Abstract 2.0 Is On: Help Wanted

I have sat on this long enough. It’s not like a have anything else going on right now (except the birth of a son in a ¬†month, syllabus to write, classes to prepare, evaluations to do, data to journal, …). Introducing:

Abstract 2.0

Here are the details presently. I and anyone willing to help will scour the journals of our respective fields and choose those we feel need to be disseminated to the larger public. In a short synopsis (abstract if you will), an overview of the article and why it is important will be written and deposited here. Details will be worked out on how to submit the abstracts in the near future.

Now is the time to act (or later if now is not convenient)!

Animated GIF: Caterpillar beginning the transformation into chrysalis

 

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Animated GIF of a caterpillar starting to form its chrysalis.

 

Professor 2.0

Professor 2.0.

Page added to my blog after being contacted by a tenured professor at Virginia Tech about how to enter the crowded world of social networks to increase public knowledge of their research and increase its impact.

Dolly Parton’s Best Assets: Compassion and the Imagination Library

Dear Imagination Library Graduate,

My, how time flies. It seems it was only yesterday when your family and friends read you your first story. You were just a baby. Now you’re five years old and about to go to school. How exciting!

This may be your last book from my Imagination Library but you have to promise me you will keep on reading. If you go to your local public library you will find a great number of books just for kids your age. Every book is a treasure and every time you open one up you will meet new friends and take wonderful journeys to magical places.

I hope you have a great time in school. I bet your school will even have a library where you can check out books. You and all of your friends are very special. There is no limit to what you can do or how far you can go. Just remember the lessons my family taught me – dream big dreams; learn everything you can learn; and care for all those who care for you. You do all of these things and you can be anyone you want to be.

You are terrific, and remember…

I Will Always Love You,

Dolly

This is the letter from Country Music Legend Dolly Parton on the first page of the 60th and last book given to each child from her Imagination Library. Most of us know Dolly Parton from her decades of music, books, and films, but Dolly comes from very humble beginnings in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. Her life story is a true Cinderella story and is nothing short of amazing; one of twelve children born to a tobacco farmer living in a one room cabin. A replica of this cabin resides at Dolly Parton’s themepark, Dollywood, the largest employer in the county and host to over 2.5 million visitors each year.

Dolly never forgot her home and her family. I live in Knoxville, TN; about an hour from Dollywood thanks to traffic. Having worked at a local hospital, I know Dolly is known to regulary visit hospitalized family members (which there are many). Perhaps much less known, Dolly gives back to her community in many ways mostly through the Dollywood Foundation. This includes the largest bald eagle sanctuary in the country located at Dollywood.

Dolly’s Imagination Library started small with a simple goal: give each child in her home county a free book each month from birth to age 5. The idea quickly took off. In 2000, the program was opened up to any community willing to support it. In 2004, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen started Books from Birth, expanding the Imagination Library statewide. Within a couple of years, research began to accumulate showing the impacts Imagination Library has on families and the learning skills of the children (check here).

My daughter has looked forward to each new book each month and I know many children feel the same way. Through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, children’s dreams, imagination, and creativity are nurtured and celebrated while increasing each child’s love of reading and learning. These combined give me hope these children can do much more with their lives than us.

Thanks, Dolly.

Imagination Library
Imagination Library (Photo credit: United Way of Greater St. Louis)
2013 Imagination Library Launch
2013 Imagination Library Launch (Photo credit: United Way of Greater St. Louis)

Nanobiopsy: the beauty in the very small is a big deal

The ability to study the living without destroying it has been the goal of many scientists for decades. A new article in ACS Nano has paved the road towards noninvasive cellular-level examination. The only true way to study cellular dynamics is to study a single cell over time (temporally). The reason for this is the heterogeneous nature of any cell culture because no two cells are identical spatially and temporally. Each individual cell has its own set of experiences that has generated its current molecular inventory, ie. RNA molecules, metabolites, proteins, sugars, lipids, etc. Studying a community of cells gives rise to noise that makes finding significant differences incredibly difficult.

In the article entitled Compartmental Genomics in Living Cells Revealed by Single-Cell Nanobiopsy, the authors used a kind of microscopy called scanning ion conductance microscopy, or SICM, that allows for continuous sampling of a single cell over time. The authors used a nanopipette as part of the SICM and combined this with sensitive sequencing techniques resulting in a high resolution look at what genes are being expressed over time into RNA molecules. Furthermore, this technique was used to study the genomic information of individual mitochondria within a single cell without also studying the nuclear material. In other words, this new technique has resulted in the ability to not only study cellular dynamics, but go beyond that and study subcellular dynamics.

This breakthrough will have impacts across many fields from cancer biology to improving climate models.

Paolo Actis, Michelle M. Maalouf, Hyunsung John Kim, Akshar Lohith, Boaz Vilozny, R. Adam Seger, & Nader Pourmand (2013). Compartmental Genomics in Living Cells Revealed by Single-Cell Nanobiopsy ACS Nano DOI: 10.1021/nn405097u

The Tree of (the Study of) Life

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A New Blog Series: Time for an American Renaisscience

A major reason Science does not have a more prevalent position in our society and government is the lack of understanding of what Science really is and can do for us. So, I have decided to use this blog as a starting point to hopefully explain some of the crazy, wild, innovative, creative, and science-fictionesque stories coming out about current research. I hope this will get more of the public excited or, at least, interested in what science and health research can accomplish.