What should all students know about science by the time they graduate from college? A great deal of attention has been paid to the training of future scientists, but the education of students who will not pursue the study of science is an equally important challenge. These students might take just a single science course in college. What do we as a society think they should know or be able to do?
The “Science Literacy Project” was supported by a generous grant to Bard College from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Our goal was to develop and implement a plan for science literacy for undergraduates.
Read more on the project web site:
In this paper, co-authored with biologists from NY public schools, and several Bard students, professor Brooke Jude describes how middle schoolers can be productively involved in real microbiological research.
See the full paper here:
The bio seminars happen every Thursday at noon, in RKC 103 (large auditorium). The list of speakers and talks this semester:
- 1-Sep; Information session
- 8-Sep: Alexandra Bettina; Univesity of Virginia. Macrophage-colony stimulating factor promotes the survival of mononuclear phagocytes and controls secondary liver damage during Klebsiella pneumonia
- 15-Sep: Peter Lipke; CUNY Brooklyn. Using the Force with Amyloids for Good and Evil: Ale, Biofilms, Commensalism, and Disease
- 22-Sep: Chris Solomon; Cary Institute. Why We Turned a Lake Brown and What We Learned
- 29-Sep: Jozsef Meszaros; Columbia. Two Diverging Roads Differing in Risk and Reward
- 6-Oct: Paul Turner; Yale. Virus Adaptation (or not) to Environmental Change
- 13-Oct: Arseny Khakhalin, Bard
- 20-Oct: Petko Bogdanov; SUNY Albany. Mining processes in biological networks
- 27-Oct: Ayse Aydemir; BHSEC Manhattan. Remodeling Under Pressure: Bone cell differentiation in response to mechanical stimulation
- 3-Nov: Heather Bennett; Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. Using C. elegans to Investigate How Animals Survive in Low Oxygen Conditions
- 10-Nov: Wendy E. Nack-Lawlor; Taconic Biosciences. Title to be confirmed (industry, biotechnology)
- 17-Nov: Ludmilla Aristilde; Cornell. Using Molecular Biology Tools to Understand Molecular Environmental Chemistry: My Interdisciplinary Journey in Academia
- 24-Nov: Thanksgiving, no seminar
- 1-Dec: Annalisa Scimemi; SUNY Albany. A novel role for astrocytes in hemorrhagic brain stroke
- 8-Dec: Student talks
Many aquatic insects use polarized light to find water surfaces on which they reproduce, and where their larvae live and grow. Manmade objects and structures can sometimes mimic these water surfaces by polarizing light. Moreover, in some cases they can be more attractive to aquatic insects than water itself. This effect causes “ecological traps” that can lead aquatic insects to population decline or even extinction.
Previous studies have shown that the attractiveness of polarizing synthetic surfaces can be reduced if grids of non-polarizing lines are strategically placed on them. In his senior project, Theodore Black measured the effect of line thickness on the attractiveness of polarizing non-water surfaces. Early in the morning he would install his polarizing traps near the water stream, and late at night he would collect them. Then, for days and days, he would sort and identify insects trapped in oil under the microscope, classifying them into such poetically named groups as non-biting midges (Chironomidae), black flies (Simulliidea), caddisflies (Trichoptera), and mayflies (Ephemeroptera). This work allowed Theo to analyze and describe the effect of non-polarizing line thickness on the attractiveness of traps, which will help to protect aquatic insects from human interference. Using this new information, engineers will be able to design solar panels that are efficient, yet don’t trick aquatic insects into laying eggs on it, helping them to avoid an evolutionary trap.
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation has awarded a $5 million dollar leadership grant to support a scientific study that seeks to reduce Lyme disease in neighborhoods. If successful, the project will revolutionize Lyme disease prevention.
Bard College biologist Felicia Keesing and Cary Institute disease ecologist Richard Ostfeld will direct the scientifically rigorous five-year study. It will take place in Dutchess County, New York, which is home to one of the nation’s highest Lyme disease infection rates. Residents of 24 neighborhoods will be recruited from Lyme disease hotspots identified by the researchers and their partners at the Dutchess County Department of Health.
Link to the project web-page:
Full press-release from Bard.
The Sawkill watershed research of prof. Eli Dueker was recently featured on local Hudson Valley TV! See the full material, with some interviews and water sampling action here:
What are the molecular processes distinguishing cell regeneration from cell development? Using zebrafish as a model organism, Sophia Zega studies one facet of this question by investigating the role of FAT2 protein in initial hair cell development, and in hair cell regeneration. Based on previous evidence we know FAT2 levels increase following hair cell ablation in preparation for regeneration. Sophia performs a knock down of FAT2 in zebrafish larvae, and then stains hair cells with dyes binding to actin and microtubules, to see how the FAT2 gene is important for hair cell development and regeneration.
In this study, Bruce Robertson and coauthors tested whether non-native plant species may cause problems to Veeries when birds try to build nests in these plants. It appears that Veeries do indeed prefer non-native plants to native ones, but fortunately in this case their preference is not maladaptive, as non-native plants still provide enough protection and concealment for the nests.
Meyer, L. M., Schmidt, K. A., & Robertson, B. A. (2015). Evaluating exotic plants as evolutionary traps for nesting Veeries. The Condor, 117(3), 320-327.
Brains consist of many cells called neurons: billions of them in a human brain, and hundreds of thousands in the brain of a small fish or a frog tadpole. Many of these neurons are very much alike, and work together to process information in the brain. Yet while they are similar, they are not exactly identical. By looking at how individual neurons within a specific type differ from each other, it is possible to understand more about how they work together.
We have now compared the properties of the neurons in a part of the brain of a developing frog tadpole that processes sensory information. These neurons appear relatively similar to each other in young tadpoles, yet as the tadpoles grow and their brains become more elaborate the neurons become increasingly diverse, and their properties become more unique and nuanced.
Ciarleglio, C. M., Khakhalin, A. S., Wang, A. F., Constantino, A. C., Yip, S. P., & Aizenman, C. D. (2015). Multivariate analysis of electrophysiological diversity of Xenopus visual neurons during development and plasticity. eLife,4, e11351.
(by Olivia Williams)
Each spring, glass eels make their way from the Sargasso Sea to the Hudson River and then swim up various tributaries, including the Saw Kill. The New York DEC organizes the Eel Project where they set up eel nets across the Hudson River tributaries to track and count eel populations and migrations. The Bard College Field Station is one of the many locations that collects the data, and on March 28 we will be installing the eel net! For the next two months or so, we are looking for volunteers to come down to the field station and record data. Experience is not necessary as we will have trainings for the first week, and there will always be an experienced eel monitor with each group! To sign up, e-mail Olivia Williams.