MY SITN Aquilegia flower

The Birth of a Flower

Unlike animals, plants possess the ability to generate new tissues and organs throughout their entire lifespans due to the activity of stem cells located in specific sites termed meristems. During the reproductive phase, floral meristem (lower right dome-shaped structure) give rise to different floral organ primordia (the series of bulges), which will eventually grow into the sepals, petals, stamens, staminodia, and carpels of a beautiful … Continue reading The Birth of a Flower

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Min Ya

My name is Min Ya, or Ya Min, but I go by Minya. I was born and raised in China. Heavily influenced by my botany-enthusiast father, I have been a plant lover since I was very little. Before grad school, I finished my undergrad in China and Japan, and obtained dual Master’s Degree in Sweden and France. Although the subfields of biology varied between my … Continue reading Min Ya

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Diamonds in the Leaf

This cross section of an oleander (Nerium oleander) leaf reveals two beautiful mineral crystals inside. Leaf cells are stained red. Adapted to dry conditions, this leaf possess three epidermal layers to prevent water loss, below which there are tightly packed palisade mesophyll cells that are specialized for harvesting light and loosely packed spongy mesophyll cells allowing efficient gas exchange. These calcium oxalate crystals are deposited by specialized … Continue reading Diamonds in the Leaf

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Mosquitos: Friend or Foe? Possible use of mosquitos in modern epidemiology

With the warm weather of summer quickly approaching, a common enemy known as the mosquito will soon make a reappearance. Mosquitoes are more than just an irritation. In many areas of the world, mosquitoes are also carriers of infectious diseases such as malaria and the Zika virus. While the mosquito is a  major problem to many, scientists at Microsoft Research are attempting to exploit some … Continue reading Mosquitos: Friend or Foe? Possible use of mosquitos in modern epidemiology

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Cancer Immunotherapy: Fighting fire with fire

by Kimberly Hagel figures by Alexandra Was We, as humans, tend to idealize that which is bigger, better, faster, and stronger. It is in our nature to strive towards the best. To improve. To win. Indeed, the penetrance of this mentality reaches to our very core, even to the individual cells of which we are composed. A prime example of this: cancer. Today, cancer is … Continue reading Cancer Immunotherapy: Fighting fire with fire

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Scientists show predators could drive fish to colonize land

Scientists may have found an explanation for why the first amphibious fish moved from water to land. On a small island in the South Pacific Ocean, four species of blennies spend half their time in water and half on land. To test whether predation could be driving the transition to land, researchers created blenny mimics and dispersed them throughout the blennies’ habitats. They found that the aquatic mimics were attacked at a much higher frequency than the terrestrial mimics were, making predation a viable cause for the water-to-land transition. Continue reading Scientists show predators could drive fish to colonize land

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Microbial Physicians: Delivering drugs with bacteria

by Benika Pinch Fancy a pill packed with bacteria? Researchers are investigating using genetically modified bacteria, taken in pill form, to treat human disease. Informally, they are called “designer probiotics”. But, unlike probiotics (microorganisms with known health benefits), they can’t be obtained via a serving of yogurt from your local supermarket. Rather, the bacteria in question are feats of genetic engineering and are specifically designed … Continue reading Microbial Physicians: Delivering drugs with bacteria