Universities with the best gender diversity in research, Facebook to launch cryptocurrency, why puffins are dying off and which Asian country is planning to return plastic waste to its sender? Our round-up of provoking thoughts, penetrating insights and digital curiosities…

Universities ranked for gender diversity

Universities in Eastern Europe and South America have topped a global ranking of gender diversity in research, Nature reports. The Leiden Ranking system, which assesses universities’ performance, included for the first time the proportion of women among the number of academics at each establishment who author papers. The highest ranked on that basis was the Medical University of Lublin in Poland, with 56% of female authorship – meanwhile many universities in Asia ranked among the lowest.

Read more: Normalising diversity: from box-ticking to benefits

Facebook to launch currency

Facebook is reportedly planning to launch its own cryptocurrency allowing users to make digital payments, even if they don’t have a bank account, according to the BBC. The system is expected to be launched in a dozen countries by early 2020. Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has met with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and sought advice from officials at the US Treasury, the BBC said.

Read more: How close are we to a cashless society?

Puffins perish

Puffins are the latest species to be dying off on a large scale as a result of climate change, The Atlantic reported. A research team investigated increasing numbers of the dead birds washing up on the beaches of Alaska’s St Paul Island and found the most likely cause of death was starvation. Melting ice sheets mean the puffins’ hunting grounds are disappearing, forcing them to travel further and struggling to find fish. The changes are also affecting inhabitants of the island who hunt puffins for food and collect their eggs.

Read more: Getting a handle on investing options in the age of accelerating climate change

Finding fewer fish

Meanwhile the number of fishing boats catching seafood has doubled since 1950 but it is getting harder to find fish, Science reports. As ships have bigger motors and can therefore travel further, fish stocks are becoming overtaxed – today’s fleet globally only catches 20% as much fish for the same amount of effort, a new study found. As the trend for more powerful ships continues, it will be harder to fish sustainably, it said.

Read more: The new cash crop is data as technology transforms farming

Return to sender

Plastic waste shipped to Malaysia for dumping will be returned to the countries that sent it, the country’s environment and climate change minister told CNN. He urged developed countries to review the way they handle plastic waste, and said that countries including the US, UK, Japan and Singapore should expect mis-labelled plastic and non-recyclable waste to be returned. Separately, the Philippines is sending 69 container loads of waste back to Canada, the BBC reported.

Read more: Cracking convenience: Is technology the answer to the sustainability challenge?