Invasive species: An alien attack from out-of-place!

By Alisha John

BREAKING:Planet Earth is under attack by alien species from out-of-place. They may be lurking in your backyard right now. These invasive species take many forms – from plants to fish to mammals. But one thing is certain: they threaten the delicate balance of our native ecosystems.

Invasive species threaten native ecosystems and wildlife

As defined by Executive Order 13112 signed by President Clinton in 1999, an invasive species is an alien species which causes harm or is likely to cause harm to the environment, economy, or human health. Continue reading “Invasive species: An alien attack from out-of-place!”

Induced stem cell power: The power to reset a cell’s career path

By Shirley Lee

Featured image: Induced pluripotent stem cells stained red, their nuclei are stained blue. Source.

When I was first taught the process of embryonic development in biology class back in high school, I was amazed by the complexity of the process. Each one of us was derived from a single cell (the result of the joining of an egg and a sperm), which then went through countless cell divisions. It amazes me that something so small is packed with so much biological potential!

Naturally, scientists set out to get to the bottom of this phenomenon. In the 1990s, people discovered how to extract these cells (called stem cells) from developing human embryos in order to study the process underlying stem cell development in research laboratories. Continue reading “Induced stem cell power: The power to reset a cell’s career path”

Science behind-the-scenes: (Almost) Everything grade school taught you about science is wrong

By Bryan Moyers

Do you remember being taught the “Scientific Method” in school? There were always slight variations, but it went something like:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Do background research
  3. Form an educated guess (hypothesis)
  4. Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment
  5. Analyze your data and draw a conclusion
  6. If your hypothesis is wrong, return to step 3 with a new hypothesis.
  7. Communicate your results

These steps seem like a great tool to introduce students to science.  They’re simple and easy to understand once the teacher explains words like “hypothesis” and “experiment”.  If you’re like me, perhaps you remember it seeming straightforward—scientists follow a linear set of steps that produce powerful results. Teachers drilled that method into us grade after grade.  If only they weren’t completely wrong. Continue reading “Science behind-the-scenes: (Almost) Everything grade school taught you about science is wrong”

The fecal frontier

By Kevin Boehnke

Written for the prompt: What is the most important fundamental mystery in biology today that, if unlocked by basic research, would yield the greatest dividends for human health?

Poop. For good reason (it harbors deadly pathogens), this ubiquitous, noxious substance provokes an instinctive reaction of disgust. Despite the near-universality of poop and fart jokes, humans have spent much time, energy, and money to avoid contact with feces. Yet poop has great potential to improve human health through medical treatments,prevent disease through microbiome maintenance, and mitigate effects of antibiotic resistance. A better understanding of poop could improve millions of lives and save billions of dollars per year in healthcare costs. Continue reading “The fecal frontier”

Coffee: To drink or not to drink, that is the question

My morning usually goes like this: I wake up, shower, eat breakfast, and drink coffee before stepping out of my apartment to face the day.

Depending on how much time I have in the morning, I may skip some of those steps. Next time you see me, ask me how hungry I am and whether my socks actually match. But there is something that I never skip: coffee. And I’m not alone in this ritual—54% of Americans older than 18 drink coffee every day. Continue reading “Coffee: To drink or not to drink, that is the question”