Biological Sciences

The Renewed Power of Observation

Who?Sagarin2-image

Rafe Sagarin, Associate Research Professor
Institute of the Environment
University of Arizona

www.observationandecology.com

What?

My book “Observation and Ecology: Broadening the Scope of Science to Understand a Complex World” (Island Press), co-authored with Aníbal Pauchard, discusses changing trends in science . It is essentially a “Back to the Future” story, where the old ways of doing science— intensive natural observation informed by the awareness that biological studies  are directly relevant to human societies—meet today’s enormous environmental challenges and modern observational technologies.… Read the entire snippet

Biological Sciences

Learning from the Octopus: A Biologically Inspired Framework for Adaptation

Who?Sagarin1-image-jpg

Rafe Sagarin
University of Arizona

www.adaptablesolutions.org

What?

I help organize groups of biologists, anthropologists, psychologists and practitioners in counter terrorism, emergency response, and public health to ask: what can we learn from 3.5 billion years of biological evolution that can help us adapt to the challenges we face in our daily lives?

How?

I gather groups for discussions to learn how people address the challenges they face, and generalize this knowledge to uncover how nature solves problems.  Teachers, first responders, soldiers, CEOs, and health practitioners, among others, are continually looking to improve their adaptability to the unknown and unpredictable challenges they face, but they don’t always have clear guidance on how adaptable systems work.… Read the entire snippet

Biological Sciences

Water: the Key to Protein Folding

Who?

Milo Lin
Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science

University of California, Berkeley

https://sites.google.com/site/milomlin/

What?

Starting at the organism level and magnifying to the organ, cellular, and macromolecular scales, biology happens along the entire spectrum of sizes ranging from a meter to a billionth of a meter. Amazingly, life manages to be both complex and reproducible over this vast spectrum of lengths. The root of this complex robustness can be traced, at the smallest scale, to proteins, which are the cleaners, builders, motors, messengers and transporters of the cell.… Read the entire snippet

Biological Sciences

The Ultimate Three-Dimensional Puzzle: The Protein Folding Problem

Who?

George A. Khoury, James Smadbeck, and Christodoulos A. Floudas 
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Princeton University

http://titan.princeton.edu

What?

Research in the area of protein folding aims to determine the 3-dimensional structure of a protein, given its amino acid sequence. Protein structure prediction is the inverse to protein design, where one tries to find the sequence that will fold into a desired structure.

There are more than 23,000,000 protein sequences that have been identified through genomic sequencing approaches which aim to determine an organism’s entire DNA sequence. … Read the entire snippet

Biological Sciences

What can toxicology learn from evolution?

Who?

Emily Monosson, Freelance Environmental Toxicologist
emonosson@gmail.com

http://toxicevolution.wordpress.com/

What?

Toxicology, the study of adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms, is a broad field that brings together biology, chemistry, medicine, and other fields such as ecology. My research is focused on synthesizing the vast body of literature in this field to collect existing studies that approach toxicology from an evolutionary perspective.  It is important to make these studies accessible and available to other toxicology researchers so that they might consider the systems they study in the context of evolution.… Read the entire snippet

Biological Sciences

Calculating Immune Gene Regulation

Who?

Brian J. Abraham, Pre-Doctoral IRTA Fellow, Graduate Student
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Boston University
bja3917@bu.edu

http://people.bu.edu/bja3917/

What?

All cell types, from skin cells to blood cells, come from stem cells, and so these diverse cell types all contain the same set of DNA letters and genes. Despite this similarity they can have very different functions. This differing functionality is accomplished in part by the fact that certain genes are “turned on” in some cell types and “turned off” in others.… Read the entire snippet

Biological Sciences

Climate change adaptation of smallholder farmers in Northwest India

Who?

Meha Jain, Ph.D. Candidate
Columbia University
mj2415@columbia.edu
http://www.columbia.edu/~sn2121/People/Jain/Jain.html

What?

My research examines if smallholder farmers in rural India are able to adapt and cope with current climate variability. Specifically, I aim to identify which socio-economic (e.g. access to capital), biophysical (e.g. soil type), perceptional (e.g. risk aversion), and demographic (e.g. family size) factors are associated with farmers who are able to adapt to current climate variability. This will help identify which farmers will be able to adapt to future changes in climate and which farmers will be the most vulnerable to impending climate change.… Read the entire snippet

Biological Sciences

Studying the cell biology of budding yeast

Who?

Patricia Melloy, Assistant Professor, Biology
Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison campus, and Visiting Research Collaborator, Princeton University
pmelloy@fdu.edu
http://view.fdu.edu/default.aspx?id=3317

What?

Our lab is interested in understanding what genes control membran?e fission in budding yeast, the same kind of yeast used to make beer or bread.  In particular, we are looking at control of nuclear envelope fission just prior to cytokinesis (the separation of the cytoplasm to form two cells from one cell).  Little is known about the genetic control of nuclear envelope fission in budding yeast. … Read the entire snippet

Biological Sciences

Parasites as the missing links in natural ecosystems

Who? 

Andy Dobson, Professor
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
Dobson@princeton.edu

http://www.princeton.edu/~dobber/index.html
and http://andydobson.smugmug.com/  and Twitter Andy2Dobson

What?

Understanding the structure and dynamics of food webs is one of the central scientific challenges of the 21st Century; parasites and pathognes play a potentially huge role in linking free-living species together and regulating their abundance.  Preliminary estimates suggest that considering parasites increase the number of species in food webs by 40% and the density of links between species by a factor of 3. … Read the entire snippet