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Tag: life sciences

Apr 18, 2011

Earth Day: Research Challenges

For more than 40 years, Earth Day has been a call to arms to appreciate and protect our natural environment. Improving our understanding of the environment is an essential component of that mission. With that in mind, we have asked researchers in fields ranging from wildlife ecology to meteorology to political science to briefly outline… 

Mar 14, 2011

Research Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

Interested in learning more about how ants live in the medians of Manhattan or in Peruvian tree gardens? How about the ways animals and plants move through landscape corridors that surround nuclear weapons sites? If so, you have something in common with Dr. Jai Ranganathan, a conservation biologist who produces “Curiouser and Curiouser” podcasts for… 

Dec 3, 2010

NASA’s Arsenic Thingy: What It Is, Why It Matters

In case you missed it, NASA announced Dec. 2 that researchers have discovered the first organism that can survive and reproduce using arsenic – an extremely toxic element. First things first: it is NOT extraterrestrial and they did NOT find it. They sort of created it. That said, it’s still incredibly cool. In short, a… 

Nov 18, 2010

It’s the End of the Male As We Know Him (And Boas Feel Fine)

If the end of men is upon us, as asserted by a summer cover story in The Atlantic, you can add boa constrictors to the list of those sticking their tongues out at males as they slide to irrelevance. Boa constrictor females, it turns out, don’t need males to get involved in the birthing process.… 

Nov 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Science: Tryptophacts and Tryptophantasies

I was looking for an excuse to write about Thanksgiving science when a friend posed this question: “Can tryptophan be extracted from a turkey and then be injected directly into a human vein via syringe?” Answer: no. But that raised some other interesting questions, like, what is tryptophan? And if tryptophan doesn’t make us sleepy… 

Sep 15, 2010

Science Communication Breakdown (I Got Something I Think You Oughtta Know)

I used to work as a cook. And, as “Top Chef” aficionados know, teamwork is essential to cooking a good meal and getting it out on time. You can imagine how much more important teamwork is in today’s world of multi-institution, interdisciplinary research initiatives targeting complex scientific questions. Luckily, a new field of study is… 

Aug 5, 2010

Cataloging Critters

What is an insect museum and why is it important? Find out by checking out our question-and-answer segment with Dr. Andy Deans, NC State assistant professor of entomology and director of the university’s Insect Museum, which lives and grows in Gardner Hall. Responses have been lightly edited for style or clarity. Q. What purpose does the… 

Aug 3, 2010

Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog…I Think

Can you identify a frog based solely on what it sounds like? I can’t. And apparently, I’m not alone. New research published in this month’s Ecology shows that even trained observers (or whatever you call listeners) can make mistakes when it comes to identifying frog species and estimating their numbers. That could be a big… 

Jul 16, 2010

Thought for Food

Could perennial grains help feed a burgeoning world population and make the planet safer at the same time? A policy forum paper in the journal Science, titled “Increased Food and Ecosystem Security via Perennial Grains,” co-authored by NC State crop scientist Jim Holland, makes the case in the affirmative. The gist of the paper is that… 

Jun 18, 2010

Welcome to the Deepwater Horizon MC252 Incident

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Dr. Greg Massey, DVM, DABVP, a postdoctoral research associate at NC State who is currently using his expertise to help wildlife – particularly birds – who have been affected by the oil spill on the Gulf Coast. He will be writing about his experiences periodically on The Abstract.… 

Jun 17, 2010

Dare I Sequence A Peach?

Note: This is a guest piece written by David Caldwell, a science writer with NC State University’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. I only posted it. And added the awful pun of a headline. The genetic makeup of the peach could yield tantalizing clues for scientists working with many related plants. While you might expect… 

Jun 9, 2010

Turning Up The Heat to Study Climate Change

It’s getting really hot in forests located in Orange County, N.C., and Petersham, Mass. NC State biologist Rob Dunn and colleagues are turning up the heat in Duke Forest and Harvard Forest – the southern and northern edges of many animal species habitats – to  learn more about the effects of climate change, particularly on ants.… 

May 17, 2010

Looking to Piglets for Clues to Obesity, Osteoporosis

Calcium does a body good – perhaps even more than previously thought. And it took a study of piglets to figure it out. Dr. Chad Stahl, an associate professor of animal science at NC State, presented research recently at the Experimental Biology 2010 meeting showing calcium-deficient piglets with weaker and less dense bones than piglets receiving… 

May 6, 2010

Bacteria With Bite

Researchers have found a bacterial infection that may contribute to birth defects, and you’ve probably never heard of it (though you may have been exposed to it). Have you ever been bitten by a flea?  Scratched by a cat?  Then chances are you’ve come into contact with bacteria called Bartonella.  If you’ve never heard of… 

Apr 21, 2010

The Buzz On Bees

The plight of honeybees has been the focus of a lot of media attention, as bee populations around the country have plummeted due to colony collapse disorder and other factors. But Dr. David Tarpy, whose research focuses on improving bee health and productivity, is doing something about it. Tarpy, an entomology professor at NC State and…