USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog

Joanna Pool

Like the stars she studies, Nifty Fifty Speaker and astrophysicist Maura McLaughlin has reached some lofty heights in her young career as she works to shed further light on the Universe and the physical laws governing it, including Einstein’s theory of relativity. Maura is an assistant astrophysics professor at West Virginia University where her work…

Nifty Fifty Speaker Carl Zimmer is often called one of the nation’s most astute, informed and lyrical science writers. Specializing in communicating about the wonders and mysteries of evolution, biology and neuroscience, Carl Zimmer – in such books as The Tangled Bank, Parasite Rex, and Soul Made Flesh – writes with such grace, skill and…

Like a detective on the hunt, researcher and Nifty Fifty Speaker Sarah Fortune is trying to figure out how Mycobacterium tuberculosis – the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB) – is able to defend itself so well against drug treatment and the body’s immune system. The challenge is a daunting one. As much as one-third of…

What would you say if a group of primary school children achieved the unprecedented task of having their school research project accepted for publication in an internationally recognized peer-reviewed science journal? “Unbelievable,” you would probably retort. But that’s what happened when a cadre of 25 eight to ten year-old British students participated in an innovative…

Meet physicist Andrew Zwicker who is working to raise the status of plasmas in science education. A plasma physicist by training, Andrew is Head of Science Education at Princeton University’s Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) where he spends much of his time introducing high school students, undergraduates and K-12 teachers to the glowing, ionized gases that…

Meet Nifty Fifty evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro who spends her days peering into the past. Her work in the emerging research field of ancient DNA takes her on a fascinating journey through time – collecting and studying the genetic samples of giant mammoths, saber-toothed cats, mastodons, dodo birds and other extinct animals, and piecing together…

Since leaving her native Saudi Arabia to pursue her dream in biotechnology, Hayat Sindi, a nanotechnology researcher and bio tech entrepreneur, has already reached some prodigious milestones in her young career, such as: –Overcoming formidable cultural and personal obstacles to become the first woman from the Gulf Region to earn a Ph.D. in biotechnology. –Becoming…

When Alan McCormack began his career in education several decades ago as a seventh-grade science teacher in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., he tried everything he could to enhance students’ interest in the concepts of science. “I first thought I could be successful automatically just by following techniques used by my college science professors — lecturing and writing…

The Space Shuttle lifting off and headed for the nether regions of space, although a majestic sight, is one of the most grueling and critical parts of the space mission because of all the raw power and energy expended by the craft. NASA astronaut John Mace Grunsfeld knows the experience well. He’s flown on five…

Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Natalie Angier has spent her entire career translating complex scientific research information into engaging, stimulating prose that the average person can understand. In fact, says Marcela Valdes of Publisher’s Weekly: “She is the kind of woman you wish you’d had beside you in high school chemistry–tiny, ferociously intelligent, she’d eye you…