Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blood Typing

After taking the assessment test, I realized I needed to brush up on blood typing. It is a fairly easy subject but everyone needs a refresher, right?

There are two major players when it comes to blood typing: antigens and antibodies. Antigens reside on the surface of the blood cell and are of three possible types: antigen A, antigen B, and Rh antigen. Antibodies are present in the blood plasma and appear in the first part of a persons life in response to environmental factors. There are two types of these immunoglobins: Anti-A and Anti-B antibodies.

There are two systems of blood-grouping: The ABO system and the Rh system. The ABO system is better recognized and understood, but the Rh system is quite different. When a person's blood is tested they are given one of the following designations: A, B, AB, or O which signifies which (if any) antigens are present on the surface of their RBCs. A (-) or (+) is then placed after the letter(s) to indicate the absence (-) or presence (+) of the Rh antigen on their cells. These designations are important when it comes to blood transfusions and pregnancy.

For instance, if a patient receives a blood transfusion from someone whose blood type differs from their own, agglutination of the cells may occur. Agglutination of the red blood cells is a state where the cells literally clump together resulting in an adverse effect in the individual. This agglutination is in response to the Anti-A antibodies binding with the A antigens and Anti-B antibodies binding with the B antigens on the cells. However, with type-O blood, there are no antigens present on the cells, thus, when Anti-AB serum is added to the blood no agglutination occurs. Traditionally, it is understood that type O- individuals are universal donors because their RBCs contain no antigens and type AB+ individuals are universal recipients because they have all possible antigens on the surface of their cells.

As mentioned earlier, the Rh factor of blood is exceedingly important during pregnancy. A pregnant, Rh- woman carrying a Rh+ fetus can begin to develop Rh antibodies if some of the fetus's blood crosses the placental barrier and enters the mothers bloodstream (in the case of a fetomaternal hemorrhage during childbirth). This switching from Rh- to Rh+ may cause the mother to develop Rh disease. Additionally, if a Rh- mother becomes Rh+ after her first pregnancy and later carries a fetus with Rh- blood and the mothers blood crosses the barrier, hemolytic disease of the newborn may occur.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tiny Toxic Man Killers

Cyanobacteria. These are the tiny toxic man killers I am talking about.
This title page gives a short overview of what I'm going to be talking about and the different forms cyanobacteria can have.

The next slide I would explain that cyanobacteria is blue green algae that is actually bacteria.
This bacteria is photosynthetic and of course gives off oxygen as a waste product. This
cyanobacteria is found worldwide and in any conditions from the hypersaline conditions to the
extreme hot, extreme cold, and any type and time of exposure to UV light.

My next slide with just pictures I would talk about how cyanobacteria is usually found in
freshwater but can also be found on rock soil and sand and that the blooms in the upper right
hand corner are the toxic part of the algae.

When you think of toxins you think of the pictures on my next slide. Black widow, puffer fish, snakes, poison dart frogs and the list goes on. This bacteria however is a pretty mean 'predator'. The cocktail of toxins that are given off
by the blooms range from a potent neurotoxin (most poisonous natural neurotoxin) which shuts down signaling in the brain, hepatotoxin which damages the liver, endotoxin which is just a term for a broad range of bacterial toxins (on the outer membrane of the gram negative bacteria), and cytotoxin again a general term that is a toxin that has toxic effects on certain cells.

Lastly, you need to give credit where credit is due with a reference page.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I see that I'm not alone in not knowing a lot about Angiosperms as Daphne has done her slides on this topic as well! Angiosperms are the flowering plants and they are the most diverse group of land plants. Like the gymnosperms, angiosperms are seed-producing plants, but the angiosperms have derived characteristics that set them apart from the gymnosperms.

One of the most significant derived characteristics that distinguishes the angiosperms from other seed plants is the flowers. The flowers are the reproductive organs and can aid angiosperms by enabling adaptability and broadening the ecological niches open to them. Due to this fact, the angiosperms dominate terrestrial ecosystems. The seeds that were mentioned are enclosed and contain an endosperm and endosperm formation generally begins after fertilization and the endosperm is a highly nutritive tissue that can provide food for the seedling when it first appears.Some other derived characteristics include stamens with two pairs of pollen sacs causing adaptations to specialized
pollination and well as to prevent self fertilization, as well as a closed carpel that encloses the ovules. The carpel and accessory parts may become the fruit. This enclosed carpel is another way to prevent self-fertilization and therefore increase diversity. Angiosperms also have reduced male and female gametophytes which decrease the time from pollination to fertilization of the ovary. This more rapid seed set has led to such flowering plant adaptations as annual herbaceous life cycles.

Even with all this information that distinguishes angiosperms from other plants, it is still hard to picture what exactly we are looking at here. When looking at the agricultural significance of angiosperms, we can see many different foods that are used in our everyday life.
Products of angiosperms include members of the rose family which include apples, pears, cherries, apricots, plums and other fruits as well as members of the legume family which include plants that have pods with their seeds inside such as various types of beans and peas. The gourd family is also included in the angiosperms and pumpkins and melons are found in this category. Tomatoes and peppers which are found in the nightshade family as well as wheat, oat, rice, and barley which are found in the grass family are all produced by angiosperms. The grass family is most significant when it comes to feedstock for animals. With all of these different families all found within the angiosperms, it is not surprising that angiosperms make up 90% of today's plant species. Next time you look at the meal you're about to consume, I bet you think of angiosperms!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


When I say angiosperms, the average person would not assume I am discussing flowering plants. An angiosperm is one of three clades of vascular plants. The seed plants are broken down into two groups, gymnosperms and angiosperms. Gymnosperms are characterized by the lack of encasement around their seeds. The angiosperms differ from the gymnosperms because their seeds develop in chambers. The ovary that contains the seed is found within the flower and the flower, ultimately becomes a fruit.

So why are angiosperms and their life cycle important? Angiosperms make up 90% of living plant species. The two major characteristics of an angiosperm are the flower and the fruit, which play a critical role in the life cycle of the plant. The flower is necessary for sexual reproduction. The angiosperms rely on pollinators, such as insects, to transfer the pollen from flower to flower. The organs within the flower are the sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels. The bright color of the flower petals are an adaption necessary for attracting pollinators. The fruit is used to protect the seeds and help in dispersing the mature seeds. Some angiosperm fruits are not conventionally recognized as a fruit. In maples and dandelions, the fruits have adapted with propellers or parachutes to enhance the movement of the seeds by wind dispersion.

The angiosperm life cycle appears complex and has many characteristic attributes. The haploid part of the cycle begins with the production of the male and female gametophytes. The male gametophyte has two haploid cells that form the tube cell and two sperm. The female gametophyte consists of an embryo sac that holds the egg. After pollution, the sperm are discharged into the ovule. The fertilization signals that transition from a haploid to a diploid stage of the cycle. Angiosperms have double fertilization, which means that one sperm from the male gametophyte fertilizes the egg and the other sperm fertilization a central cell in the ovary and forms an endosperm, which is the food supply for the seed, while it is dormant within the fruit. The seed develops into the sporophyte, which is diploid. Then the life cycle begins again. The adaptive nature of the angiosperms provides the beauty of spring and the nutrition fruits.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Smaller Brains in Migratory Birds

Before I was even finished taking the assessment test I realized that I knew very little about ecology and the behavior of animals in general. Yeah, I got a taste of it in the early Biology classes but I never needed to take the specialized classes of Ecology or Zoology to get where I am now. So, while looking at various sites and blogs on ecology and animal behavior, I came across a really interesting article on the differing brain sizes in migratory birds versus residential birds and I just had to read more.

There are two major questions scientists asked about the brain size of these birds: is the smaller brain a result of migration or does a smaller brain predestine a bird to migrate? Along with their colleagues, Daniel Sol and NĂºria Garcia who are CREAF researchers studied 600 passerine species with varying habitats. Within these 600 species, Sol and Garcia found that migratory birds do indeed have smaller brains than residential birds who tough out the sometimes harsh seasonal changes. They also concluded that the decreased brain size is a direct result of migration--contrary to the previously accepted 'protective brain theory'.

As earlier studies have shown, having a larger brain is more desirable than having a smaller brain due to it's large cognitive holding capacity. This theory holds true for residential birds who remain in their habitat from birth until death and who need to constantly learn how to stay alive, search for food, and fend off predators. However, with migratory birds, familiarity and knowledge of their surroundings is not as important since their stay in that area is only temporary. The cost-benefit idea is also a valid explanation of the smaller brains in these birds. The amount of energy they would spend learning the only transitory habitat could be put to better use during their travels. Sol and Garcia stated that "for these species, their innate behavior can be more useful than learned behavior".

As a follow up to their research, the researchers added that an analysis of the pallium and telencephalon in the bird brains would be beneficial to their conclusions since these areas are "involved in learning and behavior innovation processes".

Monday, April 4, 2011

So, On the assessment test I got a question wrong, I know big surprise. The one I am going to focus on for my blog was the following question:

Genomic imprinting, DNA methylation, and histone acetylation are all examples of which one of the following (choose one):

The answer to this question was E) epigenetic inheritance. I don't know much about epigenetics so I thought I would research it a little more. Epigenetics is actually a study about the 'heritable changes in phenotype or gene expression' this actually does not happen because of a change in DNA sequence but rather non-genetic factors that allow the gene to express itself differently.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Intruders Beware

An intruder enters, and suddenly it is met by a force that begins the fight. After time, backups arrive to fight until the end. This may sound like the plot of an action or war movie, but really I am talking about the body’s immune system. The initial troops are known as the innate immunity and the ones that come in later are the adaptive immunity. The innate immunity can consist of the physical barriers, such as the skin and mucous membranes. It also involves the secretion of chemical signal, fever, and inflammatory response. The innate immunity is supposes to prevent entry and spread of invaders throughout the body.

The more complex system of immunity is the adaptive immunity. We can call the adaptive immunity, the special force for fighting infection. Once the body is exposed, it reacts by activating B and T cells. The T-cells are a part of the cell-mediated immunity and the B cells are a part of humoral immunity. The humoral immune response is mediated by the release of antibodies. Antibodies are also known as immunoglobulins and have a Y shape that consists of two large heavy chains and two smaller light chains. The antibody has a specific binding site for the antigen or intruder. Once the intruder is bound to the antibody, it is destroyed on-site or is marked for later destruction.

The antibody is specific to its target and since new mutations of bacteria and viruses come around every day, how is the body able to adapt to making so many different antibodies when the genome is so small? A person can produce a million different antibodies and the way we can do this is through DNA rearrangement followed by alternative splicing of the RNA transcript. Let us first discover the marvels of DNA rearrangement. DNA rearrangement is gene reorganization. Gene segments containing information about the formation of antibodies come together and are assembled during the formation of B cells. DNA rearrangement brings together and assembles the antibody coding segments. The different arrangements of the segments allow for many forms of a protein from a small group of genes. The diversity of the B cell formation lies in the formation of the heavy and light chains of the antibody by using variable combinations of genes. In the light chain, DNA rearrangement combines three separated genes to code for one polypeptide. In the heavy chain, four genes are shuffled around by DNA rearrangement to produce the polypeptide. Another factor that affects the variability in antibodies is alternative splicing. Once DNA is transcribed into RNA, there are modifications that must be made. One of the changes is cutting out the introns and exons. This can occur by not cutting out an intron that normally would have been removed or by changing the arrangement, in which the exons are joined after the introns are removed. This allows for variation is coding during translation, leading to new forms of a protein. The process of producing antibodies is complex, but it allows our immune system to hone its skills for fighting intruders.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The underlying component

When taking the assessment test for class, one question that I came across was number 46 which asks:

Genomic imprinting, DNA methylation, and histone acetylation are all examples of which one of the following (choose one):
phenomena through literature searches, ranging from bacteria to human beings. She says that stress can affect the development of cancer and other chronic diseases and that one of the main causes is the stress of pollutants in our atmosphere. Dr. Jablonka advises "that it might be prudent to reconsider all the environmental pollutants being introduced into the planet's ecosystems. Some pesticides and fungicides are androgen suppressors and have many effects on gene expression -- and these effects can be inherited. Whether and how future generations can endure with these altered gene functions are still open questions."

So next time we research diseases, remember that our DNA can give us insight into what is happening, but specific aspects of the "story" may be hidden in epigenetics!

Friday, March 25, 2011

So Things Change- A Song About Evolution

Listen to our new song So Things Change: A new version of Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway here!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Laron Syndrome = No Cancer or Diabetes!

Dr. Guevara, Ecuador Institute of Endocrinology.
There may not be many positive aspects to having any type of dwarfism, but for the people of Ecuador who have Laron Syndrome, this is not the case. Researchers have found a centralized group of Ecuadorians with this rare disorder which causes them to stand only about three feet six inches and have a seemingly mysterious immunity to cancer and diabetes. 

Of the roughly 300 people with this disease, 100 of them reside in Ecuador which makes it a hot-spot for research for Dr. Jaime Guevara-Aguirre. Thus far, we know that Laron Syndrome is a genetic disorder stemming from a mutation in the gene that codes for growth hormone receptor. When human growth hormone pairs with the growth hormone receptor, insulin-like growth factor (IGF1 ) is produced which ultimately causes cells to proliferate. When researchers decided to study the 100 Ecuadorians with the disorder, they compared their health with the health of 1,600 of their relatives who did not have the disorder. After studying these two groups for 22 years, not a single case of diabetes or lethal cancer was found in the Ecuadorian dwarves! The group of relatives, on the other hand, suffered from both ailments in great numbers. 

The possible reason for why those with Laron Syndrome did not acquire diabetes or cancer lies in the fact that they are not producing adequate amounts (or none at all) of insulin-like growth factor 1. This results in lower insulin concentrations and, subsequently, hypersensitivity to insulin. So, while normal individuals’ cells suffer DNA damage under stress, the cells in those who have Laron Syndrome simply self-destruct. Cells self-destructing may not sound like a positive thing, but when you think about the possible side-effects of having damaged cellular DNA floating around in your body and possibly causing cancer, cell death doesn’t sound too shabby!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Not so transient

You know how when you get a new car (maybe not new, but new to you) and all of a sudden it seems like almost everyone on earth has that same car? You see one beside you in the Walmart parking lot, one stopped at the red light…you get the point. Science is exactly the same. Until some scientific topic stares you right in the face, you don’t take all that much notice. This was the same with me and the topic of strokes until this summer when my dad had one. Now every science news website I look at, I can’t help but read the ones with a headline relating to strokes. He first had a TIA (transient ischemic attack) which is also known as a mini-stroke. He was having slight trouble talking and seemed confused but everything was fine. Within a few days he had a stroke which caused one side of his face to droop and he lost his speech. He also couldn’t remember how to do simple tasks such as making the coffee he had always been making because he didn’t even know where to place the water. All of these crazy things made me wonder what the heck was going on inside of his body due to one tiny blood vessel is his brain being blocked.

New research indicates that the TIA my dad initially had isn’t necessarily transient like the name implies. It can actually have long lasting effects and hidden brain damage. The patients studied in this research all had resolved the effects the mini-stroke had on their motor systems within 24 hours and when clinically evaluated 14-30 days later they showed no impairment. Interestingly though, when the patients were subjected to a brain mapping procedure it unveiled that the brain actually had damage that lasted much longer than was once thought. The brain cells on the affected side of the brain showed changes in excitability making it harder for neurons to respond.

Since these TIA’s are often warning signs and the chance of a stroke in the days following a TIA is greatly increased, this mapping technique may be of great help. Doctors say that by refining this technique they may be able to identify which patients are at greatest risk for a stroke following a TIA and therefore direct treatment that is more suiting for each individual case. My dad unfortunately was one of the patients who did end up having a stroke following his TIA, but it has been over half a year since his stroke and he is making great progress. His cognition is almost back to normal and he can speak full sentences now. The recovering that is going on within his brain now is an even more remarkable thing with both hemispheres of his brain working to compensate. Information about this can be seen in the article The changing roles of 2 hemispheres in stroke recovery.

SNL, Birth control, and drinking Estrogen oh my!

Saturday night live made a skit that makes fun of the commercials for Seasonale, which is a birth control pill that reduces the number of periods to just four a year. Rather than the 12 a year (for those of us who are not mathematically inclined). I'm sure everyone has seen at least one commercial for Seasonale.

I am hopefully going to be a toxicologist one day very soon. Being a toxicologist in training we talk about toxins (shocker there) that are in everyday life. Estrogen (an endocrine disruptor) in the water has been a pretty popular topic because birth control is used so regularly and it is excreted from our system; which in turn ends up in the water supply. It is popular belief that these pills are the cause of the high levels of estrogen in our drinking water. The scientists now are saying that the estrogen is actually coming from what is called 'natural estrogen'. This type of estrogen is found in soy and dairy products as well as animal manure. The story goes into a little more detail about it, but that is the main selling point.

In other words, keep taking your birth control, you are not polluting the water.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kiss and Tell

You can never forget your first kiss: the range of emotion surging through the body as your lips meet for the first time. As humans we are compelled to kiss, but what causes humans to want to exchange saliva and bacteria with another person? The answer to this is evolution and chemicals of course. In Sheril Kirshenbaum new book the “The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us," it explains the origin and continuation of kissing. The scientific word for kissing is osculation and the definition of a kiss is the “mouth to mouth orientation of two individuals or the pressing of one’s lips on some other part of another’s body.” So now that we know what a kiss is, there are many questions that must be asked.

When did kissing begin and Why? Kissing has perplexed scientist for years. Even Darwin pondered the origin of the kiss. The explanation he asserted was kissing was innate or perhaps hereditary. This theory has been combated by anthropologists who would believe the kiss is a learned behavior. This kissing debate seems to stem from the many different reasons people kiss. Therefore looking at the evolution of the kiss is complex. It can be assumed that since the origin of the kiss cannot be pinpointed, the reasons for the behavior cannot be ascertained. This means that kissing was not likely developed from one single behavior. The scientific obscurity continues because kissing has no clear classification system that characterizes the different types of kisses or related behaviors. One theory of why kissing evolved was suggested by V.S. Ramachandran of UC San Diego, it says we are drawn to the color red. This was because our primate ancestors needed to detect ripe fruit. This recognition of red would allow them to survive and produce viable offspring. Therefore this attraction to the color propagates and attracts mates based on the color of the lips. It was found in a study that when male volunteers were shown photos of women wearing various lipstick shades. The men consistently chose red as the most attractive.

So after attractive and the lips meet, what exactly happens in the body? First a chemical cascade occurs, the pupils dilate, the heart rate increases and breathing becomes irregular. Dopamine is release, which excites the reward centers in the brain. A good kiss often leads to the rise in a chemical called oxytocin that leads to strong feelings of attachment. Kissing also allows for us to unconsciously assess the compatibility of our mate. Genes called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) control the effectiveness of our immune systems. This means that if a diverse MHC is detected when kissing another person the connection may be more memorable. This is because this match would lead to offspring with healthy immune systems. In the end, nature is really choosing if a first date will lead to a second. Understanding the kiss is multifaceted, but it all comes down to the chemistry.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The heart of the matter

We’ve all seen the Grinch and you know what they say, his small heart grew three sizes that day. We all know how impressive we find it that the terrible Grinch used to have a heart two sizes too small and now he has the biggest of all. That is extraordinary until you hear it from me, octopuses have not one heart, not two, but three!!!

Okay now that I’m done with my poor attempt of trying to rhyme and be clever, let me explain to you what caused me to come across this information. The other day when reading Don't be Such a Scientist by Randy Olson, he told a story about an octopus using its beak to maul a diver who was trying to get a picture with the massive creature. It explained that the diver only got away after he finally relaxed because when he struggled with the octopus, its grip only got stronger and its bite harder. I found this interesting so I went searching for more information.

The biggest octopus is the giant Pacific octopus which is a whopping 110 pounds and can be up to 16ft in length. Although these creatures are huge, they are by no means dopey and stupid. Studies have shown that they can distinguish between shapes and patterns and have short- and long-term memory! They also have the ability to lose an arm in order to trick a predator and it will grow back in 6-8 weeks. Now on to its three hearts; one main heart is used to pump blood to the entire body while two are used to pump blood through the gills where waste is dumped and oxygen-rich blood is then pumped back to the main heart. Also, the blood of an octopus contains hemocyanin instead of hemoglobin so the blood is blue!

For more information, you can go to this link from Moment of Science and to the Animal Planet octopus page.

I tried to use the arouse and fulfill technique by adding the introduction about the Grinch to make people wonder what the heck this science blog was talking about. I am not very good at the "show me, don't tell me" and often find myself blurting out fact after fact, which I did the same here L But I tried to incorporate a video which may help to offset my ramblings. I also tried to use active voice when writing the blog. I need to work on transitioning from paragraph to paragraph and sentence to sentence.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Proteins, Fusions and Cancer

A synergistic, power couple of proteins binding together and triggering a more aggressive, treatment resistant cancer is not a good sign.

The picture to the left shows API2 and MALT1 binding to NIK. API2 and MALT1 are fused together in certain subsets of lymphoma. The API2 part of this fusion can bind to an enzyme called NIK. When this binding occurs, MALT1 cleaves NIK. This cleaving makes NIK more stable. (credit: University of Michigan Health System)

When NIK is cleaved, the regulatory region is removed. NIK is now an enzyme gone wild. It makes cancer cells that grow very aggressively, spread easily and resist all of the traditional cancer treatments.

The fusion protein is found 30-40 percent of the time in the B-cell type MALT lymphoma which is mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue.

The MALT lymphomas that have this fusion protein have been found to be more resistant to treatment, more aggressive and have larger tumors throughout the body.

NIK cleavage only happens when this fusion protein is bound. Because of this, researchers are looking at NIK as a target for new drug therapies.

click here for the link to this news story and the journal reference.

In the above post I used a hook to get readers interested, used active voice and tried to give the readers a visual via a picture and language of what might be happening during this fusion and subsequent binding.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Crime Scene Investigation: Fact or Fiction

Crime shows sell. It’s the thing that has been keeping bread on the table for people like Dick Wolf (producer of Law and Order) and Jerry Bruckheimer (producer of CSI). They make science accessible to the public. They incorporate kernels of truth, hidden within the finesse of Hollywood. The fancy clothes, the perfect makeup and of course the magic database that knows all. Take this quote from CSI Las Vegas:

Gil Grissom: I just got a page from James Watson.
Nick Stokes: And I got one from Francis Crick. What's going on, Greg?
Greg Sanders: Well, as you both know, Watson and Crick are the granddaddies of DNA. Without their discoveries, I'd have nothing to do all day.
Nick Stokes: What have you been doing all day?

Being a scientist this banter is very entertaining. It was all in knowing Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA. Does the non-scientist viewer glean this information for this banter that will take less than a minute of screen time? Probably not. While reading a report done by the National Science Teachers Association, this topic of ignoring practical and careful science was discussed. Since shows like CSI and Law and Order can out, there are significant increases in students pursuing degrees in criminal justice, criminology and forensic science. The central question that comes from this fact is “Do we really want all this falsely assigned attention?” In a crime lab on CSI, the scientist receives a sample and within the work shift shown in the show, the unknown sample has been identified as a nylon fiber rug made in the 1970’s. In reality, trace evidence may take weeks to identify. Also the DNA evidence is collected, extraction, amplified and identified within hours, where in reality it could take 5-10 days. The disparity between Hollywood and reality lies in the funding. Currently many crime labs struggle with increasing case loads. In a report put out by the National Research Council, it states the primary funding is focused on advancement in DNA technology. The lack of equal funding leaves many loose ends. Also in the report, it discusses the necessity for assessing the validity of certain assay and standardizing practices used in crime labs nationwide. Another thing was laying down guidelines for education of forensic scientists. One of the biggest concerns in the proper collection of data would be that all scientist use valid methods and proper technique when analyzing data. Personally I know I do not watch CSI for the scientific merit hat it exudes, but for the vanity. Hopefully one thing that can come from the inaccuracy of the science presented is a hope for ethical and better regulation of forensic science in the future.

In this blog post, I tried to hook the reader by choosing a popular television show. I tried to avoid using jargon or delving to deep into science of forensic. In this post I was trying to express the importance of understanding proper and practical science. The article I found was focused on the uses of forensic sciences in education. I think as scientists this idea of accessible science through popular culture can be helpful in showing the ethics and applications of science.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oh Blogs

Nothing like procrastination at its best. I finally had some free time to check out some science blogs. I leafed or rather scrolled through a couple and found some that were of interest to me. I really like Viruses throw wrenches in the gears of the immune system.
The immune system has always been very interesting to me plus the author is a peer. He is a guy named Kevin who is getting his PhD in immunology. I like that he has a witty voice in his blog along with recent research and his own knowledge.

The next blog I picked was one called respectful insolence. Even just the name intrigued me.
This guy sounds to me like an intelligent smart ass. He is a surgeon/scientist that said he posts miscillaneous ramblings. I think I like it although im afraid his ego might get in the way of what he is trying to convey. His posts can be somewhat long but I am interested in what this guy has to say.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Overwhelming? Yes.

When I first learned that we would be in charge of creating our own blogs as a group and posting to them on an individual basis, my first reaction was pure excitement! I jumped on my laptop and opened my browser as soon as I got back from class. I immediately started tinkering with the fonts, backgrounds, and different layouts of the actual site, but as I thought more about the actual posting part I quickly became overwhelmed...How is one blog supposed to "flow" with the works of four very different authors?...How am I supposed to compose all of my jumbled thoughts into one cohesive, eye-catching and magnetic post at a time?!...The whole world is going to be able to read this so how much do I share, how much do I conceal, how much factual science should I talk about and how much prose should I throw in to keep my reader reading?!? Well, I do not know all of the answers to these questions but I am certainly learning the ropes as I skim some of the more sophisticated and weathered blogs.

A blog that kept me reading for more was Sandwalk. It is written by a biochemistry professor at the University of Toronto and the extended title of the blog describes its content perfectly: Strolling with a Skeptical Biochemist. The blog consists of a smattering of topics, some of which I do not necessarily agree with, but nonetheless will read in order to see other views of the topic. This blog serves as an awesome footbridge to a lot of very valuable information. Another blog that caught my eye was The Last Word on Nothing because it again has a large amount of different information that keeps my attention until the end. Although I have noted two blogs that have a general theme to them, I think I would enjoy a more specific blog more. Perhaps one on strictly neuroscience, or chiropractic, or maybe even one's journey through undergrad (with a science degree) through grad school and even their post-grad travels? I guess we'll see...

"You know Amy, I think blogging is for you"

So I was sitting here at the computer browsing through some blogs and for a while nothing really caught my eye. I was telling myself "ya know Amy, I just don't think blogging is for you" and as if my computer wanted to slap me right in the face, the next blog that popped up kept me staring at the computer screen contently for a good half hour before I had to leave my apartment. Where else can you find information about amoebas practicing agriculture, contagious cancers (yep, new to you right?), and that if you write down all your worries about an exam 10 minutes prior, you'll do better on the exam? This is exactly the random information that I love learning about. I've decided blogs without a specific theme in mind are the best for me, and most likely what my own blogging will be like. Where did I find out this cool information you might ask? Well here it is: Not Exactly Rocket Science. I was completely convinced that I had awesome skills and found the most perfect "THIS IS FOR AMY blog" only to keep reading and find out that they had just received their 4 millionth page view. Apparently this is the "BLOG FOR EVERYONE" and I'm just catching on.

Now that I was getting the hang of it, I kept on browsing and found another blog site. Hmm, I wonder what kind of topics this one had? You guessed it, completely random science topics like how certain bacteria can improve learning, that there's a fish called a blobfish that's nearly extinct (and rather ugly if I do say so myself), and that a study determined that binge drinking can cause fewer stem cells which can cause reduced memory and spatial skills. Sounds weird? Sounds just perfect for the blog Weird Science.

I think blogging is something I can definitely get used to. The writing a blog might be a little tricky for me, but when I find blogs like this, the reading part will be no problem. Stay tuned for the random science that I scrounge up and my attempt at a smooth transition into the blogger world!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stop, Collaborate and Listen

So blogging for the first time can be very intimidating, especially after reading all these witty blogs. So while exploring the “Blogosphere,” I discovered Dr. Isis. She writes the blog On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess. What first attracted me to this blog was the name. Then when I began reading, I realized she was speaking to all female scientists out there. She always has some hilarious videos she adds to her blog. Her ability to relate pop culture to science is refreshing. She also takes time to call out injustice and puts the spotlight on the trials that come with being a female scientist. Overall the blog was about embracing science and life and figuring out how that two fit together. Another blog that caught my eye was Bioephemera.This blog had an eclectic mix of posts. The blogger, a molecular biologist, seemed to move away from the ordinary scientific topics, and blended science, art, and just random science related facts. One of my personal favorite posts was about an artist who made an anatomically correct dress depicting the major body systems. So I guess the things that attracted my attention were the unconventional, the bloggers who were thinking outside the box. Those who were taking their other interests and mixing in their love of science.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This is the beginning of our amazing blog. Expect to see new postings from four amazing (almost) scientists: Beth, Amy, Heather and Daphne. We hope you will follow us!