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  • July 23, 2013
  • 08:32 PM

How is gender bias in science studied? II. Learning from existing data

by Terrific T in Science, I Choose You

This is part 2 of my 4-part series about studying gender bias in science (See part 1). For studies using existing data, we look at information that is already available, and learn from the information through data analysis. The difficulty in these studies is that because you are not in control of how the information […]... Read more »

Schroeder J., Dugdale H. L., Radersma R., Hinsch M., Buehler D. M., Saul J., Porter L., Liker A., De Cauwer I., & Johnson P. J. (2013) Fewer invited talks by women in evolutionary biology symposia. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12198  

  • July 23, 2013
  • 11:26 AM

Antioxidant Supplements: Too Good to Be True?

by Elisabeth Buhl Thubron in United Academics

Taking antioxidant supplements when exercising could do more harm than good.... Read more »

Gliemann, L., Schmidt, J.F., Olesen, J., Biensø, S.U., Mortensen, S.P., Nyberg, M., Bangsbo, J., Pilegaard, H. and Hellsten, Y. (2013) Resveratrol blunts the positive effects of exercise training on cardiovascular health in aged men. The Journal of Physiology. DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2013.258061  

  • July 23, 2013
  • 07:33 AM

Nanotechnology: Heat to Kill Tumors

by Guillaume Cote-Maurais in United Academics

Nanoparticles heated by an alternating magnetic field could be used to treat cancers.... Read more »

  • July 23, 2013
  • 04:52 AM

Expanding Evolution to the Microbiome

by Q Dragon in United Academics

The microbes of an organism could affect the evolution of a new species.... Read more »

Robert M. Brucker and Seth R. Bordenstein. (2013) The Hologenomic Basis of Speciation: Gut Bacteria Cause Hybrid Lethality in the Genus Nasonia. Science. info:/

  • July 22, 2013
  • 05:24 AM

Albert and Adam Rewrite the Story of Human Origins

by Daniel Zadik in United Academics

The DNA of Albert Perry may change the story of human origins. Perry, an African-American, approached a DNA testing company to find out more about his ancestry. The results would have come as quite a surprise (had he lived to see them), and have raised questions for geneticists around the world.

It turns out that Perry carried a very different type of Y chromosome, never seen before. Every male has a Y chromosome, which is a piece of DNA inherited by sons from their fathers. But, unlike most DNA, the Y chromosome is not shuffled as it is passed down, and changes only slowly through mutation. Tracking these mutations allows scientists to create a genetic tree of fathers and sons going back through time.... Read more »

  • July 21, 2013
  • 08:57 AM

The Bacteria that Make it Rain

by Sedeer El-Showk in United Academics

Strange as it may seem, water doesn’t actually freeze at zero degrees. In fact, even at temperatures as cold as -10°C, water still needs help turning into ice. Living creatures of all stripes have learned to take advantage of this curious fact in different ways, though none have done so with quite as much style as bacteria.... Read more »

  • July 21, 2013
  • 07:43 AM

Caribbean Lizards Are Evolutionary Look-alikes

by Gunnar de Winter in United Academics

The famous paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould once asked what would happen if we were to ‘replay the tape of life’. How different or similar would it turn out? He himself thought it could be profoundly different. In other words, in his view evolution is unrepeatable.

However, instances of convergent evolution, where organisms of a different pedigree can evolve to look surprisingly similar, have caused some to ask whether there might not be somewhat predictable patterns or trends in the grand process that is evolution. Just think of a tuna (fish), dolphin (mammal), and ichthyosaur (reptile). Look quite similar, don’t they?... Read more »

  • July 21, 2013
  • 07:15 AM

Apple-Shaped Women More Likely to Get Breast Cancer

by Shefali Sabharanjak in United Academics

n a paper published in March 2013, Drs. Rohan, Heo, Choi and colleagues have examined the relationship between body fat and the risk for development of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. ... Read more »

Rohan TE, Heo M, Choi L, Datta M, Freudenheim JL, Kamensky V, Ochs-Balcom HM, Qi L, Thomson CA, Vitolins MZ.... (2013) Body fat and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women: a longitudinal study. Journal of cancer epidemiology, 754815. PMID: 23690776  

  • July 19, 2013
  • 08:14 AM

Animal Research – Results Too Good to Be True?

by Dyani Lewis in United Academics

The road to market for a promising new therapy can be notoriously long and treacherous. Before the first small-scale clinical trials in humans can even be contemplated, a new therapy (such as a drug or surgical procedure) must first pass muster in preclinical animal studies.... Read more »

Tsilidis KK, Panagiotou OA, Sena ES, Aretouli E, Evangelou E, Howells DW, Salman RA, Macleod MR . (2013) Evaluation of excess significance bias in animal studies of neurological diseases. PLoS Biology . DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001609  

  • July 18, 2013
  • 08:37 PM

Dog-eared books

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hi Julie, I loved hearing from Clare Browne about her research into timing of reinforcement in our first guest post last week, and it certainly stimulated lots of great comments and questions on Facebook and Google+.  I know you've been busy Chaser-ing around (lucky ducks, both!) and there's also all those amazing conferences happening this week, what with the ISAZ, IAHAIO and AVSAB events on in Chicago, so just a very quick post from me this week! You know how we recently put together out list of top ten books for the Science Book a Day team? Well, Chaser's upcoming book release reminded me that we should put them all in one place here, so that we (or anyone else looking for a canine science book or fourteen) could find them easily if needed.  Science Book A DayIn no particular order, here they are: McGreevy (2009) A Modern Dog’s Life. A fabulous book, written with humour and insight, that offers a modern take on what challenges and motivates our dogs and how we can best meet their needs. to purchase: (2009) Inside of a Dog.What’s it like to be a dog? This book covers the science of how dogs think and perceive the world and is accompanied by personal reflections on Horowitz’s own dog’s behaviour. Get to know the umwelt of the dog. to purchase: Bradshaw (2012) Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet.This recent publication answers the very important question: “What’s good for dogs?” Exp... Read more »

  • July 18, 2013
  • 10:24 AM

Gut Microbes Help Rootworms to Adapt

by Geetanjali Yadav in United Academics

You know it’s not only you and me who are constantly evolving by adjusting to our living environment; There are millions of others too who are doing this job as efficiently as it could be. Researchers from University of Illinois have discovered that gut bacteria facilitate the adaptation of the western corn rootworm, which is basically a beetle, to crop rotation.... Read more »

Chu CC, Spencer JL, Curzi MJ, Zavala JA, & Seufferheld MJ. (2013) Gut bacteria facilitate adaptation to crop rotation in the western corn rootworm. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 23798396  

  • July 17, 2013
  • 10:40 AM

How Long Does a Neuron Live?

by Simone Munao in United Academics

Is the lifespan of a neuron is proportional to the lifespan of its species?... Read more »

Magrassi L, Leto K, . (2013) Lifespan of neurons is uncoupled from organismal lifespan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1217505110  

  • July 16, 2013
  • 05:37 AM

Feeling Sluggish? Chew Gum for a Brain Boost

by Caitlin Kirkwood in United Academics

Monday mornings. They drag. Getting the ol’ noodle back into work-mode, especially after a fun summer weekend, can be a tall order. Many of us head straight for the classic boost – a cup of Joe – to help combat a case of the Monday’s but some new studies suggest that chewing gum could also provide some relief by enhancing our brain’s arousal, alertness, and attention.

In a recent study published in the British Journal of Psychology, Morgan and colleagues assessed the performance of 40 psychology undergraduate students on an auditory vigilance task while chomping on a wad of gum.... Read more »

Morgan K., Johnson A.J. . (2013) Chewing gum moderates the vigilance decrement. British Journal of Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/bjop.12025  

Hirano Y., Obata T., Takahashi H., Tachibana A., Kuroiwa D., Takahashi T., Ikehira H. . (2013) Effects of chewing on cognitive processing speed. Brain and cognition. DOI: 10.1016/j.bandc.2012.12.002  

  • July 15, 2013
  • 06:07 AM

Accumulated Injustices in Trayvon Martin Case

by David Smith in United Academics

The criminal justice system has always been at the sharp end of race relations in the United States. Not only have African Americans been treated more harshly than whites as suspects and offenders, they have been taken less seriously as victims.... Read more »

Tushar Kansal. (2005) RACIAL DISPARITY IN SENTENCING: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE. The Sentencing Project. info:/

  • July 12, 2013
  • 08:24 AM

Probiotic Yogurt Counteracts Fast Food Diet

by Dyani Lewis in United Academics

The Western lifestyle, with its abundant fast food, is wreaking havoc with our waistlines and sending many of us to early graves. A high fat, high salt, low cost diet has been fuelling an obesity epidemic in industrialised nations and, increasingly, in developing countries. While the consequences of obesity, such as an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, arthritis and cancer are well known, public health solutions are thin on the ground.... Read more »

Poutahidis T, Kleinewietfeld M, Smillie C, Levkovich T, Perrotta A et al. (2013) Microbial reprogramming inhibits Western diet-associated obesity. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068596  

  • July 11, 2013
  • 06:26 PM

Dog training: Do you get the timing right?

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Do You Believe in Dog? is approaching our one-year anniversary (Wow! Yay!!!), and in the coming months, we will be opening up the blog to guest posts from other researchers exploring canine behaviour, cognition and welfare. Give a warm welcome to our first guest, Clare Browne from the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Hi Mia and Julie,As you both know from the last Canine Science Forum, my PhD investigates dog-human communication and how this communication affects dog training.(source)I would like to claim that everyone is New Zealand is a fantastic dog trainer and we all communicate brilliantly with our dogs, but alas, we’re just like everyone else. It turns out that when people give feedback to dogs during training, we’re often a bit slow. Let me explain...You’re no doubt aware that if we want to increase the likelihood that a behaviour occurs again, positive reinforcement (AKA “rewarding” -- adding something to keep the behaviour going) will achieve this. The types of positive reinforcement that are most commonly used in everyday dog training are verbal praise, food, and patting/petting. My PhD studies investigated two things: a) how fast are dog owners delivering positive reinforcement to dogs; and b) does it matter if owners are slow in providing dogs with reinforcement?Not really Clare's gumbootsTo answer the first of these questions, I put on my gumboots and spent many evenings at my friendly local dog clubs, filming owners training their dogs in beginner classes. I collected 1,810 instances where commands were given to dogs. I then went slightly mad and spent months watching videos of people training their dogs. Figure 1 shows how all the dogs responded to their owners, and 44% of the time, dogs did not respond to their owners at all. This one result made me feel like I wasn’t wasting all these years of my PhD – there clearly is a need for research into the efficacy of dog training!I used some fancy computer software and measured very precisely (down to 25 frames per second) the time between when the owners said the command and when the dogs performed the behavior, like laying down or sitting. I found that owners varied a lot in the time it took them to deliver positive reinforcement to their dogs. Some owners were almost instantaneous with their praise and then the treat followed quickly, whereas others took ages – the longest time was over 6 s! (That might not sound long to you, but try imagining that you’re a Labrador and having to wait 6 s for a treat, all of a sudden it’s a much more serious situation.) But does this even matter? Had I gone mad watching videos in my darkened office for no good reason?... Read more »

Browne Clare M., Starkey Nicola J., Foster T. Mary, & McEwan James S. (2013) What dog owners read: A review of best-selling books. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 8(4). DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2013.04.040  

Browne Clare M., Starkey Nicola J., Foster Mary T., & McEwan James S. (2011) Timing of reinforcement during dog training. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 6(1), 58-59. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2010.09.058  

  • July 11, 2013
  • 12:45 PM

Getting Science Right: Sun Signs and Marriage

by Katja Keuchenius in United Academics

Do Virgos and Capricorns or Leos and Libras match?

Ok, let’s get it over with. There are so many people believing in matching sun signs, sometimes even seeming to have a point stating that the influence of the sun and stars can not be underestimated, that it’s time to put it to the test. Luckily David Voas, researcher at the University of Manchester, did so already in 2007.... Read more »

David Voas, Cathie Marsh. (2007) Ten million marriages: A test of astrological ‘love signs’. Centre for Census and Survey Research. info:/

  • July 11, 2013
  • 09:11 AM

More Exercise, Less Digital Rectal Examination

by Patrícia Fonseca Pedro in United Academics

It is stated that men could benefit from 60 minutes of aerobic exercise, even if they have not been active in a regular basis their whole life. It is as simple as this: during exercise, certain molecule levels will fluctuate, which will result in an adverse environment for prostate tumor development and progression.... Read more »

  • July 10, 2013
  • 10:04 AM

Feminine Woman Is More Attractrive to Taken Man

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

Women’s facial features can determine length of relationship, researchers found. ... Read more »

  • July 10, 2013
  • 08:22 AM

Crocodiles Have Highly Armored, Yet Sensitive Skin

by Alex Reis in United Academics

A new study shows that the entire body of Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) is covered in hundreds of scales, each with a tiny spot full of nerve endings. During embryo development, these spots start forming in the head but eventually reach the whole body. Each spot reacts to touch, as well as changes in temperature and pH. “We used molecular techniques and, to our great surprise, found clear expression of not only mechano-receptors but also of chemo- and thermo-receptor channels”, said Prof Michel Milinkovitch, biologist and lead author in the study.... Read more »

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