Solving Scientific Problems by Asking Diverse Questions

by Piyush Nandafigures by Shreya Mantri Gravity has been apparent for thousands of years: Aristotle, for example, proposed that objects fall to settle into their natural place in 4th century BC. But it was not until around 1900, when Issac Newton explained gravity using mathematical equations, that we really understood the phenomenon. Why didn’t thinkers before Newton think about gravity the way he did? Scientific … Continue reading Solving Scientific Problems by Asking Diverse Questions

Biodiversity Loss Can Increase the Spread of Zoonotic Diseases

by Sanjana Kulkarni SARS-CoV-2 may have spread to humans from an animal host, but it is not the only disease-causing agent (i.e. pathogen) to have done so. Lyme disease, Ebola virus, influenza, HIV, the plague, and rabies virus are just some examples of zoonotic diseases, meaning that they originated in animals and spread (i.e spilled over) to humans.  Many human activities, such as deforestation and … Continue reading Biodiversity Loss Can Increase the Spread of Zoonotic Diseases

Viral Fossil Records: A Look into the Past! (and the Future?)

by Misha Guptafigures by Xiaomeng Han For close to two centuries, humans have been studying the biological past using fossil records. In recent history, we have added the ability to reconstruct the sequence of our DNA to our arsenal. Furthermore, phylogenetic trees (structures that define the evolutionary relationships in the line of descent from a common ancestor) have been created for all manners of organisms, … Continue reading Viral Fossil Records: A Look into the Past! (and the Future?)

The Human-Tuberculosis Arms Race

by Sanjana Kulkarnifigures by Corena Loeb The bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) has been infecting humans for thousands of years. Today, TB, which is thought to have originated in Africa and evolved alongside human hosts, is found across the globe and causes 1-2 million deaths annually, making it the second leading infectious disease killer after COVID-19. As new COVID-19 variants keep emerging, we can observe the … Continue reading The Human-Tuberculosis Arms Race

Vaccine hesitancy: More than a pandemic

by Edward Chen Historical evidence shows that developing safe vaccines is necessary to protect the world from deadly diseases. But that’s only one part of the solution. After all, what’s the benefit of having vaccines that people don’t want to use? Enter vaccine hesitancy. Defined by a World Health Organization (WHO) working group as a “delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite availability of … Continue reading Vaccine hesitancy: More than a pandemic

How do COVID-19 vaccines work? Hear from a researcher who helped develop the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

by Edward Chen The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed rapid technological advancements as scientists and engineers mobilize to combat its toll on human lives. Time is of the essence, and after rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness, there are now 3 vaccines with emergency approval in the United States that are all based on relatively new concepts. Two of the vaccines are based on messenger RNA … Continue reading How do COVID-19 vaccines work? Hear from a researcher who helped develop the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

It’s Not All about Microbes: Genetics and susceptibility to infections

by Aleks Procherafigures by Shreya Mantri  The past year and a half have been a time of profound uncertainty. We all wish we could gaze into a COVID crystal ball and get answers to our burning questions. Some of us would want to know how long the pandemic will last. Others, however, especially those who have never received a positive result, would likely seek an … Continue reading It’s Not All about Microbes: Genetics and susceptibility to infections

Mutation Madness: How and why SARS-CoV-2 keeps changing

by Sophia Swartzfigures by Shreya Mantri The first reports of a mysterious, pneumonia-like illness surfaced in early December 2019. Fast-forward to 2021, and the culprit—SARS-CoV-2, a virus a thousand times smaller than a speck of dust—has sickened more than 111 million people, infected all seven continents, and killed approximately 2.5 million.  The toll of COVID-19 is heart-wrenching and borders on dystopian. Our pandemic present is … Continue reading Mutation Madness: How and why SARS-CoV-2 keeps changing