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

The “Covidization” of Science: Short-Term Necessity or Problematic Over-Reaction?

by Christopher Rotafigures by Daniel Utter The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every corner of American society, including the lives of scientists. The past year has seen many researchers dramatically shift the focus of their work, as experts from across different disciplines came together to study this novel disease and develop potential therapies. The National Institutes of Health, the United States’ foremost public biomedical research agency, … Continue reading The “Covidization” of Science: Short-Term Necessity or Problematic Over-Reaction?

The Challenges of Large-Scale COVID-19 Testing

by Jaclyn Long figures by Tal Scully A year into the pandemic, many people still struggle to get tested for COVID-19. By some estimates, asymptomatic transmission can account for up to 50% of all new cases, making regular testing of people who don’t yet (or might never) show symptoms a key part of a public health strategy to control the virus. Despite the effectiveness of mass … Continue reading The Challenges of Large-Scale COVID-19 Testing

How COVID-19 is Shaping Antibiotic Resistance

by Molly Sargenfigures by Molly Sargen, Buse Aktaş, and Aparna Nathan COVID-19 is unarguably devastating from any perspective. Even as we struggle to overcome the present challenges of the pandemic, COVID-19 is paving the way for other infectious agents to cause damage in the future. Although SARS-CoV-2 is a virus that cannot be treated with antibiotics, antibiotic usage has significantly increased throughout the pandemic. With … Continue reading How COVID-19 is Shaping Antibiotic Resistance

Are Pandemics the Cost of Human Recklessness Towards Nature?

by Piyush Nandafigures by Corena Loeb In an area devastated by deforestation, an 18-month-old toddler from the nearest settlement, Meliandou in Guinea, was seen playing around a fallen tree swarming with bats. The child then contracted a mysterious illness, which spread to many who came in contact. After it had already killed 30 people, the illness was identified as Ebola. Comprehensive studies have since connected … Continue reading Are Pandemics the Cost of Human Recklessness Towards Nature?

An Unexpected Invasion: How SARS-CoV-2 affects the human brain

by Xiaomeng Han If your best friend Betty told you that she has a sore throat, a runny nose, and has lost her sense of smell or taste, you might immediately recognize the symptoms of COVID-19. But what if she had become very forgetful lately, instead? Recent emerging evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can infect cells in the brain. In fact, … Continue reading An Unexpected Invasion: How SARS-CoV-2 affects the human brain

An Introduction to Ribosomes: Nature’s busiest molecular machines

by Francesca Tomasifigures by Jovana Andrejevic  Right now, the world is eagerly awaiting clinical trial data for two candidate COVID-19 vaccines known as mRNA vaccines. mRNA stands for “messenger RNA,” referring to the molecule that the vaccine delivers to our bodies. Once the vaccine enters our cells, the mRNA tells them exactly how to build a piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The vaccine itself cannot … Continue reading An Introduction to Ribosomes: Nature’s busiest molecular machines