Tag Archives: biologist

‘Life as Research Scientist’: Carla Spence, Biologist

Carla Spence is graduating with a Ph.D in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Delaware in Summer 2014.  She entered graduate school after receiving her B.S. in biology from the same University.  She loves spending her leisure time with her husband, Sean, 2 years old son Trent, and her 8 months old daughter Callia.   

Recently we spoke with Miss Spence to know more about her research, especially regarding the study published in BMC Plant Biology (doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-130) and also about why it is important, how life as a research scientist is, and so on. So let’s go ahead:

Q. Let us start with your research topic. What is your research area? Will you please tell us a bit more on this? What did you find?

Carla Spence:  The focus of this project is using natural soil microbes to increase the resistance of rice to blast disease.  Rice blast is caused by the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae.  We isolated bacteria from the rice rhizosphere, which is the soil surrounding the roots, and found one bacterium, EA105, which can drastically inhibit the growth of M. oryzae.  What’s more interesting is that rice roots can be treated with EA105 and this triggers a defense response in the plant called Induced Systemic Resistance (ISR) which makes the rice plants more resistant to M. oryzae infection.  EA105 can protect rice from M. oryzae without physically coming into contact with the fungus.  (more…)

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New book explores ‘frontier’ metaphor in science

Leah Ceccarelli is a professor of communication and author of the book “On the Frontier of Science: An American Rhetoric of Exploration and Exploitation.” She answered a few questions about the book for UW Today.

Q: What’s the concept behind this book? Why did you write it?

A: I kept seeing appeals to the American frontier spirit in the public arguments of scientists. That rhetoric was often inspiring, giving scientists an exciting image of their work across the metaphorical “boundaries” of knowledge. But it was also troubling in the expectations it set out about the manifest destiny of scientists to push forward at all costs, and in the way it reinforced their separation from a public that funds their endeavors. (more…)

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‘Life as Research Scientist’: Jo Varner, Biologist

Jo Varner, University of Utah biology doctoral student, is currently conducting research on how small mammals like Pikas are coping with Earth’s warming climate. Her study is concentrated on Pikas in the Columbia River Gorge area in the U.S, which is an unusual habitat for this species. Recently we had the opportunity to talk to Miss Varner about her research, why it is important and how life as a research scientist is. Here is what we learned from Miss Jo Varner:

Q. Let us start with your research topic. What is your research area? Will you please tell us a bit more on this? What did you find?

Jo Varner: Glad to talk with you! Broadly, I am interested in how climate change is impacting animals, particularly in sensitive environments like the high mountains. Specifically, I am working with American pikas, which are a small mammal closely related to rabbits. Pikas are typically restricted to high elevation mountains in western North America. They appear to be very sensitive to climate change in parts of their range, but in other parts they seem to be less vulnerable. (more…)

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Biologists find an evolutionary Facebook for monkeys and apes

Why do the faces of some primates contain so many different colors — black, blue, red, orange and white — that are mixed in all kinds of combinations and often striking patterns while other primate faces are quite plain?

UCLA biologists reported last year on the evolution of 129 primate faces in species from Central and South America. This research team now reports on the faces of 139 Old World African and Asian primate species that have been diversifying over some 25 million years. (more…)

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Celebrated jumping frogs: For top hops, scientists look to Calaveras pros

The Calaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee has entered the scientific record via a new paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology. Experienced bullfrog ‘jockeys’ at the event routinely get their frogs to jump much farther than researchers had ever measured in the lab. How? Decades of refined technique, uncommonly motivated humans and herps, and good old-fashioned large sample size.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — One day, amid his decades-long study of how animals move, including how frogs jump, Brown University biologist Thomas Roberts found himself and colleague Richard Marsh puzzling over the Guinness Book of World Records. A bullfrog named Rosie the Ribiter reportedly had jumped more than 2.1 meters in a single hop at the Calaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee in 1986, but scientific studies had never reported a bullfrog jump beyond 1.3 meters. (more…)

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Acidifying oceans could spell trouble for squid

New study reveals more acid seas could alter early development of Atlantic longfin squid

Acidifying oceans could dramatically impact the world’s squid species, according to a new study led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers and just published online in the journal PLOS ONE. Because squid are both ecologically and commercially important, that impact may have far-reaching effects on the ocean environment and coastal economies, the researchers report.

“Squid are at the center of the ocean ecosystem—nearly all animals are eating or eaten by squid,” says WHOI biologist T. Aran Mooney, a co-author of the study. “So if anything happens to these guys, it has repercussions down the food chain and up the food chain.” (more…)

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