Where did all the Botanists go?

The number of undergraduate and graduate students getting botany degrees has plummeted. Additionally, herbaria, and the wonderful collections they hold, are closing down.

What does this mean for science research? Read about it over at USNews. 

Also check out the hashtags: #iamabotanist #reclaimthename #botany, or see the video below demonstrating botanical field work. Grueling, but intellectually worth it.


Maribeth Latvis, a Postdoc working with Dave Tank at the University of Idaho. Here she is holding some of Team Castilleja’s 2014 collections, after extensive botanical field work.


Do it for the Bats!

White nose syndrome is a disease caused by the fungus,Psuedogymnoascus destructans. It attacks a bats nose, ears and wings during hibernation, when it’s body temperature is at it’s lowest. It can cause massive mortality within bat colonies and there is no cure. As a result, researchers fear that bats will become extinct within the next few decades.

There is new hope on the horizon for bats everywhere! A common bacteria, Rhodococcus rhodochrous, stops the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome from growing.

Read more about the emerging hope for bats over at Discovery News!



Warm Blooded Fish?

As kids we were taught that fish, reptile and amphibians are cold-blooded, and birds and mammals are warm-blooded.

Simple, easy classification.

Think again.

Researchers have found the first fish that is fully warm-blooded. A silvery fish the size of a car tire, the opah has a worldwide distribution.

Read the article about how it warms its little fishy body over at Science! Or at the New York Times!opah1_88321_990x742



A recent NPR piece on the series Joe’s Big Idea interviewed Caltech astrophysicist Shrinivas Kulkarni.

During the interview Dr. Kulkarni made the following statement:

“Many scientists are I think, secretly, are what I call ‘boys with toys.”

Needless to say this has had some impact on the blogosphere and the Twitterverse has gone nuts.

Read all about it in an excellent piece by Kate Clancy a woman scientist who plays with toys of her own over at Slate. 

Or look at all these photos of women scientist playing with their toys:


Elizabeth Goldschmidt with her blue laser for studying Rydberg atoms


Karen James flanked by sequencing machines, explaining Sanger sequencing to citizen scientists


Katie Mack helping to build a new dark matter detector


Tanya Harrison playing with the Mars rovers

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When Lemurs Fly

Species: Malayan flying lemur (Galeopterus variegatus)
Habitat: Rainforests and plantations of South-East Asia

“Take one look at a flying lemur, or colugo, sitting in a tree and it brings to mind a scrawny kid forced to wear his big brother’s hand-me-downs. Flaps of skin hang around its ankles and get in the way as it clambers awkwardly around the forest.

Once the colugo leaps into the air, though, everything changes. Its baggy folds transform into enormous wings as the animal sails gracefully through the canopy.”

Read more over at the New Scientist!


2 Billion Dollars for Antibiotics!

The global pharmaceutical industry is being called on to pay for a 2 billion dollar innovation fund to find… better antibiotics.

We have noted before on NiB that there are very few new antibiotics in development, and that worldwide antibiotic resistance is on the rise. But economically speaking, developing new antibiotics is not in any given pharmaceutical companies best interest.

Read all about “resistance breakers”, “blue-sky” research and innovation funding for antibiotics over at BBC. _66267654_c0134727-salmonella_bacteria,_artwork-spl




Attack Salamanders!

The Hokkaido Salamander comes in two varieties: “attack morph” for when they are in habitats with large prey and “defense morph” for when they find themselves in a space with a predator.

And it turns out the variety of salamander is plastic, and the associated transcriptomic differences have been found.

Read about it over at the Molecular Ecologist.



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