Virus vs. Bacteria: Mortal combat

By Ada Hagan

Every predator is prey to something. The antelope falls to the lion, the lion falls to the human, and the human, to viruses and bacteria. Bacterial infection is one of the things we fear most. Infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria can conquer the strongest and smartest of us.  But… do the bacteria that live in and around us, that even prey on us, have a predator themselves?

Yes. They do. There is an enormous amount of variety in viruses and the types of cells they infect, so just as there are viruses that infect human cells, there are viruses called bacteriophages that prey on bacteria. Like other predators and their prey, bacteriophages and bacteria are locked in a bitter evolutionary arms race. Continue reading “Virus vs. Bacteria: Mortal combat”

Science behind-the-scenes: “And that is a scientific FACT!”

By Bryan Moyers

In the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, there is a scene where the quartet of male leads is screaming at their boss.  They are outraged over the hiring of a woman for the position of news anchor.  At one point, David Koechner’s character leans forward over the desk and announces:

“It is anchorMAN, not anchorLADY, and THAT IS A SCIENTIFIC FACT!” Continue reading “Science behind-the-scenes: “And that is a scientific FACT!””

Don’t sweat the small stuff: Exercise is Medicine® for stress relief

By Alison Ludzki

April is Stress Awareness Month

April is a natural fit for Stress Awareness Month, playing host to inevitable final exams and tax season. But is there a way to avoid the stress that comes along with them?

Stress means different things to different people, making it hard to define. Most importantly, stress is a hormonal response to danger. However, stress can also occur in response to not-so-dangerous occasions in our day-to-day lives, including routine events like work, family interactions, and other daily responsibilities. When these stressors are ongoing, they can have physical and mental health consequences. Continue reading “Don’t sweat the small stuff: Exercise is Medicine® for stress relief”

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”