Sleeping with the Cavefishes

Sleeping with the Cavefishes

As a graduate student, I would give my right arm to be a fully functioning human being with little to no sleep. Alas, even Aristotle in 350 BCE observed a seemingly simple truth -- all animals sleep. Much to the frustration of sleep scientists, we still do not fully understand why we need sleep or why there is so much variation between species in sleep behavior. We are, however, beginning to gain an understanding of what may be regulating sleep and how it may have evolved over time, in some cases even making use of unusual model organisms such as Astyanax mexicanus, or the Mexican cavefish.

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A Pathway Towards Alzheimer’s Disease Treatments: Understanding the Role of ApoE in Human Neuron Physiology

A Pathway Towards Alzheimer’s Disease Treatments: Understanding the Role of ApoE in Human Neuron Physiology

More than five million individuals are affected by Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) in the United States. This dementia is the sixth leading cause of death nationwide, and one of every three seniors dies from AD or a related dementia…

Research has primarily sought to understand the biology underlying early-onset familial Alzheimer’s, using genes with well-defined autosomal dominant mutations. However, familial early-onset AD occurs in less than ten percent of Alzheimer’s Disease cases. The majority of cases are sporadic, late-onset, and associated with “risk genes”, particularly APOE.

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Strategies addressing a “chilly climate” transform women’s experience, relationships, and achievement in engineering

Strategies addressing a “chilly climate” transform women’s experience, relationships, and achievement in engineering

In STEM fields women are underrepresented both in numbers of senior faculty and participation metrics [1,2,3]. Women leave STEM fields at all transition points, a phenomenon known as “the leaky pipeline.” … In this post, we highlight a study by Professor Gregory Walton and his colleagues, where they characterize feelings of exclusion, and attempt to mitigate these feelings through the development of simple intervention strategies [6].

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White People in Black Bodies: How to Reduce Implicit Bias for a Long Time

White People in Black Bodies: How to Reduce Implicit Bias for a Long Time

From courtroom sentencing to graduate school admissions, from voting on the president to choosing who to sit next to on the bus, our biases play a role in the decisions we make and the actions we take. Most interventions designed to combat implicit bias do not hold up over time or simply do not reduce bias. Amidst these unsuccessful interventions, Mel Slater’s group at the University of Barcelona found one method that did reduce implicit bias of white people against black people and whose effects persisted for an unusually long time.

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Randomized controlled trials of interventions to reduce gender bias in academic hiring

Randomized controlled trials of interventions to reduce gender bias in academic hiring

Biased beliefs about the abilities of underrepresented groups in science can lead to inequality in hiring, promotions, admissions, funding, and more. Given that diversifying the STEMM academy is both just and beneficial to scientific progress, it’s hard to argue against efforts to promote diversity in hiring. In light of this issue, two groups of researchers recently sought to develop and rigorously test evidence-based interventions for counteracting natural human biases, with the specific goal of decreasing the bias against women in the academic STEMM faculty hiring process.

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The Anxious Circuit

The Anxious Circuit

Anxiety is a feeling we all face on a daily basis about our jobs, our relationships, and even the meaning of our lives. But when normal anxiety gets so severe that it interferes with daily functioning it becomes generalized anxiety disorder, a psychiatric diagnosis that 28% of people in the United States will suffer from during some period in their life, costing the economy billions of dollars annually. But where is the seat of anxiety in the brain? In this article (Tae et al. 2011 Nature https://www.nature.com/articles/nature09820) we will explore one of the first studies to ever identify a possible circuit for this important and pervasive feeling...

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Nurturing the Study of Nature

Nurturing the Study of Nature

While demand in recent years for skilled workers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) has grown at a staggering rate, men have claimed a larger share of those positions and earnings compared to women (U.S. Department of Commerce). Biased hiring practices may explain the struggles of recent graduates, but men outnumber women at every point in the STEM pipeline. To better understand the disappearance of women in STEM, Daniel Grunspan and his colleagues at the University of Washington took a closer look at an important checkpoint in scientific careers: undergraduate introductory biology courses

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Belonging & Belongings: Who’s in the Room Depends on What’s in the Room

 Belonging & Belongings: Who’s in the Room Depends on What’s in the Room

Research has shown that ambient belonging, or the feeling of fitting into an environment can have a profound effect on peoples’ behavior. This feeling of belonging can arise from more than just one’s sense of fit with the people in the environment, and is often influenced by physical objects and materials. How we perceive and interpret our own group’s belonging in various communities can influence whether we approach or avoid certain spaces, which can completely alter the courses of our lives. For this reason, it is essential for us to understand how the environments we create influence others.

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