12345...102030...


Google worker says women don't advance in tech because of biology – CBS News

Last Updated Aug 7, 2017 7:51 PM EDT

LONDON -- Silicon Valley faces another tempest over the status of women in the work place, this time at Google (GOOG).

The search giant's new head of diversity has rejected an internal commentary from an employee who suggested women don't get ahead in tech jobs because of biological differences.

Danielle Brown, who was named a vice president at the search giant only a few weeks ago, said Google is "unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success," according to a copy of her response obtained by technology news website Gizmodo.

The employee memo, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber," begins by saying that only honest discussion will address a lack of equity.

But it also asserts that women "prefer jobs in social and artistic areas" while more men "may like coding because it requires systemizing," fueling a smoldering debate about sexism in Silicon Valley.

"I'm simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don't see equal representation of women in tech and leadership," the memo stated, according to Gizmodo. "Many of these differences are small and there's significant overlap between men and women, so you can't say anything about an individual given these population level distributions."

The employee was described in news reports as a software engineer. The employee's identity has not been released.

Google, like other tech companies, has far fewer women than men in technology and leadership positions. Fifty-six percent of its workers are white and 35 percent are Asian, while Hispanic and Black employees make up 4 percent and 2 percent of its workforce, respectively, according to the company's latest diversity report.

While the issue of diversity is getting a lot of attention in Silicon Valley, these numbers are barely changing. But the companies say they are trying, by reaching out to and interviewing a broader range of job candidates, by offering coding classes, internships and mentorship programs and by holding mandatory "unconscious bias" training sessions for existing employees.

But, as the employee memo shows, not everyone at Google is happy with this.

The issue of gender has long roiled California's technology sector. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor accused Google of underpaying female employees, saying it found "systemic compensation disparities against women" at the company.

In another controversy, a former female engineer's claims of widespread sexual harassment at Uber in June led the ride-hailing firm to fire more than 20 employees.

In another incident, venture investor Dave McClure was forced to publicly apologize for making "inappropriate advances" toward several women in workplace situations.

2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Continue reading here:
Google worker says women don't advance in tech because of biology - CBS News

FBI gets synthetic biology crash course at CSU – Source

For one week in May, 11 agents and analysts from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation were on campus for an intensive training program spearheaded by one of the universitys preeminent biotechnologists. The goal: giving the law enforcement personnel foundational knowledge and insight into the rapidly evolving field of synthetic biology.

Jean Peccoud, the Abell Endowed Chair in Synthetic Biology in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, organized the session with the FBI. Peccoud is a computational and cell biologist whose research is in the development of novel DNA molecules, and improving the manufacture of bio-based drugs and vaccines.

At first glance, a relationship between synthetic biology researchers and the nations top law enforcement agency might seem incongruous. Consider, though, the rapid development of genetic engineering techniques over the last several years. The agents who visited campus were part of the FBIs Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, whose purview includes preventing and responding to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents.

The WMD Directorate is working to build relationships with universities and industry partners to become educated on trends in biological research from the manufacture of living organism-based vaccines, to the synthesis of new genes in the lab, said William So, Policy and Program Specialist with the FBIs Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorates Biological Countermeasures Unit.

The emergence of big data within the life sciences, and the digitized stores of data that could be vulnerable to cyberattacks, has also pushed the agency to become better versed in these areas. Ultimately, the agency is charged with protecting such systems against terrorism, espionage, or the leaking of proprietary information.

The amount of research and information in the biotechnology fields is increasing exponentially, So said. Its important for us to have hands-on experience to better understand how biological experimentation occurs.

The workshop was the first of its kind at CSU; Peccoud previously led a scaled-down pilot workshop at his former university, Virginia Tech. The CSU workshop consisted of lectures on research trends by Peccoud and other CSU experts. It also included blocks of lab time for training participants to perform typical synthetic biology techniques, such as assembling DNA molecules.

For example, the trainees used Gibson Assembly to make DNA and transfer it to E. coli cells for manufacturing insulin. This lab work was led by Neil Adames, a research scientist in Peccouds lab.

This experiment gave the participants insight into a foundational method of producing biologic drugs within the pharmaceutical industry. It illustrated the aspirations of both scientists and DIYBio communities to engineer genes with powerful new properties.

Our motivation here is to help people working in the field to critically analyze information they are getting about breakthroughs and trends in biological engineering and research, Peccoud said. It is one thing to talk to scientists at conferences or read papers, but it is another to get hands-on training and to have an understanding of what certain concepts mean in practice.

Other activities included a talk about CRISPR and genome editing by University Distinguished Professor Jan Leach; a visit to the biochemistry protein purification facility; a tour of BioMARC, the universitys biologics manufacturing research facility; and an overview of CSUs biosafety policies led by Bob Ellis of the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Peccoud envisions the weeklong training to be offered regularly, and possibly to become available to other federal agencies and corporate partners

Read more here:
FBI gets synthetic biology crash course at CSU - Source

These Are Actual Biology Courses Offered At Evergreen State College – The Daily Caller

Evergreen State College, the site of viral student protests over the past two weeks, offers multiple courses in its biology department that veer dramatically from the hard sciences,with themes like feminism, race and power.

While the school offersmore traditional biology courses like General Biology and Anatomy and Physiology, it also hasclasses that provide more details about feminism and social movements than with the study of human or plant life.

Evergreen State Colleges Biology Department will offer a course during the 2017 fall semester and 2018 spring semester entitled,Reproduction: Gender, Race, and Power. The course will provide students with an overview of human reproduction, but will pay attention to gender and race as vectors of power that affect how reproduction is discussed, legislated, and experienced in the United States.

The course description claims that biology is shaped and defined by cultural norms. One of the primary goals of the course is to collectively dismantle the idea that women are defined as such by an innate reproductive capacity. To achieve this end, students will be required to read texts that address the experiences of trans and gender-nonconforming individuals, and discuss the ways in which contraception, abortion, forced sterilization, genetic testing, and other forms of reproductive control both reflect, and have been used to perpetuate, systemic racism.

After completing the course, students will have an understanding of how power and privilege operate on a variety of bodies, including our own.

Another course the college offered its junior and senior students in 2016 wasentitled Feminist Epistemologies: Critical Approaches to Biology and Psychology. Professors allegedly built thecourse to help students discover how knowledge is generated from a feminist theoretical perspective.

To achieve its stated goal, students read feminist philosophy of science, sociological studies on science and how it operates in society, research on women scientists, and critical deconstructions of sociobiology and the related field of evolutionary psychology.

Evergreen State College made headlines after one of the schools biology professors, Bret Weinstein, spoke out against the schools annual Day of Absence. A group of students and faculty at Evergreen organize one day every year where they meet off campus, as a symbolic remembrance of a famous play whereall the black residents of a Southern town fail to show up one morning.

The group decided to mix things up in 2017, and asked that all white students, staff and faculty will be invited to leave campus for the days activities. After Weinstein called the actions a show of force, and an act of oppression, students responded in anger.

Viral protests forced the school to cancel classes for three straight days.(RELATED: Evergreen Cancels Classes For Third Day In A Row)

Some 50 students showed up outside Weinsteins classroom to call him a racist and a supporter of white supremacy to his face.

Follow Robert on Twitter

Send tips to [emailprotected]

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [emailprotected].

Read the original here:
These Are Actual Biology Courses Offered At Evergreen State College - The Daily Caller

Judge to Indiana same-sex couples: 'You can't overcome biology' – Indianapolis Star

LGBT people have gained more legal recognition in recent years, but LGBT rights remain a central issue in Indiana politics. Stephanie Wang/IndyStar

Jackie and Lisa Phillips-Stackman hold their daughter, Lola, at their Indianapolis home, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. The couple are filing a lawsuit against the state to try to get Indiana to recognize both same-sex parents on their children's birth certificates.(Photo: Michelle Pemberton/The Star)Buy Photo

In oral arguments Monday, a panel of three judges for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals examined whetherIndiana discriminates by not recognizing two married women both as parents on their children's birth certificates without having to adopt.

Judge Diane S. Sykesdrew distinctions betweenbiological parentage and parental rights, and which of the two should be represented on birth certificates.

"You can't overcome biology," Sykes said. "If the state defines parenthood by virtue of biology, no argument under the Equal Protection Clause or the substantive due process clause can overcome that."

"Your Honor, with all due respect, we maintain that parenthood is no longer defined by biology," said Karen Celestino-Horseman, the attorney for eight same-sex couples who brought the lawsuit against the state for only allowing only a mother and a father to be named on birth certificates.

"That's a policy argument to take to the legislature," Sykes responded.

The state of Indiana is appealing a ruling by a district judgewho sidedwith the same-sex couplesand ordered the state to recognize both women as parents on birth certificates of children who are conceived through a sperm donor.

"In our view, that order creates an inequality that did not exist before and undermines the rights of biological fathers and their children," said Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher.

Read the back story: Same-sex couples sue state over birth certificates

More on politics: Tully: A few thoughts about the Mike Pence protests

Trump's education plan: DeVos: School choice should expand, but not from Washington D.C.

The couples' case argued that parental recognition should be a benefit conferred by the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling in 2015, known as Obergefell v. Hodges.

Prior to the lawsuit, the spouse who was not the birth mother would have to adopt the child, even if her egg was used for the pregnancy. That was the case for Indianapolis couple Jackie and Lisa Phillips-Stackman, who are part of the lawsuit.

Not recognizing the non-birthmother, the lawsuit said, could make it more difficult for families to be covered by insurance policies, or for the parent to enroll her child in school.

The adoption process, which can be costly, amends the birth certificate to recognize adoptive parents. The original record, Fisher said, is still retained.

But the lawsuit contended that spouses should be recognized as a parent when the child is born because of her wedded status similar to how married opposite-sex couples are often treated, where the husband can be presumed to be the father.

"The statute creates a paternity presumption that just is impossible in a same-sex marriage situation," Sykes said, referring to the state statute on birth certificates that the couples are challenging.

"Your Honor," Celestino-Horseman said, "that's if one still presumes that parenthood is still defined"

Sykes interrupted: "It's not a parenthood statute. It's a paternity statute. Paternity presumption is impossible in a same-sex marriage situation. So we just don't have any kind of discrimination going on here at all."

Later, Sykes said that what the couples may be seeking is a redefinition of parenthood.

"Your Honor," Celestino-Horseman said, "parenthood"

Sykes interrupted again: " is biological or adopted. You want this third category."

As Celestino-Horseman cited relevant cases, Sykes delineated between marriage cases and parenthood cases.

In pregnancies using a sperm donor, opposite-sex couples can say the husband is the father of the child but that same presumption of parenthood doesn't extend to a wife in a same-sex couple who isn't the birth mother, the lawsuit argued.

The state of Indiana countered that opposite-sex couples aren't supposed to do that. The mother is supposed to state when the husband is not the father. But that's not what often happens in real life.

"That led me to think that your argument is that a state law becomes unconstitutional because people subject to the state law don't follow it," Judge Frank H. Easterbrook said, "which would be a very difficult position to take."

The debate, he said, would then be about how state law is supposed to operate not whether it discriminates.

Easterbrook asked how the couples' case would apply to two married men who have a child through artificial insemination.

Celestino-Horseman indicated the situation was more complicated because it would involve surrogacy.

"I don't want to be the one to tell you this, but Obergefell says there can't be any sex discrimination, and now you're saying there must be sex discrimination," Easterbrook said. "In a female-female marriage, the right answer is mother No. 1 and mother No. 2. In a male-male marriage, the right answer is surrogate mother, sperm donor, followed by adoption. In your view, doesn't there have to be identical treatment of the male-male marriage and the female-female marriage?"

News alerts delivered to your phone:Download IndyStar app for breaking news, sports.

Celestino-Horseman responded that wasn't part of the case.

"We can't ignorethe logical implications of your arguments. And you seem to want to," Easterbrook replied.

He added that the case aimed to require "a mis-recording of who the father is."

"Your view seems to be that it is unconstitutional for Indiana to correctly record the parent," he said.

The Seventh Circuit is taking the case under advisement and may rule at a later date.

Call IndyStar reporter Stephanie Wang at (317) 444-6184. Follow her on Twitter: @stephaniewang.

Read or Share this story: http://indy.st/2rLLPSp

Link:
Judge to Indiana same-sex couples: 'You can't overcome biology' - Indianapolis Star

Synthetic biology cheat sheet: Key players, big debates and lingo you should know – Genetic Literacy Project

Key Players

J. Craig Venter: After playing an important role in early efforts to sequence the human genome, Venter now heads the J. Craig Venter Institute, whose work involves, among other things, research on synthetic life forms.

Christopher Voigt: Voigt is an MIT biological engineer who has worked at the intersection of synthetic biology and CRSIPR gene editing technology.

Boundaries of species: Synthetic biologists sometimes take genetic material from one species and implant it in another. Will such transplantations challenge our ability to make sense of the unnatural world?

Regulatory uncertainty: At present, there are few to no legal standards specific to the practice of synthetic biology. Are we courting environmental or medical disaster in the absence of such norms?

BioBricks: DNA strings designed to be pieced together in synthetic biology applications.

CRISPR: A genetic editing technique that involves copying and pasting strings of DNA.

Synthetic biology: An interdisciplinary research field that combines the insights of computer science, engineering, genetics, and cellular biology in an effort to reshape the building blocks of life.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original:Your Cheat-Sheet Guide to Synthetic Biology

Excerpt from:
Synthetic biology cheat sheet: Key players, big debates and lingo you should know - Genetic Literacy Project

PSU grad blossoms in plant biology – Joplin Globe

PITTSBURG, Kan. Hannah Thomas said she discovered her true purpose helping others through plant biology while studying at Pittsburg State University.

The 22-year-old from Ottawa was one of more than 1,200 PSU students to graduate this weekend, and shell soon be leaving for an Ivy League university, Cornell, located in Ithaca, New York, to pursue a doctorate degree in plant biology.

Thomas wasnt always sure what career path to choose, and ended up changing her major halfway through college.

Originally planning to major in pre-med, Thomas soon discovered her love for botany while taking required biology courses.

Most people really rue the plant section and they hate it, but for me, it was my favorite part and I loved it, Thomas said. I thought botanical science just makes so much sense to me. It really clicked for my brain and I understood it very well.

I had to leave all of my friends that I had been taking classes with for two years, Thomas said. I had a different course load, different teachers. My family was really supportive, so that was a big plus. Some people were like, Youre making a mistake. You need to go into medicine. I had to really know that what I wanted to do was the correct path.

One of her biggest motivators for changing majors was a PSU study-abroad trip to Belize. It was her first time out of the country and she spent three weeks working with doctors to provide health care to locals who could not afford it.

It was an eye-opening experience to go into a rural part of a developing country and the perspectives of seeing people who are starving to death and of people who do not have access to health care, Thomas said.

While I was there, I met a lot of people who were seeking medical care and a lot of their main health problems were based on the fact that they were so malnourished, Thomas said. That experience really influenced my interest in going into food production, agriculture and plant science instead of medicine.

Her passion blossomed even more after she was accepted for a summer internship at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. She was one of 25 students in the country chosen for the position.

At Danforth, she studied under researcher Blake Meyers, whom Thomas called a very famous plant biologist. He is known for his work in plant genetics and bioinformatics, which is a field of study that uses computers and other technology to analyze biological data, such as the genetic code.

Any school you go to, I could mention his name and people would be very interested to know what we researched. This was the greatest opportunity that I couldve had, as an undergraduate, to really spread my wings and network within plant biology.

Together, Thomas and Meyers researched small ribonucleic acid (RNA), and while there she also got to meet Bill Gates. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation helps fund research and development at the center.

Thomas also gave credit to two professors, Virginia Rider and Neil Snow, for helping her discover her true path. Rider advises pre-med students and coordinates PSUs Kansas IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence. Snow is an assistant professor of botany and director of the T.M. Sperry Herbarium.

Snow said he remembered when Thomas had approached him two years ago and asked to take one of his courses. He said she was focused and hard-working.

Shes got the best time-management skills Ive ever seen in a student in 20 years, Snow said. Shes incredibly effective at getting things done and changing gears. She does very high quality work, as well. Shes very well prepared to start a doctoral program at Cornell.

Thomas last week offered a piece of advice she wishes she couldve given to her freshman self.

Dont listen to what other people want you to do, Thomas said. Do what you want to do. I eventually figured that out, but I had listened to some people for too long. I learned that hard work does pay off and that you can do whatever you want with your life from any school that you choose.

Drum Line

Hannah Thomas also was a member of the Pride of the Plains Drum Line at Pittsburg State University.

Go here to see the original:
PSU grad blossoms in plant biology - Joplin Globe

NEET physics 'tough', some biology questions stump many – Times of India

PUNE: The National Eligiblity-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions to medical and dental colleges passed off smoothly in the city on Sunday. Nearly 50,000 students appeared for the exam from Pune and nearby areas.

For most of the students, however, physics was a tough paper to crack. They also said that about four to five questions in the biology paper seemed to be out of syllabus. Chemistry, however, they said, was easy.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) conducted the NEET, which contained three papers of a total 720 marks.

The exam was simultaneously held at 104 centres in 11 cities in the state, including Pune and Mumbai.

Hritik Patil, one of the candidates at the S M Choksey College exam centre, said, "The biology paper carried the highest marks. As a few questions seemed out of syllabus, it is a cause of worry. These questions were worth 20 to 30 marks."

Link:
NEET physics 'tough', some biology questions stump many - Times of India

Automating Biology Experiments With Legos – R & D Magazine

Elementary and secondary school students who later want to become scientists and engineers often get hands-on inspiration by using off-the-shelf kits to build and program robots. But so far its been difficult to create robotic projects to foster interest in the wet sciences biology, chemistry and medicine so called because experiments in these field often involve fluids.

Now, Stanford bioengineers and their collaborators have shown how an off-the-shelf kit can be modified to create robotic systems capable of transferring precise amounts of fluids between flasks, test tubes and experimental dishes.

By combining the Lego Mindstorms robotics kit with a cheap and easy-to-find plastic syringe, the researchers created a set of liquid-handling robots that approach the performance of the far more costly automation systems found at universities and biotech labs.

We really want kids to learn by doing, saidIngmar Riedel-Kruse, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering.

We show that with a few relatively inexpensive parts, a little training and some imagination, students can create their own liquid-handling robots and then run experiments on it so they learn about engineering, coding and the wet sciences at the same time, he added.

A paper describing the workwas published March 21 inPLoS Biology. Riedel-Kruse is the senior author. The lead author is postdoctoral scholar Lukas Gerber.

Robots meet biology

The robots are designed to pipette fluids from and into cuvettes and multiple-well plates types of plastic containers commonly used in laboratories. Depending on the specific design, the robots can handle liquid volumes far smaller than 1 microliter, a droplet about the size of a single coarse grain of salt. Riedel-Kruse believes that these Lego designs might even be useful for specific professional or academic liquid-handling tasks that normally require robots costing many thousands of dollars.

His overarching idea is to enable students to learn the basics of robotics and the wet sciences in an integrated way. Students could learn to collaborate while also developing STEM skills, such as mechanical engineering and computer programming. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.) They could also gain a deeper appreciation of the value of robots in life sciences experiments.

Riedel-Kruse said he drew inspiration from constructionism, a learning theory that advocates project-based learning in which students make tangible objects and connect different ideas and areas of knowledge and thereby construct mental models to understand the world around them. One of the leading theorists in the field was Seymour Papert, whose seminal 1980 bookMindstormswas the inspiration for the Lego Mindstorms sets.

I saw how students and teachers were already using Lego robotics in and outside school, usually to build and program moving car-type robots, and I was excited by that, he said. But I saw a vacuum for bioengineers like me. I wanted to bring this kind of constructionist, hands-on learning with robots to the life sciences.

Do it yourself

In theirPLoS Biologypaper, the team members offer step-by-step building plans and several fundamental experiments targeted to elementary, middle and high school students. They also offer experiments that students can conduct using common household consumables like food coloring, yeast or sugar. In one experiment, colored liquids with distinct salt concentrations are layered atop one another to teach about liquid density. Other tests measure whether liquids are acids, like vinegar, or bases, like baking soda, or which sugar concentration is best for yeast. Yet another experiment uses color-sensing light meters to align color-coded cuvettes.

The coding aspect of the robot is elementary, Riedel-Kruse said. A simple programming language allows students to place symbols telling the robot what to do: Start. Turn motor on. Do a loop. And so forth. The robots can be programmed and operated in different ways. In some experiments, students push buttons to actuate individual motors. In other experiments, students preprogram all motor actions to watch their experiments executed automatically.

Its kind of easy. Just define a few parameters, and the system works, he said, adding, These robots can support a range of educational experiments, and they provide a bridge between mechanical engineering, programming, life sciences and chemistry. They would be great as part of in-school and after-school STEM programs.

STEM-ready

Riedel-Kruse said these activities meet several important goals for promoting multidisciplinary STEM learning as outlined by the Next Generation Science Standards and other national initiatives. He stressed the cross-disciplinary instruction value that integrates robotics, biology, chemistry, programming and hands-on learning in a single project.

The team has co-developed these activities with high school students and a science teacher, and then tested them with elementary and middle school students over the course of several weeks of instruction. These instructions for the robots are now ready for wider dissemination to an open-access community that can expand upon the plans, capabilities and experiments for this new breed of fluid-handling robots, and they might even be suitable to support certain research applications.

We would love it if more students, do-it-yourself learners, STEM teachers and researchers would embrace this type of work, get excited and then develop additional open-source instructions and lesson plans for others to use, Riedel-Kruse said.

Originally posted here:
Automating Biology Experiments With Legos - R & D Magazine

Evolutionary biology professor explains how to 'Walk the Tree of Life' – Science Daily

Pop quiz: Are crocodiles more closely related to lizards or to birds? The answer may surprise you. Although traditional taxonomy classifies birds separately, they are actually closely related to crocodilians, sharing such groupwide characteristics as nest construction, parental care, a four-chambered heart and acoustic communication.

Traditional taxonomy "is an exercise in memorization, and we don't want to use brain cells on labels," said Harry Greene, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow. The traditional system, invented in 1758 by Linnaeus, uses a hierarchical system of kingdoms, phyla, class, order, family, genus and species to make sense of biodiversity. But with the millions of new species identified since the 18th century, the system has become unwieldy and often is misleading, as the crocodile-lizard-bird example shows.

Instead, Greene uses the 35-year-old evolutionary Tree of Life (TOL) classification system, which explains the diversity of life by matching and mapping relationships on a branching diagram or "tree." The tree shows the inferred evolutionary relationships, based on physical or genetic characteristics; those named on each "branch," the taxa, are believed to be descended from a common ancestor.

Greene and Cissy Ballen of the University of Minnesota have just published a paper in PLOS Biology, "Walking and Talking the Tree of Life: Why and How to Teach About Biodiversity," discussing why the evolutionary TOL approach to biodiversity is best, to what extent the traditional taxonomy is still used and how to teach TOL using an active learning approach.

The researchers said they were unsurprised to find the vast majority of university and high school level biology textbooks still present the traditional taxonomy (although the newest textbooks often describe at least some of the TOL system as well). Greene frequently fields requests for guidance on how to teach the TOL and where to find resources about it; such requests motivated him and Ballen to write their paper.

Greene has spent decades refining his approach to teaching the TOL, which he calls "walking and talking the Tree of Life." He uses about 145 names on the TOL as references to illustrate relationships across branch tips and the "nodes" that unite them, each name chosen carefully to aid in understanding and memory. One such aid, for the benefit of pre-med students, is a skull and crossbones symbol at the branch tip of each taxon that includes at least one human pathogen.

At Cornell, the TOL is taught as part of the Evolution and Biodiversity course in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Through the College of Arts and Sciences' Active Learning Initiative, Ballen was hired as a postdoctoral associate to help transition the course from a standard passive lecture format into an active learning structure, emphasizing collaborative in-class group work and discussion.

In the revised class format, students are given pre-lecture assignments that include video podcasts ("vodcasts") and textbook readings; class time is spent reinforcing this material through active learning exercises and class discussions. Other changes made to the course include pre-class quizzes, which serve as low-risk assessments of how well the students have absorbed the pre-lecture assignments; the use of i-Clickers in class; and a random-number generator that calls on different groups in the class to answer questions to encourage student engagement.

"Because of the open-mindedness and progressive thinking about teaching from the EEB faculty, they were open to everything," said Ballen.

Greene admits he was a skeptic at first. Although he was a big fan of i-Clickers, which he'd been using for years, flipping the class felt "faddish" to him.

"Field teaching is the original active learning," he said. "If you want to see students light up, get them muddy and put a salamander in their hand."

But after seeing the improvement in test scores with active learning, especially among underrepresented minorities, sitting in on the lectures and participating as a teacher, Greene is a convert: "I would never want to go back to traditional lectures."

Ballen agrees. In the active learning format, she explained, students are much more energized and responsive. "They stay alert and engaged. They talk more and there's a lot more laughter."

Go here to read the rest:
Evolutionary biology professor explains how to 'Walk the Tree of Life' - Science Daily

Biology Teacher Uses Science To Brilliantly Shut Down Transphobic Meme – A Plus

Fueled by Chicken Soup for the Soul

If you're going to use science to make a point, you'd better hope you know the science.

A meme circulating on Facebook caught the eye of Grace Pokela, a biology teacher at Arlington High School in Lagrangeville, New York. It didn't get her attention just for the poor science, but for the bigotry it was encouraging:

The meme began circulating around the same timethe Obama directive that allowed trans students in public schools to use the bathroom matching their gender identity was rescinded. When Pokela saw the post, she decided to make a Facebook status explaining why it was so off-base. Her response was such a thorough takedown of the meme that it was shared over 30,000 times.

Pokela started her post by explaining all the different variations of chromosomes we see in nature, and how they don't necessarily reflect or predict whether organisms are "male" or "female" terms that begin to seem much too simple to encapsulate the biological complexities of sex and gender as her post continues.

"You can be male because you were born female, but you have 5-alphareductase deficiency and so you grew a penis at age 12," she wrote. "You can be female because you have an X and a Y chromosome but you are insensitive to androgens, and so you have a female body. You can be female because you have an X and a Y chromosome but your Y is missing the SRY gene, and so you have a female body. You can be male because you have two X chromosomes, but one of your X's HAS an SRY gene, and so you have a male body. You can be male because you have two X chromosomes- but also a Y. You can be female because you have only one X chromosome at all. And you can be male because you have two X chromosomes, but your heart and brain are male."

Pokela drove her point home with poignant, incisive language. And she finished it with this kicker:

"Don't use science to justify your bigotry," Pokela wrote. "The world is way too weird for that shit."

Pokela's perspective is not unique in the scientific community, either. The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and most other major medical organizations do not classify trans people as having a "psychological disorder" or a mental illness. In fact, as Pokela alluded to, there is a lot of evidence that supports the fact that trans people's experiences are underpinned by biological realities. For instance, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that in trans women, the anatomy of the brain looks a lot more like a cisgender woman's brain than a cisgender man's.

"Facts have become so nebulous recently," Pokela said in an email to The Observer. "To see someone spouting such rage towards a truly oppressed group made me very upset. Using falsehoods to promote hate just rubbed me the wrong way."

View a related video below:

See the original post here:
Biology Teacher Uses Science To Brilliantly Shut Down Transphobic Meme - A Plus

Biology professor is elected a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society – Nevada Today

For more than 50 years the Animal Behavior Society has endeavored to promote the study of animal behavior on a biological level. Every year a handful of scientists who have made distinguished contributions to the study of the subject are chosen to be fellows. This year, College of Science Professor of Biology Vladimir Pravosudov was one of the few.

Pravosudov studies how small birds adapt to harsh environments. His current work focuses on chickadees, which can survive in the bleakest of wintery climates.

"They've always been of interest to me because these birds can actually live very far north, so they can survive with only a few hours of light, and then the rest is all-day sleeping," he said. "they cache a lot of food when its available in the fall, and they recover it in the winter when it could be minus 40 degrees Celsius, which is very cold. These birds use spatial memory to find these food caches, so they have amazing memories."

After comparing chickadees across a range of climates and geographies, Pravosudov has found that a chickadee's memory is adapted for its environment, and in more extreme circumstances - where food caching is necessary - the cognitive tools for memory are more developed. Providing such fascinating insight is what brought Pravosudov to the attention of his peers, and the recognition he has received has been humbling.

"Many of these people I would consider unofficial mentors," he said. "Not that I was a student with them, but I admire their work greatly, and I've read it and it helped the formation of my own ideas. This is an important society. I've been with the society for a long time and people that are a part of that group, they are very impressive."

Pravosudov received congratulations from his department chair, dean and University Provost.

"The ABS is the premier international society for scientists who study behavior," Jack Hayes, professor and biology department chair, said. "The society elected six Fellows this year, so only a very select group of highly accomplished scientists are elected. Congratulations, Vladimir on a well deserved honor."

"Professor Pravosudov is an excellent faculty member and the recognition of his scholarship by the Animal Behavior Society is well deserved," Jeff Thompson, dean of the College of Science, said. "Vladimir's research is fascinating and he mentors a large number of students that get to participate in his world class research. I am very proud to have Vladimir in the College of Science and greatly appreciate the recognition he brings to the University and the Biology Department."

Provost Kevin Carman echoed Thompson's praise, "Congratulations Vladimir, this prestigious recognition brings honor to the entire University."

While Pravosudov is happy to be recognized for the work he has done, he is also humble. He has conducted research with funding from the National Science Foundation since he began at the University in 2005, and while he believes that laurels are nice, he remains steadfastly focused on the importance of his work.

Looking to future research projects, he has submitted two pre-proposals to the National Science Foundation.

"We want to look at social networks in these birds," Pravosudov said. "We can see how these birds socialize. We can try to understand how they learn and transfer information socially. We can actually do experiments in the field, which is not very common, because traditionally cognition is studied in a lab."

Pravosudov is excited to continue his research, and his fellowship with the ABS is a cherry on top of a fulfilling career where his work is its own reward.

"I'm lucky to have spent most of my life doing what I love. I think it's a luxury. I've worked with animals and birds and I've never not been excited about something," Pravosudov said. "I think having a job like a professor at the University allows you to be like a little kid, always exposed to and learning new things, and I think that learning new things every day is the most exciting thing that I have in life.

View post:
Biology professor is elected a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society - Nevada Today

Biology major Chiang, director of 'Smart People' at Long Wharf, won over by arts – New Haven Register

It would appear that, given the name of one of Shakespeares most recognizable female characters, director Desdemona Chiang was predestined for a life in the theater. Chiang, who directs Lydia Diamonds play Smart People, which begins performances Wednesday at Long Wharf Theatre, doesnt refute the theory when she explains that she landed in the theater by accident.

I had no intention of going into theater, said Chiang before a recent rehearsal. Desdemona is actually my given name. But I went to Berkeley for my undergrad and was a molecular and cell biology major. I had planned to go to medical school. But during my first year of college I was told by my adviser that I would have to take an arts requirement class. I thought the easiest class to take would be an intro to acting class because it didnt have a lecture, it didnt have a paper. I would just show up and play improv games the whole semester. It was the easiest A I could take.

If fate lured Chiang into a life in the theater with the prospect of an easy A, it locked her in with the promise of endearing friendships.

The theater kids were more fun to hang with than the biology kids, she said. I found myself spending more time in the theater department for completely personal and social reasons.

Advertisement

It wasnt until much later when I got into graduate school, said Chiang, who earned her MFA from the University of Washington, that I realized the value of the arts and the value of theater and all the social good and the political responsibility of doing theater.

Smart People, which officially opens March 22 and runs through April 9, is the sort of play that feeds Chiangs appetite for social good and political responsibility through dyadic interaction rather than group activism.

Im really interested in unconscious bias and implicit bias, Chiang said. This show, in a nutshell, is about four smart people who think they know how they see the world and are surprised by the ways they didnt realize that they harbor certain opinions.

These four characters Valerie (Tiffany Nichole Greene), an African-American actor fresh out of Harvards ART training program; Jackson (Sullivan Jones), an African-American surgical intern at Harvard Medical School; Brian (Peter OConnor), a Caucasian neuropsychiatrist and tenured professor at Harvard; and Ginny (Ka-Ling Cheung), a Chinese-Japanese-American tenured professor of psychology at Harvard; are four smart people who are smart, but not as smart as they think they are, as Chiang described them.

They study race, or they study culture, or they are neurosurgeons and artists, said Chiang, who was born in Taiwan and identifies as Chinese-American. So they have a perceived sense of awareness around how the world works, and how social interactions work, and how human behavior works, and yet they find themselves in these encounters where their gut impulses contradict all the right things theyre supposed to do.

Diamond, whose previous credits include Broadways Stick Fly and adapting Toni Morrisons The Bluest Eye for the stage, started writing Smart People in 2007 after reading an article by a prominent neuropsychologist studying race. It debuted in 2014 at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston and was next produced off-Broadway just over a year ago at Second Stage.

The plays resonates more today than ever, said Chiang.

Definitely, post-2008, this play has a completely different meaning to me, she said. The play ends with the four characters watching the inauguration of our first black president. That issue is paramount now, compared to when it was produced in New York.

And, of course, the play is not a downer, she added. Its a comedy. But theres something kind of longing about it now.

The challenge to this play, Chiang said, is making these four intelligent and somewhat caustic characters human while, at the same time, honoring their wit and irony.

These are all people we have met, have seen or are related to or have relationships with, she said. These are not unfamiliar characteristics, I find.

I think that part of what Lydia has done, either consciously or unconsciously, is set up four people for us to look at as potentially stereotypical so that, over the course of the play, they become more human, Chiang said. Theyre four people we know very little about and they come off as a little bombastic and a little forward. Over the course of the play, as they interact, they catch each other; theyre surprised by each other. Some fall in love with each other, some try to fall in love and fail.

Because they start opening up to each other, she said, I think by the end of the play, hopefully, if weve laid out the series of events right, we will feel pretty much attached to and moved by them.

Chiang, who works extensively in Western regional theaters such as Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Seattle Shakespeare Company, obviously has no regret over her choice to choose a career in the arts rather than science. She believes that she can make her mark in theater, however differently than in medicine or research.

I certainly think theres value in both areas, she said. (But) thats why I think that arts funding is the first thing to go. We dont see the immediate impact.

What we see, I feel like, in the arts is long-term, hidden impact, she said. We teach things like vulnerability. We teach leadership. And we do this by playing pretend and getting on stage and expressing ourselves and being creative. For most people, it looks recreational, which I think is a struggle.

But I will say, theater completely changed my life, Chiang said. I did not know how to have fun before I did theater. I did not know how to be vulnerable with people. I was smart, certainly, and I could write a good paper, but I couldnt stand in front of a group and speak openly and candidly about how I felt about things. Theater gave me the space and training to do that.

Read more:
Biology major Chiang, director of 'Smart People' at Long Wharf, won over by arts - New Haven Register

Quantum Biology Wandering where the edge is – Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

I have had thoughts about quantum mechanics and biology for many years - ever since my thermodynamics class in chemistry as an undergrad. I discussed and developed them over the years. When I thought it was ready, decades ago, I wrote to Linus Pauling about my speculation that the most important differentiator for life is that from the molecular scale to the organization of organs, chaos (in the mathematical chaos theory sense) is the organizing principle. This means that living organisms are all potentially sensitive to quantum events. He was kind enough to write back, and I think it intrigued him, but there was no experiment that I could conceive of to do in support.

Some years later, I was talking to an older psychiatrist friend about this idea in the context of pondering the mystery of consciousness. He liked it, and called up his friend Arthur Young, insisting that I go spend a day with Arthur. I think that Arthur Young, who had made is fortune on patents on the helicopter, was rather disappointed in me at first, as I was unaware of who he was, or his thinking prior to our day at his house in Berkeley, chatting over tea and biscuits. I remember this little sign, The Institute for the Study of Consciousness. But, he was a gracious host, and tolerant of this ignorant nabob who was 50 years his junior. We ended up talking for hours.

At one point I asked him if he had thought about the possible implication of the quantum wave equation's necessity for an observation to collapse it into a specific state from all states. He was one of the few people who knew exactly what I was talking about, and he told me, "Oh, yes. I asked Werner a question quite similar to that." (This implication is that consciousness, or what have you, the omnipresent observer, is an integral part of the fundamental physics of our universe.)

A bit puzzled, I asked him who he that was. He frowned a bit and said, Heisenberg. The light dawned on me, and he smiled and told me that he had been lifelong friends with Werner Heisenberg from his time in college. And he told me that Werner had responded by saying that he didn't want his career derailed in religion and epistemology. "That is a battle for a younger man, he said.

There is another quote attributed to Werner that I think indicates that Arthur was telling me the truth about it. The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you. I think that what Werner was alluding to is probably this matter in quantum mechanics.

One of my earliest thoughts on this relative to neuroscience is that our sensitivity to quantum events means that living organisms are organized to exploit a hole in probability. (No, this doesn't violate thermodynamics - think it through.) That hole is that even though 99% of some stochastic set of quantum events go one way, when looking at any single event with two states, for that single quantum the probability is 50%.

I don't agree with Hammeroff that we have a location for quantum computing in the microtubules. I think it's more general than that. I can't find any reason in physics to localize our quantum sensitivity to any specific molecule or location. This makes things complicated. Maybe I'm wrong, but I haven't been able to justify his idea that it's localized.

I don't have any hard answers, but I think that there is enough here to think about and take seriously.

Go here to read the rest:
Quantum Biology Wandering where the edge is - Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

How evolution alters biological invasions – Phys.org – Phys.Org

February 13, 2017 by Todd B. Bates A paramecium, one of the protozoans used in the Rutgers evolution and invasions experiment. Credit: Peter J. Morin

Biological invasions pose major threats to biodiversity, but little is known about how evolution might alter their impacts over time.

Now, Rutgers University scientists have performed the first study of how evolution unfolds after invasions change native systems.

The experimental invasionselaborate experiments designed by doctoral student Cara A. Faillace and her adviser, Professor Peter J. Morintook place in glass jars suitable for savory jam or jelly, with thousands of microscopic organisms on each side. After entering the jarsuncharted territory - the invaders won some battles and lost some against the "natives."

"Oftentimes, we know the initial impacts of invasive species but we don't know the long-term impactsif things will get better or worse," said Morin, a distinguished professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution & Natural Resources in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. "Cara found that both things can happen, and it will depend a lot on the details of the biology of the species that's introduced and the biology of the community that's invaded."

The Rutgers scientists coauthored a study"Evolution Alters the Consequences of Invasions in Experimental Communities"that was published recently in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Typically, biological invasions unfold when humans introduce exotic species - either accidentally or on purpose - into areas where they are not native, Faillace said. Invasive species, a subset of exotic species, usually are ecologically or economically harmful.

"Invasions can cause extinctions and that's been documented globally," she said. "They can also reduce diversity through competition, predation and when they introduce a pathogen."

In their study, the Rutgers researchers compared the performance of populations of resident and invading species before and after they interacted, and potentially evolved, for about 200 to 400 generations. They used two different groups of resident species consisting of aquatic bacteria, ciliates - protozoans with hair-like projections called ciliaand rotifers, organisms with cilia-laced mouths and retractable feet. The ciliates and rotifers were collected from Bamboo Pond in Rutgers Gardens in New Brunswick.

For the nearly two-year experiments, one species from each group was designated as an invader of the other community. One group had five ciliates and a rotifer. The other group had three different ciliates and a different rotifer.

The organisms' worlds were loosely lidded 8.5-ounce jarsabout the size of a jelly jar. The jars contained food, vitamins, sterile water and two sterile wheat seeds for extra nutrients.

There were likely hundreds of thousands of protozoans in a microcosm, or jar, and populations turned over fairly quickly, with many chances for mutations, Morin said.

"Every time an individual divides, it's still alive and it takes six to 24 hours for most of these organisms to reproduce," he said.

The study's results showed that the microbes' interactions altered the performance of the resident and invading species, and the researchers think evolution led to differences in performance.

A couple of species were abundant in the beginning but went extinct (they could not be found in the jar) after being invaded, Faillace added.

In nature, most biological invasions are accidental, Morin said.

"It took several tries to get the European starling in North America established, and that was intentional," he said. "Now they're the bane of every native bird."

"Gypsy moths were brought to North America by someone who wanted to see if they could establish a silk industry using gypsy moths," Morin said. "The cage they were kept in was damaged, they were released and the rest is history."

Yet many organisms, such as the emerald ash borer, which kills ash trees, get introduced accidentally through commerce, Faillace said. They include the Asian longhorned beetle, which also attacks and kills trees and likely arrived in shipping containers or pallets.

Biological invasions are especially damaging when a predator or pathogen is introduced and when native species have never encountered a predator, the scientists said.

Climate change is a major factor in biological invasions and its impact is likely increasing, Faillace said.

"Presumably as climate shifts, the species that can invade will change or the ranges of species that have invaded will change," she said.

"The bottom line is that we should expect to see changes in the impacts of invasive species as invaders and native species evolve over time," Morin said.

Explore further: Predator or not? Invasive snails hide even when they don't know

More information: Cara A. Faillace et al, Evolution alters the consequences of invasions in experimental communities, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2016). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-016-0013

Recognizing the signs of a predator can mean the difference between living to see another day and becoming another critter's midday snack.

Biological invasions get less prime-time coverage than natural disasters, but may be more economically damaging and warrant corresponding investments in preparedness and response planning, according to three biologists writing ...

The second longest river in the UK, the River Thames, contains 96 non-native species, making it one of the most highly invaded freshwater systems in the world.

When non-native herbivores invade new geographic regions, the consequences can be devastating to the native plants. Epidemic levels of herbivory damage may ensue because the delicate biological interactions that keep everything ...

Invasions from alien species such as Japanese Knotweed and grey squirrels threaten the economies and livelihoods of residents of some of the world's poorest nations, new University of Exeter research shows.

For the first time it is now possible to get a comprehensive overview of which alien species are present in Europe, their impacts and consequences for the environment and society. More than 11,000 alien species have been ...

Biological invasions pose major threats to biodiversity, but little is known about how evolution might alter their impacts over time.

From eyes the size of basketballs to appendages that blink and glow, deep-sea dwellers have developed some strange features to help them survive their cold, dark habitat.

Growing up in tough conditions can make wild animals live longer, new research suggests.

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send "repair-proteins" to the damaged parts within the DNA. To do this, an elaborate ...

Previous studies of flocks, swarms, and schools suggest that animal societies may verge on a "critical" pointin other words, they are extremely sensitive and can be easily tipped into a new social regime. But exactly how ...

A team at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has discovered how a promising malarial vaccine target - the protein RH5 - helps parasites to invade human red blood
cells. Published today in Nature Communications, the study ...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

View post:
How evolution alters biological invasions - Phys.org - Phys.Org

Missoula naturalist teaches wildlife biology to Colstrip kids with tech company's help – The Missoulian

Teachers is rural elementary schools in Montana often dont have the time and resources to provide their students with specific, in-depth, scientific lessons on subjects like ecology and wildlife biology.

But thanks to the work of a technology company and a Missoula nonprofit, 42 fourth-graders at Pine Butte Elementary in Colstrip were immersed in an hour-long intellectual adventure on Thursday, discovering how animals adapt to a winter climate, even though the teacher was 465 miles away in Missoula.

The Montana Natural History Center in Missoula employs a naturalist, Amy Howie, as an Interactive Distance Education Coordinator to conduct virtual science classes for kids in Rapelje, Lincoln, Colstrip and Helmville.

Howie, who worked as a science teacher for many years, said the kids are exposed to a curriculum that they wouldnt otherwise get.

This is totally new to them, she said. They love it because its something new and even though this is new to them, they still know the tech part. So they interact very well.

The MNHC partnered with Vision Net, a technology company with offices in Great Falls, Missoula and Billings, to set up the video conferencing platform. Essentially, Howie stands in a green room complete with light boxes, cameras, microphones, speakers and a giant video screen to chat with the kids in real time about how animals like bobcats and snowshoe hares are able to travel quickly in deep snow.

She interacts with the kids, making sure she knows most of their names, and pauses often to take questions. Other lessons have been on seeds, flowers and animal skulls.

It does take some practice, because its like youre on camera, Howie said. Especially with our green screen, you have to know where youre pointing. But the kids love it. One of the teachers told me the kids feel like they are right there in the classroom.

Bruce Wallace, video conferencing systems manager for Vision Net, said the company built a statewide network in 1995 and now over 180 schools use it to take advantage of resources in other cities. Their system is also used by the legal community, medical institutions and private industry. The technology saves time and money because teachers dont have to spend hours driving to little schools all over the empty expanses of Montana.

We try to provide the best technology that we can so that its as close to being there as it can get, Wallace said.

Thurston Elfstrom, the executive director of the MNHC, said this year is a pilot program for the classes. The schools get a great deal, because they are only charged about $245 for a once-a-month class for the entire school year, which includes a bin full of materials.

The MNHC is a nonprofit on Hickory Street in Missoula that provides nature education programming for people of all ages. Elfstrom said the program relies on fundraisers and donors. One private donor has been helping with most of the distance learning so far.

Our goal is to get 20 more classrooms next year, Howie said. We need to start training some other people. The great thing is its so flexible. You can schedule these schools and you dont have to travel anywhere.

Elfstrom said the technology allows the MNHC to extend its reach much farther than they could if they had to teach in person. Thats good news for kids, who are learning about the world around them in new ways.

Those teachers in rural schools have a general education, so I think a lot of them are looking to add more science, because thats not their specialty, Howie said. Especially in rural schools, they need help with adding science into the curriculum. And now we are aligning our curriculum to the Next Generation Science Standards, so the teachers love that.

View post:
Missoula naturalist teaches wildlife biology to Colstrip kids with tech company's help - The Missoulian

Saudi Arabia funds new cancer biology professorship – GW Hatchet (subscription)

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is funding a new professorship in the School of Medicine and Health Science, according to a University release Wednesday.

Edward Seto, the associate director for basic sciences at the GW Cancer Center, was installed as King Fahd Professor of Cancer Biology Monday according to the release. It is unclear exactly how much Saudi Arabia contributed for the professorship.

Seto, who is also a professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine, studies cancer epigenetics and histone deacetylase enzymes, or HDACs, in order to treat cancer. Seto is working to turn off genes and transform cancer cells to normal cells, according to the release.

Im honored today to be given this opportunity to contribute, no matter how small, to the GW Cancer Center, the medical school, the university and to the educational ambitions and goals of the late King Fahd, Seto said in the release.

The newly installed professorship is named in honor of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who was the countrys minister of education from 1954 to 1960 and ruled Saudi Arabia from 1982 until his death in 2005.

Abdullah Al-Saud, King Fahds grandson and Saudi Arabias ambassador to the United States, said in the release that his grandfather was committed to education and helped build Saudi Arabias national education system.

Im very happy to be here and very happy to be part of the celebration of something that somebody I knew was behind, Al-Saud said in the release.

Provost Forrest Maltzman said Saudi Arabia and GW began working on education together under the late King Fahd in the 1990s, according to the release.

GWs education school began partnering with a Saudi Arabian institution, Taibah University, for a doctoral program in educational leadership in 2015.

We are grateful for King Fahds vision and generosity, Maltzman said in the release. The King Fahd Professorship of Cancer Biology will enhance the ability of Dr. Seto and support the GW Cancer Centers research initiatives.

Continue reading here:
Saudi Arabia funds new cancer biology professorship - GW Hatchet (subscription)

Receding Lake Mead creates ideal classroom for UNLV biology … – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Receding water levels at Lake Mead have exposed 60,000 acres of land, creating a petri dish the size of Denver for UNLV biology students and others to study how to restore wildlife habitat.

Students Matthew Rader and Vivian Sam were joined by 10 volunteers for eight hours on a recent Saturday morning in an effort to bring life to 4 acres affected by the receding water.

Armed with shovels, the group turned enough dirt to plant 630 trees and grasses along the Las Vegas Wash, an area that was once submerged and served as a docking area for boats.

This area was 50 feet below Lake Mead, said Dr. Scott Abella, assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences at UNLV.

And with the drought and all the water issues, its exposed now and probably will be for the foreseeable future. Its really alarming from a water storage standpoint, but from a land habitat standpoint, Im thrilled. Nothing can be better for wildlife and the native ecosystem than having this happen.

Under Abellas direction, Rader and Sam led the effort to establish native plants for wildlife habitat and watershed protection on the now-exposed shoreline. Their 4-acre classroom represented a tiny corner of the exposed 60,000 acres equal to the size of Denver, according to Abella but the experience will likely yield sizeable benefits for years to come.

Birds, amphibians and reptiles, hopefully all kinds of stuff will show up to the new habitat, Abella said.

The planting party was a collaborative effort between the National Park Service, the Nevada Naturalist adult environmental education program and the California Fire Science Consortium.

You can take something that would seem negative, the receding level of Lake Mead, and make it positive, Rader said. Create new wildlife habitat in this area that could otherwise be left barren.

Rader and Sam will continue to monitor the area throughout the spring to see which animals are using the area and to observe the survival of the plants.

Its important to get the community out and understanding why this kind of restoration is important to do so they can continue to do it here and other areas as well, Sam said.

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

View original post here:
Receding Lake Mead creates ideal classroom for UNLV biology ... - Las Vegas Review-Journal

Humanpig embryo made – Nature.com

Human stem cells can integrate into developing pig embryos, a finding that could lead to new ways of growing human organs and studying early human development.

John Wu et al./Cell

Previous attempts to engraft human stem cells into developing mice have met with limited success. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, and his colleagues instead worked with embryos of pigs, which are biologically more similar to humans. They injected various types of human pluripotent stem cell which can develop into any cell type into balls of cells called blastocysts that become embryos. Early-stage human pluripotent stem cells integrated into the blastocysts, but only stem cells injected at an intermediate stage of maturity went on to form later-stage embryonic chimaeras, which contained appreciable numbers of cells from both species.

The researchers also grew rat stem cells (pictured in red) into organs in mouse embryos by eliminating the development of certain mouse organs a technique that could be applied to humanpig chimaeras to generate human organs in the future.

Cell 168, 473486 (2017)

Read this article:
Humanpig embryo made - Nature.com


12345...102030...