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environmental education

Category archives for environmental education

For the past few years, I’ve been collaborating with a friend, Dr. Rebecca Pearlman, who teaches introductory biology at the Johns Hopkins University. Her students isolate bacteria from different environments on campus, use PCR to amplify the 16S ribosomal RNA genes, send the samples to the JHU core lab for sequencing, and use blastn to…

Metagenomics is a field where people interrogate the living world by isolating and sequencing nucleic acids. Since all living things have DNA, and viruses have either DNA or RNA, we can identify who’s around by looking at bits of their genome. Researchers are using this approach to find the culprit that’s killing the honeybees. We’re…

The simple fact is this: some DNA sequences are more believable than others. The problem is, that many students and researchers never see any of the metrics that we use for evaluating whether a sequence is “good” and whether a sequence is “bad.” All they see are the base calls and sequences: ATAGATAGACGAGTAG, without any…

We have lots of DNA samples from bacteria that were isolated from dirt. Now it’s time to our own metagenomics project and figure out what they are. Our class project is on a much smaller scale than the honeybee metagenomics project that I wrote about yesterday, but we’re using many of the same principles.

Would you like to have some fun playing with chromatograms and helping our class identify bacteria in the dirt?

Charles Darwin was so fascinated by beetles he paid people to help him build his collection. The Coleopterists Society and the Smithsonian Institute want to help kids explore the wonders of beetles, too. They’re providing grants for kids, in grades 7-12 to work on beetle biology. Applications are due by November 15, 2007.

Grasses at Yellowstone National Park are able to grow temperatures (65°; C) that would toast most living things. Step right up! Watch original research, as it happens, on the web! I’m going to use bioinformatics to see if I can find that answer to the puzzle of heat-tolerant plants. Previous parts: Part I. The research…

Are viral and fungal infections always a bad thing? Maybe not if you’re a plant. In fact, if you’re a plant trying to grow in the hot (65°; C) soils of Yellowstone National Park, you’re going to need all the help you can get.

The University of Nevada in Las Vegas is looking for a few good undergraduates to come do research this summer in environmental microbiology. Environmental microbiology goes way beyond hot springs bacteria and Yellowstone Park. At UNLV, you can do science in the desert. It almost makes me wish I was an undergraduate again.

As they say, there’s nothing like travel to learn new and unexpected things. Especially from cab drivers. One of my ScienceBlog Sibs, Shelly, spends time talking with cabbies about earwax, but I seem to invite other kinds of lectures.