Infection Detection

Posted: 11 24, 2015

Written and Illustrated by Christina Marvin Doctoral Candidate in Chemistry at UNC Open-wound injuries such as burns are serious enough to warrant hospitalization by themselves but patients often run into further problems when routine treatment is unexpectedly interrupted by bacterial infections. Infections are notorious for increasing the risk of severe complications and prolonging recovery times. Unfortunately, by …read more

Do you want to build a protein?

Posted: 11 02, 2015

Written by Amy Rydeen Doctoral Candidate in Chemistry at UNC  Protein engineers do. Most people are familiar with chemical, civil and aerospace engineering. However, not many are aware of ‘designer protein’ engineering. Proteins are responsible for nearly all aspects of life, including cell communication, metabolism, structure and maintenance. Proteins are also commonly utilized by the …read more

The Quantum Mechanics Behind Biology

Posted: 10 23, 2015

Written by Nicole M. Baker Doctoral Candidate in Pharmacology If you have any interest in science and have ever contemplated your existence within the confines of this universe, chances are that you’ve come across an interactive Flash-based animation called “The Scale of the Universe.” Developed by two 14-year-olds, Cary and Michael Huang, this animation allows …read more

Fight the Flu with these 5 Facts

Posted: 10 19, 2015

Written by: Kathryn Pietrosimone, Ph.D Postdoctoral Research Associate Thurston Arthritis Research Center, UNC-CH         Peer edited and reviewed by  Amy Rydeen. Follow us on social media and never miss an immunology article: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn This article was co-published on the SWAC Blog, The Pipettepen.

Blue Energy Research Underway in North Carolina

Posted: 10 14, 2015

Written by Margaret Jones Masters student in Geological Sciences A new project kicked off this July as researchers across four institutions joined forces with local start-up companies, consultants, and coastal utilities to explore how a process that occurs naturally every minute along North Carolina’s coast may be harnessed for sustainable energy. The process in question …read more

ROI Series: The Future of Therapeutics

Posted: 09 15, 2015

Written by Deirdre Sackett Doctoral Candidate in Behavioral Neuroscience It sounds like medicine from a futuristic, sci-fi hospital: nanoparticles that deliver drug therapies and cells that can fight cancer or promote organ regeneration. However, by combining engineering and pharmaceutical research, UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University are helping to bring the future of therapeutics …read more

September: Guess what we imaged!

Posted: 09 14, 2015

Written by Dan Albaugh President of SWAC, Doctoral Candidate in Neurobiology Hello Pipettepen Readers! SWAC is gearing up for another great semester! To kick it off, we’ve got another MRI image ready for your guesses. Every so often, I like to post images of produce items taken at UNC’s Biomedical Research Imaging Center. These scans …read more

Stay Free of CHIKV!

Posted: 09 09, 2015

Written by Suzan Ok Doctoral Candidate in Microbiology & Immunology at UNC Illustration by Allie Mills Doctoral Candidate in UNC Department of Pharmacology Stay Free of CHIKV! Chikungunya (pronunciation: chik-en-gun-ye), a virus with a difficult name to pronounce, is also proving difficult to contain. Like the more commonly known dengue virus, chikungunya (CHIKV) is an …read more

Is it destiny or can science treat disease by changing cell fate?

Posted: 09 02, 2015

Written by Christina Marvin Illustration by Christina Marvin Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are extraordinary in that they have the potential to differentiate into any somatic cell type and thus are used as effective tools in a wide range of studies, from understanding basic scientific processes to discovering treatment for disease. Yet, there is a …read more

ToxCast and ToxPI: Emerging Tools for Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century

Posted: 08 28, 2015

By Mimi Huang Hindsight is always 20/20, especially in the field of science. Given what we know now, it seems crazy that people used to think the world was flat. The realm of toxicology is filled with similar stories (see “pregnancy-boosting” DES and super-insecticide DDT). In the mid-twentieth century America, realization of the harmful effects …read more

A Whole New Meaning to ‘Thinking Yourself Well’: the new brain immunity discovery

Posted: 08 18, 2015

By Kristin Sellers Comprised of the brain and spinal cord, the central nervous system (CNS) stands apart from other organ systems. While all other organs share a common, loosely filtered blood supply, the brain is highly selective in what it allows to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter into this space. Furthermore, cells in many …read more

July: Guess What We Imaged

Posted: 07 29, 2015

Hi Readers! Thanks for your guesses for last month’s MRI image. Nur and Saideep are both right- it’s a kiwi! Posted below is a new image. For those that attended a 4th of July barbecue, this produce item may seem especially familiar. Happy guessing!   By Dan Albaugh Peer edited by Rachel Cohen Tags: [wpv-post-taxonomy type=”post_tag” …read more

Science Fail Monday: Cloning Carelessness

Posted: 06 29, 2015

One of my research projects involves characterizing a new protein-protein interaction. I wanted to know which specific regions of the two proteins interacted with each other, so I generated plasmid DNA able to express several shortened versions of the proteins in cells, hoping to later test whether the proteins could still bind to one another. …read more

Mr. Turtle Gets Sick

Posted: 06 18, 2015

In 2012, I was working at the Cooperative Oxford Lab in Oxford, Maryland, when we were notified of and rescued a stranded sea turtle. Sadly, the turtle was so sick that it died. An intern performed the necropsy (an autopsy on animals) and found that the turtle’s stomach was full of plastic trash and even …read more

June: Guess What We Imaged

Posted: 06 15, 2015

Hi Readers! Thanks for your guesses on last month’s MRI image. As Tania correctly guessed, it was an image of an onion. If you look closely, you can see that the inner layers are darker. This is because the scan is water-sensitive, and the onion was not so fresh. It was dehydrating from the inside …read more

Arctic Tales of Icy Trails

Posted: 06 10, 2015

May 2015 Sarah Cooley in the lovely Scandinavian dream of Iceland, just one of the countries where she has pursued her polar studies as a UNC student. Far out in eastern Russia, deep in the Siberian Plateau, lies one of the great waterways of the world. The Lena is the eleventh longest river on Earth. …read more

The Red Eye: A Case of Too Many Replicates

Posted: 06 08, 2015

  One afternoon during my international stint in Cambridge, I took a break from work to buy coffee from the local baker a block away from the Department of Genetics. He greeted me and chatted rapidly as he prepared my favorite drink. As he handed me my mocha, he did a double take. What happened …read more

May 2015 SWAC Seminar Series: Mark Derewicz

Posted: 06 03, 2015

Mark Derewicz is a translator. As the Science Communications Manager at UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care, Mark works to translate the language of science – an esoteric tongue necessarily peppered with jargon – into English that more general audiences can understand. Because of his experience and skills in science communication, Mark was …read more

Science Fail Monday: Requiem for a Western Blot

Posted: 06 01, 2015

Requiem for a Western Blot: A Haiku on Reversing the Positive and Negative Electrodes     Two weeks to prepare It’s time to transfer this gel Data finally? Excitement building Put the wires on backwards Proteins all lost, $%!#     By: Nicole M. Baker Peer edited and Reviewed by Bailey Peck & Chris Givens. …read more

TBT: Darwin’s doodles

Posted: 05 28, 2015

The image before you is known as Darwin’s tree of life. Today, most scientists immediately recognize it as a basic idea in evolutionary theory; yet when Darwin drew it in 1837, it was simply a sketch drawn in an attempt to understand the observations he made on the voyage of the Beagle. Based largely on …read more

Warm as a fish in the sea

Posted: 05 21, 2015

No one can accuse the opah, Lampris guttatus, of being a cold fish. Nor could one call it a cold-hearted fish. Even if it were the most emotionally distant and bitter of all fish, the opah is in fact a warm fish. That is to say, the opah is a warm-blooded fish. Warm-bloodedness, or endothermy, …read more

May 2015 SWAC Seminar: Mark Derewicz

Posted: 05 19, 2015

Speaker: Mark Derewicz, Science Communications Manager at UNC School of Medicine/UNC Health Care Date: May 26th, 2015 Time: 5:30 PM Location: Bondurant Hall, Room G030 Event Link: Last month, SWAC hosted a very successful first seminar featuring Lauren Neighbours, PhD, RAC, from Rho, Inc., a contract research organization in Chapel Hill. This month we …read more

Science Fail Monday: A previously unreported method for complete randomization of biological samples

Posted: 05 18, 2015

Title: A previously unreported method for complete randomization of biological samples Authors: Ima B. Klutz1, Tripp R. Treat1, Lucy Fenghers1,2, O. H. Schitt3, Ivana Revind4, Nev R. Definde3, Rocco Starr1,2,4. Author Affiliations: 1 Curriculum in Unrealistic Biological Methodology, Wannabe-Harvard University, Cambridge, NC, 2 Department of Acronym Development and Testing, Wannabe-Harvard University, Cambridge, NC, 3 Department …read more

NCI Ras Initiative: Let’s get together and drug RAS!

Posted: 05 15, 2015

Non-scientist friends and relatives often ask me whether I am “curing” cancer, and question why the cure for cancer doesn’t already exist following decades of funding for research. Worse, some social media conspiracy theorists are irrevocably convinced that the cure for cancer already exists, but, for monetary gain, the government only allows companies to treat …read more

We Are Scientists

Posted: 05 12, 2015

“And what do you do?”   “Oh, we’re scientists.”   This conversation drifted across the room to where I was quietly sitting on my yoga mat, waiting for class to start. Despite my normal routine of avoiding unnecessary eye contact, as one does when you don’t make it to class frequently enough to be one …read more

Naturally GMO, the sweet potato way

Posted: 05 06, 2015

Contrary to scientific consensus, the public at large continues to harbor concerns over the consumption of foods containing  Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs. To make matters worse, scientists have now discovered we have unknowingly been eating GMO foods for more than 10,000 years. Indeed, it seems our overambitious ancestors may have even selected for crops …read more

Science Fail Monday: The Benchtop Extraction

Posted: 05 04, 2015

Protein purification can be a lengthy process that requires patience, perseverance, and, at times, creativity. The purification of a protein that is susceptible to degradation and exhibits poor solubility provides extra challenges. I had the pleasure of working with one such protein. The purification procedure calls for three different affinity columns and numerous incubation steps. …read more

Move over, Mendel

Posted: 05 02, 2015

Recently featured in Science, Valentino Gantz and Ethan Bier have developed a novel genome editing method that subverts traditional heritability. Termed the mutagenic chain reaction, this process  can insert new mutations in the genome that automatically spread themselves to neighboring chromosomes. Thus, homozygous mutants are generated after just one generation, instead of the two generations …read more

Guess what we imaged?!

Posted: 05 01, 2015

Hello readers! I want to have a little fun with some of the great images that we create in the laboratory. My graduate research in Ian Shih’s lab focuses on neuroimaging, and our tool of choice is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Although we generally scan brains, occasionally some other interesting items enter through the MR …read more

Zombieism’s closely related cousin

Posted: 04 29, 2015

Most people would presume the safest place to survive the imminent Zombie apocalypse would be in an underground bunker. This erroneous conclusion has led to the untimely death of a large number of soft-shelled clams – admittedly not by Zombieism itself, but its closely related cousin: transmissible and highly contagious cancer. Hemic neoplasia, a leukemia-like …read more

Inaugural Science Fail Monday: Filter Fail

Posted: 04 27, 2015

For weeks, I struggled to produce a successful harvest of lentivirus. I needed to transduce my pancreatic cancer cell lines with shRNA targeting my gene of interest. This is a common protocol in my lab, and I had never experienced difficulty accomplishing this task before. Now, I was unlucky beyond all reason. My plasmids were …read more

Introduction to the SWAC Club and Blog

Posted: 04 23, 2015

On behalf of our founding members, I would like to welcome you to the blog site for the UNC-Chapel Hill Science Writing and Communication (SWAC) Club. The SWAC Club has been formed to facilitate the training of research scientists at UNC in the art of effective scientific communication. We seek to develop in our members …read more

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