Friday, October 24, 2014

This Week's Sci-light!

I'm blogging!  For those of you who read last week's blog, my microchange is working (confused...last weeks blog will clarify!).

Today's post features Science 360, a site showing funded National Science Foundation research that will be sure to engage the Sci-Curious!  The site is packed with information and contagious excitement.  The daily highlights include a video, a news story, a picture of the day, science radio, headlines, and featured articles from journals like Science.

I'm going to pick my personal favorite for today that features a brain in a dish (their words, not mine) as it is an example of how knowledge from one discipline in science is creatively applied in another.  First, skin cells from an individual are taken and chemically coaxed into stem cells that another set of chemicals develop into neurons.  As if this were not imaginative enough, the scientists wanted to "watch" the brain cells fire. 

Can you think of how this was done?  Environmental microbiology is key to this process.  A gene from bacteria that makes a light-sensitive protein is given to the neurons so that when the cells fire, they fluoresce.  Scientists such as Dr. Adam Cohen of Harvard University can film the neurons at up to 100,000 frames a second and distill their patterns and pathways.

If nothing I've said so far has made you curious, allow me to close with some topics from today's home page that may catch your attention:  Can general anesthesia trigger dementia?  Peering through the sun at the Halloween monster sun spot.  Researchers break through nano barrier to engineer the first protein microfiber.  And the picture of the day--Blue footed boobies. 

It seems I've found a great place to remain Sci-Curious!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Of Blogging, Wolves, and Conferences!

I've been away from blogging for a while, and I must say I miss it!  Perhaps you've missed it, too.  I certainly hope so!

In catching up, I wanted to highlight a session that I am co-chairing for the 2014 SACNAS National Conference "Creativity, Vision and Drive: Toward Full Representation in STEM" to be held October 16-18, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  Before you read any further, watch this 4 minute video.

A trophic cascade is a change at the top of the ecological system that causes many changes throughout the system.  The session, "The Power of Microactions:  Active Preparation for Advanced Degrees" is similar--looking at the impact of small scale changes on larger scale outcomes.

An article, Evidence-Based (Simple but Effective) Advice for College Students:  Microaction and Macrochange prompted the session.  According to the author, Dr. Sung Hee Kim, individuals struggle to make the changes they desire in part because they aim too high.  What you need is a significant, doable change that can be incorporated into your lifestyle on a daily basis.  For example, if you want to walk more, commit to parking in the back of the parking lot instead of the closest space.  The benefits most immediately--you're not fighting for a space and more steps for your wristband pedometer--and in the longer term--walking may improve your body's overall health!  

The real strength in a microchange is that it becomes habit with minimal effort, and it allows macrochange in the longer term.

Sci-curious?  Here's a few suggestions for your classroom experience.   
  • Keep a planner
  • Bring both a pen and a highlighter to class
  • Exchange emails with someone in your class
  • Get on a list serve for interships, research experiences or jobs
  • Say thank you to the professor when you leave class
Having long-term goals is key to success, but microaction enables you to take the small steps needed to reach those goals.  Here's a small step for me--I'm on several list serves that send me science news.  Let's see if that can prompt me to blog every Friday!   

Stay Sci-Curious!