Extracellular DNA, in Plant Health and Hardship

by Sophia Swartz figures by Abagail Burrus It was only three weeks into the fall semester, and I was starting to sniffle. When I had woken up that morning with a tell-tale tickle in the back of my throat, I had tried to deny the obvious. However, by the end of the day, sneezing and sore, I surrendered to my cold and trudged to my local CVS. … Continue reading Extracellular DNA, in Plant Health and Hardship

The Big Eater: How the immune system alters the pancreas during obesity

by Lara Roach figures by Rebecca Senft In Greek, macrophage means “big eater,” and that is exactly their job. Like a growing teenager or athlete after a big game, macrophages are activated immune cells whose primary focus is to “eat.” But instead of, say, a plate of pasta, macrophages take in and digest pathogenic microbes, unhealthy molecules, and even other cells in the body when they … Continue reading The Big Eater: How the immune system alters the pancreas during obesity

Not So Basic Research: the unrecognized importance of fundamental scientific discoveries

by Ceejay Lee figures by Rebecca Clements The Golden Fleece Award is an award issued by the late Senator William Proxmire during his tenure in the United States Congress. The purpose of this award is to spotlight the “biggest, most ridiculous or most ironic example of government spending or waste.” For the award in 1975, Proxmire called out psychologist Ronald Hutchinson’s federally funded research, which investigated … Continue reading Not So Basic Research: the unrecognized importance of fundamental scientific discoveries

How Marijuana Exposure Affects Developing Babies’ Brains

As states have begun to legalize marijuana, its use has been more openly discussed. While the effects of other commonly used drugs, such as alcohol, have been studied extensively, the effects of marijuana – especially on developing babies during pregnancy – have been much less studied and less widely publicized. This relative silence from the scientific community has affected the public’s opinion on the safety … Continue reading How Marijuana Exposure Affects Developing Babies’ Brains

The Replacement Polio

by Joseph Cabral figures by Rebecca Senft cover by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images In the middle of the 20th century, poliovirus could be found in every country of the world. Infection by poliovirus can lead to a severe disease called poliomyelitis, or simply polio, in which the patients become paralyzed when poliovirus inflames the spinal cord. To great public relief, the first … Continue reading The Replacement Polio

CHIP-ping Away at the Heart

by Sangrag Ganguli and Uche C. Ezeh figures by Rebecca Clements Every year, thousands of people are rushed into hospitals with crushing chest pain and shortness of breath. While some recognize these signs of a heart attack in time to receive proper treatment, over half a million others are not so fortunate. To combat these fatalities, doctors often warn patients about the common risk factors of … Continue reading CHIP-ping Away at the Heart

From ZIP Codes to Paywalls: The internet as a new frontier of inequality

by Aparna Nathan figures by Jovana Andrejevic When the internet was born, it was just a pair of connected computers that transmitted data back and forth. Now, it’s a place where you can make purchases, connect (or reconnect) with friends, run a business, and pay bills without ever leaving your home. The internet has brought the whole world within reach with just a few keystrokes—but … Continue reading From ZIP Codes to Paywalls: The internet as a new frontier of inequality

Stopping Time: The science of textile conservation

by Fernanda Ferreira figures by Abagail Burrus In one of the lower-level exhibition rooms of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston is a large red and blue mantle from Peru made of camelid wool. Stylized faces embroidered in yellow, blue, green, and red smile back at you from behind the thick glass, while blue and red bands alternate across the mantle, giving it … Continue reading Stopping Time: The science of textile conservation

The Disappearing Recycling Bins: Recent disruption of the US recycling industry and the path ahead

by Zhen Dai figures by Sean Wilson and Zhen Dai A deep ripple It was a typical lab day earlier this year. I planned to install an equipment component that had just arrived in the mail. I unpacked the component and proceeded to recycle the packaging. As I searched through the lab, though, I noticed that our blue recycling bins were nowhere to be found. … Continue reading The Disappearing Recycling Bins: Recent disruption of the US recycling industry and the path ahead

Understanding Ownership and Privacy of Genetic Data

by Julian Segert figures by Aparna Nathan In Mountain View, California, near the headquarters of Facebook and Google, lies 23andMe, a company that set out to make genetic testing approachable and affordable for the general public. The company started with the goal of providing risk assessments for genetic diseases, but has recently gained more popularity by offering insights into geographical ancestry. 23andMe is unique among … Continue reading Understanding Ownership and Privacy of Genetic Data