Feminine, Masculine, or Androgynous: How Do We Characterize Science?

Author: Kristina Lenn
Editors: Isabel Colon-Bernal, Jessica Cote, and Whit Froehlich

Being confronted with our own biases is a humbling experience. I hate to admit it, but for most of my life, even when I was in college, the images I had of scientists and engineers were typically of men. Growing up, the parochial school I attended taught us that men are supposed to be providers and women are supposed to be nurturers. According to my teachers and pastors, men are more logical and women are more emotional; therefore, men are more reliable for leadership roles. Popular culture at that time, which is unfortunately not very different from today’s, was full of references to dumb blonde women, women’s “excuse to be crazy” once a month, and men’s mistrust of “anything that bleeds for seven days and doesn’t die.”

Continue reading “Feminine, Masculine, or Androgynous: How Do We Characterize Science?”

 Who owns cells and DNA?  Property rights get messy in biology

Author: Sarah Kearns
Editors: Genesis Rodriguez, Zena Lapp, and Whit Froehlich

Scattered around your house or apartment, lightly coating the surface of your coffee table and lurking in the nooks and crannies of each room, discarded layers of yourself can be found in the form of skin and hair cells. Regardless of how much of clean-freak you are, it’s unlikely you miss the over one million cells you shed per day. One might go so far as to say that they aren’t even yours in the first place as you sweep them up during a spring cleaning before irreverently dumping them in the waste bin. But what if someone came into your house and took them? Continue reading ” Who owns cells and DNA?  Property rights get messy in biology”

Girls Who Code take on Computer Science Education Week

Author: Brooke Wolford. Editors: Zena Lapp and Whit Froehlich

It is not directly apparent, but a lot of computer code is working behind the scenes to allow you to read this article! In fact, computer code runs a lot of the modern world. Computer and mathematical occupations are the sixth-fastest-growing of 22 major occupational groups in the U.S., and are projected to account for 4.3 million American jobs in 2020.

This week (December 3-9 in 2018) is Computer Science Education Week, an effort to encourage K-12 students to take interest in computer science, frequently observed with Hour of Code events. Unfortunately, only 35% of high schools teach computer science. Furthermore, fewer than one-fifth of Computer Science graduates are women, and the gender gap is getting worse. To try to bridge this gender gap, a University of Michigan graduate-student led organization, Girls Who Code at University of Michigan Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics (UM DCMB), pursues computer science education year-long through K-12 educational outreach efforts primarily serving young women. GWC at UM DCMB is a recognized Voluntary Student Organization (VSO) founded by doctoral students in the Bioinformatics graduate program in 2017. The organization, led by an eight-woman Executive Committee, coordinates a weekly Girls Who Code (GWC) Club as well as extensive K-12 educational outreach efforts. Continue reading “Girls Who Code take on Computer Science Education Week”

Las Historias de Ciencia que Nunca Consideramos

Autora: Kristina Lenn

Editores: Christina Vallianatos y Whit Froehlich

Traducido al español por Irene Vargas-Salazar, editado por Paloma Contreras

La primera vez que leí “La Cuchara Desaparecida” fue en el 2012, mientras estaba de regreso a casa durante las vacaciones de mis estudios de doctorado. Como estudiante de ingeniería química, nada me atraía más que un libro sobre la tabla periódica. Y no me refiero a un típico libro de química que discute las diferentes características de los elementos de la tabla, recorriendo sus líneas horizontales y verticales. Éste es un libro que conecta la ciencia, la historia y el impacto que los elementos de Mendeleev tienen no solamente en el mundo, sino también en sus descubridores.

Continue reading “Las Historias de Ciencia que Nunca Consideramos”

El Dilema Cuántico

Autora: Kristina Lenn
Editores: Alex Taylor, Zuleirys Santana-Rodríguez, and Whit Froehlich
Traducido al español por Irene Vargas-Salazar

Mi película favorita es El Código Enigma con Benedict Cumberbatch y Kiera Knightley. Me fascina esta película por las siguientes razones:

  1. En toda la película se demuestra que uno no se puede rendir ante las personas pesimistas.
  2. Como química computacional, siento orgullo al ver como mi campo obtuvo mayor visibilidad ante el público.
  3. Y, por supuesto, ¡Benedict Cumberbatch!

Continue reading “El Dilema Cuántico”

The Mental Health Toll of Graduate Education: How Lack of Support and Work-Life Balance Affect Graduate Students

Author: Isabel D. Colón-Bernal; Editors: Callie Corsa, Zena Lapp and Irene Park

When I first came to the University of Michigan for recruitment weekend back in March of 2015, I was shocked to hear other recruits commenting on how Michigan graduate students seemed more cheery than graduate students at other institutions. I was even more shocked to learn students at other institutions have died by suicide recently; these include but are not limited to Anna Owensby from Scripps Research Institute, Jason Altom from Harvard University, and Han Nguyen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Continue reading “The Mental Health Toll of Graduate Education: How Lack of Support and Work-Life Balance Affect Graduate Students”

Benefits of Nutrition in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship

Author: Lei Wan
Content Editor: Zena Lapp, Kristina Lenn; Senior Editor: Sarah Kearns

Disclaimer: The opinions in this post belong to me. Patients should consult their own physicians about what will work best for their treatment and recovery plan.

When I volunteered in a cooking class for cancer patients and cancer survivors, I was often asked about nutrition and dietary supplement choice. For example, patients with colon cancer would ask if they should take omega-3 fatty acids; patients with prostate cancer were interested in taking lycopene and vitamin E. I pondered the same questions when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and when her cancer recurred—would she recover faster if she ate more cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts? These questions are also of interest to the public, given increasing evidence supporting the role of nutritional factors in cancer development. Continue reading “Benefits of Nutrition in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship”

The Stories of Science we Never Considered

Author: Kristina Lenn
Editors: Christina Vallianatos and Whit Froehlich

I first read The Disappearing Spoon in 2012 while I was home from grad school on a break. As a chemical engineering student, nothing appealed more to me than a book about the periodic table. And I’m not referring to a typical chemistry textbook that discusses the different trends in the table as you go from left to right or top to bottom. This is a book that weaves together science, history, and the impact that the subjects of Mendeleev’s kingdom have had not only on the world but also on their discoverers.

Sam Kean, the New York Times best-selling author not only of The Disappearing Spoon but also of The Violinist’s Thumb, The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, and Caesar’s Last Breath, has taken his passions for science, history, and writing and melded them together to create four books that were each Amazon’s top science book of the year. The books cover the periodic table, DNA, neuroscience, and the alchemy of air, respectively – all vastly different from one another yet equally enigmatic.

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The influence of epigenetics in breast cancer therapeutics

Author: Jessica McAnulty
Editors: Tricia Garay, Stephanie Hamilton, and Whit Froehlich

Most likely, you know of someone diagnosed with breast cancer, which affects 1 in 8 women in the United States. Some of the reasons this disease is so difficult to treat are the lack of targeted therapies (as there are different subtypes of breast cancer) and tumor resistance to treatment. Therefore, scientists are investigating novel therapies that act on a specific component of the cancer and/or prevent this resistance. One exciting therapy alters the expression of certain genes; a gene needs to be expressed, or “turned on”, in order for the cell to obtain information from the gene and produce a product. This therapy is a promising approach since cancers, such as hormone-sensitive breast cancer, are often due to genetic mutations that result in an increase in gene expression. It is thought that using this therapy to alter gene expression will reverse the breast tumor’s resistance to treatment.

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The Quantum Quandary

Author: Kristina Lenn

Editors: Alex Taylor, Zuleirys Santana-Rodriguez, and Whit Froehlich

My absolute favorite movie is The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, and I love this movie for these reasons:

  1. The lesson of not giving in to naysayers is showcased throughout the movie.
  2. As a computationalist, I am proud to see my field obtain more visibility in the public eye.
  3. And duh – Benedict Cumberbatch!

However, one of my favorite scenes in the movie is when school-age Alan Turing is walking with his only friend, Christopher. Alan’s perceived oddities make him a target of ridicule among his classmates, but Christopher makes this very poignant statement: “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” Continue reading “The Quantum Quandary”