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17 July 2018

Guinea Worm Eradication: The Dog Days are NOT Over

The end of the guinea worm’s life cycle looks like a scene from a horror movie: a thin, slimy creature emerging from lesions on the legs of the infected.

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16 July 2018

Good morning! Bed bugs left you Chagas Disease.

Bugs can be scary. Bugs can be especially scary when they are in your bed.

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13 July 2018

The forgotten dogs of the Americas

Over the course of history humans have created hundreds of specialized breeds, each bread for a specific purpose, and originating from all corners of the globe. However, due to having such low ancestry in common, more recently scientists have begun to point to Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumor (CTVT) disease as the most likely cause of the almost extinction of American dog breeds either before or during European arrival in the 15th century.  

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12 July 2018

Our favorite yellow fruit in danger?!

In the 1950s, the Gros Michel banana was the most-exported banana in the world until a fungus known as banana wilt ravaged the banana population. The banana that we eat today is the Cavendish and is the replacement for the Gros Michel after it was led into near extinction by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum. It’s spreading across Southeast Asia, Australia and the Middle East, where bananas are grown. In the 1950s the banana industry almost completely collapsed because of the fungus, and through switching to the Cavendish they were able to keep the industry going. The banana is being infected by the fungus once again.

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11 July 2018

Origin found of amphibian’s worst nightmare, Batrachochytrium Dendrobatidis

In recent years, amphibians all over the world have been dying to the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, affectionately referred to as BD. The fungus has been spreading at an alarming rate, and the death toll is rising. The sudden and dramatic outbreak of BD around the world has prompted a large-scale research effort to locate the origin of the fungus, which may reveal the genetic lineage of the fungus, as well as give us insight into preventing further spread of the disease.

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10 July 2018

Brains for breakfast: Can cannibalism lead to disease resistance?

The Fore tribe in Papua New Guinea has a long history of ritualistic cannibalism, resulting in a crippling outbreak of a degenerative brain disease called Kuru in the 1950’s. The epidemic devestated the tribe, but some survivors of the Kuru epidemic are now found to show signs of evolved Kuru resistance and possibly other degenerative neurological diseases.

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9 July 2018

Gene modification: How it could save the pig industry billions

Scientists have recently produced pigs with the ability to resists a highly problematic and costly disease. Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is a pathogenic disease that infects pigs, and it ultimately causes the industry to lose approximately $2.5 billion in revenue annually.

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6 July 2018

Holy worms: Historical depictions of Guinea Worm disease in Medieval art

This 15th-century altarpiece depicts St. Roch, a Catholic saint from the 14th century known for his work with plague victims. The prominent feature in this, and almost all depictions of St. Roch is the wound/mark on his upper thigh. It has been speculated to be a birthmark, a boil, or a sore and until recently, art historians said this particular piece shows a long drop of pus leaking from a wound. Now, researchers believe this actually depicts Guinea worm disease (GWD).

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5 July 2018

Zombie shrimp?

Parasites are known to manipulate their hosts’ behavior in a variety of ways to aid parasite survival and reproduction.

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4 July 2018

A new bacterium that causes Lyme isease

This is part of a series of posts from our own Shane Hanlon’s disease ecology class that he’s currently teaching at the University of Pittsburgh Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology. Students were asked to write popular science posts about (mostly) wildlife diseases.

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7 September 2016

Texas Earthquakes: Working together and keeping the data open

This is a guest post by graduate student Taylor Borgfeldt as part of our ongoing series of posts where we ask students to share their experiences in science communication. In Texas, relatively small earthquakes have caused structural damages to houses, partly due to such a shallow earthquake source. The public who experiences the seismic events or live in large metropolitan areas can have strong reactions to the shaking or possibility of an event …

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8 August 2016

A silent threat: Raising awareness about arsenic in well water

This is a guest post by graduate student Brittany Huhmann as part of our ongoing series of posts where we ask students to share their experiences in science communication. As a Ph.D. student, I spend a lot of time testing soils and groundwater for arsenic in far-off places like Bangladesh and India. Arsenic is a well-known carcinogen that negatively impacts millions of people in these and other south and southeast Asian countries. But …

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26 July 2016

Benefits of the audio experience

How people hear us can be different from how they read our words. Skylar Bayers talks (literally) about the differences between the written and spoken word.

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18 July 2016

Science by the Pint

What’s better than learning about science? Learning about science at a pub.

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20 June 2016

Challenges, strategies, and tools for research scientists in Africa

Ngozi Oguguah encountered three main challenges when she started her PhD: 1) funding, 2) access to laboratories, and 3) access to publications. After much work, she learned that she could overcome these challenges through building networks.

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17 May 2016

Triggers in science communication: getting the audience tuned in

How do you get high school students interested in science? Teach them about the highest wave ever surfed!

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13 April 2016

Informal education equal opportunities for girls in STEM

This is a guest post by graduate student Mayra Sanchez as part of our ongoing series of posts where we ask students to share their experiences in science communication.  I became interested in outreach in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), because I’ve always seen a gap in communication between the scientific community and the general public. I have been an informal educator for the past 10 years with most of my …

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31 March 2016

So a Scientist Walks Into a Bar: The Importance of Comedy in Science

This is a guest post by graduate student Sam Nadell, in what will be the first of a new series of posts where we ask students to share their experiences in science communication.  Bill Nye, one of the most recognizable and funny scientists in the world today, once said, “Humor is everywhere, in that there’s irony in just about anything a human does.” I’ll save exploring the irony of human existence for …

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