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The EU just launched a program to help Syrian refugees find science jobs. And it's awesome.

Finding a job is essential to creating stability in one's life. That's where Science4Refugees comes in.

The EU just launched a program to help Syrian refugees find science jobs. And it's awesome.

Three years ago, computer scientist Sonia left Syria with her husband and children.

In an interview with Science magazine, Sonia (whose name was changed) explained how conflict in her home country had made it more and more difficult to do her job. She was a professor who couldn't travel to conferences, and communicating with the outside world was getting harder, too. She and the other instructors were afraid to share their opinions openly.

Sonia and her family knew it was time to move. But it took two long years before they were finally able to find a safe home in Europe — mainly because it was so hard for Sonia to find a job.


That's why the European Union's new Science4Refugees initiative is such a game changer. The program matches refugees with universities willing to hire them for research positions.

Sonia's situation isn't unique. After fleeing a conflict, refugees often struggle to find jobs. More than 500,000 individuals from the Middle East have sought refuge in the European Union so far this year. Almost 429,000 people from Sonia's home country of Syria alone have sought asylum in Europe — a number that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees says will only increase. That's a lot of people.

Now, when people like Sonia are looking for employment, universities that agree to participate will have something like a "refugee-welcoming organization" badge on Euraxess, the EU research career site. According to the secretary-general of the League of European Research Universities, some have already committed to join the effort, including France's University of Strasbourg and Germany's University of Leuven.


The program aims to act as a matchmaker of sorts. Euraxess now has a page made specifically for refugees with science backgrounds to upload their resumes. While Science4Refugees doesn't give preferential treatment to refugees, it does provide a super helpful guide so they can target their applications to friendly institutions and not have to deal with explaining their unique situations.

Just knowing that a university has made a commitment to supporting people affected by conflict can be a boost for applicants.

As Sonia told Science:

"When I was trying to contact universities ... sending my CV and explaining that I was a Syrian professor, I never got any answers. It gives you the feeling that you are alone in the world. Feeling supported, on the other hand, can greatly help you overcome difficulties."

Research, Science and Innovation European commissioner Carlos Moedas speaks at the 2015 World Economic Forum. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images.

Making a commitment to be a "refugee-friendly" university is an awesome way to decrease the effects of conflict situations on these scientists' careers.

As Sonia put it, refugees "need opportunities to rebuild their personal and professional lives. The quicker they can find a stable job, the more easily they can build new lives."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less