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Senior Scientist - How to Be an ECR in Your Fifties

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by Paul Butler

There was a time, I believe, when you had to be under 35 to stand any chance whatsoever of being an early-career researcher (ECR). On the “expected” academic career path, that allowed you to spend up to 5 years doing your PhD, then enjoy the following nine years as an ECR, with all sorts of career advantages, including reserved access to special grants, cheapo rates at conferences and other benefits that made up for being on the tragic salaries and job security typical of early-stage ECRs. This did not go unnoticed by researchers who had made a jump later in life from some other career into academia, and by researchers who had had their careers interrupted by time taken out to raise families or because of illness. Some people started wondering whether there needed to be an age criterion at all; see the comments here for an idea of the kinds of discussions that were taking place back in 2010 about ECR criteria and how they were failing people with “unconventional” career…

Insights from Pre-Columbian Land Use and Fire Management in the Amazon Basin

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by Yoshi Maezumi

Amazonia pristine or parkland? The great debate

Today our species stands on a precipice: From climate change to overpopulation, plastic pollution to wildfires, the modern human modus operandi is not sustainable. As international collaborative efforts join forces to develop strategic mitigation and adaptation plans to ferry our species through the 21st century [1, 2], scientists are looking to the past, seeking insights from indigenous land use practices around the world [3]. What has become evident is that the human footprint has had a much longer, more indelible impact than traditionally assumed, particularly in remote tropical regions like the Amazon Basin [3].

For much of the 20th century, the Amazon Basin was considered pristine wilderness prior to European Conquest in ca. 1492. Indigenous peoples (henceforth pre-Columbians) were thought to have had very little impact on the natural environment [4]. Yet, over the past few decades increased deforestation in the Amazo…