Submitted by jiadam on Wed, 05/03/2017 - 10:49

312 was a class that I believed I learned a lot from and developed as writer because of this class. I think I also learned a lot about who I am as a learner and what type of learning style I prefer just due to the small enclosed space and nature of the class. With each project brought new challenges and I believe I rose to the occasion on each and everyone. Working solo on the methods project and in a group setting for both the proposal and the actual group project provided a stark dichotomy and really led to some introspection on different manners of writing and the level at which a biologist like myself would need to achieve at.

Methods Project Reflection

Submitted by kmichaud on Wed, 05/03/2017 - 01:20

       I was not particularly worried about the methods project because I was already far along in the manuscript of my thesis at the time and had just written my methods section. As I completed the project, I realized how little I had paid attention to the minute details when I took the original photos. It made it significantly more difficult to describe how exactly to obtain my photographs. This of course made it for difficult for the student who had to follow my methods, but I still got unnecessarily frustrated when she was unable to follow the directions that I had clearly laid out. Again, I learned that students interpret directions in different ways and our variation was likely just due to a lack of strong communication on my end. Once the project was complete, I realized how crucial it is to clearly explain exactly how to explain methodology so that it can be followed by others. 

AI Beats Out Supreme Court Experts

Submitted by eriklee on Wed, 05/03/2017 - 00:45

Researchers designed a new algorithm that predicts Supreme Court decisions with pinpoint accuracy. The algorithm draws from data from the Supreme Court Database, which contains records dating back to 1791. The algorithm compiles information between 1816 and 2015 and analyzes factors such as judges, votes, term, issues, and court circuits. To test the algorithm, it sequentially goes through the years, starting at 1816, and tries to make a prediction based on the previous year’s data. The algorithm was able to predict the results with 70.2% accuracy. Well qualified experts have 66% accuracy. This can be big as court decision predictions can help the plaintiffs chose which courts to appeal, companies can choose how to handle cases, lawyers can determine how to proceed with the case, and appellants in high profile cases can decide whether to pursue the case. The researchers hope to factor in expert and public statistics and opinions to make the predictions more precise.

Link to Article:  

Reflection: Journals and PP

Submitted by kmichaud on Tue, 05/02/2017 - 21:22

I was relatively concerned at the beginning of the semester because I did not anticipate I would have time for three hours a week of journal writing. I was a little more concerned when I learned that those journal entries had to be spaced out throughout the week and could not be written in one sitting. Historically, I have done most of my writing in one sitting because I have always had free time in larger chunks. In the beginning of the semester, it was not that easy to space out when I wrote for journals, but it to became more reasonable when I could take breaks in between writing to work on other things. I also noticed how frequently I was writing for other classes about biological topics. Perfect paragraphs, on the other hand, were a task that I was rather comfortable with because I do not mind editing. I gradually learned that students have different writing styles and that variation was not necessarily a terrible thing. 

EUPA: The Biggest Factory in the World

Submitted by eriklee on Tue, 05/02/2017 - 03:31


EUPA, a factory city in China, functions like a well-oiled machine. It combines work life and personal life for more than 17,000 workers. While the company has an extremely impressive scale, workforce, and output, there is an eerie, unnatural feeling about EUPA. The most obvious issue is the bias of the documentary. No serious issues were shown nor did the workers explain day-to-day dangers or issues. Although the documentary made sense as a propaganda piece, the entire philosophy and environment seems to be in stark contrast with any North American factories. As a result, I cannot accept that this is indeed the factory of the world nor is it the factory of the future.

I speculate that a majority of the workers live unsatisfied and are silenced by EUPA. It was reported that workers spend 40 hours a week to make $90-300 USD per month. With simple division, these workers make $0.56-1.88 per hour. Even though food is $0.50 per meal on average, its low price is due to EUPA subsidizing workers meals. There are also living and personal expenses that may put workers at breakeven or negative in income. In addition, the documentary failed to mention any other worker’s compensation such as healthcare, sick time, vacation, etc. It seems that anyone who works there will not be able to save money to move out nor are they able to keep up with expenses. And this type of breech in workers’ rights does not sit well with me. But this style of mass exploitative labor seems normal for China.

What is extremely odd is the combination of work and personal life at EUPA. The workers at EUPA live where they work and all aspects of life from the food on the table to the roof over workers’ heads are provided by EUPA. This amount of control over workers lives should not be in the hands of a company. It will only allow the company to cut costs at the expense of workers. Moreover, I worry about the mental health of workers. Since they live in such close proximity of work, the practice of relaxation or disconnect from the work environment is never present. Even from experience, as a college student living on campus, the stress of classes and school work still affect me being physically on campus. It is only when I return home that I can enter relaxation mode and not worry about school. I feel the workers lack the ability to get away from work and the cumulative effects of stress will weaken their mental and physical health over time.

To be fair, I’m sure some of the products I use at home may have been produced at the EUPA factory. The products I buy for personal use, mostly electronic devices, come from China. And while I appreciate having these devices for personal use, I cannot help but feel guilty about the relation between these products and exploitative labor. Once consumers learn the truth behind how these products are made, they will be more careful about purchases. And nothing hurts companies like EUPA more than declines in sales. 

Journal 36

Submitted by kngallant on Tue, 05/02/2017 - 03:05

    Dogs have a significantly better sense of smell than human beings do. In fact, a dog’s sense of smell is one thousand to one million times better than ours is. Surprisingly, dogs and humans both have the same number of genes for odor receptors. We both have about one thousand genes for odor receptors. However, about six hundred of human odor receptors do not actually work, which leaves only about four hundred that do work. Dogs genes all work. This key difference is the reason why dogs have a sense of smell much stronger than ours.

    Although humans have a weaker sense of smell than dogs, we have much better eyes. Opsins are proteins in our rods and cones (photoreceptors) that allow us to see color, and black and white. Cones are what allow animals to see color vision. Most mammals have two kids of opsins for color vision. Humans have three kinds of opsins for color vision. This allows humans to distinguish red from green, which mammals that only have two kinds of opsins are not able to do.

Perfect Paragraph

Submitted by kngallant on Tue, 05/02/2017 - 00:44

    The immune system is used to fight off a number of different foreign invaders. One thing the immune system can fight off are  free floating pathogens or toxins. These pathogens are often viruses and toxins that are found in extracellular fluid throughout the body, such as the bloodstream. The immune system can also destroy body cells that are infected with bacteria or viruses. It can also destroy cancer cells. Dividing cells go through certain checkpoints to ensure each step is properly completed. However, sometimes cells may escape these checkpoints, and may be on their way to becoming cancerous. The immune system can recognize these cells, and destroy them to prevent cancer from forming.

Journal 35

Submitted by kngallant on Tue, 05/02/2017 - 00:43

    Humans are primates, as well as monkeys, apes, and other similar species. Although humans seem significantly different from monkeys or apes, they are some of our closest relatives. Because of our common ancestry, all primates share certain characteristics. One of these characteristics is the shape of the skull. All primates have skulls that are shaped in a way so the eyes are facing forward. This is a unique trait of primates. A second character that all primates share is seen in the hands. Primates have a thumb that is at an angle divergent from the index finger. This allows the hand to be able to grasp. Primates also have elongated digits on the hands, also allowing to grasp.

    Primates originally evolved these hands that can grasp to be able to better climb. It is thought that there was many resources at the ends of branches (“the fine-branch niche”), such as fruit, insects, and flowers. Because of the abundant resources located on the fine ends of branches, it was important for primates to be able to climb out onto these small branches to access these resources. So, it is hypothesized that thumbs and elongated fingers first evolved because these traits allowed primates to be able to climb out onto these fine branches.

Journal #40 - Antibiotics

Submitted by robynfarrell on Mon, 05/01/2017 - 20:44

Recently I had strep, and I was in awe on how fast my antibiotics worked in order to make me feel better. Antibiotics can either be bacteriostatic or bactericidal, where static means to stop and cidal means to kill. Bacteriostatic antibiotics work by slowing the growth of bacteria by interfering with the processes that they need in order to grow and spread, such as DNA replication, metabolism, and protein production. On the other hand, bactericidal antibiotics kill the bacteria. It can do things such as prevent the cell from making a cell wall. What I was prescribed to take was amoxicillin, which is a bactericidal. A lot of antibiotics prescribed are either broad spectrum or narrow spectrum. Amoxicillin is considered broad spectrum, as it affects many different bacteria in our body, for example bacteria in our gut. This is why doctors recommend taking or eating a probiotic while on antibiotics. Narrow spectrum antibiotics only usually affect one to two different types of bacteria.

Journal #38--Sleep Extension Discussion (Updated/Revised)

Submitted by skhall on Mon, 05/01/2017 - 18:45

        The conclusive data indicate that developing children are able to extend their sleep by a significant amount during overnight sleep. Post 5 days of experimental sleep extension (1.5 hours earlier than their normal bedtime) children increased sleep duration by an average of 56 minutes. Sleep onset in the extension condition was 1 hour and 8 minutes earlier compared to the baseline condition. Previous studies have shown a 27-minute increase with a 1-hour earlier bedtime, but this study has a more vivid effect. Longer onset sleep did not cause a significant difference in the time in specific sleep stages. REM theta activity was not significantly reduced as hypothesized at the frontal electrodes. However, REM theta activity was reduced during the sleep extension condition at parietal P3 electrode.

         These results as well as Go/No-Go task results can indicate behavioral changes. Inhibitory control was improved in the morning compared to the evening. There was no significant different in inhibitory control between the baseline and sleep extension. This could be due to children having a sufficient amount of sleep or inhibitory control. The task may also not cover all effects that sleep extension has to show significant results (Gruber et al., 2012; Sadeh, Gruber & Raviv, 2003; Vriend et al., 2013). 

         This sample of children slept a normative amount for the 6-9-year-old age group. The average sleep duration in this study was 10 hours, which could explain why the children may have not benefited from the sleep extension compared to those who sleep less. In previous studies, children slept 8.5-9.5 hours which is why there could have been significant results previously (Gruber et al., 2012). ​ Similarly, children may have already had adequate inhibitor control. The task could have also been too easy not allowing children for room of improvement between sessions to see substantial results.

         Some correlations were determined from the conclusive data. REM theta activity was correlated with morning inhibitory control during the baseline condition. This could indicate that shorter sleep may make theta activity more efficient. Meaning, that theta activity causes beneficial behavioral effects for children. Longer sleep causes less stress on the child, so behavior will not improve if the child is already at adequate cognitive levels. Again, there was no significant data in sleep extension for REM theta activity so correlations cannot be determined.

      Additional data from our lab indicate that theta activity is elevated in children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). High amounts of theta activity are not beneficial to inhibitory control in this sample. Due to this, it is assumed by this study that there is an optima amount of theta activity of sleep extension. Further studies will take place to determine if sleep extension alter theta activity enough to improve inhibitory control in children diagnosed with ADHD.


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