So You Want to be a Scientist

Author: Kristina Lenn

Editors: Alex Taylor, Zena Lapp, and Scott Barolo

People say that “love” is probably the most abused word in the English language. I disagree. I think the word that is most misused is “genius.”

I taught engineering at Wayne State University for three years, and the class I taught that was most frustrating for the students was programming. Many of my students would come to me and say how discouraged they were; how they seemed to be behind everyone else; and how they thought they should already know how to do everything. My response was, “If you already knew how to do it, why would you need the class? It’s required for a reason.” In fact, many of them would look at me and say, “You hardly even think about the answer. You just start typing the code and it magically works.” I had to remind them that I’d been teaching for years and programming for almost a decade.

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Health Benefits of High-intensity Interval Training: Helping you HIIT the Gym

Author: Alison Ludzki

Editors: Zena Lapp, Alex Taylor, and Sarah Kearns

Gyms are riding out their busiest season, as patrons hang on to their New Year’s resolution exercise programs. But will it last? It seems inevitable that exercise participation wanes from January through December, except for maybe a blip prior to “beach body” season.  High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one newer exercise option that could help your resolution stick.

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La ciencia tras bastidores: Correlación y causalidad

Escrito en inglés por Brian Moyers, traducida al español por Thibaut R. Pardo-García y editado por Attabey Rodríguez-Benítez.

Cuando hablamos sobre problemas científicos, la frase “correlación no implica causalidad” a veces es utilizada. Pero, ¿Qué significa esta frase? La ciencia hace declaraciones sobre causa y efecto. Por ejemplo, el fumar causa cáncer de pulmón, las emisiones de carbón causan cambios climáticos y altas temperaturas causan un aumento en violencia. Claramente, los científicos tienen alguna manera de inferir relaciones causales. Pero, ¿Cómo es que ellos luchan con la idea de que “Correlación no implica causalidad”? Si no utilizan correlación, ¿Qué herramientas utilizan para inferir causalidad?

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Ciencia y redes sociales: Como el “compartir de más” está ayudando al campo de la genética humana

Versión original en inglés escrita por Christina Vallianatos, traducida al español por Adrian Melo Carrillo y editado por Jean Carlos Rodriguez Diaz.

Vivimos en una época en la cual compartimos de más.  Desde tu mejor amigo compartiendo sus fotos artísticas de comida (#boozybrunch), hasta tu colega tuiteando en tiempo real su experiencia de parto (“¡Cesárea en 20 minutos!”), parece que constantemente nos enteramos de detalles íntimos de todo el mundo.

¿Qué pasaría si alguno de esos momentos en que compartimos demasiada información no fueran necesariamente “demasiada información”? ¿Y si estos momentos estuvieran de hecho ayudando a resolver una de los mayores dilemas en el campo de la genética humana: la identificación de genes causantes de enfermedades?

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Recent Advances in Cervical Cancer Research

Author: Veronica Varela

Editors: Whit Froehlich, John Charpentier, and Scott Barolo

Cervical cancer has been getting much more attention as of late, partly due to the HBO adaptation of Rebecca Skloot’s book The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks. As a survivor of the same type of cancer that took Henrietta’s life and led to the development of the HeLa cell line, I found that Skloot’s book resonated deeply with me. My diagnosis compelled me to learn more about cervical cancer, which is one of the most preventable forms of cancer.

What Is Cervical Cancer?

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Figure 1. A diagram showing a stage IV cervical cancer (tumor is in blue)

Cervical cancer is an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of the cells lining the cervix, which acts like the doorway to the uterus. The cervix lining is mostly made up of two different cell types. Lining the outer cervix that faces the vagina are squamous cells, which are flat in shape, while the open passage of the cervix which leads into the uterus is lined by glandular cells, which are blockier in shape and produce mucus. Cancer can arise from either of these cell types; however, squamous cell cancers are the more frequent.

Most cervical cancers are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV is commonly known as the virus that causes genital warts, but what many don’t realize is that there are over a dozen types of sexually transmitted HPVs, and only a few of them result in genital warts. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) highlight that persistent infection with certain HPV strains, especially types 16 and 18, is the major cause of most cervical cancer cases.

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Conversations about Science Writing: Nick Wigginton

MiSciWriters member Kristina Lenn chatted with Nick Wigginton, the assistant vice president of research at the University of Michigan, about the importance of communication among researchers and the big responsibility science writers carry in the current political climate.

 

 Anyone who has ever done collaborative research can list the benefits of being able to work with another group and learn about the cultural differences between researchers. Dr. Nick Wigginton knows better than anyone else how important communication is to successful collaborations.

Prior to his tenure at Michigan, Dr. Wigginton received his doctorate in Earth Science, and his dissertation was a collaborative effort by his department, physics, chemistry, and biology. This interdisciplinary gauntlet gave him the tools he needed to succeed as an editor for Science magazine where he needed to address the research and cultures of multiple departments.

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Trash Talk

Author: Sara Wong

Editors: Sarah Kearns, Ellyn Schinke, and Shweta Ramdas

Taking out the trash is a despised chore. It’s smelly and heavy, and you have to get off the comfortable couch, put on shoes, and take it all the way to the curb. Yet, we do it because we understand that it is important for the health of our homes and neighborhood, and taking out the trash is better than leaving it in the house.

What you might not realize is that your cells also have to take out the trash. In fact, defects in this process often lead to disease. One example is Niemann-Pick disease, which in severe cases causes death in early childhood. Neimann-Pick disease is caused by defective lysosomes, the trash bins of the cell. In order to understand diseases like Niemann-Pick disease, we must first understand lysosomes.

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