New Science Communication Goal: Become a Comic Book Hero

I don’t need to be Ironman, or the Hulk. Although it would be cool to be Beast, or Professor X, I’d settle for being a scientist comic book hero!

Like Dr Sheiner, a research fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology at Glasgow University. She can be found in a new comic published by the Centre entitled Toxoplasmosis. It’s the latest in a series of comics the centre has been producing in recent years as a way to help explain what it does and why it is important.

Read more about it !

And I’m putting it out there… I’d be happy to be a comic book hero.

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The real, numbers from the March for Science

Rather than make up numbers about the number of people present at the March for Science, the scientist/organizers wanted to “Science the shit out of them”.

Volunteer Kate Gage: “We really wanted to emphasize that it was a march about science and data and evidence”.

Read about the numbers of marchers and their methods here. Also, WELL DONE MARCH!

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Losing a major grant funding PhD scientists

As I’m sure everyone has heard by now, the NSF is cutting the Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (also known as the DDIG). This is a huge loss for scientific research in the United States.

Dollar per person, of all the NSF grants the DDIG was the biggest bang for the buck. It helped launch innumerable careers, and started many a scientist on the path to full adulthood.

The internet and twittersphere are full of stories about how DDIGs helped careers, but I want to highlight one from Jeremy Yoder. As usual, it’s well written and gets to the heart of the concept.

Also, call your members of congress to object to the continued reduction in funding for scientific research.

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Who owns your DNA? Ancestry.com does

“For the price of $99 dollars and a small saliva sample, AncestryDNA customers get an analysis of their genetic ethnicity and a list of potential relatives identified by genetic matching. Ancestry.com, on the other hand, gets free ownership of your genetic information forever. Technically, Ancestry.com will own your DNA even after you’re dead.”

Want to know more? Read about it here.

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Because Science is not political, should we consider the politics of scientists?

In an excellent post over at Trees in Space, Markus Eichhorn brings up a solid question. He was considering the work of Heinz Ellenberg, a vegetation ecologist. It turns out that before he became one of the foremost scientist in his field, some of his contributions still relevant and well-sited today, he was a Nazi. Or more accurately, he contributed to the Nazi war effort.

Does that matter? Should that matter? Where do we draw the line?

Read the full blog post here.

There is no such thing as a “pure” European-or anyone else

After the migrant crisis from Syria hit Germany, it challenged the Willkommenskultur (Welcome culture). While most Germans swung into action to help settle the millions of refugees coming to Germany, some (self-proclaimed) neo-nazis were quoted as saying the German people faced “the destruction of our genetic heritage” and risked becoming “a gray mishmash”.

Well I have good/bad news for everyone. There is no unique German genetic heritage. There also isn’t a unique French genetic heritage, or Norwegian or Polish or Italian genetic heritage. All Europeans are already a mishmash of repeated ancient migrations. New studies show that almost all Europeans descend from three major migrations in the past 15,000 years including two from the Middle East.

Want to know more? Check it out over at Science. 

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All the trees will die, and so will you

The title of this post is not my own, but it kind of has a point. Not “everything dies” but rather, a lot more apocalyptic.

A brown-black beetle (the polyphagous shot hole borer) breeds inside trees. It drills networks of tunnels, which then get infected by a fungus it carries to feed it’s young. Eventually the tree dies, the beetle moves on and the whole cycle starts again.

This would be a cute horror story, if the beetle wasn’t on track to kill 26.8 million trees across Southern California. Which is going to directly link to the death of humans. Interested? Find out why here.

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