Blog

Herd Immunity

Apr 18, 2019

By Tim Daugird What if I told you that if enough people got a flu shot, we could all eliminate influenza outbreaks? You may think, “Duh, if everyone got a flu shot, then no one would get the flu”. Although you would be correct, we can probably all agree that the idea of everyone getting […]

The Human Genome Project: More questions than answers

Apr 11, 2019

By Laetitia Meyrueix The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an amazing endeavor to map the full human genome. A genome consists of all the DNA of an organism, which represents all the genetic information found in the nucleus of every cell in your body. DNA is made up of base pairs and parts of DNA […]

Autoimmunity: How T cells go wrong

Apr 04, 2019

By Christian Agosto-Burgos Every single day we are all exposed to thousands of nasty and tiny pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi that could harm us. Thankfully, we all have an immune system that protects us from the harm these microorganisms could induce. Sometimes the immune system of certain individuals becomes confused and cannot […]

CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing of Humans – Future or Fiction?

Mar 28, 2019

By Dominika Trzilova You’re half of your mom and half of your dad. You get different characteristics from each parent, many of which are determined by the genes your parents give you. Most of the time the genes passed down to you result in good characteristics, such as athleticism. However, not all inherited genes result in […]

Blood

Mar 23, 2019

By Eva Vitucci Blood. It makes some people squeamish, some people faint, but it makes all of us alive. Blood is the fluid inside our blood vessels that circulates through our body and connects each organ system together, as though it were the body’s highway system. This liquid highway system is how the cells of […]

The Other Humans

Mar 13, 2019

By Rachel Cherney “Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” These questions have been asked since the dawn of modern humans. While these questions often have a more rhetorical, philosophical meaning, there is also a scientific answer as to how modern humans arose and from where they came. We (Homo Sapiens), are the […]

Sonic the Hedgehog is Not Just for Video Games

Mar 07, 2019

By Julia DiFiore Much like Fortnite today, Sonic the Hedgehog was everywhere in the early 1990s – from video games to comics and TV shows. What his creators probably didn’t expect was that Sonic would one day be part of a major scientific discovery – the inspiration for the name of a newly discovered gene. […]

Forest Fire Flames and Smoke: Double the Trouble

Feb 07, 2019

By Eva Vitucci As of Friday November 16, 2018, California was home to the three most polluted cities in the world. These three cities – San Francisco, Stockton, and Sacramento – topped the world’s chart of polluted cities as a result of the infiltrating smoke produced from the nearby, devastating Camp Fire. To date, the […]

Directing the Immune System Towards Cancer

Jan 31, 2019

By Clare Gyorke We’ve all heard of the big bad Cancer. There are many types of cancer, and cancer – which is an abnormal growth of cells somewhere in the body – happens for a variety of reasons. One main reason is that the immune system fails to kill a cell that is growing out […]

WinSPIRE – Call for Applications

Jan 23, 2019

WinSPIRE (Women in Science Promoting Inclusion in Research Experiences) is a six-week-long paid summer internship program that pairs high school women with female early-career scientists to mentor them through a cutting-edge research project in a science laboratory at UNC Chapel Hill. In addition to gaining hands-on research experience and an extensive support network of female scientists, WinSPIRE participants […]

The Bionic Mushroom – A New Superhero?

Nov 29, 2018 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mushroom_-_unidentified.jpg

By Rachel Cherney   A fungus among us can now produce electricity with the help of cyanobacteria – a certain species of microbe. You read that right, scientists in New Jersey have harnessed nature’s diversity to generate bionic, electricity producing, mushrooms. Microbes, microscopic single-celled organisms, can produce a variety of materials and functions that are […]

Nature’s Methods for Surviving Winter

Nov 15, 2018 https://pixabay.com/en/fall-foliage-moss-tree-autumn-1913485/

By Allyson Roberts Fall is finally upon us, bringing colder temperatures and the holiday season. Fall also brings beautiful scenery—the rainbow of colors seen as leaves begin to transform and fall from their branches. Not surprisingly, this phenomenon—and the reasoning behind why only some leaves change color—is easily described by cool, natural science! You may […]

Space Biology: The Search for Life Beyond Earth

Nov 08, 2018 https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/the-search-for-life/habitable-zones/

By Sam Stadmiller Have you ever wondered if aliens are real? Well, scientists do too, and they spend lots of time and effort searching for life on other planets. When you think about the vastness of our universe, the existence of life on other planets in the past, present, or future, is statistically probable. All […]

Science Shows it Really is Harder for Teens to Wake Up Early

Nov 01, 2018 https://www.flickr.com/photos/spacial/5871701290

By Eva Vitucci Scientists have proven that it truly is harder for teens to wake up earlier than other age groups. While there are a few reasons that potentially drive this difference, it largely boils down to two main molecules that are produced in our bodies, melatonin and serotonin. When we wake up in the […]

From the Archives: Summertime Science

Jun 07, 2018 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hanging_Rock_State_Park.jpg

Thanks for following the NC DNA Day CONNECT blog this year! We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the latest scientific discoveries and news as much as we’ve enjoyed writing about them. As we take a break for the summer, we thought it was a good time to share this post highlighting the great science resources […]

To Attract or Avoid: Butterfly Wing Patterning

May 31, 2018 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:E3000_-_the_wings-become-windows_butterfly._(by-sa).jpg

By Allyson Roberts Spring is finally here to stay. The weather is warming up, the sun is staying out later and later, and we’re beginning to see wildlife flit around outside. Amongst the blooming flowers and buzzing bees, sometimes you can even spot a butterfly perched nearby. Butterflies come in all shapes and sizes, but […]

From the Archives: Dive Into the Mysterious World of Sharks

May 24, 2018 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/96/Stegostoma_fasciatum_thailand.jpg

With summer fast approaching and many people heading to the beach, we thought it would be a good time to revisit some recent shark discoveries. This post was originally published on February 9, 2017. By Michelle Engle In the past few months, scientists have made some amazing discoveries about sharks. Let’s dive into the new […]

I just made a discovery! Now what?

May 17, 2018 https://www.flickr.com/photos/dailypic/1459055735

By Chad Lloyd Most people have heard of the scientific method. The scientific method is the process that we use as scientists to help make discoveries. This method is also the process everyone uses when making decisions, which shows that everyone does science on a daily basis! The first part of the scientific method is […]

E. coli: The Bug We Love and Hate

May 10, 2018 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Diverse_e_Coli.png

By Yitong Li The recent E. coli outbreak is all over the news these days. These malignant bacteria can be found in romaine lettuce, leafy vegetables, and possibly all salad mixes. Many people have been hospitalized because of it and one person has died. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is […]

Sailing to Mars

May 03, 2018 https://www.flickr.com/photos/uhawaii/32412536565

By Jennifer Schiller Did you ever want to go to space? Explore a distant planet and discover its secrets? Yeah, me too. So do the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and NASA, who are simulating life on Mars with the missions of the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS). Their goal? Find out how […]

The Toxicologist

Apr 26, 2018 Altered by Eva Vitucci from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paracelsus.jpg

By Eva Vitucci Over 500 years ago, a man named Paracelsus stirred up the world of medicine. At that time the main belief was when an individual became sick it was because fluids in their body, such as their blood or bile, became imbalanced. Paracelsus was one of the first people to propose and support […]

“Y” So Different?

Apr 19, 2018 https://www.flickr.com/photos/nihgov/28189336441

By Rachel Cherney While a baby is developing, it is by default, female. However, with the presence of the Y sex chromosome, the developing female will be overridden and instead develop a male reproductive system, thus becoming male. Males have an X and a Y sex chromosome, whereas females have two X chromosomes. Millions of […]

The Real Risk of California’s Cancer Label on Coffee

Apr 12, 2018 http://www.picserver.org/c/coffee-health01.html

By Christina Marvin Humans have been drinking the modern form of coffee since as early as the 13th  century. It is estimated that 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed each day worldwide. The scientific community has weighed the major risks against the benefits of the world’s favorite caffeinated beverage for decades. For the first […]

What’s in a face? Paving the way for biometric technologies

Apr 05, 2018 https://pixabay.com/en/eye-iris-biometrics-2771174/

By Chad Lloyd Have you ever met someone and thought to yourself, “They look just like someone else I know?” What allows us to look at someone and be able to recognize them? The reason that we can look at someone and distinguish them from others is due to their unique facial features and landmarks. […]

The Power of Model Organisms

Mar 29, 2018 https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/761/31994514202_71c04bdfb3_b.jpg

By Allyson Roberts While watching the news, reading the paper, or even checking your favorite social media sites, occasionally we stumble across stories about discoveries scientists have made related to how genes contribute to obesity, or how scientists have discovered a cure for Ebola virus. These findings are important for human health, but if you […]

From the Archives: Genes and Giants in Ireland

Mar 22, 2018

As many of us just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish, we thought it would be a good time to revisit an Irish legend and its unexpected connection to modern day genetics. Originally published on October 27, 2016. By Michelle Engle Genetics is usually advertised as a science that impacts the future – […]

Ambassador Spotlight: Matt Niederhuber

Mar 15, 2018 From Matt Niederhuber

By Julia DiFiore Matt Niederhuber is a second year graduate student in the Curriculum of Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In his research, he uses fruit flies at a model organism to study how genes are turned on or off during development in Dan McKay’s lab. While […]

Chlamydia is Sneaky

Mar 09, 2018 http://www.clker.com/clipart-consulting-detective-with-pipe-and-magnifying-glass-silhouette-.html

By Clare Gyorke I’m sure many of you remember the movie, “Mean Girls“ and have heard Coach Carr’s famous caution that “if you touch each other, you will get chlamydia, and die.” As it turns out, he was sadly misinformed. Though it cannot kill you, Chlamydia trachomatis is actually the most common bacterial sexually transmitted […]

Our Unbeliverable Liver

Mar 01, 2018 https://bloominuterus.com/2015/03/04/endo-liver-function/

By Eva Vitucci The human body is an amazing entity, and as can be seen by watching the recent Winter Olympics, the body can accomplish great physical feats! Becoming an Olympic athlete requires years of practice and training. Interestingly, while most people may focus on how critical it must be to build and maintain the […]

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 […]