Common Cold

Submitted by nskinner on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 19:57

It seems that every year at the start of a new semester there is a cold that gets circulated throughout the entire school community. The common cold usually consists of congestion, cough, sore throat, rhinorrhea, and low-grade fever. Most common colds are caused by rhinoviruses and often caused by contaminants on the hands rather than airborne aerosols. The cold is usually caught 1-2 days after being exposed to the pathogen. Common colds typically are resolved within a week but not before reaching a peak at about 3-4 days after becoming symptomatic.

            Not smoking, being exposed to preschool at a young age, drinking red wine, and reducing physiological stressors can all help prevent an individual from contracting the common cold. Surprisingly, after conducting a fair amount of research it has been discovered that vitamin C intake does not seem to help reduce the length of colds. In some studies, daily vitamin C intake, especially natural intake through diet rather than supplementation, seemed to decrease the amount of colds a person caught during cold season.

            The common cold has been a bit of a mystery when it comes to treatment. Still to this day, the only real treatments are treating the symptoms rather than the virus itself. Antihistamines are used to reduce sneezing. Anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications, like ibuprofen, are used to help decrease inflammation and pain in areas like the throat or sinuses. Nasal decongestants can be used to help with congestion. So remember, as the first semester of school goes on, wash your hands.  


Submitted by bpmccarthy on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 19:53

The power of the mind and mental state has always been of interest to me. Many people have heard of Buddhist monks and what they have been able to accomplish with the power of meditation, whether it be the ability to withstand freezing cold temperatures or go days without food or water. I don’t know the truth to a lot of these kinds of stories, but it’s interesting to think about how you might be able to control more than you think with your mind. It’s interesting because you don’t have much control over what happens inside your body; the only thing you can control is your breathing rate which may in turn affect heart rate and other bodily processes. I guess the only way to know for sure if meditation really has the power I’ve heard of is to give it a try myself.

Draft#9 Methods Homework Draft

Submitted by ashorey on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 15:39

Download inkscape to create figure. Go to the design building and walk towards to ground floor lobby entrance by the cafe near the design building UMass Amherst sign. Select a leaf from the small tree that shows phytophagy and place hand behind leaf. Take a photo using an IPhone 8 back camera. Step away from the tree about five steps to allow the sign and background to be clearly visible and distinguishable in the image, capturing the entire height of the tree. Email the photos from the phone to an email account to access them on a computer with Inkscape installed on it. Open the images in the computer and crop them to squares of a size 3022 x 3022 pixels. Open Inkscape and click and drag the cropped photo files into the inkscape page. Organize the pictures with the up close phytophagy in the top left corner at about the size of half the page width in a square shape, leaving some white space on the left and top. Label this image "A" with an A on the upper left side of the photo in black with font Calibria in size 18. To the right of this photo, place the larger phytophagy photo of the exact same size to the exact right. Label this image B on the upper left of the image in the same method as image "A". 

Physiological response to a Bee (draft 2/6)

Submitted by kheredia on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 14:46

A bee was found inside of my car while I was on the way to class. It reoriented its body to the driver’s side and landed on the steering wheel. This caused me to react in fear. An instantaneous physiological response occurred from the sympathetic branch of my autonomic nervous system. As a result my heart rate increased, adrenaline was released, the sweat glands on my hands were stimulated and my muscles began to contract at a rate in which my body began to shake. Action potentials were occurring at a higher frequency in order to prepare my body to escape from the stressful situation. In this state, my levels of blood calcium increased and the amygdala in my brain triggered activity in the hypothalamus. The stimulation in my hypothalamus sent signals to the pituitary gland to release the ACTH hormone into my blood. 

Protein Structures

Submitted by ekirchner on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 13:54

Today I had a quiz in Bio285, Cell and Molecular Biology I, a class I am in as a senior amongst many sophomores and juniors. The quiz was on basic protein structure and folding, but some of the questions were pretty tricky. The primary structure is the first level of proteins, and it is the sequence of amino acids in a polypeptide held together by peptide bonds. The second level is the secondary structure, which is the folding of the backbone. Secondary structure is held together by hydrogen bonds between amino and carboxyl groups of different amino acids. The third level is the tertiary structure, which is the interacting and folding of R groups. Tertiary structure can be influenced by many types of bonds, covalent and non-covalent, including disulfide, hydrogen, Van der Waal’s interactions, electrostatic interactions, and hydrophobic interactions. The type of bonds formed depends on the polarity and charge of the R groups. The fourth and final level of protein structure is the quaternary structure. This consists of multiple polypeptides interacting together, and they can be different polypeptides or multiple of the same. These are held together by all the bonds mentioned in tertiary structure bonding.

Methods Part 2

Submitted by rmmcdonald on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 13:46

 The selected plant is approximately 3’ 2” tall and bushed out towards the top of the plant. The leaves are small and pointed with purple discoloration on most of the leaves. The stem of the plant is mostly brown with some hints of scarlet where new branches grow out of the stem. Berries represent another unique characteristics of this plant. The dark purple berries grow off the end of the branches. The smooth coat of the berries and the leaves readily reflect the sun. The plant holds some dried berries that hang from the plant, ready to fall off. These berries are crucial to discovering the identity of this plant. The patio of the architecture building contains two different types of plants that can grow berries: huckleberry and shadberry. Due to the pointed structure of the leaves and the scarlet coloration of the stem, the plant could be identified as a shadberry plant. The berries of a shadberry plant have the same distinct, protruding calyx  that are not as present on huckleberries.

Lab Safety Training

Submitted by ekirchner on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 23:07

Today I attended a general Lab Safety training coordinated by UMass EH&S in order to obtain a certification needed to work in a laboratory. The training started out talking about different hazard signs, including but not limited to: flammable, acutely toxic, environmental toxicity, and physical hazards. The woman then went on to say things about engineering solutions to safety protocol, and how those should be the first line of defense against a harmfl situation. I was surprised to learn that personal protection, aka safety goggles, gloves, and lab coats, are the last line of defense and should only be used when they absolutely need to be. Because these items are personal, there is more of a gray area when it comes to who needs to be protected at which times. Ife negineering allows the whole lab to be safe at once, then steps should be taken to improve that before relying on PPE equipment. At the end of the training I got a free pair of safety glasses, and I have my Fire Safety training on Friday.

AQ 9/17 Draft

Submitted by atquang on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 22:43

Today I went to my independent study for the first time, where I am supposed to work in a microbiology department on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for 3 hours total. My expectations for what a lab should look like was not very off. One thing I did not expect was how messy a lab should be. I understand that a lab can be messy sometimes, with notebooks left open and test tubes all over the place, but the lab I saw today had a very abstract look to it. It was messy but organized at the same time. For example, there are defined drawers to grab gloves, but nothing is labeled. Bottles are not organized in a neat manner, but they still remain on the shelf. The lab I work in is interested in the transfer of electrons to current harvesting electrodes by bacteria named Geobacter sulfurreducens. The bacteria must grow in solution without oxygen in them, so a mix of nitrogen and carbon dioxide is put together in a gas, and is left to bubble inside the water to remove the oxygen. The oxygen above the water level is also removed by spewing out the same gas afterward. This process takes 25 minutes to complete. An anaerobic solution allows for the bacteria to grow, which will then make electrons for which we can manipulate.

Draft 7

Submitted by dfmiller on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 22:03

As the world population continues to grow in size, issues in food growth and distribution arise. Simply focusing on the issue of food growth, all efforts must be made to produce the highest yields as possible in the arable land we currently use. Doing this allows for more efficient farming, and avoids destructive deforestation that decimates biodiversity and the natural carbon capture that our forests and jungles provide. To maximize yields on our current farmland, GMOs must be used responsibly. While GMOs do assist in higher yields, they also come with additional responsibilities to the farmer. Round-Up Ready seed usually requires specific herbicides-chemicals that are currently being investigated as a carcinogen-to be sprayed to eliminate crowding by weeds. The farmer, seed manufacturer, and herbicide manufacturer must all be responsible for the dangers to human health, as well as avoiding resistance among weed populations. GMOs then may seem to be a much more labor intensive option than simple organic farming. However, when used correctly, GMOs are the only way forward to feed our ever growing population.


Submitted by mlabib on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 21:12

Today I learned in my Ecology class the different kind of forests, and a lot about oceans. I specifically was interested by phytoplanktons because they can only live in the euphotic zone. The reason for this is that the water needs to be able to reach sunlight so they are able to do photosynthesis. They are similar to terrestial plants because they need photosynthesis to grow. They remind me of a buoy that you use swimming, because all they do is float and absorb sunlight. They also require nutrients from the ocean such as nitratees, phosphates and sulfur, because they then convert them into proteins, fats and carbohydrates. In a well balanced ecosystem, they provide food for sea animals such as whales and shrimp. The reason why I find them so cool is because they are the foundation of the sea life. They do however have toxis effects to humans!


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