Friend and sometime contributor, Devin Drown, has recently started up a research program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (Congrats Devin!). And this summer he lead an army of undergraduates on a series of interesting projects near or above the Artic Circle.
Sadly, coordinating and advising an army of undergraduates doesn’t leave too much time for writing blog posts. But he has kindly sent me these interesting snippets from the field. Check them out!
Toolik Field Station to use MinION sequencing.
Fairbanks Permafrost Experiment Station
Gathering Ancient DNA from Permafrost
Have you recently flown into the US from abroad? On the landing card it asks if you’ve been in contact with things should not be brought into the US.
Have you encountered agriculture or been on a farm?
Have you been exposed to people coughing ebola?
And then one slightly odd question that gets overlooked:
Are you carrying snails? (paraphrasing here)
This is because snails are actuallly really deadly. Or more specifically they are a vector for some really deadly parasites. Read about it, and how to control the snail/parasite spread over at Science Friday.
We discover new species of insects often. We’re discovering new bacteria at such an alarming rate, it’s getting difficult to count and name them all.
But it’s odd when we find new charismatic megafauna. And yet, researchers think they have identified a new species of whale.
You don’t get much more megafaunal or charismatic than that.
Read about it over at National Geographic!
New species of whale, making a splash!
Have you seen a kiwi? Not the fruit, or the person (people from New Zealand call themselves kiwis) but the ground dwelling bird. They are horribly impractical. Their eggs take up a third of their body. They fly, they don’t run particularly fast, they aren’t clever, but they are adorable, and they have spent a long time living on this planet.
And they are rapidly going extinct in the wild due to introduced feral predators.
But New Zealand has gone nuclear on these pests, and recently vowed to eliminate all invasive predators by 2050.
Read about how they are going to accomplish this ambitious task over at the New York Times.
The kiwi egg before laying. That’s how much of its body cavity is taken up by egg.
I had someone tell me the other day that if women were less extreme as feminists then people might not write them off as quickly. If we were quieter then things might change.
I so completely disagree with this statement that I will continue writing about the problems facing women in science indefinitely.
So, there is another new article about how women in science face consistent, ingrained, societally approved sexism and harassment in the workplace. Enjoy!
As I mentioned on Friday, science communication is all about stories. And this one is a doozy.
After a not so traditional education, Toby Spribille has found that lichens are not what we thought they were. We have long known that lichens are 1 part algae and 1 part fungi.
But it turns out that’s not true. Turns out, it’s 2 parts fungi (two different types of fungi to boot), and 1 part algae. We’ve been getting it wrong for decades.
Read the story of this discovery over at the Atlantic!
One of our reasons for starting this blog was to write a biology blog for the general public. I think one of the biggest concerns in the US is scientific illiteracy, and we as a collaborative group, wanted to combat that.
My friend recently posted this comment on facebook, and it really stuck me:
“Tritrophic is not a real word. Your reader does not know the words tritrophic, ecological assemblage, genomics or parthenogenesis. That is not because your reader is dumb. It is because scientists made up those words and never told anyone but other scientists. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your readers. Readers can be very clever, but it is not their job to know all of the words that you and the twelve people you call colleagues made up.”
This caused me to seek the source, and it’s an EXCELLENT blog post about how to write science for the public. We tend towards dry, complex sentences that convey information. While we shouldn’t necessarily be making things up (please) we as scientist should do a better job of conveying our passion and enthusiasm. And Rob’s blog post is an excellent set of rules for how to do that. CHECK IT OUT HERE!