hansen
  • The future of our species and planet hinges on our scientific creativity to tackle future challenges. However, the trust of the public in scientific processes needs to be earned and kept, which will require inclusive, self-reflecting, honest and inspiring science communication.

    • Sonia Contera
  • Nd-Fe-B permanent magnets are essential for the transition to clean energy and mobility. Given the burgeoning demand for neodymium and other rare earths, this Comment discusses the role of recycling and the need for government intervention in securing a sustainable rare-earth supply.

    • Koen Binnemans
    • Paul McGuiness
    • Peter Tom Jones