“The Radium Girls” and the lasting legacy of Marie Curie

I have a healthy respect for radiation. As a fledgling student in genetics in the 1990s, I learned how to use radioactive phosphorus (32P) safely to tag fragments of DNA molecules. When you expose materials containing radioactive DNA to X-ray film, the emitted particles from the phosphorus atoms create dark splotches on the film that … Continue reading “The Radium Girls” and the lasting legacy of Marie Curie

The rhythms of life–biological clocks and a new season

We're almost midway through the semester at my university. It's a busy time for students and professors alike: assignments, exams, and projects seem to pile up... and so we all anticipate a few days of welcome respite during the upcoming fall break. Meanwhile, the days shorten, the leaves fall, the insects quiet down, and festive … Continue reading The rhythms of life–biological clocks and a new season

Sharing science: teaching and learning about communication

Many years ago, I became a college professor. My job was to help introductory students learn about the basic principles of biology--the stuff you need to know to build on in higher-level classes, or apply toward asking and answering new scientific questions. To be honest, I had to relearn some basic biology myself. It had … Continue reading Sharing science: teaching and learning about communication

Nature’s blues

Recently, two science news topics crossed my path about seemingly very different themes: genetically modified flowers and sea creatures that glow. The articles caught my eye for different reasons, but it was thanks to a casual conversation on social media with a friend about a third science news article about a rare genetic disease that … Continue reading Nature’s blues

Humans of Earth: Jill Tarter (Summer reading, the final chapter)

On social media a few years ago, I learned about the engaging project by photographer Brandon Stanton called "Humans of New York." What started as an effort to photograph and interview everyday New Yorkers has expanded into a worldwide project to catalog the human condition in the faces and stories of individual people around the … Continue reading Humans of Earth: Jill Tarter (Summer reading, the final chapter)