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U.S. faculty job market tanks

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The scarcity of academic jobs is a perennial problem for U.S. science trainees. But this year, faculty job openings at U.S. institutions are down 70% compared with last year, according to an analysis of job advertisements on the Science Careers job board. Only 173 U.S.-based jobs were posted between July and September this year, compared with 571 during the same period last year. The dismal numbers reflect anxiety about university finances amid the pandemic—and are leaving postdocs and soon-to-be-Ph.D. graduates worried about their future. “We really need to think about how to provide some kind of lifeline … and not lose a group of people that we put a lot of resources into training,” one professor told Science.

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Science

How neuron types encode behavioral states

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What is the contribution of molecularly defined cell types to neural coding of stimuli and states? Xu et al. aimed to evaluate neural representation of multiple behavioral states in the mouse paraventricular hypothalamus. To achieve this goal, they combined deep-brain two-photon imaging with post hoc validation of gene expression in the imaged cells. The behavioral states could be well predicted by the neural response of multiple neuronal clusters. Some clusters were broadly tuned and contributed strongly to the decoding of multiple behavioral states, whereas others were more specifically tuned to certain behaviors or specific time windows of a behavioral state.

Science, this issue p. eabb2494

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Science

Fiber tension enables tissue scaling

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Tissue development, homeostasis, and repair require cells to sense mechanical forces. Although many molecular actors implicated in cell mechanosensitivity have been extensively studied, the basis by which cells adapt their mechanical responses to their geometry remains poorly defined. López-Gay et al. now identify how two fundamental epithelial structures—stress fibers and tricellular junctions—endow Drosophila cells with an internal ruler to scale their mechanical response with their area. This work explains how cells of different sizes within an epithelial tissue collectively adapt their mechanical response to control tissue shape and proliferation. Scaling of biological properties with size is a core property of other biological systems.

Science, this issue p. eabb2169

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Science

Improving prosthetics

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People who use upper- and lower-limb prosthetics face numerous challenges caused by limitations in the interface between person and machine. Ideally, prosthetics should have bidirectional communication between the user and the device so that people can easily and intuitively use their devices. Key to bidirectional interfacing is motor control and sensing. In a Perspective, Raspopovic discusses approaches to providing improved motor control and sensing through various sensors and implants. Recent studies suggest that motor control and sensing can be combined to improve the experience for users of prosthetics, but there are many challenges to overcome to ensure that such neurotechnologies improve quality of life and can be tolerated.

Science, this issue p. 290

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