Marie-Elizabeth Barabas

Managing Editor, Springer Nature
  • United States of America

About Marie-Elizabeth Barabas

I'm an interdisciplinary neuroscientist with a research background in peripheral sensory/pain research, retinal development, and stem cell research. As the Managing Editor of npj Microgravity, my role is to assist the editorial process, implement editorial policies, and promote the journal, its articles, and the community. I also attend conferences and meetings to develop a relationship with our readers, authors, and editors. If you see me at a conference, feel free to introduce yourself.

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Genetic differences between selective and non-selective schools

Students attending selective schools have, on average, more genetic variants associated with educational attainment compared to students attending non-selective schools. A team led by Professor Robert Plomin at King’s College London found that these genetic differences between school types were also mirrored in examination differences. Students attending selective schools were performing a grade higher than their non-selective schooled peers. However, once the researchers statistically accounted for student-level factors, including family socioeconomic status, prior ability and prior achievement, there were no significant genetic differences between students in selective and non-selective schools, and only small examination score differences. This research shows that genetic and exam score differences between selective and non-selective schools are primarily due to the genetically influenced characteristics involved in student admission.

Published March 2018 in npj Science of Learning


Genetics: DNA methylation as a marker of education

DNA methylation, one of the epigenetic marks in cells, is associated with educational achievement (EA). A team led by Jenny van Dongen from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam tested more than 400,000 sites across the entire genome for their relationship with educational achievement in 4152 Dutch adults. 58 such sites were found that were located in and near genes with neuronal, immune and developmental functions. DNA methylation signatures of EA revealed differential exposure to cigarette smoke, even after accounting for own smoking behaviour, and differential exposure to folate and air pollution. EA predicts differential life conditions, including life expectancy. This study shows that these conditions leave their traces in the methylome of white blood cells and affect gene expression. Future research may investigate how these genes influence individual differences in behaviour, education, and health. 

Published March 2018 in npj Science of Learning


Super inspirational and way cool!
I wonder if flying animals would have an easier or harder time adapting to microgravity...?? Very interesting article!
Please share your thought! Would the peer review process benefit from artificial intelligence? Further, how much of the human aspect should be taken over by computers? How can we implement more rigorous guidelines for reviewers but still encourage experts to find the time?
Please share your thoughts! How similar is too similar? What percentage of sentence overlap is permissible? Can we define the line between the acceptable reuse of phrases and unethical self-plagiarism? Conversely, does self-citation falsely pad the citation numbers for a publication? Shouldn’t authors have a right to their own work?