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You are browsing the archive for blogging Archives - Page 3 of 6 - The Plainspoken Scientist.

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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3 July 2018

Diseases and blogs and fieldwork, oh my!

While my day-to-day life has shifted to science communication, storytelling, and podcasting (check out our newest episode!), I’m still and always will be an ecologist at heart. That’s why I’m so happy that AGU permits me to leave my desk job for three weeks every summer to serve as a professor of disease ecology for the University of Pittsburgh (my Alma mater) Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology.

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19 June 2018

On creativity in science

By Bonnie McGill. This is a cross-posting of a post originally found on her blog, AGua. Until eleventh grade I had no inclination to be a scientist. Zero. I was going to be a graphic artist. Magazines, fonts, photographs, and layouts were my thing. The secret scientist in me was awoken in an eleventh grade environmental science class (thank you, Mr. Betts). At the time, I thought I was putting …

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11 June 2018

The aspen forests are burning, #416fire

I wake each morning eager to go for a run on a mountain trail. I had a plan for June trail runs. Gudy’s Rest, then Animas Mountain, Telegraph Hill,  then Skyline, a return to Animas Mountain, and then pick higher elevation trails. Hermosa Creek Trail was slated to be next. It won’t be next. The area is ablaze, homes are evacuated, and its adjacent aspen forests are burning. Smoke fills the air across the Animas River Valley and throughout Durango, Colorado.

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7 May 2018

Communicating about rare and common species

On March 19, in a grassy enclosure at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, a northern white rhinoceros named Sudan died. He was the last of his kind.

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23 April 2018

Building better tools for risk communication with user-centered design

By Sonia Stephens How can we build better tools to communicate about coastal risks? As a technical communicator, I’m interested in how we can make scientific information more understandable and meaningful for different audiences. One of the things I study is how interactive risk visualization tools are made. That is, I study how these tools are developed: who does the design and development, what choices they make about design and …

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