“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

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

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)

Raising healthy kids…and their bacteria? (Summer reading, part V)

I'm a biologist, an educator, and a parent. I intentionally consume a lot of new information about science in the course of my work and more casually through social media and the news. I stay informed about many different topics to benefit my students, my family, and my own curiosity. To kick off my summer … Continue reading Raising healthy kids…and their bacteria? (Summer reading, part V)

Connecting with trees (Summer reading, part IV)

I live in a quiet residential neighborhood on the outskirts of a city in Indiana. In similar neighborhoods, often carved out of reclaimed farmland, each lot might feature a couple of trees that were planted relatively recently. Somewhat unusually, my yard contains more than a dozen trees in the backyard, plus a small woodlot behind … Continue reading Connecting with trees (Summer reading, part IV)

Domestic days: Dogs, cats…and foxes? Oh my! (Summer reading, part III)

In June, I usually take advantage of the break afforded by my academic work calendar and the summer weather to catch up on all the domestic tasks that piled up during the spring: house cleaning, yard work, and the like. I am joined at least part of the time by the rest of the family, … Continue reading Domestic days: Dogs, cats…and foxes? Oh my! (Summer reading, part III)