Tuesday, March 31, 2015

While You Were Away...

Fig.1. This transmission electron micrograph shows the Sin Nombre Hantavirus, the subject of the fourth workshop case study on predicting emerging infectious diseases (Credit: CDC/ Cynthia Goldsmith, Luanne Elliot)

Last week we released our report on SciColl's two-day workshop in October 2014, which addressed the use and impact of object-based scientific collections in emerging infectious disease research and response. Click on the links below to read the report and the press release:

Workshop Report

Press Release

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Morning Coffee Break

Editor's Note: This is our first installment in a new series of posts that we're calling "Monday morning coffee break." There's an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes you need the rest of the story. We'll include some hints in our photo captions, but if you're interested in learning more about what this photo means in the greater context of science, our research initiatives and/or scientific collections, click on the hashtags under the photo.

Friday, March 27, 2015

In the News: Secrets in the Soil

Fig.1. This cast of the 'Nariokotome Boy' (Homo ergaster) might inform us on why early human relatives migrated to Eurasia (Credit: Jay Stock)

This week’s #FollowFriday brings us underground and into the world of soil samples and fossil studies. Read to learn about the future of antibiotics, a mysterious group of mammals, motivations behind human migration, and more:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Report explores use of scientific collections in combating emerging infectious diseases

Editor's Note

The October 2014 workshop report can be seen here. For more information about SciColl, visit www.scicoll.org.

WASHINGTON -- Scientific Collections International, or SciColl, a global consortium devoted to promoting the use and impact of object-based scientific collections across disciplines, hosted a two-day workshop in October 2014, bringing together some of the world’s leading minds in emerging infectious diseases.

Friday, March 20, 2015

In the News: Living and Hidden Collections

Fig.1. A “micropropagation” system at the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive creates a foundation for sustaining redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests such as this one (Credit: Allie Caulfield, 2012)

Scientific collections often show up in surprising forms and reveal unusual secrets. Read about a living collection, a hidden collection, a jewelry collection, and more in this week’s #FollowFriday:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Q&A with the Scientists: Luca Bartolozzi

Fig.1.: Luca Bartolozzi working in the field. (Submitted by Luca Bartolozzi).

Editor’s Note: The first in our series of Q&As with researchers and curators globally is with Luca Bartolozzi, curator of the entomology department at the University of Florence’s Natural History Museum.

Friday, March 13, 2015

In the News: History of Humans

Fig.1 Newly discovered jawbone of modern human relative in Ethiopia dates to 2.8 million years ago (Credit: William Kimbel)

Ancient bones and human relatives are highlighted in week's #FollowFriday post. Read about the known origins of human kind, preserving mummies during climate change, a 7-foot long arthropod, and more!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wheat in an Ancient World

Editor's Note

An analysis published in the journal eLIFE in November questioned the authenticity of the 8,000 year-old wheat DNA found in the British Isles, cited below. This criticism could overturn the results of Allabay et al.'s study. Alternatively, Allaby et al.'s conclusions, if verified, could drastically change our understanding of the spread of agriculture to the British Isles. This critical review of results is a normal part of the scientific process, so we encourage you to keep up-to-date on the situation and draw your own conclusions. 

Fig.1. Domesticated einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum subsp. monococcum), like these plants in Turkey, may have arrived in the British Isles 2,000 years earlier than expected. (Credit; Mark Nesbitt, 2006)

The application of scientific collections is not just limited to natural or physical sciences. With the advent of newer technologies, the field of archaeology has been able to support material evidence with precise chemical, dating, and DNA analyses. Sediment cores - which can date back to 55 million years ago - are particularly useful for understanding a prehistoric settlement. As materials fall to the ocean floor, they stack on top of past sediments and ultimately form a chronology of the life and environment of that location.

Friday, March 6, 2015

In the News: Parts of a Whole

Fig.1. Whole specimens like these in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History are important for continued biodiversity and conservation research (Credit: net_efekt, Flickr)

With the advent of new technologies, maintaining whole specimens becomes even more important for research. Read about this, a resurgence of the plague, and how to track the rise of languages through ancient DNA for this week's #FollowFriday.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Gerbils, Tree Rings, and Plague, oh my!

Fig.1. This adorable great gerbil (Rhombomys opimus) found in Central Asia could be to blame for the spread of plague into Europe during the 1300s (Credit: Yuriy75, 2009).

When traveling to New York City, you might want to avoid touching surfaces within the subway. According to a recent study, nearly 15,000 different microorganism species were found along railings, ticket kiosks, seats, doors, and poles. Of that number, about half the organisms were bacteria, including the causative agent for the bubonic plague, Yersinia pestis. Although the infamous New York City rats can carry this deadly disease, they might not be the rodents to blame for spreading the Black Death in the 14th century. A climatological study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences might overturn this long held belief about how the pandemic killed millions in Europe, Asia, and Africa.