Insecticidal Plants: The Tech and Safety of GM Bt Crops

by Matthew Niederhuber figures by Kaitlyn Choi Summary: Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a common bacteria that has played a very uncommon role in agriculture and the development of genetically modified foods. The natural insecticidal abilities of these bacteria have made them an important pest control tool for nearly a century. While their use as a natural biopesticide is widely accepted and approved for organic applications, … Continue reading Insecticidal Plants: The Tech and Safety of GM Bt Crops

Why Roundup Ready Crops Have Lost their Allure

by Jordan Wilkerson figures by Brian Chow Summary: In the history of agriculture, no technology has been adopted so quickly and completely as genetically engineered crops. Particularly useful crops are ones that have an engineered resistance to herbicides. These crops have alluring benefits: reduced crop damage when herbicides are sprayed, easier weed management, and even the potential for environmental benefits. So what’s the problem? Herbicide-resistant … Continue reading Why Roundup Ready Crops Have Lost their Allure

Memoirs of a Toxin: The lasting human impact on mercury in the environment

Presented by Hannah Horowitz Mercury is a potent neurotoxin. For thousands of years, humans have altered mercury cycling in the environment by introducing massive amounts of mercury to surface water, soils, and air, through mining and burning coal. Once in the surface environment, mercury can threaten human and wildlife health, is transported globally through the air, and continues to have an impact for hundreds of … Continue reading Memoirs of a Toxin: The lasting human impact on mercury in the environment

Understanding sea level change by diving into the past

Presented by Jacky Austermann Why does sea level change? Everyone knows that sea level rise is a threat to coastal cities, but the mechanisms of why the change happens are less often talked about. In my talk I will explain why sea level is changing, why it is changing at different rates around the globe, how we can use the measured sea level rise to … Continue reading Understanding sea level change by diving into the past

Sailing the Seas of Alien Worlds: The fate of oceans on rocky planets

Presented by Laura Schaefer Searching for life in our galaxy means first finding liquid water. Water is found throughout our Solar System in many different forms, but the Earth, because of its balmy temperatures and unique geology, is the only known planet with sailable seas. Astronomers are searching far and wide for other planets that might host liquid water. In their search, they have found … Continue reading Sailing the Seas of Alien Worlds: The fate of oceans on rocky planets

To bee or not to bee: social dynamics impact productivity and stress response in honey bees

Watch out, honey fans – populations of the honey bee, Apis mellifera, may be in decline, and we don’t really know why. Honey bees play a vital role in natural ecosystems as pollinators; it is estimated that a single bee can visit 2000 flowers in a day [1]. Agriculturally, bees are important for much more than honey, being required for the pollination of many other … Continue reading To bee or not to bee: social dynamics impact productivity and stress response in honey bees

What large ants tell us about variation in complex human traits

Traits that exist along a continuum, such as height, size, and behavior, vary significantly from person to person. The genetic and environmental interactions that cause these characteristics have long stumped scientists. In a recent study by Alvarado et al., ant larvae were exposed to an environmental factor that regulated adult ant size. The scientists were able to generate large and small ants just by changing … Continue reading What large ants tell us about variation in complex human traits