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  • richardmitnick 9:38 pm on May 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Capturing the Lives of Sea Creatures" Liah McPherson, , A love for dolphins, , , , Flying drones, Marine Biology,   

    From “Endeavors” at The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill: “Capturing the Lives of Sea Creatures” Liah McPherson 

    From “Endeavors” at The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

    May 16th, 2022
    Alyssa LaFaro

    Graduate student Liah McPherson has used drones to record the lives of dolphins and whales — and her time as an undergraduate researcher at UNC-Chapel Hill helped set her on her way. (photo courtesy of Liah McPherson)

    Liah McPherson’s Instagram page looks like an adventurer’s dream. It overflows with pictures of dolphins and beaches, whales and oceans, penguins and icebergs. Occasionally you see a few with her, showing off her giant smile. In one photo, she stands on the bow of a ship covered in snow. In another, a volcano erupts behind her. Many show her floating in the middle of the ocean, perfectly at peace and surrounded by hues of blue, practicing one of her favorite sports: freediving.

    “Earth is crammed with heaven,” reads the caption on her picture of Oʻahu’s South Shore during golden hour.

    As a second-year master’s student in the marine biology graduate program at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa, McPherson studies a population of spinner dolphins on the west side of Oʻahu. She assesses how many there are and their ages and uses DSLR photography and a drone to capture this data. She admits that field work is not always photogenic, and it often includes completing purchase orders for equipment and various other “things that make me want to pull my hair out,” she says with a laugh.

    But this project in Hawaiʻi is the first one she can take full ownership of — and that’s what makes it truly beautiful.

    “I have done it all,” she says. “From designing the research methodology, to coordinating with the marina, to finding and training my own interns to help me out, to driving the boat. It’s not just collecting and analyzing data; it’s all the set-up and logistics. That was all new to me and challenging at first. But now it feels really good to know I can create and execute a project.”

    McPherson took this drone photo while conducting her dolphin project on the west coast of O’ahu. Her research assistant captures photos from the bow. (Photo by Liah McPherson and taken under NMFS permit 21476)

    And she got to all of these places with help from UNC-Chapel Hill, where she graduated from in 2019 with a dual degree in biology and animal behavior and a minor in marine science. During that time, McPherson wrote a personal account for Endeavors on her research with the Wild Dolphin Project and proceeded to work as a science communication intern for the magazine.

    A love for cameras and dolphins

    She doesn’t know exactly when or how it started, but when McPherson was a small child, she began drawing pictures of dolphins, even though she grew up nowhere near them in snowy Syracuse, New York — a land of freshwater lakes, not the saline-rich oceans cetaceans prefer.

    But when she was 8, her parents moved her and her siblings to the Outer Banks. At age 14, she began volunteering with the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research, where she first learned how photo identification is used to monitor dolphins. Around the same time, she inherited a Nikon D300 from a family friend and began experimenting with photography.

    “I was discovering this love for photography and seeing how it could actually be used for science,” she says.

    But what really changed McPherson’s life is a book: Dolphin Diaries by Denise Herzing. Herzing leads the Wild Dolphin Project, a nonprofit scientific research organization that studies and reports on a specific pod of free-ranging Atlantic spotted dolphins in the Bahamas. McPherson was so inspired by Herzing’s book that she applied to be an intern with the project and began working with them when she was a junior in high school. Just before her junior year at UNC, Herzing invited her to be a field assistant for the summer season.

    McPherson photographs dolphins on the west coast of Oʻahu for her master’s project. (Photo courtesy of Liah McPherson and taken under NMFS permit 21476)

    McPherson combined her love for dolphins with her research at Carolina. First, she learned about the scientific process while working in Adrian Marchetti’s phytoplankton lab during her first two years at UNC. Then, under the guidance of biologist Catherine Lohmann, she completed a senior honors thesis on the effectiveness of drones for studying dolphin behavior. She also used the interdisciplinary studies option to craft a second major for herself in animal behavior.

    “All of the people at UNC were always supportive of what I wanted to do and even made exceptions for that sometimes, which was great,” she shares.

    In the spring of her senior year, for example, one of the dolphins that the Wild Dolphin Project studies became stranded and was rehabilitated. The release of this animal back into the wild was scheduled during the middle of the semester, but it was important for McPherson to help — and she was able to with encouragement from her professors. She missed classes for a week so she could fly down to the Bahamas to aid project researchers.

    “My professors were really understanding,” she says. “They knew it was important for me to be part of this research and release effort.”

    The art of flying drones

    The spinner dolphins that live on the west coast of Oʻahu are “basically famous,” according to McPherson, who explains that people come from all over the world to see and swim with them. But, as you can imagine, this human interaction affects the population — which researchers don’t actually know much about.

    It takes two people to launch a drone off a boat. Here, McPherson mans the controls while her helmeted research assistant holds and then releases the drone into the air. (Photo courtesy of Liah McPherson)

    There’s little data on the number of dolphins that use the coastline, the health and ages of the population, and their distribution around the island. That’s where McPherson comes in. As a graduate student within the Marine Mammal Research Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, she’s spent the last two years photographing the pod with drones and DSLR cameras to uncover this information.

    Flying drones is a challenge and to do so for reserach requires a FAA commercial license. Flying drones from a boat takes even more skill. The pilot must consider swell, wind speed, and direction and needs another person to help them get it in and out of the air. Typically, one person stands at the bow or stern, holding the drone over their head — and wearing a helmet for protection — while the pilot mans the controls to launch it into the sky. Clear communication between both people is essential for a successful take-off and landing.

    The first time McPherson saw someone use a drone was while interning with the Wild Dolphin Project, but not by a member of Herzing’s team — just a collaborator who went out for a day with them on the boat.

    “I remember seeing the videos they got and thinking, Wow, this is such a cool perspective,” she says. “Then I started looking at papers. People were just starting to use drones at that time, and I thought it was pretty untapped and no one was doing it with these dolphins in the Bahamas. So I figured I should get in on it.”

    Aloha from Antarctica

    McPherson’s experience with drones has launched her a long way from home. Not only did it help her with acceptance into her graduate program, but most recently, it became her ticket to join a research expedition to Antarctica.

    In June 2021, while attending a barbecue at her advisor Lars Bejder’s house, he asked her if she’d like to go to Antarctica with a colleague of his in February 2022 to fly drones over whales to contribute to a long-term data set on whale health and population.

    “I was like, What?” she says with a laugh. “I kind of freaked out. Between then and a few months ago, I never really knew if it was going to happen. But it did.”

    Left: One of the Antarctic whales McPherson photographed with her drone. Right: McPherson taking it all in on the boat. (Photos by Liah McPherson & Chloe Lew and taken under permits NMFS 23095, ACA 2021-006 & ACA 2020-016)

    This past spring, she spent six weeks aboard an expedition cruise line called Hurtigruten, working with scientists from the California Ocean Alliance (COA). Whenever the cruise ship stopped to let guests adventure on land, McPherson and two other COA scientists would hop in a boat and head out into nearby waters to conduct their research.

    McPherson and her teammates — Chloe Lew, an acoustician with COA, and Kiirsten Flynn, a research biologist with Cascadia Research Collective — quickly learned how a beautiful Antarctic day could turn deadly in a matter of minutes.

    “There were days we could go out where it was nice and calm. And then within 10 minutes it’s whiteout conditions,” McPherson recalls.

    Flying a drone from an inflatable raft in the middle of the Antarctic was a wake-up call. It is immensely cold and incredibly unstable. On a few occasions, McPherson launched her drone in windier conditions than she liked, forcing herself to ignore its high-wind warnings the entire flight.

    Chloe Lew catches a drone flown by McPherson after capturing images of whales during a research expedition to Antarctica. (Photo by Leslie Hsu Oh)

    Nevertheless, she and her team succeeded in their efforts. They collected data for 34 groups of whales, measured body conditions for 18 individuals, and obtained 11 biopsy samples.

    McPherson returned to Hawaiʻi a stronger scientist. Not only is she a better drone pilot, but she learned how to collect biopsy samples from marine mammals — a skill she can utilize for whale research in Hawaʻi.

    “My favorite thing about my research is that I get to merge my blend of hobbies — photography, videography, flying drones, driving boats — and do something that I love. And Carolina helped with that.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UNC bloc

    UNC campus
    UNC-University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The flagship of the University of North Carolina system, it is considered to be a Public Ivy, or a public institution which offers an academic experience similar to that of an Ivy League university. After being chartered in 1789, the university first began enrolling students in 1795, making it one of the oldest public universities in the United States. Among the claimants, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the only one to have held classes and graduated students as a public university in the eighteenth century.

    The first public institution of higher education in North Carolina, the school opened its doors to students on February 12, 1795. North Carolina became coeducational under the leadership of President Kemp Plummer Battle in 1877 and began the process of desegregation under Chancellor Robert Burton House when African-American graduate students were admitted in 1951. In 1952, North Carolina opened its own hospital, UNC Health Care, for research and treatment, and has since specialized in cancer care through UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center which is one of only 51 national NCI designated comprehensive centers.

    The university offers degrees in over 70 courses of study and is administratively divided into 13 separate professional schools and a primary unit, the College of Arts & Sciences. Five of the schools have been named: the UNC Kenan–Flagler Business School, the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and the UNC Adams School of Dentistry. All undergraduates receive a liberal arts education and have the option to pursue a major within the professional schools of the university or within the College of Arts and Sciences from the time they obtain junior status. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”, and is a member of the Association of American Universities . According to the National Science Foundation, UNC spent $1.14 billion on research and development in 2018, ranking it 12th in the nation.

    UNC’s faculty and alumni include 9 Nobel Prize laureates, 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 51 Rhodes Scholars. Additional notable alumni include a U.S. President, a U.S. Vice President, 38 Governors of U.S. States, 98 members of the United States Congress, and nine Cabinet members as well as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, Olympians and professional athletes.

    The campus covers 729 acres (3 km^2) of Chapel Hill’s downtown area, encompassing the Morehead Planetarium and the many stores and shops located on Franklin Street. Students can participate in over 550 officially recognized student organizations. The student-run newspaper The Daily Tar Heel has won national awards for collegiate media, while the student radio station WXYC provided the world’s first internet radio broadcast. UNC Chapel Hill is one of the charter members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which was founded on June 14, 1953. Competing athletically as the Tar Heels, UNC has achieved great success in sports, most notably in men’s basketball, women’s soccer, and women’s field hockey.

  • richardmitnick 4:30 pm on May 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Understanding how sunscreens damage coral", A common component of many sunscreens worn by coral reef-exploring tourists may hasten the demise of endangered ecosystems., Anemones and corals metabolized oxybenzone in such a way that the resulting substance formed damaging radicals when exposed to sunlight., , , , Many sunscreens marketed as coral-safe are based on metals such as zinc and titanium rather than organic compounds., Marine Biology, , Oxybenzone-an organic compound found in many sunscreens-can damage corals., , The researchers found evidence for a coral defense mechanism. Symbiotic algae in corals appeared to protect their hosts by sequestering within themselves the toxins that corals produced from oxybenzon, Up to 6000 tons of sunscreen – more than the weight of 50 blue whales – wash through U.S. reef areas every year.   

    From Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment : “Understanding how sunscreens damage coral” 


    From Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment


    Stanford University Name

    Stanford University

    May 5, 2022
    Rob Jordan

    Many places have banned sunscreens with certain chemicals in an attempt to help protect coral reefs. Credit: Westend61 via Getty Images.

    You can love something to death. That is one way of thinking about a new Stanford University study that reveals how a common component of many sunscreens worn by coral reef-exploring tourists may hasten the demise of these endangered ecosystems. The surprising findings, published May 6 in Science, could help guide the development and marketing of effective, coral-safe sunscreens.

    Also cited: Science

    Reefs around the world – like the Great Barrier Reef seen here – are bleaching and dying because of stressors like increased water temperatures, and sunscreens may be exacerbating the issues. Credit: Amanda Tinoco, CC BY-ND

    “It would be a sad irony if ecotourism aimed at protecting coral reefs were actually exacerbating their decline,” said study lead author Djordje Vuckovic, a PhD student in civil and environmental engineering. “I hope that our research will help the development of sunscreens that are less likely to harm reefs.”

    Corals – like the mushroom coral seen here – and sea anemones absorb oxybenzone and metabolize it, but in doing so, they turn it into a toxin. Credit: Christian Renicke, CC BY-ND.

    Up to 6000 tons of sunscreen – more than the weight of 50 blue whales – wash through U.S. reef areas every year, according to the National Park Service. Scientists have known for some time that oxybenzone, an organic compound found in many sunscreens, can damage corals. As a result, sunscreens with this compound have been banned in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii, the island nation of Palau, and Bonaire, an island municipality of the Netherlands, among other places.

    However, the mechanisms by which oxybenzone does harm have largely remained a mystery, making it difficult to ensure that sunscreen components proposed as alternatives are truly safer for corals.

    William Mitch, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, became interested in the issue several years ago when he heard about Hawaii’s then-pending ban. With funding from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, he and John Pringle, a professor of genetics in the Stanford School of Medicine, began work to characterize the chemical and biological mechanisms by which oxybenzone harms corals.

    Protection for humans, damage for corals

    In their new study, Mitch, Pringle, Vuckovic, and other Stanford researchers used anemones as surrogates for corals, which are harder to experiment with, as well as mushroom corals. Exposed to oxybenzone in artificial seawater under simulated sunshine, the anemones all died within 17 days, whereas anemones exposed to oxybenzone in the absence of simulated sunlight remained viable.

    “It was strange to see that oxybenzone made sunlight toxic for corals – the opposite of what it is supposed to do,” said Mitch. “The compound is good at absorbing light within the waveband we tested, which is why it’s so common in sunscreens.”

    After absorbing ultraviolet light, oxybenzone is designed to dissipate the light energy as heat, preventing sunburn. The anemones and corals, however, metabolized oxybenzone in such a way that the resulting substance formed damaging radicals when exposed to sunlight.

    In addition to this vulnerability, the researchers found evidence for a coral defense mechanism. Symbiotic algae in corals appeared to protect their hosts by sequestering within themselves the toxins that corals produced from oxybenzone.

    As ocean waters warm, stressed corals expel their algae partners, exposing bone-white coral skeletons. Thus, in addition to being more vulnerable to disease and environmental shocks, such “bleached” corals would be more vulnerable to the depredations of oxybenzone without their algae to protect them.

    Ensuring sunscreens are safe for corals and other marine species

    Oxybenzone may not be the only sunscreen ingredient of concern, the researchers warn. The same metabolic pathways that appear to convert oxybenzone into a potent toxin for corals may do something similar with other common sunscreen ingredients, many of which share similar chemical structures and so could form similar phototoxic metabolites.

    Many sunscreens marketed as coral-safe are based on metals such as zinc and titanium rather than organic compounds, such as oxybenzone. Although these sunscreens are fundamentally different in how they function, it is not clear whether they are actually safer for corals, according to the researchers, who are planning to investigate the matter further.

    “In environmental science, as in medicine, a sound understanding of basic mechanisms should provide the best guidance for the development of practical solutions,” said Pringle. “Our study also illustrates the enormous power of collaborations between scientists with very different backgrounds and expertise,” said Mitch.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    Our Mission
    To produce breakthrough environmental knowledge and solutions that sustain people and planet today and for generations to come.

    Our Vision

    We can feed people, sustain communities and provide clean water while stewarding the environment.

    The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment is working toward a future in which societies meet people’s needs for water, food, health and other vital services while sustaining the planet. As the university’s hub of interdisciplinary environment and sustainability research, the Stanford Woods Institute is the go-to place for Stanford faculty, researchers and students to collaborate on environmental research. Their interdisciplinary work crosses sectors and disciplines, advancing solutions to the most critical, complex environmental and sustainability challenges.

    Working on campus and around the globe, the Stanford Woods Institute community develops environmental leaders; informs decision-makers with unbiased scientific data; and convenes experts from all of Stanford’s seven schools, other leading academic institutions, government, NGOs, foundations and business. The Stanford Woods Institute is pursuing breakthrough knowledge and solutions that link knowledge to action and solve the environmental challenges of today and tomorrow.

    Stanford University campus

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded Stanford University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members.

    Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university located in Stanford, California. Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford is consistently ranked as among the most prestigious and top universities in the world by major education publications. It is also one of the top fundraising institutions in the country, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Leland Stanford was a U.S. senator and former governor of California who made his fortune as a railroad tycoon. The school admitted its first students on October 1, 1891, as a coeducational and non-denominational institution. Stanford University struggled financially after the death of Leland Stanford in 1893 and again after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Following World War II, provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates’ entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley.

    The university is organized around seven schools: three schools consisting of 40 academic departments at the undergraduate level as well as four professional schools that focus on graduate programs in law, medicine, education, and business. All schools are on the same campus. Students compete in 36 varsity sports, and the university is one of two private institutions in the Division I FBS Pac-12 Conference. It has gained 126 NCAA team championships, and Stanford has won the NACDA Directors’ Cup for 24 consecutive years, beginning in 1994–1995. In addition, Stanford students and alumni have won 270 Olympic medals including 139 gold medals.

    As of October 2020, 84 Nobel laureates, 28 Turing Award laureates, and eight Fields Medalists have been affiliated with Stanford as students, alumni, faculty, or staff. In addition, Stanford is particularly noted for its entrepreneurship and is one of the most successful universities in attracting funding for start-ups. Stanford alumni have founded numerous companies, which combined produce more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, roughly equivalent to the 7th largest economy in the world (as of 2020). Stanford is the alma mater of one president of the United States (Herbert Hoover), 74 living billionaires, and 17 astronauts. It is also one of the leading producers of Fulbright Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, and members of the United States Congress.

    Stanford University was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford, dedicated to Leland Stanford Jr, their only child. The institution opened in 1891 on Stanford’s previous Palo Alto farm.

    Jane and Leland Stanford modeled their university after the great eastern universities, most specifically Cornell University. Stanford opened being called the “Cornell of the West” in 1891 due to faculty being former Cornell affiliates (either professors, alumni, or both) including its first president, David Starr Jordan, and second president, John Casper Branner. Both Cornell and Stanford were among the first to have higher education be accessible, nonsectarian, and open to women as well as to men. Cornell is credited as one of the first American universities to adopt this radical departure from traditional education, and Stanford became an early adopter as well.

    Despite being impacted by earthquakes in both 1906 and 1989, the campus was rebuilt each time. In 1919, The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was started by Herbert Hoover to preserve artifacts related to World War I. The Stanford Medical Center, completed in 1959, is a teaching hospital with over 800 beds. The DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(originally named the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center), established in 1962, performs research in particle physics.


    Most of Stanford is on an 8,180-acre (12.8 sq mi; 33.1 km^2) campus, one of the largest in the United States. It is located on the San Francisco Peninsula, in the northwest part of the Santa Clara Valley (Silicon Valley) approximately 37 miles (60 km) southeast of San Francisco and approximately 20 miles (30 km) northwest of San Jose. In 2008, 60% of this land remained undeveloped.

    Stanford’s main campus includes a census-designated place within unincorporated Santa Clara County, although some of the university land (such as the Stanford Shopping Center and the Stanford Research Park) is within the city limits of Palo Alto. The campus also includes much land in unincorporated San Mateo County (including the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve), as well as in the city limits of Menlo Park (Stanford Hills neighborhood), Woodside, and Portola Valley.

    Non-central campus

    Stanford currently operates in various locations outside of its central campus.

    On the founding grant:

    Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve is a 1,200-acre (490 ha) natural reserve south of the central campus owned by the university and used by wildlife biologists for research.
    https://www6.slac.stanford.edu/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is a facility west of the central campus operated by the university for the Department of Energy. It contains the longest linear particle accelerator in the world, 2 miles (3.2 km) on 426 acres (172 ha) of land.

    Golf course and a seasonal lake: The university also has its own golf course and a seasonal lake (Lake Lagunita, actually an irrigation reservoir), both home to the vulnerable California tiger salamander. As of 2012 Lake Lagunita was often dry and the university had no plans to artificially fill it.

    Off the founding grant:

    Hopkins Marine Station, in Pacific Grove, California, is a marine biology research center owned by the university since 1892.
    Study abroad locations: unlike typical study abroad programs, Stanford itself operates in several locations around the world; thus, each location has Stanford faculty-in-residence and staff in addition to students, creating a “mini-Stanford”.

    Redwood City campus for many of the university’s administrative offices located in Redwood City, California, a few miles north of the main campus. In 2005, the university purchased a small, 35-acre (14 ha) campus in Midpoint Technology Park intended for staff offices; development was delayed by The Great Recession. In 2015 the university announced a development plan and the Redwood City campus opened in March 2019.

    The Bass Center in Washington, DC provides a base, including housing, for the Stanford in Washington program for undergraduates. It includes a small art gallery open to the public.

    China: Stanford Center at Peking University, housed in the Lee Jung Sen Building, is a small center for researchers and students in collaboration with Beijing University [北京大学](CN) (Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University(CN) (KIAA-PKU).

    Administration and organization

    Stanford is a private, non-profit university that is administered as a corporate trust governed by a privately appointed board of trustees with a maximum membership of 38. Trustees serve five-year terms (not more than two consecutive terms) and meet five times annually.[83] A new trustee is chosen by the current trustees by ballot. The Stanford trustees also oversee the Stanford Research Park, the Stanford Shopping Center, the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University Medical Center, and many associated medical facilities (including the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital).

    The board appoints a president to serve as the chief executive officer of the university, to prescribe the duties of professors and course of study, to manage financial and business affairs, and to appoint nine vice presidents. The provost is the chief academic and budget officer, to whom the deans of each of the seven schools report. Persis Drell became the 13th provost in February 2017.

    As of 2018, the university was organized into seven academic schools. The schools of Humanities and Sciences (27 departments), Engineering (nine departments), and Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (four departments) have both graduate and undergraduate programs while the Schools of Law, Medicine, Education and Business have graduate programs only. The powers and authority of the faculty are vested in the Academic Council, which is made up of tenure and non-tenure line faculty, research faculty, senior fellows in some policy centers and institutes, the president of the university, and some other academic administrators, but most matters are handled by the Faculty Senate, made up of 55 elected representatives of the faculty.

    The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) is the student government for Stanford and all registered students are members. Its elected leadership consists of the Undergraduate Senate elected by the undergraduate students, the Graduate Student Council elected by the graduate students, and the President and Vice President elected as a ticket by the entire student body.

    Stanford is the beneficiary of a special clause in the California Constitution, which explicitly exempts Stanford property from taxation so long as the property is used for educational purposes.

    Endowment and donations

    The university’s endowment, managed by the Stanford Management Company, was valued at $27.7 billion as of August 31, 2019. Payouts from the Stanford endowment covered approximately 21.8% of university expenses in the 2019 fiscal year. In the 2018 NACUBO-TIAA survey of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, only Harvard University, the University of Texas System, and Yale University had larger endowments than Stanford.

    In 2006, President John L. Hennessy launched a five-year campaign called the Stanford Challenge, which reached its $4.3 billion fundraising goal in 2009, two years ahead of time, but continued fundraising for the duration of the campaign. It concluded on December 31, 2011, having raised a total of $6.23 billion and breaking the previous campaign fundraising record of $3.88 billion held by Yale. Specifically, the campaign raised $253.7 million for undergraduate financial aid, as well as $2.33 billion for its initiative in “Seeking Solutions” to global problems, $1.61 billion for “Educating Leaders” by improving K-12 education, and $2.11 billion for “Foundation of Excellence” aimed at providing academic support for Stanford students and faculty. Funds supported 366 new fellowships for graduate students, 139 new endowed chairs for faculty, and 38 new or renovated buildings. The new funding also enabled the construction of a facility for stem cell research; a new campus for the business school; an expansion of the law school; a new Engineering Quad; a new art and art history building; an on-campus concert hall; a new art museum; and a planned expansion of the medical school, among other things. In 2012, the university raised $1.035 billion, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Research centers and institutes

    DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    Stanford Research Institute, a center of innovation to support economic development in the region.
    Hoover Institution, a conservative American public policy institution and research institution that promotes personal and economic liberty, free enterprise, and limited government.
    Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, a multidisciplinary design school in cooperation with the Hasso Plattner Institute of University of Potsdam [Universität Potsdam](DE) that integrates product design, engineering, and business management education).
    Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, which grew out of and still contains the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project.
    John S. Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists
    Center for Ocean Solutions
    Together with UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco, Stanford is part of the Biohub, a new medical science research center founded in 2016 by a $600 million commitment from Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and pediatrician Priscilla Chan.

    Discoveries and innovation

    Natural sciences

    Biological synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) – Arthur Kornberg synthesized DNA material and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his work at Stanford.
    First Transgenic organism – Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer were the first scientists to transplant genes from one living organism to another, a fundamental discovery for genetic engineering. Thousands of products have been developed on the basis of their work, including human growth hormone and hepatitis B vaccine.
    Laser – Arthur Leonard Schawlow shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Nicolaas Bloembergen and Kai Siegbahn for his work on lasers.
    Nuclear magnetic resonance – Felix Bloch developed new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements, which are the underlying principles of the MRI.

    Computer and applied sciences

    ARPANETStanford Research Institute, formerly part of Stanford but on a separate campus, was the site of one of the four original ARPANET nodes.

    Internet—Stanford was the site where the original design of the Internet was undertaken. Vint Cerf led a research group to elaborate the design of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP/IP) that he originally co-created with Robert E. Kahn (Bob Kahn) in 1973 and which formed the basis for the architecture of the Internet.

    Frequency modulation synthesis – John Chowning of the Music department invented the FM music synthesis algorithm in 1967, and Stanford later licensed it to Yamaha Corporation.

    Google – Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford. They were working on the Stanford Digital Library Project (SDLP). The SDLP’s goal was “to develop the enabling technologies for a single, integrated and universal digital library” and it was funded through the National Science Foundation, among other federal agencies.

    Klystron tube – invented by the brothers Russell and Sigurd Varian at Stanford. Their prototype was completed and demonstrated successfully on August 30, 1937. Upon publication in 1939, news of the klystron immediately influenced the work of U.S. and UK researchers working on radar equipment.

    RISCARPA funded VLSI project of microprocessor design. Stanford and University of California- Berkeley are most associated with the popularization of this concept. The Stanford MIPS would go on to be commercialized as the successful MIPS architecture, while Berkeley RISC gave its name to the entire concept, commercialized as the SPARC. Another success from this era were IBM’s efforts that eventually led to the IBM POWER instruction set architecture, PowerPC, and Power ISA. As these projects matured, a wide variety of similar designs flourished in the late 1980s and especially the early 1990s, representing a major force in the Unix workstation market as well as embedded processors in laser printers, routers and similar products.
    SUN workstation – Andy Bechtolsheim designed the SUN workstation for the Stanford University Network communications project as a personal CAD workstation, which led to Sun Microsystems.

    Businesses and entrepreneurship

    Stanford is one of the most successful universities in creating companies and licensing its inventions to existing companies; it is often held up as a model for technology transfer. Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing is responsible for commercializing university research, intellectual property, and university-developed projects.

    The university is described as having a strong venture culture in which students are encouraged, and often funded, to launch their own companies.

    Companies founded by Stanford alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world.

    Some companies closely associated with Stanford and their connections include:

    Hewlett-Packard, 1939, co-founders William R. Hewlett (B.S, PhD) and David Packard (M.S).
    Silicon Graphics, 1981, co-founders James H. Clark (Associate Professor) and several of his grad students.
    Sun Microsystems, 1982, co-founders Vinod Khosla (M.B.A), Andy Bechtolsheim (PhD) and Scott McNealy (M.B.A).
    Cisco, 1984, founders Leonard Bosack (M.S) and Sandy Lerner (M.S) who were in charge of Stanford Computer Science and Graduate School of Business computer operations groups respectively when the hardware was developed.[163]
    Yahoo!, 1994, co-founders Jerry Yang (B.S, M.S) and David Filo (M.S).
    Google, 1998, co-founders Larry Page (M.S) and Sergey Brin (M.S).
    LinkedIn, 2002, co-founders Reid Hoffman (B.S), Konstantin Guericke (B.S, M.S), Eric Lee (B.S), and Alan Liu (B.S).
    Instagram, 2010, co-founders Kevin Systrom (B.S) and Mike Krieger (B.S).
    Snapchat, 2011, co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy (B.S).
    Coursera, 2012, co-founders Andrew Ng (Associate Professor) and Daphne Koller (Professor, PhD).

    Student body

    Stanford enrolled 6,996 undergraduate and 10,253 graduate students as of the 2019–2020 school year. Women comprised 50.4% of undergraduates and 41.5% of graduate students. In the same academic year, the freshman retention rate was 99%.

    Stanford awarded 1,819 undergraduate degrees, 2,393 master’s degrees, 770 doctoral degrees, and 3270 professional degrees in the 2018–2019 school year. The four-year graduation rate for the class of 2017 cohort was 72.9%, and the six-year rate was 94.4%. The relatively low four-year graduation rate is a function of the university’s coterminal degree (or “coterm”) program, which allows students to earn a master’s degree as a 1-to-2-year extension of their undergraduate program.

    As of 2010, fifteen percent of undergraduates were first-generation students.


    As of 2016 Stanford had 16 male varsity sports and 20 female varsity sports, 19 club sports and about 27 intramural sports. In 1930, following a unanimous vote by the Executive Committee for the Associated Students, the athletic department adopted the mascot “Indian.” The Indian symbol and name were dropped by President Richard Lyman in 1972, after objections from Native American students and a vote by the student senate. The sports teams are now officially referred to as the “Stanford Cardinal,” referring to the deep red color, not the cardinal bird. Stanford is a member of the Pac-12 Conference in most sports, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in several other sports, and the America East Conference in field hockey with the participation in the inter-collegiate NCAA’s Division I FBS.

    Its traditional sports rival is the University of California, Berkeley, the neighbor to the north in the East Bay. The winner of the annual “Big Game” between the Cal and Cardinal football teams gains custody of the Stanford Axe.

    Stanford has had at least one NCAA team champion every year since the 1976–77 school year and has earned 126 NCAA national team titles since its establishment, the most among universities, and Stanford has won 522 individual national championships, the most by any university. Stanford has won the award for the top-ranked Division 1 athletic program—the NACDA Directors’ Cup, formerly known as the Sears Cup—annually for the past twenty-four straight years. Stanford athletes have won medals in every Olympic Games since 1912, winning 270 Olympic medals total, 139 of them gold. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, and 2016 Summer Olympics, Stanford won more Olympic medals than any other university in the United States. Stanford athletes won 16 medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics (12 gold, two silver and two bronze), and 27 medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics.


    The unofficial motto of Stanford, selected by President Jordan, is Die Luft der Freiheit weht. Translated from the German language, this quotation from Ulrich von Hutten means, “The wind of freedom blows.” The motto was controversial during World War I, when anything in German was suspect; at that time the university disavowed that this motto was official.
    Hail, Stanford, Hail! is the Stanford Hymn sometimes sung at ceremonies or adapted by the various University singing groups. It was written in 1892 by mechanical engineering professor Albert W. Smith and his wife, Mary Roberts Smith (in 1896 she earned the first Stanford doctorate in Economics and later became associate professor of Sociology), but was not officially adopted until after a performance on campus in March 1902 by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
    “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman”: Stanford does not award honorary degrees, but in 1953 the degree of “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman” was created to recognize individuals who give rare and extraordinary service to the University. Technically, this degree is awarded by the Stanford Associates, a voluntary group that is part of the university’s alumni association. As Stanford’s highest honor, it is not conferred at prescribed intervals, but only when appropriate to recognize extraordinary service. Recipients include Herbert Hoover, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, Lucile Packard, and John Gardner.
    Big Game events: The events in the week leading up to the Big Game vs. UC Berkeley, including Gaieties (a musical written, composed, produced, and performed by the students of Ram’s Head Theatrical Society).
    “Viennese Ball”: a formal ball with waltzes that was initially started in the 1970s by students returning from the now-closed Stanford in Vienna overseas program. It is now open to all students.
    “Full Moon on the Quad”: An annual event at Main Quad, where students gather to kiss one another starting at midnight. Typically organized by the Junior class cabinet, the festivities include live entertainment, such as music and dance performances.
    “Band Run”: An annual festivity at the beginning of the school year, where the band picks up freshmen from dorms across campus while stopping to perform at each location, culminating in a finale performance at Main Quad.
    “Mausoleum Party”: An annual Halloween Party at the Stanford Mausoleum, the final resting place of Leland Stanford Jr. and his parents. A 20-year tradition, the “Mausoleum Party” was on hiatus from 2002 to 2005 due to a lack of funding, but was revived in 2006. In 2008, it was hosted in Old Union rather than at the actual Mausoleum, because rain prohibited generators from being rented. In 2009, after fundraising efforts by the Junior Class Presidents and the ASSU Executive, the event was able to return to the Mausoleum despite facing budget cuts earlier in the year.
    Former campus traditions include the “Big Game bonfire” on Lake Lagunita (a seasonal lake usually dry in the fall), which was formally ended in 1997 because of the presence of endangered salamanders in the lake bed.

    Award laureates and scholars

    Stanford’s current community of scholars includes:

    19 Nobel Prize laureates (as of October 2020, 85 affiliates in total)
    171 members of the National Academy of Sciences
    109 members of National Academy of Engineering
    76 members of National Academy of Medicine
    288 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    19 recipients of the National Medal of Science
    1 recipient of the National Medal of Technology
    4 recipients of the National Humanities Medal
    49 members of American Philosophical Society
    56 fellows of the American Physics Society (since 1995)
    4 Pulitzer Prize winners
    31 MacArthur Fellows
    4 Wolf Foundation Prize winners
    2 ACL Lifetime Achievement Award winners
    14 AAAI fellows
    2 Presidential Medal of Freedom winners

    Stanford University Seal

  • richardmitnick 3:40 pm on May 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "In Antarctica scientists discover a vast salty groundwater system under the ice sheet – with implications for sea level rise", A new discovery deep beneath one of Antarctica’s rivers of ice could change scientists’ understanding of how the ice flows with important implications for estimating future sea level rise., , , Marine Biology, ,   

    From The Conversation (AU): “In Antarctica scientists discover a vast salty groundwater system under the ice sheet – with implications for sea level rise” 

    From The Conversation (AU)

    May 5, 2022

    Matthew Siegfried
    Assistant Professor of Geophysics and Hydrologic Science and Engineering
    Colorado School of Mines

    Chloe Gustafson
    Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Geophysics
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    University of California-San Diego

    A new discovery deep beneath one of Antarctica’s rivers of ice could change scientists’ understanding of how the ice flows, with important implications for estimating future sea level rise.

    Co-author Chloe Gustafson and mountaineer Meghan Seifert install measuring equipment on an ice stream. Credit: Kerry Key/The Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

    Glacier scientists Matthew Siegfried from Colorado School of Mines, Chloe Gustafson from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and their colleagues spent 61 days living in tents on an Antarctic ice stream to collect data about the land under half a mile of ice beneath their feet. They explain what the team discovered and what it says about the behavior of ice sheets in a warming world.

    What was the big takeaway from your research?

    First, it helps to understand that West Antarctic was an ocean before it was an ice sheet. If it disappeared today, it would be an ocean again with a bunch of islands. So, we know that the bedrock below the ice sheet is covered with a thick layer of sediments – the particles that accumulate onto ocean floors.

    What we didn’t know was what was in the tiny pore spaces among those sediments below the ice.

    We expected to find meltwater coming from the ice stream above, a fast-moving channel of ice that flows from the center of the ice sheet toward the ocean. What we didn’t expect, but we found in this thick layer of sediments, was a huge amount of groundwater – including saltwater from the ocean.

    Our findings [Science] suggest that this salty groundwater is the largest reservoir of liquid water below the ice stream we studied, and likely others, and it may be affecting how the ice flows on Antarctica.

    Antarctic Ice Flow Charted From Space.
    How Antarctica’s ice flows through ice streams and ice shelves to the ocean. Credit: The National Aeronautics and Space Agency.

    Liquid water is incredibly important to how fast an ice stream moves. If there’s liquid water at the base of an ice stream, it flows fast. If that water freezes or the base dries out, the ice screeches to a stop.

    Models of ice streams typically consider only [Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology] whether ice at the base has reached the melting point or if water has flowed from upstream along the base of the ice. Scientists had never considered that more water was available under the ice sheet, let alone water that is much saltier, which keeps water from freezing at lower temperatures. (Think about why communities put salt on roads in winter.)

    Our observations suggest there is so much water there, if you took the 500 to 1,900 meters (1,600 to 6,200 feet) or so of sediments below the ice stream and squeezed them like a sponge, you’d have a column of water about 220 to 820 meters (700 to 2,700 feet) deep.

    Illustrations of the Whillans ice stream show liquid water under the ice from subglacial lakes (left) and groundwater within the sediment. The ice stream moves at about 300 meters per year. Modified from Gustafson et al., 2022

    This water can move through the pores in the subglacial groundwater system, just like groundwater elsewhere, but in Antarctica, there is a dynamic ice sheet on top. When the ice sheet gets thicker, it exerts more pressure on the sediment below, so it could drive meltwater from the base of the ice sheet [Wiley] deeper into the sediment. When the ice gets thinner, however, it could draw water, now a little saltier, out of the sediments. That saltier water could affect how fast the ice flows.

    Knowing that there is a massive reservoir of water that may be linked to how fast-flowing regions of Antarctica behave means scientists need to rethink our understanding of ice streams.

    What does finding liquid water in the sediments tell scientists about Antarctica?

    The salty groundwater was a clear sign of how far inland the boundary between the ice sheet and the ocean once reached.

    This boundary, known as the grounding line, is incredibly important. When ice flows across the grounding line, it starts to float in the ocean. If you know how the grounding line is shifting, you have a good sense of how much ice is being contributed to the global ocean.

    The fact that there were marine waters beneath our feet meant that the grounding line was upstream of us at some point, at least 70 miles (110 kilometers) from where it is today.

    The team’s survey points on the Whillan’s ice stream in 2018-2019 and the grounding line. Kerry Key/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

    Whillans ice stream is pretty remote. How did you determine what was happening a mile below you?

    Our site is about a two-hour flight from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. The plane lands on skis and drops off everything you need to live. Then it takes off, and it’s you, your field team, and a couple pallets of cargo.

    In all, we slept 61 days in a tent that season. Each day, we packed our snowmobiles, put in the coordinates for a site, and installed magnetotelluric stations.

    Each station has three magnetometers – pointing east-west, north-south and vertical – and two pairs of electrodes – aligned east-west and north-south. These instruments can detect the electromagnetic signatures of different Earth materials in the subsurface.

    Installing a magnetotelluric station on the Whillans ice stream.
    Time-lapse of installing a magnetotelluric station at Subglacial Lake Whillan in West Antarctica.

    Natural variations in the Earth’s magnetic and electric fields are created by events across the globe, such as solar wind interacting with the Earth’s ionosphere and lightning strikes. A change in the Earth’s magnetic and electric fields induces secondary electromagnetic fields in the subsurface, and the strength of those fields is related to how well the material there conducts electricity.

    So, by measuring electric and magnetic fields on the ice surface, we can figure out the conductivity of the subsurface materials, including water. It’s the same method the oil and gas industry used to find fossil fuels.

    We could see the groundwater, and since salt water has far greater conductivity than fresh water, we could estimate how salty it was.

    What else might be in the groundwater?

    Any time we’ve poked a hole through Antarctica, it’s been teeming with microbial life. There’s no reason to think microbes aren’t gnawing away at nutrients in the groundwater, too.

    When you have microbial ecosystems that are cut off for extended periods of time – in this case, seawater was likely deposited there 5,000-10,000 years ago – you start to have a pretty good analog for how life might exist on other planetary bodies, locked in the subsurface and buried underneath thick ice.

    Where there’s life, there is also the question of carbon.

    We know that there are microbes in subglacial lakes and rivers at the top of the sediment that are consuming carbon and transforming it into greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. We know all of this carbon ultimately gets transferred to the Southern Ocean. But we still don’t have great measurements of any of this.

    This is a new environment, and there’s a lot of research still to do. We have observations from one ice stream. It’s like sticking a straw in the groundwater system in Florida and saying, “Yeah, there’s something here” – but what does the rest of the continent look like?

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Conversation (AU) launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
    Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
    Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.

  • richardmitnick 8:56 pm on May 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists map living corals for first time before and after marine heat wave", , As the world sees rising ocean temperatures it will also see more cases of coral bleaching., , Coastal development and water pollution negatively affect coral reefs., , Marine Biology, Scientists discovered coral “winners” and “losers.”, , Winning corals are associated with cleaner water and less coastal development despite elevated water temperatures.   

    From The Arizona State University: “Scientists map living corals for first time before and after marine heat wave” 

    From The Arizona State University

    May 2, 2022

    Makenna Flynn
    Communications Specialist
    Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science

    Findings could help manage and build a resilient network of coral reefs.

    Low levels of coral bleaching in Hawaii, 2015. Credit: Greg Asner, Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science.

    As the world sees rising ocean temperatures it will also see more cases of coral bleaching. When corals bleach, they become more vulnerable to other stressors such as water pollution.

    However, many reefs harbor corals that persist despite warming oceans.

    Unraveling the complex issue of coral bleaching and its impact on their survival or death may be key to conserving coral reefs — ecosystems that approximately half a billion people around the world rely on for food, jobs, recreation and coastline protection.

    For the first time, scientists have mapped the location of living corals before and after a major marine heat wave. In the new study, research shows where corals are surviving despite rising ocean temperatures caused by climate change. The study also finds that coastal development and water pollution negatively affect coral reefs.

    In the study, published today in PNAS, Arizona State University scientists with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory reveal that different corals and environments influence the likelihood of their survival when ocean temperatures rise. The findings also demonstrate that advanced remote sensing technologies provide an opportunity to scale-up reef monitoring like never before.

    From its home in the Hawaiian Islands, ASU researchers with the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science took to the sky on the Global Airborne Observatory (GAO). The aircraft is equipped with advanced spectrometers that map ecosystems both on land and beneath the ocean surface. With these maps, the researchers can assess changes in coastal ecosystems over time.

    “Repeat coral mapping with the GAO revealed how Hawaii’s coral reefs responded to the 2019 mass bleaching event,” said Greg Asner, lead author of the study and director of the ASU Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science. “We discovered coral ‘winners’ and ‘losers.’ And these winning corals are associated with cleaner water and less coastal development despite elevated water temperatures.”

    When the Hawaiian Islands faced a mass bleaching event in 2019, the GAO mapped live coral cover along eight islands before the marine heat wave arrived. With these data, the researchers identified more than 10 potential coral refugia — habitats that may offer a safe haven for corals facing climate change. Among the potential refugia, there was up to 40% less coral mortality than on neighboring reefs, despite similar heat stress.

    The results also indicated that reefs near heavily developed coasts are more susceptible to mortality during heat waves. When development occurs on land, the amount of pollution entering the reef ecosystem increases, creating an unfavorable environment for coral reefs already fighting to survive the warming water.

    “This study supports Hawaii’s Holomua: Marine 30×30 initiative by not only identifying areas impacted by ocean heat waves, but also areas of refugia,” said Brian Neilson, study co-author and head of Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources. “These findings can be incorporated into management plans to aid in building a resilient network of reef regions and sustaining Hawaii’s reefs and the communities that depend on them into the future.”

    The Holomua: Marine 30×30 initiative aims to establish marine management areas across 30% of Hawaii’s nearshore waters. Coral reefs in Hawaii are integral to life on the islands, tied to culture and livelihoods. Understanding which corals are surviving is key to achieving conservation that is targeted and effective.

    “Previous approaches have failed to deliver actionable interventions that might improve coral survival during heat waves or to locate places of heat wave resistance, known as coral refugia, for rapid protection,” said Asner, who is also director of the Global Airborne Observatory. “Our findings highlight the new role that coral mortality and survival monitoring can play for targeted conservation that protects more corals in our changing climate.”

    The Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science at ASU collaborated on this study with the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center. The Lenfest Ocean Program of Pew Charitable Trusts supported this study.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Arizona State University is a public research university in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Founded in 1885 by the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature, Arizona State University is one of the largest public universities by enrollment in the U.S.

    One of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University is a member of the Universities Research Association and classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity.” Arizona State University has nearly 150,000 students attending classes, with more than 38,000 students attending online, and 90,000 undergraduates and more nearly 20,000 postgraduates across its five campuses and four regional learning centers throughout Arizona. Arizona State University offers 350 degree options from its 17 colleges and more than 170 cross-discipline centers and institutes for undergraduates students, as well as more than 400 graduate degree and certificate programs. The Arizona State Sun Devils compete in 26 varsity-level sports in the NCAA Division I Pac-12 Conference and is home to over 1,100 registered student organizations.

    Arizona State University’s charter, approved by the board of regents in 2014, is based on the New American University model created by Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow upon his appointment as the institution’s 16th president in 2002. It defines Arizona State University as “a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but rather by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.” The model is widely credited with boosting Arizona State University’s acceptance rate and increasing class size.

    The university’s faculty of more than 4,700 scholars has included 5 Nobel laureates, 6 Pulitzer Prize winners, 4 MacArthur Fellows, and 19 National Academy of Sciences members. Additionally, among the faculty are 180 Fulbright Program American Scholars, 72 National Endowment for the Humanities fellows, 38 American Council of Learned Societies fellows, 36 members of the Guggenheim Fellowship, 21 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 3 members of National Academy of Inventors, 9 National Academy of Engineering members and 3 National Academy of Medicine members. The National Academies has bestowed “highly prestigious” recognition on 227 ASU faculty members.


    Arizona State University was established as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe on March 12, 1885, when the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature passed an act to create a normal school to train teachers for the Arizona Territory. The campus consisted of a single, four-room schoolhouse on a 20-acre plot largely donated by Tempe residents George and Martha Wilson. Classes began with 33 students on February 8, 1886. The curriculum evolved over the years and the name was changed several times; the institution was also known as Tempe Normal School of Arizona (1889–1903), Tempe Normal School (1903–1925), Tempe State Teachers College (1925–1929), Arizona State Teachers College (1929–1945), Arizona State College (1945–1958) and, by a 2–1 margin of the state’s voters, Arizona State University in 1958.

    In 1923, the school stopped offering high school courses and added a high school diploma to the admissions requirements. In 1925, the school became the Tempe State Teachers College and offered four-year Bachelor of Education degrees as well as two-year teaching certificates. In 1929, the 9th Arizona State Legislature authorized Bachelor of Arts in Education degrees as well, and the school was renamed the Arizona State Teachers College. Under the 30-year tenure of president Arthur John Matthews (1900–1930), the school was given all-college student status. The first dormitories built in the state were constructed under his supervision in 1902. Of the 18 buildings constructed while Matthews was president, six are still in use. Matthews envisioned an “evergreen campus,” with many shrubs brought to the campus, and implemented the planting of 110 Mexican Fan Palms on what is now known as Palm Walk, a century-old landmark of the Tempe campus.

    During the Great Depression, Ralph Waldo Swetman was hired to succeed President Matthews, coming to Arizona State Teachers College in 1930 from Humboldt State Teachers College where he had served as president. He served a three-year term, during which he focused on improving teacher-training programs. During his tenure, enrollment at the college doubled, topping the 1,000 mark for the first time. Matthews also conceived of a self-supported summer session at the school at Arizona State Teachers College, a first for the school.


    In 1933, Grady Gammage, then president of Arizona State Teachers College at Flagstaff, became president of Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe, beginning a tenure that would last for nearly 28 years, second only to Swetman’s 30 years at the college’s helm. Like President Arthur John Matthews before him, Gammage oversaw the construction of several buildings on the Tempe campus. He also guided the development of the university’s graduate programs; the first Master of Arts in Education was awarded in 1938, the first Doctor of Education degree in 1954 and 10 non-teaching master’s degrees were approved by the Arizona Board of Regents in 1956. During his presidency, the school’s name was changed to Arizona State College in 1945, and finally to Arizona State University in 1958. At the time, two other names were considered: Tempe University and State University at Tempe. Among Gammage’s greatest achievements in Tempe was the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed construction of what is Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium/ASU Gammage. One of the university’s hallmark buildings, Arizona State University Gammage was completed in 1964, five years after the president’s (and Wright’s) death.

    Gammage was succeeded by Harold D. Richardson, who had served the school earlier in a variety of roles beginning in 1939, including director of graduate studies, college registrar, dean of instruction, dean of the College of Education and academic vice president. Although filling the role of acting president of the university for just nine months (Dec. 1959 to Sept. 1960), Richardson laid the groundwork for the future recruitment and appointment of well-credentialed research science faculty.

    By the 1960s, under G. Homer Durham, the university’s 11th president, Arizona State University began to expand its curriculum by establishing several new colleges and, in 1961, the Arizona Board of Regents authorized doctoral degree programs in six fields, including Doctor of Philosophy. By the end of his nine-year tenure, Arizona State University had more than doubled enrollment, reporting 23,000 in 1969.

    The next three presidents—Harry K. Newburn (1969–71), John W. Schwada (1971–81) and J. Russell Nelson (1981–89), including Interim President Richard Peck (1989), led the university to increased academic stature, the establishment of the Arizona State University West campus in 1984 and its subsequent construction in 1986, a focus on computer-assisted learning and research, and rising enrollment.


    Under the leadership of Lattie F. Coor, president from 1990 to 2002, Arizona State University grew through the creation of the Polytechnic campus and extended education sites. Increased commitment to diversity, quality in undergraduate education, research, and economic development occurred over his 12-year tenure. Part of Coor’s legacy to the university was a successful fundraising campaign: through private donations, more than $500 million was invested in areas that would significantly impact the future of ASU. Among the campaign’s achievements were the naming and endowing of Barrett, The Honors College, and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; the creation of many new endowed faculty positions; and hundreds of new scholarships and fellowships.

    In 2002, Michael M. Crow became the university’s 16th president. At his inauguration, he outlined his vision for transforming Arizona State University into a “New American University”—one that would be open and inclusive, and set a goal for the university to meet Association of American Universities criteria and to become a member. Crow initiated the idea of transforming Arizona State University into “One university in many places”—a single institution comprising several campuses, sharing students, faculty, staff and accreditation. Subsequent reorganizations combined academic departments, consolidated colleges and schools, and reduced staff and administration as the university expanded its West and Polytechnic campuses. Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus was also expanded, with several colleges and schools relocating there. The university established learning centers throughout the state, including the Arizona State University Colleges at Lake Havasu City and programs in Thatcher, Yuma, and Tucson. Students at these centers can choose from several Arizona State University degree and certificate programs.

    During Crow’s tenure, and aided by hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, Arizona State University began a years-long research facility capital building effort that led to the establishment of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and several large interdisciplinary research buildings. Along with the research facilities, the university faculty was expanded, including the addition of five Nobel Laureates. Since 2002, the university’s research expenditures have tripled and more than 1.5 million square feet of space has been added to the university’s research facilities.

    The economic downturn that began in 2008 took a particularly hard toll on Arizona, resulting in large cuts to Arizona State University’s budget. In response to these cuts, Arizona State University capped enrollment, closed some four dozen academic programs, combined academic departments, consolidated colleges and schools, and reduced university faculty, staff and administrators; however, with an economic recovery underway in 2011, the university continued its campaign to expand the West and Polytechnic Campuses, and establish a low-cost, teaching-focused extension campus in Lake Havasu City.

    As of 2011, an article in Slate reported that, “the bottom line looks good,” noting that:

    “Since Crow’s arrival, Arizona State University’s research funding has almost tripled to nearly $350 million. Degree production has increased by 45 percent. And thanks to an ambitious aid program, enrollment of students from Arizona families below poverty is up 647 percent.”

    In 2015, the Thunderbird School of Global Management became the fifth Arizona State University campus, as the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Partnerships for education and research with Mayo Clinic established collaborative degree programs in health care and law, and shared administrator positions, laboratories and classes at the Mayo Clinic Arizona campus.

    The Beus Center for Law and Society, the new home of Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, opened in fall 2016 on the Downtown Phoenix campus, relocating faculty and students from the Tempe campus to the state capital.

  • richardmitnick 7:59 pm on May 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Discovery about coral-algal symbiosis could help coral reefs recover after bleaching events", Although photosynthesis by algae is a key part of the symbiotic relationship it is not required to initiate symbiosis., , , Corals; sea anemones and jellyfish belong to a group of animals-cnidarians-that receive some of their nutrients through a symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic algae living inside their cells., , High ocean temperature causes a breakdown in the symbiosis resulting in a ‘bleached’ coral that has expelled the algae. If symbiosis is not initiated within a few weeks the coral will starve., In return the algae receive nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from the prey that the host catches., Marine Biology, , Some species of coral are completely dependent on the food they receive from their algal symbionts and will die without it., The research could lead to strategies that might prevent warmer oceans from breaking the symbiotic relationship between the two organisms and saving what remains of the world’s corals.,   

    From The University of California-Riverside: “Discovery about coral-algal symbiosis could help coral reefs recover after bleaching events” 

    UC Riverside bloc

    From The University of California-Riverside

    May 2, 2022

    Holly Ober
    Senior Public Information Officer
    (951) 827-5893

    Fluorescence image of coral Acropora juvenile polyps hosting the symbiotic Symbiodiniaceae (Breviolum minutum) algae, shown as red dots. Green color is the endogenous green fluorescence from corals. Credit: Robert Jinkerson/Tingting Xiang.

    Algae’s ability to establish symbiosis in coral without photosynthesis could help fight coral bleaching.

    Corals are keystone species for reef and marine ecosystems but coral bleaching due to climate change and ocean warming is killing them. A new open access study [Current Biology] by researchers at the University of California-Riverside, aims to shed light on how to reverse the damage and save corals.

    Corals, together with sea anemones and jellyfish, belong to a group of animals called cnidarians that receive some of their nutrients through a symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic algae living inside their cells. High ocean temperatures cause a breakdown in the symbiosis resulting in a ‘bleached’ coral that has expelled the algae. If symbiosis is not initiated within a few weeks, the coral will starve to death.

    The new study finds that although photosynthesis by algae is a key part of the symbiotic relationship it is not required to initiate symbiosis. The discovery adds to the little-understood relationship between cnidarians and algae at the molecular level and offers insight into how to jump start the symbiotic relationship between the two organisms after a bleaching event. It could also lead to strategies that might prevent warmer oceans from breaking the symbiotic relationship between the two organisms and saving what remains of the world’s corals.

    Cnidarians form a mutualistic symbiosis with photosynthetic algae from the dinoflagellate family Symbiodiniaceae that live inside of their host cells. The algae perform photosynthesis, fix carbon dioxide into sugars, and then give that to their hosts. Some species of coral are completely dependent on the food they receive from their algal symbionts and will die without it.

    In return the algae receive nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from the prey that the host catches. Photosynthesis is a key part of this symbiotic relationship, but it was not known if this symbiosis can form without photosynthesis.

    Robert Jinkerson, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at UCR, and Tingting Xiang, an assistant professor of biological sciences at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, led a team to make the first mutants in Symbiodiniaceae algae—isolate mutants that lacked the ability to photosynthesize—and use these mutants to investigate symbiosis with cnidarians.

    “We were very excited to be able to generate six photosynthetic mutants and then use those mutants to start to probe the symbiosis between these algae and their hosts,” Jinkerson said.

    The team introduced the mutant algae into seawater tanks that contained sea anemones (Exaiptasia pallida) that had not yet established symbiosis with any algae. After just one day the algae could already be found within the sea anemone’s tentacles, even without photosynthesis.

    To learn if the algae could survive in sea anemone host tissue without photosynthesis for longer periods of time, the researchers infected some sea anemones in darkness with mutant and non-mutant algae and kept them in darkness for six months. Even after six months, algal cells were still observable in the sea anemone’s tissues. Although able to infect the host cells and maintain itself for six months, the algae did not reproduce and proliferate in number.

    The group also tested four other species of algae known to form symbiotic relationships with the sea anemones and found that they too could initiate symbiosis in the dark.

    Jinkerson, Xiang, and their colleague Masayuki Hatta in Japan then introduced the algae in darkness into a tank containing juvenile polyps of a stony coral, Acropora tenuis. The algae infected the coral successfully in the dark. Unexpectedly, the algae were able to proliferate in the coral tissues without photosynthesis, something not observed in the sea anemones.

    Finally, to learn if the pattern held true for the third member of the cnidarian group, the researchers added the algae to a darkened tank of upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopea xamachana) polyps. Once again, the algae infected the polyps, though not as successfully as in the sea anemone and coral.

    Symbiosis establishment can proceed without photosynthesis in coral, jellyfish, and sea anemone hosts, but different aspects of the relationship, such as proliferation of the algae without photosynthesis, depends on the specific host–algae relationship.

    “Our study highlights the power of forward genetic approaches to probe cnidarian Symbiodiniaceae symbiosis and provides a promising platform to answer key questions in symbiosis and ultimately develop strategies to save corals,” said Xiang.

    The discovery that photosynthesis is not essential to begin symbiotic relationships is a step toward finding ways to help cnidarians survive climate change.

    “Time is of the essence regarding the protection of the coral reefs, and our hope is that these mutants will allow ourselves and others to increase the overall pace towards this goal,” said co-author Joseph Russo, a doctoral student in Jinkerson’s lab.

    Jinkerson, Xiang, Hatta, and Russo were joined in the research by Casandra R. Newkirk, Andrea L. Kirk, Richard J. Chi, Mark Q. Martindale, and Arthur R. Grossman.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University of California-Riverside Campus

    The University of California-Riverside is a public land-grant research university in Riverside, California. It is one of the 10 campuses of The University of California system. The main campus sits on 1,900 acres (769 ha) in a suburban district of Riverside with a branch campus of 20 acres (8 ha) in Palm Desert. In 1907, the predecessor to The University of California-Riverside was founded as the UC Citrus Experiment Station, Riverside which pioneered research in biological pest control and the use of growth regulators responsible for extending the citrus growing season in California from four to nine months. Some of the world’s most important research collections on citrus diversity and entomology, as well as science fiction and photography, are located at Riverside.

    The University of California-Riverside ‘s undergraduate College of Letters and Science opened in 1954. The Regents of the University of California declared The University of California-Riverside a general campus of the system in 1959, and graduate students were admitted in 1961. To accommodate an enrollment of 21,000 students by 2015, more than $730 million has been invested in new construction projects since 1999. Preliminary accreditation of the The University of California-Riverside School of Medicine was granted in October 2012 and the first class of 50 students was enrolled in August 2013. It is the first new research-based public medical school in 40 years.

    The University of California-Riverside is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity.” The 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings places UC-Riverside tied for 35th among top public universities and ranks 85th nationwide. Over 27 of The University of California-Riverside ‘s academic programs, including the Graduate School of Education and the Bourns College of Engineering, are highly ranked nationally based on peer assessment, student selectivity, financial resources, and other factors. Washington Monthly ranked The University of California-Riverside 2nd in the United States in terms of social mobility, research and community service, while U.S. News ranks The University of California-Riverside as the fifth most ethnically diverse and, by the number of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants (42 percent), the 15th most economically diverse student body in the nation. Over 70% of all The University of California-Riverside students graduate within six years without regard to economic disparity. The University of California-Riverside ‘s extensive outreach and retention programs have contributed to its reputation as a “university of choice” for minority students. In 2005, The University of California-Riverside became the first public university campus in the nation to offer a gender-neutral housing option. The University of California-Riverside’s sports teams are known as the Highlanders and play in the Big West Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I. Their nickname was inspired by the high altitude of the campus, which lies on the foothills of Box Springs Mountain. The University of California-Riverside women’s basketball team won back-to-back Big West championships in 2006 and 2007. In 2007, the men’s baseball team won its first conference championship and advanced to the regionals for the second time since the university moved to Division I in 2001.


    At the turn of the 20th century, Southern California was a major producer of citrus, the region’s primary agricultural export. The industry developed from the country’s first navel orange trees, planted in Riverside in 1873. Lobbied by the citrus industry, the University of California Regents established the UC Citrus Experiment Station (CES) on February 14, 1907, on 23 acres (9 ha) of land on the east slope of Mount Rubidoux in Riverside. The station conducted experiments in fertilization, irrigation and crop improvement. In 1917, the station was moved to a larger site, 475 acres (192 ha) near Box Springs Mountain.

    The 1944 passage of the GI Bill during World War II set in motion a rise in college enrollments that necessitated an expansion of the state university system in California. A local group of citrus growers and civic leaders, including many University of California-Berkeley alumni, lobbied aggressively for a University of California -administered liberal arts college next to the CES. State Senator Nelson S. Dilworth authored Senate Bill 512 (1949) which former Assemblyman Philip L. Boyd and Assemblyman John Babbage (both of Riverside) were instrumental in shepherding through the State Legislature. Governor Earl Warren signed the bill in 1949, allocating $2 million for initial campus construction.

    Gordon S. Watkins, dean of the College of Letters and Science at The University of California-Los Angeles, became the first provost of the new college at Riverside. Initially conceived of as a small college devoted to the liberal arts, he ordered the campus built for a maximum of 1,500 students and recruited many young junior faculty to fill teaching positions. He presided at its opening with 65 faculty and 127 students on February 14, 1954, remarking, “Never have so few been taught by so many.”

    The University of California-Riverside’s enrollment exceeded 1,000 students by the time Clark Kerr became president of the University of California system in 1958. Anticipating a “tidal wave” in enrollment growth required by the baby boom generation, Kerr developed the California Master Plan for Higher Education and the Regents designated Riverside a general university campus in 1959. The University of California-Riverside’s first chancellor, Herman Theodore Spieth, oversaw the beginnings of the school’s transition to a full university and its expansion to a capacity of 5,000 students. The University of California-Riverside’s second chancellor, Ivan Hinderaker led the campus through the era of the free speech movement and kept student protests peaceful in Riverside. According to a 1998 interview with Hinderaker, the city of Riverside received negative press coverage for smog after the mayor asked Governor Ronald Reagan to declare the South Coast Air Basin a disaster area in 1971; subsequent student enrollment declined by up to 25% through 1979. Hinderaker’s development of innovative programs in business administration and biomedical sciences created incentive for enough students to enroll at University of California-Riverside to keep the campus open.

    In the 1990s, The University of California-Riverside experienced a new surge of enrollment applications, now known as “Tidal Wave II”. The Regents targeted The University of California-Riverside for an annual growth rate of 6.3%, the fastest in The University of California system, and anticipated 19,900 students at The University of California-Riverside by 2010. By 1995, African American, American Indian, and Latino student enrollments accounted for 30% of The University of California-Riverside student body, the highest proportion of any University of California campus at the time. The 1997 implementation of Proposition 209—which banned the use of affirmative action by state agencies—reduced the ethnic diversity at the more selective UC campuses but further increased it at The University of California-Riverside.

    With The University of California-Riverside scheduled for dramatic population growth, efforts have been made to increase its popular and academic recognition. The students voted for a fee increase to move The University of California-Riverside athletics into NCAA Division I standing in 1998. In the 1990s, proposals were made to establish a law school, a medical school, and a school of public policy at The University of California-Riverside, with The University of California-Riverside School of Medicine and the School of Public Policy becoming reality in 2012. In June 2006, The University of California-Riverside received its largest gift, 15.5 million from two local couples, in trust towards building its medical school. The Regents formally approved The University of California-Riverside’s medical school proposal in 2006. Upon its completion in 2013, it was the first new medical school built in California in 40 years.


    As a campus of The University of California system, The University of California-Riverside is governed by a Board of Regents and administered by a president University of California-Riverside ‘s academic policies are set by its Academic Senate, a legislative body composed of all UC-Riverside faculty members.

    The University of California-Riverside is organized into three academic colleges, two professional schools, and two graduate schools. The University of California-Riverside’s liberal arts college, the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, was founded in 1954, and began accepting graduate students in 1960. The College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, founded in 1960, incorporated the CES as part of the first research-oriented institution at The University of California-Riverside; it eventually also incorporated the natural science departments formerly associated with the liberal arts college to form its present structure in 1974. The University of California-Riverside ‘s newest academic unit, the Bourns College of Engineering, was founded in 1989. Comprising the professional schools are the Graduate School of Education, founded in 1968, and The University of California-Riverside School of Business, founded in 1970. These units collectively provide 81 majors and 52 minors, 48 master’s degree programs, and 42 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs. The University of California-Riverside is the only UC campus to offer undergraduate degrees in creative writing and public policy and one of three UCs (along with The University of California-Berkeley and The University of California-Irvine) to offer an undergraduate degree in business administration. Through its Division of Biomedical Sciences, founded in 1974, The University of California-Riverside offers the Thomas Haider medical degree program in collaboration with The University of California-Los Angeles. The University of California-Riverside ‘s doctoral program in the emerging field of dance theory, founded in 1992, was the first program of its kind in the United States, and The University of California-Riverside ‘s minor in lesbian, gay and bisexual studies, established in 1996, was the first undergraduate program of its kind in the University of California system. A new BA program in bagpipes was inaugurated in 2007.

    Research and economic impact

    The University of California-Riverside operated under a $727 million budget in fiscal year 2014–15. The state government provided $214 million, student fees accounted for $224 million and $100 million came from contracts and grants. Private support and other sources accounted for the remaining $189 million. Overall, monies spent at The University of California-Riverside have an economic impact of nearly $1 billion in California. The University of California-Riverside research expenditure in FY 2018 totaled $167.8 million. Total research expenditures at The University of California-Riverside are significantly concentrated in agricultural science, accounting for 53% of total research expenditures spent by the university in 2002. Top research centers by expenditure, as measured in 2002, include the Agricultural Experiment Station; the Center for Environmental Research and Technology; the Center for Bibliographical Studies; the Air Pollution Research Center; and the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

    Throughout The University of California-Riverside ‘s history, researchers have developed more than 40 new citrus varieties and invented new techniques to help the $960 million-a-year California citrus industry fight pests and diseases. In 1927, entomologists at the CES introduced two wasps from Australia as natural enemies of a major citrus pest, the citrophilus mealybug, saving growers in Orange County $1 million in annual losses. This event was pivotal in establishing biological control as a practical means of reducing pest populations. In 1963, plant physiologist Charles Coggins proved that application of gibberellic acid allows fruit to remain on citrus trees for extended periods. The ultimate result of his work, which continued through the 1980s, was the extension of the citrus-growing season in California from four to nine months. In 1980, The University of California-Riverside released the Oroblanco grapefruit, its first patented citrus variety. Since then, the citrus breeding program has released other varieties such as the Melogold grapefruit, the Gold Nugget mandarin (or tangerine), and others that have yet to be given trademark names.

    To assist entrepreneurs in developing new products, The University of California-Riverside is a primary partner in the Riverside Regional Technology Park, which includes the City of Riverside and the County of Riverside. It also administers six reserves of the University of California Natural Reserve System. UC-Riverside recently announced a partnership with China Agricultural University[中国农业大学](CN) to launch a new center in Beijing, which will study ways to respond to the country’s growing environmental issues. University of California-Riverside can also boast the birthplace of two-name reactions in organic chemistry, the Castro-Stephens coupling and the Midland Alpine Borane Reduction.

  • richardmitnick 10:09 am on April 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Environmental DNA reveals secret reef inhabitants", A new method: environmental DNA (eDNA), , Global warming and human activities are causing coral reefs to disappear at an alarming rate., Marine Biology, , Using eDNA the researchers found a 16 percent higher diversity of reef fishes than through conventional survey methods.   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH): “Environmental DNA reveals secret reef inhabitants” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    Peter Rüegg

    An international research team use a global sampling of seawater to reveal which tropical reef fish occur where. To identify species and families, they successfully used the residual DNA shed by the animals present in the water. But not all fish can be traced in this way.

    Coral reefs are home to a wide variety of different fish species. Photograph: Adobe Stock.

    Tropical coral reefs are colourful, beautiful – and rich in species. The diversity among fish is particularly high: researchers estimate that coral reefs are home to as many as 8,000 species of fish worldwide.

    However, global warming and human activities are causing coral reefs to disappear at an alarming rate, and how many species of reef fish there are and where they are distributed has not yet been accurately quantified.

    One reason is that many fish species lead very secretive lives, are very similar to each other or live partly in the open sea and are therefore difficult to detect. To record the presence of fish in an area, biodiversity research has mostly depended on visual observations by divers (or catching fish).

    Now, a new method is making its way into ecology that circumvents such difficulties: environmental DNA (eDNA). The idea of this new approach is that organisms leave their genetic material or parts of it in the environment.

    With this approach, the researchers have only to take water samples at one location, isolate the DNA (fragments) contained therein and sequence them, i.e. determine the order of DNA building blocks. Then they can compare the sequences with reference DNA sequences that come from reliably identified specimens – and can determine whether a species occurs at the location in question.

    This is the method used by an international team led by researchers from The University of Montpellier [Université de Montpellier](FR) and ETH Zürich to study the occurrence of reef fish.

    In 2017 and 2019, the researchers collected 226 water samples at 26 sites in 5 tropical marine regions. They isolated and analysed the DNA, which they then assigned to the corresponding species or families.

    One-​sixth greater diversity detected

    Using eDNA the researchers found a 16 percent higher diversity of reef fishes than through conventional survey methods such as visual observations during dives. “Thanks to the eDNA method, we can detect many fish species and families much faster than with observations alone,” says Loïc Pellissier, Professor of Ecosystems and Landscape Evolution at ETH Zürich. He is one of the two lead authors of a study that has just been published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society. The DNA analyses were completed after only two years, but the visual observations that informed the study came from countless observers and cover 13 years of observation activity.

    Divers usually find fewer species than laboratory researchers using environmental DNA. Photograph: Adobe Stock.

    With the new approach, the researchers discovered more species swimming in the open water (pelagic), reef-​bound species, and species that inhabit the numerous caves and crevices in reefs (cryptobenthic). Divers see or identify such fish with less frequency.

    Many of the recorded pelagic species prefer the open sea or greater depths. Some belong to families that avoid divers or do not live permanently in coral reefs, such as mackerel and tuna in the family Scombridae as well as sharks from the family Carcharhinidae (requiem sharks, e.g. the blacktip reef shark).

    The discovery of these species is important because they are actively involved in the function of a coral reef through their pelagic larval stages or their nocturnal migrations to the reef. The role these fishes play in the ecosystem is thus often underestimated.

    Visual observations are (still) necessary

    However, not all species can be recorded equally easily using eDNA, such as wrasses (Labridae) or blennies (Blenniidae). Reference databases cover these species-​rich families only partially, Pellissier says. Because of these gaps, a considerable part of the eDNA found in the water samples has not yet been assigned.

    Extraordinary diversity in the Coral Triangle

    The researchers also confirmed earlier findings that the composition of species varies widely among marine bioregions. Fish diversity is exceptionally high in the “Coral Triangle” between Borneo, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines – up to five times higher than in the Caribbean, for example. Herbivores (including coral-​eating species) are particularly abundant there.

    According to Pellissier, this has to do with the fact that throughout Earth’s history, the Coral Triangle was (and still is) very tectonically active, producing a wide range of habitats. The surface temperature of this marine area was also more stable during the ice ages, which is why an especially high diversity was able to unfold.

    The Caribbean, on the other hand, was more subject to the regime of the ice ages, and its coral reefs and fish stocks shrank during the cold periods. In addition, the Isthmus of Panama was formed more than 2.7 million years ago, which, among other things, changed the ocean currents in the Caribbean. Both events led to higher extinctions.

    International cooperation

    For this study, one sponsor of the research consortium was Monaco Explorations, an organisation of the Prince of Monaco. The organisation provided the scientists with a research vessel for the first part of the project, which enabled them to collect water samples in the Caribbean and off the Colombian coast. More samples were collected on separate trips, also funded by Monaco’s government.

    “For me as a Swiss researcher, it was enormously important to be part of an international collaboration,” Pellissier says. Without connections to his French, Colombian, Indonesian and Australian partners, he would not have been able to carry out this study. He adds: “We can’t do isolated research at this level in Switzerland.”

    Another expedition to collect water samples is planned for later this year. This time, the researchers want to sample the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean between South Africa and the Seychelles. The expedition, which will complement the sampling conducted in previous years, also had to be postponed because of the coronavirus.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

  • richardmitnick 9:06 am on April 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Atmospherica", "Small but mighty-How UArizona researchers are harnessing the power of algae to capture carbon", Air accordion photobioreactor, , , , , , Biosystems Engineering, Carbon Removal, , Coccolithophores naturally extract carbon dioxide from the ocean as part of their life cycle., , Harnessing the power of algae, Marine Biology, Photobioreactors, , Plans to harness the principles of the carbon cycle to trap massive amounts of carbon dioxide and curb the worst impacts of climate change., The photobioreactor make it possible to efficiently grow large amounts of algae.,   

    From The University of Arizona: “Small but mighty-How UArizona researchers are harnessing the power of algae to capture carbon” 

    From The University of Arizona

    Resources for the media
    Media contact(s)
    Mikayla Mace Kelley
    Science Writer, University Communications

    Researcher contact(s)
    Daniel Apai
    Steward Observatory

    Joel Cuello
    Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

    Régis Ferrière
    Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

    An astrobiologist, an engineer and an ecologist have teamed up to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

    Astrobiologist Daniel Apai (right) and biosystems engineer Joel Cuello (left) work with algae in the lab. Their team aims to harness the power of coccolithophores, which are a single-celled marine algae that use atmospheric carbon dioxide and calcium from saltwater to create intricate shells made of calcium carbonate. The shells are made from a very stable, chalk-like mineral. They can be grown efficiently, then stored to trap carbon dioxide. Credit: Chris Richards.

    As a University of Arizona professor of astronomy and planetary sciences who studies planets orbiting other stars, Daniel Apai spends much of his time thinking about what makes worlds habitable.

    On Earth, the carbon cycle plays a key role in maintaining conditions for life. Earth releases carbon into the atmosphere and reabsorbs it through geological and biological processes. But humans have released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the carbon cycle naturally would, causing global temperatures to rise.

    Apai has assembled a team that plans to harness the principles of the carbon cycle to trap massive amounts of carbon dioxide and curb the worst impacts of climate change.

    They call themselves Atmospherica. In addition to Apai, the team includes Joel Cuello, a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and BIO5 Institute member; Régis Ferrière, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology; Martin Schlecker, an astrophysicist and postdoctoral research associate; and Jack Welchert, a biosystems engineering doctoral student.

    Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and future climate projections find that preventing the worst effects of climate change will require carbon removal from the atmosphere at gigaton-per-year levels.

    “Yet, no existing technology is thought to be scalable enough to succeed in this,” Apai said. “What we need to do as a civilization is to reduce our emissions as much as possible, because extracting from the air is much more difficult than not emitting it. No one has come up with a solution that extracts carbon dioxide so efficiently as to allow the continued burning of fossil fuels.”

    A sample of coccolithophores of various shapes sourced from the Maldives.

    The Atmospherica team team hopes to be a part of the solution, by harnessing the power of algae.

    It’s all in the algae

    “Climate change is one of the great challenges we are facing as a species and civilization,” Apai said.

    He began the search for potential climate change solutions as a hobby seven years ago. He found that most existing carbon removal solutions could not be scaled up to the levels required, were prohibitively expensive or were harmful to the environment.

    As an astrobiologist, he decided to pursue solutions inspired by nature. That’s when he learned about coccolithophores – single-celled marine algae. What makes these algae special is the fact that they use atmospheric carbon dioxide and calcium from saltwater to create intricate shells made of calcium carbonate – a very stable, chalk-like mineral. These shells evolved to protect the algae and regulate the algae’s buoyancy and light exposure.

    Coccolithophores naturally extract carbon dioxide from the ocean as part of their life cycle. While most of them are consumed by predators, a very small fraction decompose, uneaten, while their carbon-containing shells sink to the ocean floor, where they remain indefinitely. The White Cliffs of Dover on the English coastline are huge 90-million-year-old deposits of these shells and demonstrate their incredible stability.

    The White Cliffs of Dover in England are an example of large coccolithophore shell deposits and how stable they are over time.

    Apai wondered if it would be possible to grow coccolithophores on a large enough scale to change Earth’s atmospheric composition. To do this would require a safe and controlled environment for the algae to grow.

    Enter the air accordion

    Cuello and his Biosystems Engineering Lab have developed a portfolio of patented low-cost novel photobioreactors in which to grow algae and other types of cell cultures in an efficient and productive way. One of the designs is the air accordion photobioreactor.

    The air accordion photobioreactor that Joel Cuello and his biosystems engineering team designed. This photobioreactor will be further optimized to grow coccolithophores most efficiently. Credit: Joel Cuello.

    The air accordion photobioreactor consists of a rectangular metal frame with horizontal bars – like steps on a ladder – spaced closer together at the bottom and farther apart at the top. A polyethylene bag full of nutrient-rich saltwater is woven throughout this ladder-like frame. Air is pumped in from the bottom and circulated through the saltwater mixture. The design maximizes the liquid-mixing capacity of air bubbles pumped in from the bottom and allows for even distribution of light and dissolved nutrients.

    The photobioreactor make it possible to efficiently grow large amounts of algae. And because the algae is grown in a controlled environment, within the polyethylene bag, it is protected from predators. The researchers say their air accordion photobioreactor is also easy to scale up.

    Cuello and Apai patented the use of coccolithophore algae for carbon dioxide removal in this kind of photobioreactor, and they hope to continue to optimize the design for even more efficient coccolithophore growth and carbon uptake.

    “Our goal is to reach a gigaton-per-year level of carbon dioxide extraction capacity, while remaining affordable and with very limited environmental impact,” Apai said.

    The researchers hope the photobioreactors can be made even more sustainable in the future. They envision a world in which solar-powered bioreactors would be located by the ocean, allowing for easy access to the seawater required to help the coccolithophores grow. Even better, the researchers say, would be to establish the photobioreactors near desalination plants, which produce calcium as a waste product. Calcium is an important nutrient for coccolithophores and is used in the saltwater mixture.

    The team hopes the design offers a viable solution for carbon removal that overcomes some of the limitations of existing technologies, such as chemical filtration techniques, which are difficult to scale up because they are energy intensive and often require rare minerals. They also can produce environmentally harmful waste products.

    To ensure that their method is scalable and confirm how much net carbon dioxide it pulls from the atmosphere, members of the Atmospherica team plan to build a demonstration facility in a greenhouse atop the university’s Sixth Street Garage and a larger facility at the university’s Biosphere 2 research facility [below].

    They also plan to “do a full accounting of its carbon footprint, from cradle to grave,” Apai said.

    “We have completed a promising exploratory analysis and plan to publish a paper on the subject this summer,” Apai said.

    The team is also aiming to keep the cost of carbon removal to less than $100 per ton extracted.

    “Anything more expensive is not viable,” Apai said.

    The urgency

    Apai stressed that even if we can transition most industries efficiently toward zero emissions, for a few decades we will still end up producing about 15% of our current emissions, or about 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. That’s partly because things like large airplanes and cargo ships rely on fossil fuels that pack a lot of energy in a small volume. They physically cannot be battery powered.

    That remaining 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide is what Atmospherica hopes the coccolithophores can successfully absorb.

    “Our governments have delayed action so much that we now need to be successful on both counts: building a sustainable future and fixing the damage we keep doing in the meantime,” Ferrière said. “With its emphasis on resilience science, our university and its international partners are committed to advance the interdisciplinary research that will solve this grand challenge.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    As of 2019, the The University of Arizona enrolled 45,918 students in 19 separate colleges/schools, including The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and the James E. Rogers College of Law, and is affiliated with two academic medical centers (Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix). The University of Arizona is one of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents. The university is part of the Association of American Universities and is the only member from Arizona, and also part of the Universities Research Association . The university is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

    Known as the Arizona Wildcats (often shortened to “Cats”), The University of Arizona’s intercollegiate athletic teams are members of the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA. The University of Arizona athletes have won national titles in several sports, most notably men’s basketball, baseball, and softball. The official colors of the university and its athletic teams are cardinal red and navy blue.

    After the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the push for a university in Arizona grew. The Arizona Territory’s “Thieving Thirteenth” Legislature approved The University of Arizona in 1885 and selected the city of Tucson to receive the appropriation to build the university. Tucson hoped to receive the appropriation for the territory’s mental hospital, which carried a $100,000 allocation instead of the $25,000 allotted to the territory’s only university Arizona State University was also chartered in 1885, but it was created as Arizona’s normal school, and not a university). Flooding on the Salt River delayed Tucson’s legislators, and by the time they reached Prescott, back-room deals allocating the most desirable territorial institutions had been made. Tucson was largely disappointed with receiving what was viewed as an inferior prize.

    With no parties willing to provide land for the new institution, the citizens of Tucson prepared to return the money to the Territorial Legislature until two gamblers and a saloon keeper decided to donate the land to build the school. Construction of Old Main, the first building on campus, began on October 27, 1887, and classes met for the first time in 1891 with 32 students in Old Main, which is still in use today. Because there were no high schools in Arizona Territory, the university maintained separate preparatory classes for the first 23 years of operation.


    The University of Arizona is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. UArizona is the fourth most awarded public university by National Aeronautics and Space Administration for research. The University of Arizona was awarded over $325 million for its Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) to lead NASA’s 2007–08 mission to Mars to explore the Martian Arctic, and $800 million for its OSIRIS-REx mission, the first in U.S. history to sample an asteroid.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft.

    The LPL’s work in the Cassini spacecraft orbit around Saturn is larger than any other university globally.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration/European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea][Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/ASI Italian Space Agency [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana](IT) Cassini Spacecraft.

    The University of Arizona laboratory designed and operated the atmospheric radiation investigations and imaging on the probe. The University of Arizona operates the HiRISE camera, a part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    U Arizona NASA Mars Reconnaisance HiRISE Camera.

    NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    While using the HiRISE camera in 2011, University of Arizona alumnus Lujendra Ojha and his team discovered proof of liquid water on the surface of Mars—a discovery confirmed by NASA in 2015. The University of Arizona receives more NASA grants annually than the next nine top NASA/JPL-Caltech-funded universities combined. As of March 2016, The University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is actively involved in ten spacecraft missions: Cassini VIMS; Grail; the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars; the Juno mission orbiting Jupiter; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO); Maven, which will explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and interactions with the sun; Solar Probe Plus, a historic mission into the Sun’s atmosphere for the first time; Rosetta’s VIRTIS; WISE; and OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. sample-return mission to a near-earth asteroid, which launched on September 8, 2016.

    NASA – GRAIL Flying in Formation (Artist’s Concept). Credit: NASA.
    National Aeronautics Space Agency Juno at Jupiter.

    NASA/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.


    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration Wise/NEOWISE Telescope.

    The University of Arizona students have been selected as Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, and Fulbright Scholars. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, UArizona is among the top 25 producers of Fulbright awards in the U.S.

    The University of Arizona is a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy , a consortium of institutions pursuing research in astronomy. The association operates observatories and telescopes, notably Kitt Peak National Observatory just outside Tucson.

    National Science Foundation NOIRLab National Optical Astronomy Observatory Kitt Peak National Observatory on Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers (55 mi) west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft). annotated.

    Led by Roger Angel, researchers in the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at The University of Arizona are working in concert to build the world’s most advanced telescope. Known as the Giant Magellan Telescope (CL), it will produce images 10 times sharper than those from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Telescope.

    GMT Giant Magellan Telescope(CL) 21 meters, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s NOIRLab NOAO Las Campanas Observatory(CL), some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

    The telescope is set to be completed in 2021. GMT will ultimately cost $1 billion. Researchers from at least nine institutions are working to secure the funding for the project. The telescope will include seven 18-ton mirrors capable of providing clear images of volcanoes and riverbeds on Mars and mountains on the moon at a rate 40 times faster than the world’s current large telescopes. The mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope will be built at The University of Arizona and transported to a permanent mountaintop site in the Chilean Andes where the telescope will be constructed.

    Reaching Mars in March 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter contained the HiRISE camera, with Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen as the lead on the project. This National Aeronautics and Space Agency mission to Mars carrying the UArizona-designed camera is capturing the highest-resolution images of the planet ever seen. The journey of the orbiter was 300 million miles. In August 2007, The University of Arizona, under the charge of Scientist Peter Smith, led the Phoenix Mars Mission, the first mission completely controlled by a university. Reaching the planet’s surface in May 2008, the mission’s purpose was to improve knowledge of the Martian Arctic. The Arizona Radio Observatory , a part of The University of Arizona Department of Astronomy Steward Observatory , operates the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham.

    University of Arizona Radio Observatory at NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory, AZ USA, U Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory at altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft).

    Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert 88 kilometers 55 mi west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona in the Quinlan Mountains of the Tohono O’odham Nation, altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft)

    The National Science Foundation funded the iPlant Collaborative in 2008 with a $50 million grant. In 2013, iPlant Collaborative received a $50 million renewal grant. Rebranded in late 2015 as “CyVerse”, the collaborative cloud-based data management platform is moving beyond life sciences to provide cloud-computing access across all scientific disciplines.

    In June 2011, the university announced it would assume full ownership of the Biosphere 2 scientific research facility in Oracle, Arizona, north of Tucson, effective July 1. Biosphere 2 was constructed by private developers (funded mainly by Texas businessman and philanthropist Ed Bass) with its first closed system experiment commencing in 1991. The university had been the official management partner of the facility for research purposes since 2007.

    U Arizona mirror lab-Where else in the world can you find an astronomical observatory mirror lab under a football stadium?

    University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, located in the Sonoran desert. An entire ecosystem under a glass dome? Visit our campus, just once, and you’ll quickly understand why The University of Arizona is a university unlike any other.

    University of Arizona Landscape Evolution Observatory at Biosphere 2.

  • richardmitnick 4:46 pm on April 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Could AI help imperiled marine species survive climate change?", Marine Biology,   

    From Northeastern University: “Could AI help imperiled marine species survive climate change?” 

    From Northeastern University

    April 20, 2022
    Eva Botkin-Kowacki

    Changing ocean conditions could drive marine species to extinction if they can’t adapt or move to more hospitable waters. Researchers say they could help—if they can accurately predict which species will survive best, and where. Northeastern’s Katie Lotterhos is working to determine whether a machine-learning algorithm could make those predictions accurately. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University.

    Earth’s oceans are warming and becoming more acidic as the climate changes. For much of the flora and fauna of the sea, that could mean extinction, unless species can adapt to new conditions and food sources—or migrate to more hospitable waters.

    But imperiled species might be able to get a helping hand from humans, says Katie Lotterhos, associate professor of marine and environmental sciences at Northeastern, as long as scientists can accurately determine which species will need an assist.

    That’s where Lotterhos and her colleagues come in.

    Within species there is often genetic variation. Some genetic strains will be more readily able to adapt to certain new conditions than others. If researchers can identify which genetic strains of a given species are more likely to survive in the expected new conditions, they can focus restoration and protection efforts on those strains. Or, Lotterhos says, scientists could help species adapt to climate change by moving them to places that are likely to be more hospitable down the road in a concept called “assisted migration.” Scientists and industry leaders are already considering this approach for agriculture and trees.

    “There is an urgent societal need to better match genetic strains with environments for restoration efforts in the face of climate change,” Lotterhos says. To do that, scientists have been developing methods for “genomic forecasting,” she says, which can use genetic data to “predict how a genetic strain will perform in different environments.”

    But right now, scientists aren’t quite sure if those predictions are accurate. So Lotterhos and colleagues put a leading machine-learning algorithm to the test. Their results are reported in a recent paper published in the journal Evolutionary Applications.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Northeastern University is a private research university in Boston, Massachusetts, established in 1898. It is categorized as an R1 institution (Doctoral Universities: Highest Research Activity) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The university offers undergraduate and graduate programs on its main campus in Boston. The university has satellite campuses in Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle, Washington; San Jose, California; Toronto, Canada, and Portland, Maine that exclusively offer graduate degrees. Northeastern recently purchased the New College of the Humanities in London and plans to open an additional campus in Vancouver, Canada. The university’s enrollment is approximately 18,000 undergraduate students and 8,000 graduate students.

    Northeastern features a cooperative education program, more commonly known as “co-op”, that integrates classroom study with professional experience and contains over 3,100 partners across all seven continents. The program has been a key part of Northeastern’s curriculum of experiential learning for more than a hundred years and is one of the largest co-op/internship programs in the world. While it is not required for students of all academic disciplines to participate in the co-op program, participation is nearly universal among undergraduate students as it helps distinguish their university experience from that of other universities. Northeastern also has a comprehensive study abroad program that spans more than 170 universities and colleges.

    Northeastern is a large, highly residential university. Most students choose to live on campus but upperclassmen have the option to live off campus. More than 75% of Northeastern students receive some form of financial aid. In the 2019–20 school year, the university has committed $296.2 million in grant and scholarship assistance.

    The university’s sports teams, the Northeastern Huskies, compete in NCAA Division I as members of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in 18 varsity sports. The men’s and women’s hockey teams compete in Hockey East, while the men’s and women’s rowing teams compete in the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC) and Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges (EAWRC), respectively. Men’s Track and Field has won the CAA back to back years in 2015 and 2016. In 2013, men’s basketball won its first CAA regular season championship, men’s soccer won the CAA title for the first time, and women’s ice hockey won a record 16th Beanpot championship. The Northeastern men’s hockey team won the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Beanpot, beating out Boston University, Boston College, and Harvard University.

  • richardmitnick 10:55 am on April 19, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Experts warn urgent action required to protect world’s coral reefs from disappearing within three decades", Marine Biology,   

    From The University of Leicester (UK): “Experts warn urgent action required to protect world’s coral reefs from disappearing within three decades” 

    U leicester Bloc

    From The University of Leicester (UK)

    15 April 2022

    Coral reefs have been severely impacted by ocean warming in the past three to four decades. Credit: Tom Vierus © WCS.

    An international team of environmental scientists have published a series of significant recommendations to protect, conserve and study the world’s coral reefs – the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ of climate change.

    The Vibrant Oceans Initiative presented their white paper on the future of the delicate and crucial habitats at the Our Oceans Conference held in Palau on Thursday.

    Drawing on expertise from universities and wildlife conservation groups from across the world, including the University of Leicester, the group provide six key recommendations intended to promote the ‘persistence and survival’ of coral reefs.

    Forecasts show that coral reef ecosystems around the globe – key to huge numbers of marine species and a source of food, livelihoods, and cultural heritage for half a billion people – are likely to become functionally degraded by 2050, if the goals of the Paris Agreement are not met.

    Even with drastic emission reductions to ensure global warming is kept within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, up to 90% of the world’s corals could still vanish in the next three decades, leaving behind a reef structure that will lose many of its functions.

    Jens Zinke is a Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester, whose research examines large coral habitats to track environmental and climate change over the last three centuries into the modern day. Speaking about the report, of which he is a co-author, Professor Zinke said: “Coral reefs are the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ when it comes to sensing ecosystems under stress from ocean warming due to climate change. Corals can sense when ocean temperatures exceed a dangerous threshold and warn us when we need to take measures.

    “Our research has shown that coral reefs have been severely impacted by ocean warming in the past three to four decades, yet some reef locations show lower rates of warming or benefit from mitigating circumstances due to local oceanography.

    “Some reefs have the ability to resist or recover from thermal stress faster than others, and these reefs may serve as sanctuaries under future warming. This is a major new research direction – to find those locations and protect them before they are gone.”

    Coral reefs are a source of food, livelihoods, and cultural heritage for half a billion people worldwide. Credit: Björn Svensson © WCS.

    In 2018 the Vibrant Oceans group identified 50 reefs that are most likely to resist and survive climate change. The habitats are located largely in the Pacific and Indian oceans, with further reefs in the Caribbean and east of Africa.

    Previously the 50 reefs were mainly chosen at sites that escaped climate change. Now, the scientists call for a wider portfolio of reefs that should include resistant and fast-recovering reefs.

    The group’s latest recommendations, presented in the white paper Forecasting Climate Sanctuaries for Securing the Future of Coral Reefs, include:

    Continuation of the 50 Reefs approach as ‘climate change avoidance sanctuaries’ as a priority for investment in coral reef conservation.

    Expansion of the 50 Reefs conservation portfolio for climate change to include coral resistance and recovery sanctuaries.

    Increase in support for regional evaluations of the health of the 50 Reefs portfolio, and sustainable financing initiatives to support the implementation of regional portfolios.

    Catalysing large-scale, data-driven coral reef monitoring efforts to test and develop new models and predictions of climate sanctuaries.

    Use of the latest climate coral reef science to guide investments, especially as the impacts of climate change accelerate and produce novel environmental stresses and responses among reefs.

    Embracing a far-reaching approach to the management of 50 Reefs sites, including connections to broader seascapes, fisheries and water quality management, mitigation of other pressures (for example, industrial development), so that effective and equitable management has measurable benefits for coral reefs and coastal communities.

    ‘Forecasting Climate Sanctuaries for Securing the Future of Coral Reefs’ is available in full from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

    Funding partners for the initial Vibrant Oceans study include Bloomberg Philanthropies, while ongoing conservation work partners include Oceans 5, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and Tiffany & Co. Foundation.

    Conservation partners include the WCS, Rare, The Nature Conservancy, Blue Ventures, and Conservation Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Leicester Campus

    The University of Leicester (UK) is a public research university based in Leicester, England. The main campus is south of the city centre, adjacent to Victoria Park.

    The university has established itself as a leading research-led university and has been named University of the Year of 2008 by the Times Higher Education. The University of Leicester is also the only university ever to have won a Times Higher Education award in seven consecutive years. In 2016, the university ranked 24th in The Complete University Guide and 32nd in The Guardian. Recent REF 2014, the University of Leicester ranked 49th among 126 universities. The 2012 QS World University Rankings also placed Leicester eighth in the UK for research citations.

    The university is most famous for the invention of genetic fingerprinting and for the discovery of the remains of King Richard III.

    The first serious suggestions for a university in Leicester began with the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society (founded at a time when “philosophical” broadly meant what “scientific” means today). With the success of Owen’s College in Manchester, and the establishment of The University of Birmingham (UK) in 1900, and then of The University of Nottingham (UK), it was thought that Leicester ought to have a university college too. From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century university colleges could not award degrees and had to be associated with universities that had degree-giving powers. Most students at university colleges took examinations set by The University of London (UK).

    In the late 19th century the co-presidents of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, the Revered James Went, headmaster of the Wyggeston Boys’ School, and J. D. Paul, regularly called for the establishment of a university college. However, no private donations were forthcoming, and the Corporation of Leicester was busy funding the School of Art and the Technical School. The matter was brought up again by Dr Astley V. Clarke (1870–1945) in 1912. Born in Leicester in 1870, he had been educated at Wyggeston Grammar School and The University of Cambridge (UK) before receiving medical training at Guy’s Hospital. He was the new President of the Literary and Philosophy society. Reaction was mixed, with some saying that Leicester’s relatively small population would mean a lack of demand. With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, talk of a university college subsided. In 1917 The Leicester Daily Post urged in an editorial that something of more practical utility than memorials ought to be created to commemorate the war dead. With the ending of the war both The Post and its rival The Leicester Mail encouraged donations to form the university college. Some suggested that Leicester should join forces with Nottingham, Sutton Bonington and Loughborough to create a federal university college of the East Midlands, but nothing came of this proposal.

    The old asylum building had often been suggested as a site for the new university, and after it was due to be finished being used as a hospital for the wounded, Astley Clarke was keen to urge the citizens and local authorities to buy it. Fortunately, Clarke quickly learned the building had already been bought by Thomas Fielding Johnson, a wealthy philanthropist who owned a worsted manufacturing business. He had bought 37 acres of land for £40,000 and intended not only to house the college, but also the boys’ and girls’ grammar schools. Further donations soon topped £100,000: many were given in memory of loved ones lost during the war, while others were for those who had taken part and survived. King George V gave his blessing to the scheme after a visit to the town in 1919.

    Talk turned to the curriculum with many arguing that it should focus on Leicester’s chief industries hosiery, boots and shoes. Others had higher hopes than just technical training. The education acts of 1902 and 1918, which brought education to the masses was also thought to have increased the need for a college, not least to train the new teachers that were needed. Talk of a federal university soured and the decision was for Leicester to become a stand-alone college. In 1920, the college appointed its first official. W. G. Gibbs, a long-standing supporter of the college while editor of The Leicester Daily Post, was nominated as Secretary. On 9 May 1921, Dr R. F. Rattray (1886–1967) was appointed principal, aged 35. Rattray was an impressive academic. Having gained a first class English degree at The University of Glasgow (SCT), he studied at Manchester College, The University of Oxford (UK). He then studied in Germany, and secured his PhD at Harvard University (US). After that, he worked as a Unitarian minister. Rattray was to teach Latin and English. He recruited others including Miss Measham to teach Botany, Miss Sarson to teach geography, and Miss Chapuzet to teach French. In all, 14 people started at the university when it opened its doors in October 1921: the principal, the secretary, 3 lecturers and nine students (eight women and one man). Two types of students were expected, around 100–150 teachers in training, and undergraduates hoping to sit the external degrees of London University. A students union was formed in 1923–24 with a Miss Bonsor as its first president.

    In 1927, after it became University College, Leicester, students sat for the examinations for external degrees of the University of London. Two years later, it merged with the Vaughan Working Men’s College, which had been providing adult education in Leicester since 1862. In 1931, Dr Rattray resigned as principal. He was replaced in 1932 by Frederick Attenborough, who was the father of David and Richard Attenborough. He was succeeded by Charles Wilson in 1952.

    In 1957, the University College was granted its Royal Charter, and has since then had the status of a university with the right to award its own degrees. The Percy Gee Student Union building was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 9 May 1958.

    Leicester University won the first ever series of University Challenge, in 1963. The university’s motto Ut Vitam Habeant –”so that they may have life”, is a reflection of the war memorial origins of its formation. It is believed to have been Rattray’s suggestion.

    The university medical school, Leicester Medical School, opened in 1971.

    In 1994, the University of Leicester celebrated winning the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its work in Physics & Astronomy. The prize citation reads: “World-class teaching, research and consultancy programme in astronomy and space and planetary science fields. Practical results from advanced thinking”.

    In 2011, the university was selected as one of four sites for national high performance computing (HPC) facilities for theoretical astrophysics and particle physics. An investment of £12.32 million, from the Government’s Large Facilities Capital Fund, together with investment from The Science and Technology Facilities Council (UK) and from universities contribute to a national supercomputer.

    In September 2012, a ULAS team exhumed the body of King Richard III, discovering it in the former Greyfriars Friary Church in the city of Leicester. As a result of that success Prof King was asked to investigate whether a skeleton found in Jamestown was that of George Yeardley, the 1st colonial governor of Virginia and founder of the Virginia General Assembly.

    In January 2017, Physics students from the University of Leicester made national news when they revealed their predictions on how long it would take a zombie apocalypse to wipe out humanity. They calculated that it would take just 100 days for zombies to completely take over earth. At the end of the 100 days, the students predicted that just 300 humans would remain alive and without infection.

    In January 2021, around 200 UCU members at the university passed a no-confidence motion in Vice Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah because of proposed cuts putting 145 staff members at risk of redundancy. There was anger at his claim that redundancies are needed to “continue to deliver excellence”. In April, the UCU urged academics to boycott the university due to the planned redundancies, including encouraging people to not apply for jobs at Leicester or collaborate on new research projects.

    In recent years, the university has disposed of some of its poorer quality property in order to invest in new facilities, and is currently undergoing a £300+ million redevelopment. The new John Foster Hall of Residence opened in October 2006. The David Wilson Library, twice the size of the previous University Library, opened on 1 April 2008 and a new biomedical research building (the Henry Wellcome Building) has already been constructed. A complete revamp of the Percy Gee Student Union building was completed in September 2010, and another is underway, due for completion in spring 2020. Nixon Court was extended and refurbished in 2011.


    The university’s academic schools and departments are organised into colleges. In August 2015, the colleges were further restructured with the merging of Social Sciences and Arts, Humanities and Law to give the following structure:

    College of Life Sciences
    The college has the following academic schools:

    Leicester Medical School
    School of Biological Sciences
    School of Psychology
    School of Allied Health Professions

    The research departments and institutes:

    Cardiovascular Sciences
    Genetics and Genome Biology (including the Leicester Cancer Research Centre)
    Health Sciences (including the Leicester Diabetes Centre)
    Infection, Immunity and Inflammation
    Molecular and Cell Biology
    Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour (including the Centre for Systems Neuroscience)
    Leicester Precision Medicine Institute (including Leicester Drug Discovery and Diagnostics)
    Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology

    Leicester Medical School

    The university is home to a large medical school, Leicester Medical School, which opened in 1971. The school was formerly in partnership with The University of Warwick (UK), and the Leicester-Warwick medical school proved to be a success in helping Leicester expand, and Warwick establish. The partnership ran the end of its course towards the end of 2006 and the medical schools became autonomous institutions within their respective universities.

    College of Science and Engineering
    The college comprises the following departments:

    School of Geography Geology & the Environment
    Physics and Astronomy

    There are also interdisciplinary research centres for Space Research, Climate Change Research, Mathematical/Computational Modelling and Advanced Microscopy.

    The department offers MEng and BEng degrees in Aerospace Engineering, Embedded Systems Engineering, Communications and Electronic Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and General Engineering. Each course is accredited by the relevant professional institutions. The department also offers MSc courses.
    Physics and Astronomy
    The department has around 350 undergraduate students, following either BSc (three-year) or MPhys (four-year) degree courses, and over 70 postgraduate students registered for a higher degree.

    The main Physics building accommodates several research groups—Radio and Space Plasma Physics (RSPP), X-ray and Observational Astronomy (XROA), and Theoretical Astrophysics (TA)—as well as centres for supercomputing, microscopy, Gamma and X-ray astronomy, and radar sounding, and the Swift UK Data Centre. A purpose built Space Research Centre houses the Space Science and Instrumentation (SSI) group and provides laboratories, clean rooms and other facilities for instrumentation research, Earth Observation Science (EOS) and the Bio-imaging Unit. The department also runs the University of Leicester Observatory in Manor Road, Oadby, with a 20-inch telescope it is one of the UK’s largest and most advanced astronomical teaching facilities. The department has close involvement with the National Space Centre also located in Leicester.

    The department is home to the university’s ALICE 3400+ core supercomputer and is a member of the UK’s DiRAC (DiStributed Research utilising Advanced Computing) consortium. DiRAC is the integrated supercomputing facility for theoretical modelling and HPC-based research in particle physics, astronomy and cosmology.

    College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

    The college has 10 schools including:

    American Studies
    Archaeology and Ancient History
    School of Arts
    School of Business
    History, Politics and International Relations
    Leicester Law School
    School of Media, Communication and Sociology
    Museum Studies

    Archaeology and Ancient History

    The School of Archaeology and Ancient History was formed in 1990 from the then Departments of Archaeology and Classics, under the headship of Graeme Barker. The academic staff currently (as of January 2017) include 21 archaeologists and 8 ancient historians, though several staff teach and research in both disciplines.

    The School has particular strengths in Mediterranean archaeology, ancient Greek and Roman history, and the archaeology of recent periods; and is also home to the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS).


    The Ken Edwards Building, formerly where the School of Management was based, is now part of the School of Business.

    The School of Business was founded in 2016, bringing together the expertise of the School of Management and the Department of Economics. The new school now has approximately 150 academic staff, 50 from Economics and 100 from Management. In 2010 the former School of Management was ranked 2nd after Oxford University by the Guardian.

    The School of Business provides postgraduate and undergraduate programmes in Management, Accounting and Economics. The School of Business, is one of the approximately 270 Schools/Universities in the world accredited by AMBA.


    The School of English teaches English at degree level. The school offers English studies from contemporary writing to Old English and language studies. It contains the Victorian Studies Centre, the first of its kind in the UK. Malcolm Bradbury is one of the department’s most famous alumni: he graduated with a First in English in 1953.

    Historical Studies

    The School of Historical Studies is one of the largest of any university in the country. It has made considerable scholarly achievements in many areas of history, notably urban history, English local history, American studies and Holocaust studies. The school houses both the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) and the Media Archive for Central England.


    The School of Law is one of the biggest departments in the university. According to The Times Online Good University Guide 2009, the Faculty of Law was ranked 8th, out of 87 institutions, making it one of the top law schools in the country.


    The university has research groups in the areas of astrophysics, biochemistry and genetics. The techniques used in genetic fingerprinting were invented and developed at Leicester in 1984 by Sir Alec Jeffreys. It also houses Europe’s biggest academic centre for space research, in which space probes have been built, most notably the Mars Lander Beagle 2, which was built in collaboration with The Open University (UK).

    Leicester Physicists (led by Ken Pounds) were critical in demonstrating a fundamental prediction of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity – that black holes exist and are common in the universe. It is a founding partner of the £52 million National Space Centre.

    Leicester is one of a small number of universities to have won the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education on more than one occasion: in 1994 for physics & astronomy and again in 2002 for genetics.

    The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise for the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, 74% of research activity, including 100% of its Research Environment, was classed as “world-leading” or “internationally excellent”, ranking it 6th among UK university departments teaching archaeology and 1st for the public impact of its research.

    The Institute of Learning Innovation within the University of Leicester is a research and postgraduate teaching group. The institute has and continues to research on UK- and European-funded projects (over 30 as of August 2013), focusing on topics such as educational use of podcasting, e-readers in distance education, virtual worlds, open educational resources and open education, and learning design.

    In 2019, the university of Leicester ranked 76th in Reuters top 100 of Europe’s most innovative universities. University of Leicester excelled in molecular and cell biology.

    Leicester has been ranked as one of the top performing universities in the UK for COVID-19 research, after being awarded more than £10.8 million of government funding since the pandemic began. The University now sits alongside the University of Oxford and University College London (UK) and has been recognised globally for its work, including being the first in the world to discover the link between people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds being more susceptible to severe cases of coronavirus.

    The university was named University of the Year of 2008 by The Times Higher Education. It is also the only university ever to have won a Times Higher Education award in seven consecutive years.The university was previously consistently ranked among the top 20 universities in the United Kingdom by the Times Good University Guide and The Guardian.

    In 2017, the university ranked 25th in The Sunday Times Good University Guide.

  • richardmitnick 8:21 pm on April 7, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Ocean water samples yield treasure trove of RNA virus data", Marine Biology, , , The Ohio State University, Virology   

    From The Ohio State University: “Ocean water samples yield treasure trove of RNA virus data” 

    From The Ohio State University


    Emily Caldwell
    Ohio State News

    Study of organisms in the sea identifies 5,500 new species.

    Gamma phage, an example of a virus

    Ocean water samples collected around the world have yielded a treasure trove of new data about RNA viruses, expanding ecological research possibilities and reshaping our understanding of how these small but significant submicroscopic particles evolved.

    Combining machine-learning analyses with traditional evolutionary trees, an international team of researchers has identified 5,500 new RNA virus species that represent all five known RNA virus phyla and suggest there are at least five new RNA virus phyla needed to capture them.

    The most abundant collection of newly identified species belong to a proposed phylum researchers named Taraviricota, a nod to the source of the 35,000 water samples that enabled the analysis: the Tara Oceans Consortium, an ongoing global study onboard the schooner Tara of the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans.

    “There’s so much new diversity here – and an entire phylum, the Taraviricota, were found all over the oceans, which suggests they’re ecologically important,” said lead author Matthew Sullivan, professor of microbiology at The Ohio State University.

    “RNA viruses are clearly important in our world, but we usually only study a tiny slice of them – the few hundred that harm humans, plants and animals. We wanted to systematically study them on a very big scale and explore an environment no one had looked at deeply, and we got lucky because virtually every species was new, and many were really new.”

    The study appears online today (April 7, 2022) in Science.

    While microbes are essential contributors to all life on the planet, viruses that infect or interact with them have a variety of influences on microbial functions. These types of viruses are believed to have three main functions: killing cells, changing how infected cells manage energy, and transferring genes from one host to another.

    Knowing more about virus diversity and abundance in the world’s oceans will help explain marine microbes’ role in ocean adaptation to climate change, the researchers say. Oceans absorb half of the human-generated carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and previous research [Nature] by this group has suggested that marine viruses are the “knob” on a biological pump affecting how carbon in the ocean is stored.

    By taking on the challenge of classifying RNA viruses, the team entered waters still rippling from earlier taxonomy categorization efforts that focused mostly on RNA viral pathogens. Within the biological kingdom Orthornavirae, five phyla were recently recognized by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).

    Though the research team identified hundreds of new RNA virus species that fit into those existing divisions, their analysis identified thousands more species that they clustered into five new proposed phyla: Taraviricota, Pomiviricota, Paraxenoviricota, Wamoviricota and Arctiviricota, which, like Taraviricota, features highly abundant species – at least in climate-critical Arctic Ocean waters, the area of the world where warming conditions wreak the most havoc.

    Sullivan’s team has long cataloged DNA virus species in the oceans, growing the numbers from a few thousand in 2015 and 2016 to 200,000 in 2019. For those studies, scientists had access to viral particles to complete the analysis.

    In these current efforts to detect RNA viruses, there were no viral particles to study. Instead, researchers extracted sequences from genes expressed in organisms floating in the sea, and narrowed the analysis to RNA sequences that contained a signature gene, called RdRp, which has evolved for billions of years in RNA viruses, and is absent from other viruses or cells.

    The schooner Tara is a floating laboratory enabling the collection of samples around the world that are being cataloged to better understand the unseen inhabitants of the ocean, from tiny animals to viruses and bacteria. © Maeva Bardy – Tara Ocean Foundation.

    Because RdRp’s existence dates to when life was first detected on Earth, its sequence position has diverged many times, meaning traditional phylogenetic tree relationships were impossible to describe with sequences alone. Instead, the team used machine learning to organize 44,000 new sequences in a way that could handle these billions of years of sequence divergence, and validated the method by showing the technique could accurately classify sequences of RNA viruses already identified.

    “We had to benchmark the known to study the unknown,” said Sullivan, also a professor of civil, environmental and geodetic engineering, founding director of Ohio State’s Center of Microbiome Science and a leadership team member in the EMERGE Biology Integration Institute.

    “We’ve created a computationally reproducible way to align those sequences to where we can be more confident that we are aligning positions that accurately reflect evolution.”

    Further analysis using 3D representations of sequence structures and alignment revealed that the cluster of 5,500 new species didn’t fit into the five existing phyla of RNA viruses categorized in the Orthornavirae kingdom.

    “We benchmarked our clusters against established, recognized phylogeny-based taxa, and that is how we found we have more clusters than those that existed,” said co-first author Ahmed Zayed, a research scientist in microbiology at Ohio State and a research lead in the EMERGE Institute.

    In all, the findings led the researchers to propose not only the five new phyla, but also at least 11 new orthornaviran classes of RNA viruses. The team is preparing a proposal to request formalization of the candidate phyla and classes by the ICTV.

    Zayed said the extent of new data on the RdRp gene’s divergence over time leads to a better understanding about how early life may have evolved on the planet.

    “RdRp is supposed to be one of the most ancient genes – it existed before there was a need for DNA,” he said. “So we’re not just tracing the origins of viruses, but also tracing the origins of life.”

    This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Ohio Supercomputer Center, Ohio State’s Center of Microbiome Science, the EMERGE Biology Integration Institute, the Ramon-Areces Foundation and Laulima Government Solutions/NIAID. The work was also made possible by the unprecedented sampling and science of the Tara Oceans Consortium, the nonprofit Tara Ocean Foundation and its partners.

    Additional co-authors on the paper were co-lead authors James Wainaina and Guillermo Dominguez-Huerta, as well as Jiarong Guo, Mohamed Mohssen, Funing Tian, Adjie Pratama, Ben Bolduc, Olivier Zablocki, Dylan Cronin and Lindsay Solden, all of Sullivan’s lab; Ralf Bundschuh, Kurt Fredrick, Laura Kubatko and Elan Shatoff of Ohio State’s College of Arts and Sciences; Hans-Joachim Ruscheweyh, Guillem Salazar and Shinichi Sunagawa of the Institute of Microbiology and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics; Jens Kuhn of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Alexander Culley of the Université Laval; Erwan Delage and Samuel Chaffron of the Université de Nantes; and Eric Pelletier, Adriana Alberti, Jean-Marc Aury, Quentin Carradec, Corinne da Silva, Karine Labadie, Julie Poulain and Patrick Wincker of Genoscope

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Ohio State University is a public research university in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and the ninth university in Ohio with the Morrill Act of 1862, the university was originally known as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The college originally focused on various agricultural and mechanical disciplines but it developed into a comprehensive university under the direction of then-Governor (later, U.S. President) Rutherford B. Hayes, and in 1878 the Ohio General Assembly passed a law changing the name to “The Ohio State University”. The main campus in Columbus, Ohio, has since grown into the third-largest university campus in the United States. The university also operates regional campuses in Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and Wooster.

    The university has an extensive student life program, with over 1,000 student organizations; intercollegiate, club and recreational sports programs; student media organizations and publications, fraternities and sororities; and three student governments. Ohio State athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are known as the Ohio State Buckeyes. As of the 2016 Summer Olympics, athletes from Ohio State have won 104 Olympic medals (46 gold, 35 silver, and 23 bronze). The university is a member of the Big Ten Conference for the majority of sports.

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