Risky Business: The far-reaching consequences of slashing the orphan drug tax credit

by Christopher Gerry The routes that lead to a career in biomedicine are as diverse as they are plentiful, but one of my colleagues has taken a particularly unorthodox path. Sonia had just graduated from law school when she learned of a “typo” in her genetic code that will almost certainly induce a fatal and untreatable brain disorder called prion disease. She and her husband, … Continue reading Risky Business: The far-reaching consequences of slashing the orphan drug tax credit

The Scales of Federal Land Management: Balancing spacious skies and purple mountains of paperwork

by Olivia K. Foster Rhoades On December 4th, President Trump declared both the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante would be reduced by 1 million acres each–an unprecedented change in federal land policy. As we near the end of 2017, four more monuments totaling 12.3 million acres in size have been slated for reduction. To put that in perspective, the state of Massachusetts … Continue reading The Scales of Federal Land Management: Balancing spacious skies and purple mountains of paperwork

The Future of Energy Storage: A lost opportunity for the U.S.?

by Felix Barber figures by Rebecca Senft Why are batteries important? Ask yourself what a future with a sustainable economy would look like. Such a future would likely exploit sources of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, to power the electric grid, with personal transport in the form of electric vehicles (“EVs”) that would draw their power from that same grid rather than from … Continue reading The Future of Energy Storage: A lost opportunity for the U.S.?

Tax Reform Punches Down

by Christopher Gerry Graduate school teaches you to accept how much you don’t know. Being a liberal arts college graduate and a current Ph.D. student in chemistry, I know—and gratefully accept—that I’m not an expert in federal tax law. So I initially didn’t imagine that I’d be writing about the tax reform bill that was passed through the House of Representatives earlier this month; that’s … Continue reading Tax Reform Punches Down

Conservation spending proven to make a difference

The world is currently experiencing its sixth mass extinction event. Species are disappearing at an estimated 1000x the expected normal rate of extinction (roughly 5 species per year). Conservation efforts around the world are trying to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss, but they are hindered by the lack of hard evidence linking conservation spending to biodiversity improvements. A team led by University of Oxford researchers … Continue reading Conservation spending proven to make a difference

First Human Trial of Gene Editing Technique CRISPR Approved

The first clinical trial using the gene editing technique CRISPR was given the go-ahead by panel from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The trial is aimed at determining if the technique is safe for use on human subjects. As there is much we have yet to learn about genes and their expression, it is a valid concern that modifying DNA in humans could … Continue reading First Human Trial of Gene Editing Technique CRISPR Approved

Natural Gas Leaks Increase Climate Risk of Energy Source

by Jordan Wilkerson figures by Brad Wierbowski The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a new wave of regulations, and they focus on one thing: methane. Due to the EPA’s recent proposal, we have been inundated with stories about methane, its connection to the fossil fuel industry, and its comparison to carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas [1,2]. However, the authors often leave out a … Continue reading Natural Gas Leaks Increase Climate Risk of Energy Source

Same Science, Different Policies: Regulating Genetically Modified Foods in the U.S. and Europe

by Jessica Lau figures by Krissy Lyon Summary: Government regulations for genetically modified foods vary, from relatively relaxed policies in the U.S. that focus on the final food product to strict rules in the European Union that consider the genetic engineering process used to make the food. Despite these differences, the common goal of these regulations is to ensure the safety of the food supply. … Continue reading Same Science, Different Policies: Regulating Genetically Modified Foods in the U.S. and Europe

Feeding the World One Genetically Modified Tomato at a Time: A Scientific Perspective

by Christopher Gerry figures by Kristen Seim Summary: The human population has grown at a breakneck pace and threatens to further exacerbate a problem that has worsened in recent years: chronic hunger. Genetically modified crops could help to relieve this problem by providing increased yields and being more resistant to environmental stressors. In particular, the increasing prevalence of drought has prompted the development of crops … Continue reading Feeding the World One Genetically Modified Tomato at a Time: A Scientific Perspective

As good as it gets? Peer review and its discontents

In February, the journal Nature and its sister publications announced a new policy for their peer review process (the evaluation of submitted articles by experts in the field). The journal normally operates on the basis of single-blind peer review–anonymous reviewers see the authors’ names and affiliations. The new policy will allow authors the option to remain anonymous to the experts reviewing their work. Will this … Continue reading As good as it gets? Peer review and its discontents