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Submitted by mduque on Fri, 02/24/2017 - 12:10

Keys CW. 1999. Revitalizing instruction in scientific genres: Connecting knowledge production with writing to learn in science. Science Education. 83(2):115-30.

Can be found at:;2-Q/abstract;jsessionid=875B90C8061DEFEC25881C6B104E2F54.f03t03

This paper explores the idea of using informal and exploratory writing in science as a means of learning science. It encourage writing in scientific communicative genres in the science classroom.  It suggests that the unique features of writing in traditional scientific genres, such as experiment, explanation, and report, naturally result in "reflection and the production of new knowledge". But also explores the idea that writing to learn in science should involve journals, questions, creative writing, and content summaries rather than strict memorization and test taking. It suggests this practice rewires the brain and creates an understanding that no only clarifies meaning but also reinforces memory

Journal Entry 6- Hurdle Technology

Submitted by mduque on Fri, 02/17/2017 - 14:01

All over the world, food is preserved in many different ways. It is common to find people using not only one preservation method, but several in order to optimize the success of the preservation process. This practice is called hurdle technology. The combination of these methods is used for many products varying from fruits to meats and dairy products. This process is complex meaning industrial and domestic farmers face many difficulties. However, the development of food science has helped improve this process. With the increase of knowledge about the way the microbial aspects of the food reacts to preservation methods, scientists have been able to better maintain the attractive qualities that people look for in food while allowing it to stay fresh for longer. These qualities are taste, nutrition, and shelf life. By putting microorganisms inside of the food in extreme environments, or killing them off completely, scientists can manage and control the way food will spoil. More research is needed in figuring out the responses that these microorganisms have in different environments. Three major areas of this process that are under investigation are homeostasis, metabolic exhaustion, and stress reactions of microorganisms in different foods.

Journal Entry 5- Hermaphrodites

Submitted by mduque on Fri, 02/17/2017 - 13:51

Hermaphrodites are bigger than males of the same age and have a more tapered tail. Males have a wider flatter tail and also have a clear stripe on their tail end where their sperm is stored. Hermaphrodites are larger with pointier tails than males. Dumpy hermaphrodites are shorter and wider than normal hermaphrodites. In terms of genetics, being able to distinguish between the two is very important since their phenotype can be used to find their genotype. Their short life cycle is very efficient for scientific experiments because crosses can be performed in just weeks.

Journal Entry 4-

Submitted by mduque on Fri, 02/17/2017 - 13:39

Recently, in the Southwest of the Pacific Ocean, geologists seem to have found what they call a "new continent". Using geophysical data, they say the area spanning New Zealand is a single piece of continental crust. They are making the case for “Zealandia” by reporting that the land began to peel away from the supercontinent of Gondwana about 100 million years ago. This movement pulled and thinned the crust, causing it to sink. As a matter of fact, today, only about 6% of it remains above water, as New Zealand and New Caledonia. The problem with accepting this theory is there is no international body in charge of "designating" official continents making this finding difficult to be globally accepted.

Journal Entry 3- Optogenetics

Submitted by mduque on Fri, 02/17/2017 - 13:21

Optogenetics refers to the biological technique involving the use of light to control neurons. These neurons are genetically modified to express light-sensitive ion channels. Precise neural control is achieved by using channelrhodopsin, halorhodopsin, and other similar opsins that function as light-gated ion channels. Channelrhodopsins excite neurons while halorhodopsin inhibits them.  This method has to act and operate precisely and quickly in order to allow addition or deletion of specific activity patterns within cells. In order to keep up with optical control, reporter proteins are used. This advancement in technology is now giving humanity the ability to alter the activity of specific types of neurons. This includes technologies for delivering light into complex organisms such as mammals and selecting the cells of interest. Because of its potential, this advancement could help study brain disorders and could even help find cures and explanations for what we don’t know regarding mental health. Depression, a huge problem in the U.S, can possibly be treated with optogenetics. MRI images have suggested that parts the brains of people who have depression look different than of those without it. But these images do not show why the depression has occurred. What is now being suggested is that stimulation by LED light can be used at the wavelength of blue light to activate channelrhodopsin expressed in targeted dopamine neurons in the mid-brain area. This area happens to be very rich in dopamine and serotonin. Therefore, scientists are looking into finding out what exactly happens when these neurotransmitters are activated/deactivated in this part of the brain.

Journal Entry 2- Fighting World Hunger with Bugs

Submitted by mduque on Fri, 02/17/2017 - 13:09

The idea that started as an interest by an entomology student, has grown into a largely supported race of the production and use of insects as a cheap and nutritious supplement for a vast majority of the meat produced for the markets around the world. The article "Fighting World Hunger with Bugs" describes the journey that Harman Singh Johar embarked on as a college student to start a company that used insects, mainly crickets, to be consumed as a food source. The benefits to using insects rather than traditional farm animals for consumption included: cost reductions, availability (as they can be raised almost anywhere), and its abundance in protein and iron. Winifred Bird, a freelance journalist, quoted Johar in the article stating the following: “Ten pounds of grain yields about 5 pounds of cricket meat vs. half a pound of beef, a pound of pork or 2 pounds of chicken... Half a gallon of water produces a pound of cricket meat, compared with at least 500 gallons of water per pound of beef." These among many other findings make using cricket meat rather than traditional sources of meat seem like the better choice. Although its production saves water and energy, and could potentially feed millions, there are a few disadvantages to converting to crickets and other insects as a food source. The first being that they are insects! In other countries around the world insects are considered a delicacy, but in America and other developed countries, the thought turns people’s stomach. The second and biggest problem is that it is very costly to maintain and produce a product that can be placed into the markets. Johar and his colleagues at Aspire Food Group have listed the approximate wholesale cost at a very high 30 dollars per pound. They are researching ways to lower the price to compete with other sources of meat in the markets which can be difficult. This industry has a long way to go but shows promise to being successful.

Perfect Paragraph 2 - PI3K Pathway in Cancer

Submitted by mduque on Fri, 02/17/2017 - 12:58

PI3K/Akt/mTOR is an important signalling pathway in regulation of the cell cycle. It is necessary in proliferation and differentiation of stem cells. PI3K activation phosphorylates and activates Akt which then has a number of downstream effects including the activation of mTOR. This can affect transcription of protein kinases and repressors. The pathway is antagonized by PTEN. PTEN works by dephosphorylating PIP3 to PIP2 which limits Akt’s ability to bind to the membrane. Overactivation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway is common in many cancers and works by reducing apoptosis, thus increasing proliferation. Therefore, maintaining a balance in order to maintain multipotency versus differentiation is essential. Due to the importance of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway in regulating cell growth and proliferation, as well as the prevalence of its dysregulation in many types of cancer, targets such as PI3K and mTOR have been studied fairly extensively and several inhibitive drugs have been developed to decrease their activity in cancer. These findings, and the fact that PI3K pathway is a critical signal transduction system linking oncogenes and multiple receptor classes to many essential cellular functions, make this pathway suitable for therapeutic intervention in cancer. For example, BEZ235 or Dactolisib is a competitive inhibitor which prevents activity of PI3K and mTOR by binding to their phosphorylation sites to prevent the binding of phosphate groups from ATP and subsequent activation of these oncogenes. BEZ235  seeks to disrupt the function of the HIF-1 alpha transcription factor and its induction during states of hypoxia, thus leading to decreased angiogenesis in the tumor.

Journal Entry 1- The Coywolf

Submitted by mduque on Thu, 02/16/2017 - 19:54

The other day, I ran into an article regarding a "new species" - the coywolf. I was very intrigued and decided to look into it. It turns out, the coywolf is just a hybrid but cannot be called a species of its own just yet. The coywolf is simply an Eastern Coyote. Genetic tests show that all Eastern Coyotes are actually a mix of three species: coyote, wolf and dog. The percentages vary depending upon the geographic location of the canine. Even though intermixing between the three species is possible, they do not actively mate with one another. In other words, there is no new genetic entity that would make the coywolf a unique species. Instead, there is a large intermixing population of coyotes with noncoyote DNA mixed in to varying degrees along the eastern part of the U.S. Now is that to say that coyote, wolves, and dogs are the same species? Even though interbreeding is possible, the fact that each animal normally chooses not to, indicates a grand enough biological difference to consider them separate species. As a matter of fact, the notion that the ability to breed defines what a species is has been largely abandoned by many scientists. As a matter of fact, the variations brought upon by hybridization have been seen continuously through evolution as a survival advantage through natural selection. 


Perfect Paragraph 1

Submitted by mduque on Fri, 02/03/2017 - 13:11

In my Animal Communications class we are studying chimpanzee vocalizations. The study and analysis of the vocalizations of Gombe Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) from (1971-193) by Jane Goodall provided us with sufficient data to help determine which male chimpanzee would fulfill the top position of the dominance hierarchy.  We organized and separated the data in a way in which allowed us to find a correlation between frequency of pant hoots and dominance. Our predictions of relative social-rank were based on vocalizations such as pant-hoots, pant-grunts, and waa-barks, as well as other factors including the individual’s age, and response from group members.

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are our closest living relatives, sharing more than 95 percent of our DNA and are amongst the most intelligent animals on the planet (Britten 2002).  They travel in fission-fusion social groups, meaning that the troops in which chimps function in, are constantly fluctuating.  This occurs dynamically as new members may join the troop, while existing members may wander off and join a different troop or start one of their own.  These Sub-Saharan primates have evolved to incorporate a dominance hierarchy within these groups to establish social order.

The dominance hierarchy among male chimpanzees is fairly linear, ranging from the most submissive male in the group to the most dominant alpha male.  Although female chimps have their own, more complex social hierarchy, a male chimp always retains dominance over a female (regardless of the female’s social ranking).  In addition to determining social-standing, the male-dominance hierarchy is used to settle disputes and to determine possession of females as mates.  By adhering to the social order in-stated by the dominance hierarchy, male chimps are often able to resolve conflicts with the use of vocalizations and gestures rather than resorting to physical violence.

Several factors play a key-role in determining which male will fulfill the top position of the dominance hierarchy, including physical strength, aggressiveness, intelligence, and age (Sapolsky 2005).  The alpha-male of a troop typically falls within a range of 20 to 26 years of age.  Male chimps assert their dominance through a variety of social interactions, such as vocalizations, facial expressions, body gestures, and actions (Arcadi 2000).

One of the most commonly used vocal signals among chimpanzees is the pant-hoot, a four-part call used by both males and females.  Pant-hoots are used in a wide variety of situations, including expressing excitement, food-enjoyment, and announcing arrival.  Because each chimpanzee has its own distinct pant-hoot, this call can be used to determine an individual’s identity.  As a result of cultural evolution, pant-hoots generally vary between geographic populations and individuals (Whiten & Boesch 1999). This is very similar to human accents and our ability to recognize each individual voice.  

Another important vocalization is the pant-grunt, which also serves as an indicator of dominance ranking.  The pant-grunt is a unidirectional call, expressed as a sign of submission from a lower-ranking chimp to a higher-ranking individual, therefore the direction of this call can be used to discern the social hierarchy.



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