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Capturing a Moment with Marc Zimmer’s “The State of Science”

Posted by Eric J. Perkins on Jul 30, 2020 9:15:00 AM

Marc Zimmer’s recent book, The State of Science: What the Future Holds and the Scientists Making It Happen, is an exercise in restraint. The very first subheading in Chapter 1 asks “What is science?” That’s a very big question. Zimmer, a Professor of Chemistry at Connecticut College who has been teaching and communicating science for over two decades, attempts to answer it in five paragraphs, with examples.

If that sounds ambitious, that’s because it is. Zimmer, whose previous books focused primarily on fluorescent proteins and their applications, tackles much broader issues in this brief volume. He examines, amongst other topics: racism and sexism in science, problems with peer-reviewed publications and funding, bioethics in the age of CRISPR, and the challenges of science becoming increasingly politicized. It would be nearly impossible for a career scientist such as Zimmer to introduce any one of these topics without some editorializing, and he wisely makes no such attempt. He is transparent about his own biases--many of which will be shared by fellow scientists--but that doesn’t make his introduction to these topics any less effective.

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Topics: Other

The Effect of COVID-19 on Liu Lab Plasmid Requests From Addgene Data

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jul 16, 2020 9:15:00 AM

This post was contributed by Max W. Shen from MIT, Alvin Hsu Harvard University, and David R. Liu from the Broad Institute and Harvard University.

Over the course of the last six months, COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on our world -- as of June 4, 2020, COVID-19 has caused an estimated total of 380,000 deaths worldwide (statistics provided by Google on 6/4/20). Many countries entered lockdown for weeks to months, pausing or terminating employment for a significant fraction of the workforce.

Wet lab scientists are no exception to this effect -- meticulously designed experiments in labs around the world were put on hold indefinitely due to COVID-19. In our lab, we were interested in examining the effect of COVID-19 on worldwide scientific activity. However, this type of open-ended question is difficult to answer quantitatively without broad, unbiased data. Therefore, we chose to examine a dataset of Liu lab plasmid requests from Addgene, as a proxy for global activity in our particular scientific subfields. 

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Topics: Other, COVID-19

Developing a cold tolerant E. coli using specialized chaperones

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jan 28, 2020 9:35:41 AM

This post was contributed by Sreepadmanabh M, a member of the iGEM team from IISER Bhopal.

Following up its 2018 iGEM debut - centered around a prototypical methane biosensor - IISER Bhopal is back in the SynBio arena this year with a fresh team of twenty excited undergrads. Team IISER-B’s idea for the iGEM 2019 is to take bacteria out of their optimally suited temperature ranges and make them grow better at suboptimal ones, which could allow even your regular E. coli to thrive in the bitter cold. 

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Topics: Synthetic Biology, Other

It’s Bioelectric! An Exciting Interdisciplinary Field of Research

Posted by Angela Abitua on Oct 29, 2019 10:52:55 AM

Flash quiz! What pops into your head when you hear the phrase “action potential?” Firing neurons are likely the first thing that comes to mind. However, ion-based communication is not just for neurons. Non-neuronal cells do this too. It's just that for non-neural cells, ion-based communication happens at a slightly slower scale. 

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Topics: Other, Miscellaneous

Advancing Biology with Zebrafish: Genetic Tools for Developmental Studies and More

Posted by Guest Blogger on Aug 13, 2019 8:58:54 AM

This post was contributed by Katherine Rogers, a postdoctoral researcher at the Friedrich Miescher Lab of the Max Planck Society.

Zebrafish (Danio rerio) have been used since the 1930’s in a range of biological studies, including investigations into environmental pollutants and health, embryo growth, brain function, and disease development. Why have zebrafish become such a popular model organism?

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Topics: Other, Organisms

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