Welcome to this week’s science and research newsletter, where spring is in the air – and pandemic worries linger on.

Public health researcher Lewis Ziska, who works at the nexus of plant biology, climate change and public health, writes about a study published this week finding a link between higher pollen concentrations and increased rates of COVID-19 infections. The article, a Q&A with Conversation editor Stacy Morford, goes on to explain how pollen can suppress the immune system and how climate change is making pollen season longer. Ziska’s advice? Wear a mask outside during pollen season.

Another study released this week quantifies the huge carbon footprint of marijuana. The days of growing weed outside are long gone when it comes to the recreational market, but the biggest energy consumer isn’t the artificial lights used to grow pot indoors. Instead, it’s the outdoor air that needs to be flushed into these growing facilities – but at the right temperature and humidity, making marijuana a bigger energy user than other vices, such as beer, wine or cigarettes, write Colorado State researchers Jason Quinn and Hailey Summers.

It’s hard not to pause and reflect on where we all were one year ago today, when the World Health Organization was hours from officially declaring COVID-19 a pandemic. To mark the anniversary, The Conversation’s team of pandemic editors published a suite of stories that take stock of where we are and where we may be heading. Editor Daniel Merino queried three leading biomedical researchers about what innovations that have come out of the pandemic will likely last beyond it. Their takes were: mRNA and DNA vaccines for more diseases, wearable devices to detect illnesses and accelerated drug discovery by studying how groups of proteins in the body are affected by diseases.

To read the full set of pandemic anniversary stories, see here. And the rest of this week’s science and research news highlights are below.

Reply to this email with any story tips or ideas you’d like The Conversation editors to pursue.

Martin La Monica

Deputy Editor

Pollen can suppress how the body’s immune system responds to viruses. Callista Images via Getty Images

Pollen can raise your risk of COVID-19 – and the season is getting longer thanks to climate change

Lewis Ziska, Columbia University

As climate change drives pollen counts upward, that could potentially result in greater human susceptibility to other viruses, as well.

Growing cannabis indoors is an energy-intensive process. Plantlady223 via Wikimedia Commons

Growing cannabis indoors produces a lot of greenhouse gases – just how much depends on where it’s grown

Jason Quinn, Colorado State University; Hailey Summers, Colorado State University

Growing weed indoors is not an environmentally friendly process. Climate controls create a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, and where the pot is produced has a huge influence on emission levels.

Gene-based vaccines had never been approved for humans before the coronavirus pandemic. Juan Gaertner/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

3 medical innovations fueled by COVID-19 that will outlast the pandemic

Deborah Fuller, University of Washington; Albert H. Titus, University at Buffalo; Nevan Krogan, University of California, San Francisco

The coronavirus pandemic has driven a lot of scientific progress in the past year. But just as some of the social changes are likely here to stay, so are some medical innovations.

Other good finds