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Ambassador Spotlight: Adelaide Tovar

Feb 22, 2018

By Julia DiFiore Adelaide Tovar is a third year graduate student in the Curriculum of Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She works in Samir Kelada’s lab studying how genetic variation in a specific type of white blood cell impacts the response to acute ozone exposure. Before coming […]

Why Can’t Humans Hibernate?

Feb 15, 2018 http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=187990&picture=black-bear-portrait

By Matt Niederhuber North Carolina has had a miserable winter this year, with a heavy dose of snow and bitter cold –  so much that you might wish you could climb under a warm blanket and hibernate till May. Unfortunately, humans can’t hibernate like many of our mammalian relatives, and we’re forced to suffer through […]

The Flu and You

Feb 08, 2018 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Enveloped_icosahedral_virus.svg

By Christina Marvin If you have not come down with the flu yourself, you most likely have had a friend or family member who has. It rears its ugly head each year, infecting those it comes in contact with and discriminating against no one. If you’ve been following this blog, you may have read about […]

SEE THE RAINBOW?

Feb 01, 2018 https://www.flickr.com/photos/kristinaschiller/14055117809/

By Jennifer Schiller When I was young, there was this one kid in my class who had all the colors of crayons. The rest of us would have the basics, but she had a pack of 256, with colors like “burnt umber” and “razzmatazz”. The rest of us would ooh and aah and beg to […]

Dietary Supplements: #NewYearNewMe or #NewYearNewLiver ?

Jan 25, 2018 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sports_Nutrition_Supplements.jpg

By Eva Vitucci As 2018 makes its grand entrance, so does the ever trending hashtag #NewYearNewMe. This hashtag is frequently used in reference to the undertaking of a healthier lifestyle, and for those hashtag enthusiasts, is often followed by #FitFam and #LegDay.  Shifting to a healthier lifestyle can be a monumental challenge, but often one of […]

From the Archives – Maple Trees vs. Winter: How Trees Survive and Thrive Again

Jan 18, 2018

With much of North Carolina under several inches of snow (included up to a foot in some parts of the Research Triangle!), we thought it was a good time to revisit how a familiar favorite survives in such harsh conditions. Originally published on November 12, 2016. By Christina Marvin What do you imagine when you hear […]

How to Copy DNA: The Invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction

Jan 11, 2018 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grand_Prismatic_Spring,_Yellowstone_National_Park_(3646969937).jpg https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Thermus_aquaticus

By Matt Niederhuber There’s a good chance you’ve heard about DNA testing before, probably on a crime TV show or on the news. Sometimes, DNA testing is how the police identify suspects, but it has also helped prove the innocence of many people who have been falsely imprisoned. I bring up DNA testing because I […]

Synesthesia: Taste the Rainbow

Jan 04, 2018 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia#/media/File:Synesthesia.svg

By Jennifer Schiller Close your eyes and remember your breakfast. How did it feel? Was it slimy scrambled eggs? Was it crunchy cereal? Or, like the man after which Richard E. Cytowic’s non-fiction book The Man Who Tasted Shapes is titled, did it feel pointy in your hands from the pepper? Was this last question […]

Wet Hair, Colds, and the Truth About Viruses

Dec 21, 2017 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/Phage.jpg

By Michelle Engle As kids, we are often told, “don’t go outside with wet hair, you will catch a cold!” Is there any truth to this old saying, or is it just a persistent myth? Knowing the difference between myths and scientific facts is important for making educated decisions. But what’s even more important is […]

The Science of Snowflakes

Dec 14, 2017 https://www.flickr.com/photos/chaoticmind75/35142394270/in/album-72157626146319517/

By Chad Lloyd Flash back to 4th grade art class. “Today we are going to decorate for winter and will be making snowflakes,” your favorite art teacher says. As excitement fills the air, you and your friends rush to get paper and scissors to begin your masterpieces. After making your final cuts to the paper, […]

The Secret Behind How We Choose Our Food

Dec 07, 2017 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MRI_of_orbitofrontal_cortex.jpg

By Yitong Li When it comes to food choice, it’s almost an instinctual question: sometimes I want some chicken and greens for dinner and others I want some BBQ ribs and mashed potatoes. Compared to other decisions, such as which phone to buy or which shirt to put on in the morning, choosing food seems […]

Why the Flu Shot Rocks

Nov 30, 2017 https://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/immunity/immune-detail.html

By Clare Gyorke When I say the flu sucks, I’m not talking about the cold you get every year – you feel crappy for a day or two, but not so crappy that you can’t watch Netflix. I’m talking about the one that starts out feeling like a cold, but progresses to feeling so bad […]

Ambassador Spotlight: Anna Chiarella

Nov 20, 2017 Courtesy of Anna Chiarella

By Temperance Rowell Anna Chiarella is a third-year graduate student in the curriculum of Genetics and Molecular Biology at UNC Chapel Hill. There she studies how certain proteins, called histone tail modifying proteins, affect DNA packing inside of cells. She works in the laboratory of Nate Hathaway. Anna first became involved in the CONNECT program […]

Getting into a cycle of recycling

Nov 16, 2017 https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/9090732482

By Kelsey Gray In elementary school, I always looked forward to enjoying some Sunny Delight orange juice when my mom picked me up from school. One day, rather than tossing the empty bottle into the trash, I told my mom we needed to save it. When she seemed a little confused, I explained that we […]

Storm Surge: The Science of Hurricanes

Nov 09, 2017 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Matthew_2016-10-04.jpg

By Christina Marvin Anyone who has lived through a hurricane can tell you these storms are no joke. Before accurate tracking, hurricanes had the potential to wipe out entire cities, such as the Labor Day hurricane in Key West in 1935. With better equipment, lives and property can be saved, although widespread destruction and lasting […]

Spiders: Natural Engineers of the Animal Kingdom

Nov 02, 2017 http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Web-Yellow-Garden-Spider-Macro-Insect-Outdoors-1982368

By Allyson Roberts As the holiday season marches on, spooky Halloween decorations are being replaced. But, before they have all crawled away, let’s take a moment to consider one commonly feared Halloween staple: spiders. So, how did these “arachnids” (spiders aren’t insects!) become a symbol of horror and Halloween? The easy answer is that, for […]

Ambassador Spotlight: Michelle Engle

Oct 26, 2017

By Temperance Rowell Michelle Engle is a fifth-year graduate student in the curriculum of Genetics and Molecular Biology at UNC Chapel Hill where she works in the laboratory of Claire Doerschuk. Michelle studies the lung, trying to understand how it responds to cigarette smoke by changing the expression of different genes. Specifically, she is interested […]

The Secrets of Our DNA

Oct 19, 2017 https://www.flickr.com/photos/mitopencourseware/4814933459

By Eva Vitucci The human body is composed of trillions of cells – these cells make up your skin, hair, lungs, and even your toenails. Inside each of these cells are specialized instructions that are essential for life, otherwise known as deoxyribonucleic acid, or your DNA. But what exactly is DNA? Quite simply, your DNA […]

Lab mice: the true heroes of science

Oct 12, 2017 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Knockout_Mice5006-300.jpg

********** The NC DNA Day CONNECT blog is back! We’re excited for another year of sharing exciting science news and interesting research going on here in North Carolina and around the world. We will have a new post each Thursday, so make sure to check back every week! ********** By Michelle Engle The phrases “laboratory animals”, […]

Summertime Science

Jun 08, 2017 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hanging_Rock_State_Park.jpg

By Julia DiFiore As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, the countdown to summer gets shorter. While the first official day of summer isn’t until June 20, many of you have already started summer vacation. Whether your plans over the next couple of months involve a summer job, vacation, summer school, SAT […]

Lab Life

Jun 01, 2017 From Kelsey Gray

By Kelsey Gray I was 16 years old the first time I stepped into a research lab. I was in awe of the equipment, the chemical solutions, and the scientific books and notebooks that surrounded me. After taking science classes all my life, it was surreal to be in a place where real discoveries were […]

Thank Mom for Your Mitochondria

May 27, 2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrion

By Michelle Engle We inherit ½ of our DNA from our mothers, but that’s not the only thing we inherit from them. Mitochondria are organelles in the cell that are responsible for making energy used to create proteins and respond to the environment. Mitochondria are passed from mother to baby upon fertilization of the egg. […]

A graduate student evening: weirdness in Death Valley

May 11, 2017 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Racetrack_playa_2013-12-20.jpg

By Mike Pablo I’m a Chemistry PhD student studying the biochemistry of a type of immune cell, but sometimes it’s fun to learn about a totally different field of science. With that in mind one recent Wednesday evening, I went with a friend to the Carolina Science Café, an event connected with the NC Science […]

Eat Your Heart Out: Growing Heart Tissue on Spinach Leaves

Apr 21, 2017 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3c/Vine_leaf_-_Pinot_noir.jpg

By Allyson Roberts Regenerative medicine is one of the hottest topics in biomedical science right now. Multiple labs are using inventive approaches to try and find ways to create body parts in the lab. In the United States alone, there are over 120,000 people currently on the waiting list for an organ transplant, and an […]

One potato, Two potatoes, Three potatoes, Four!

Apr 06, 2017 https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/10583398185

By Kelsey Gray As the days get longer, the air gets warmer, and the sun shines brighter, we may begin to notice fresh fruits and vegetables growing around us and appearing in local grocery stores and markets. Food crops, including grains, fruits, and vegetables, are harvested to feed the growing world population of over 7 […]

Hatching a Chick: No Egg Needed

Mar 23, 2017 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Chicken-embryo-1week_old-stereomicroscope.jpg

By Michelle Engle Scientists have been attempting to find a way to directly observe the developmental process of chicks for decades. The elegant process of developing from a single fertilized cell into a cluster of heart cells, and eventually into a tiny peeping chick is fascinating, but the eggshell has kept this process hidden from […]

Sugar, spice, and everything nice: science in the kitchen

Mar 21, 2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsicum#/media/File:Arrangement_of_jalape%C3%B1o,_banana,_cayenne,_chili,_and_habanero_peppers.jpg

By Mike Pablo Whether or not you know what to do with a stove, you need to eat. And, while food doesn’t have to taste good to be eaten, it certainly is nice if it does. As someone who enjoys eating, cooking, and science, today, I’m merging them all together! I hope I can convince […]

Your ancestors had better teeth than you do, so go brush your teeth

Mar 15, 2017

By Lauriel Earley If you’ve ever been to the dentist, you’ll know that most of your time there is spent having plaque cleaned off your teeth. Have you ever given much thought as to what plaque is? If not, then be prepared to be a little grossed out. Plaque is a ‘biofilm’, which means it’s […]

Can we teach our body to recognize cancer?

Mar 02, 2017 https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5519/11857240186_a24d969536_b.jpg

By Christina Marvin Immunotherapy is an entirely new way of thinking about cancer treatment. Traditional therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation aim to target and destroy tumors. Often times, tumor targeting is poor or the treatments damage other parts of the body. Immunotherapy, on the other hand, teaches our body’s natural defenses (the immune […]

Why does the “Bench-To-Bedside” path progress so slowly?

Feb 27, 2017 www.iamdrwanderlust.com/?p=184

By Yitong Li One of the biggest funding agencies in the United States, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends about $32 billion every year to support scientific research that contributes to the wellbeing of Americans. If you consider the annual household income in US (~$55k), the NIH budget is equivalent to the total annual […]

From the Heart

Feb 16, 2017 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Diagram_of_the_human_heart_(cropped).svg

By Kelsey Gray Hearts have long been associated with the month of February. Hallmark Cards began producing Valentine’s Day cards featuring the heart in the early 1900s. The first American Heart Month was declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson and took place in February 1964. In 2003, the first National Wear Red Day was held […]

Dive Into the Mysterious World of Sharks

Feb 09, 2017 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/96/Stegostoma_fasciatum_thailand.jpg

By Michelle Engle In the past few months, scientists have made some amazing discoveries about sharks. Let’s dive into the new research and what it means for sharks and scientists. In August 2016, a group of Danish scientists published a report in Science that radiocarbon dating had allowed them to investigate the lifespan of the […]

Seeing the Unseeable

Jan 27, 2017 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GFP_Superresolution_Christoph_Cremer.JPG

By Mike Pablo Today I’m writing about microscopy. One of the great pleasures of the field of microscopy is being able to look at cool pictures, so let’s do that first: Microscopes are among the most iconic symbols of science, alongside other famous images like DNA, test tubes, and the atom. Though magnification devices had […]

The Bacterial Life inside your Breakfast

Jan 19, 2017 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yogurtland_Yogurt_High_Res.jpg

By Christina Marvin Yogurt is a yummy treat, but did you know that one of the main ingredients is live bacteria? Is it dangerous to eat bacteria? Don’t worry, yogurt contains only good kinds of bacteria, not the ones that make you sick. In fact, many bacterial species used in yogurt actually help your digestive […]

AUTISM- Always Unique Totally Interesting Sometimes Mysterious

Jan 17, 2017 https://pwcs.ss9.sharpschool.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=340225&pageId=755529

By Yitong Li When it comes to autism, many people tend to picture a somewhat non-responsive kid absorbed in arranging puzzles in a particular way. However, autism is far more than that. Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the name assigned to a group of complex disorders that affect brain development. Some common symptoms […]

It’s About Time

Jan 05, 2017

By Kelsey Gray The start of a new year often brings both reflection and anticipation. We think about how we spent our time in the past and how we would like to spend our time in the future. We spend time thinking about time, but what do we know about the nature of time itself? […]

How Did Rudolph Get His Red Nose?: A Scientific Investigation

Dec 15, 2016

By Michelle Engle Some non-believers among you may say that Rudolph is nothing more than a fairy tale, that it’s impossible for a reindeer to have a glowing red nose. To those of you, I have this to say: it’s not magic, it’s science! Allow me to present evidence to support my hypothesis. Fluorescent, or […]

Coffee Science

Dec 09, 2016

By Sarah Marks It’s the end of the semester, which means a slew of project deadlines and exams. To get through it all, many of us reach for one beverage, coffee. Coffee is complex. Beyond the most well-known component, caffeine, which gets most of us through our early morning grogginess, coffee beans contain acids that […]

Ancient virus genes make male mice extra muscular

Dec 05, 2016

By Lauriel Earley You’ve probably already heard that you may have more bacterial cells than human cells in your body*, but did you know that you’re also part virus? About 5-8% of your genome is from viruses that integrated into the DNA of your ancestors. These pieces of virus that are in your genome are called […]

Standing on the shoulders of giant robots

Nov 17, 2016

By Mike Pablo Today we have computers and technology all around us. While humanoid robotic helpers are still off in the future, I could define a robot as a machine that people can program or control to do useful tasks. In this sense, robots, already exist in useful forms, such as household appliances and cars. […]

Maple Trees vs. Winter: How Trees Survive and Thrive Again

Nov 12, 2016

By Christina Marvin What do you imagine when you hear people describe spending time on rural mountainsides? Country landscapes often bring to mind scenes of seemingly endless trees stretched out over mountaintops and across plains. North Carolina in particular is home to a variety of different trees, one of which is the beautiful and resilient […]

Artistic science or Scientific art?

Nov 03, 2016

By Kelsey Gray If you were to play a word-association game and make lists of the words that go with science and the words that go with art, what would those lists look like? Would the lists have much overlap? Or would each list be distinct? What would you have included on each list? I […]

Genes and Giants in Ireland

Oct 27, 2016

By Michelle Engle Genetics is usually advertised as a science that impacts the future – the future of healthcare, the future of cancer therapy, etc. But it’s also the biological science that most closely links us to the past, through the DNA passed down from our ancestors. In Ireland, where the past is filled with […]

Ambassador Spotlight: Kelsey Gray

Oct 24, 2016

By Temperance Rowell Kelsey Gray is a graduate student in the curriculum of Genetics and Molecular Biology at UNC Chapel Hill where she works in the laboratory of Greg Matera. There she studies the disease spinal muscular atrophy, which is similar to the well-known disease ALS, but mainly affects children rather than adults. Even though […]

Molecular Machines – 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Oct 21, 2016

By Sarah Marks For me, one of the most exciting times of the year is in early October, and it’s not just because I love fall leaves, brisk weather, and pumpkin spice lattes.  October is when science gets its time in the sun, with the Nobel Prize announcements.  A legacy of Alfred Nobel, Nobel Prizes […]

The tiny creatures that evolve with our beer industry

Oct 14, 2016

By Yitong Li What comes to your mind when you think of evolution? Giant dinosaurs with sharp fangs and powerful claws? Or giraffes stretching their necks to reach the leaves at the top of a tree? Or Charles Darwin the British gentleman with a long, dense beard? For a group of scientists in Belgium, evolution […]

Epigenetics – more than what you’re born with

Oct 06, 2016

By Mike Pablo It’s well-known that children can inherit features from their parents. Eye color, hair color, and height are just some characteristics that can be passed down from parent to child. If you’ve had a class on DNA, you’ve likely heard about Mendelian inheritance, originally proposed in 1865 by Gregor Johann Mendel. Mendelian inheritance is […]

How to Recognize Bad Science

Sep 29, 2016

By Lauriel Earley Using the internet gives you access to a wealth of information, but sometimes it’s too much! How do you recognize the good information from the junk information? How do you know if the article you’re reading is true? How do you know if someone is trying to trick you? Now that Tamara […]

DNA: an eyewitness to crime

Sep 22, 2016

By Christina Marvin Crime dramas such as NCIS and Law and Order engross us with images of law enforcement blasting down city streets in pursuit of suspects, lights flashing and sirens blaring. Bringing criminals to justice often relies on the prompt ability to secure a crime scene and interview suspects. But what happens when criminals get away […]

Wading through the Shallows: Finding Accurate, In-depth Science Coverage in a Sea of Information

Sep 16, 2016 http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1174

By Tamara Vital Scientists communicate their findings to one another through the primary literature: papers that describe their work and are reviewed by other scientists in the field before being published in scientific journals. When I first started reading scientific papers as a young college student, I enjoyed the science, but wondered how the papers […]