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Category: Websites

Jun 01 2015

Websites of Interest

Diversity: A Nature and Scientific American Special Issue: This special issue, the result of a partnership between Nature and Scientific American, explores the links between diversity and good research. Readers may like to begin with the excellent editorial that provides an overview of the other articles in the issue, and makes a strong case for racial, ethnic, gender, and LGBT diversity in the lab. From there, peruse the other articles at your leisure. For instance, based on a sample of 2.5 million research papers, Richard Freeman and Wei Huang make the interesting case that ethnically diverse teams publish more highly cited work. Likewise, Esteban Burchard describes how his experiences in a variety of cultures have led him to do better research, while Monica Ruiz-Casares argues against the common practice of generalizing Western industrialized samples onto other people around the world.

Dolphin Deaths: A Case Study in Environmental Toxicology: The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, which is housed at the University of Buffalo, is a National Science Foundation-sponsored, award-winning program that brings together various peer-reviewed case studies in order to enliven science education at the secondary and university levels. This particular case concerns an “unusual mortality event” (UME) of dolphins on the East Coast of the United States in the year 2013. The case study follows a journalist and four scientists attempting to solve the mystery. It then puts students in the role of investigators, asking them to read, compare, and interpret various explanations of the events, in the process learning the scientific and social aspects that likely intersected to cause the dolphin deaths. The entire case may be downloaded for free as a PDF. Teaching Notes and Answer Keys are also available.

It’s Our Environment: EPA’s Blog About Our World: Interested in what EPA employees have to say about the work they do, the environmental issues they care about, and the programs they support? This blog will not disappoint. Most posts feature a short article, as well as photographs, graphs, tables, or some other visual representation of a topic near and dear to the hearts of the U.S. EPA. Readers may search the site by Recent Posts, or scroll through the many categories. For instance, at the time of this writing, the blog had featured 437 articles about Air, 70 about Earth Day, 306 about Communities, and many others on a variety of topics. Via the blog’s Archives, readers can also browse articles chronologically, going all the way back to 2008. One particularly interesting post, by a former ORISE Fellow in the EPA Climate Change Division, examines the peak bloom dates of cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., and finds possible evidence for climate change.

Neuropod Podcasts: The 1990s may have been the “Decade of the Brain,” but the groundbreaking research and paradigm shifting discoveries of neuroscience have only accelerated since then. If you are looking for the newest in neuroscience, and you’d like it in the form of punchy, approachable podcasts, look no further than Neuropod, a series of podcasts by “self-confessed neurogeek,” Kerri Smith. Smith, who holds a master’s degree in science communication from Imperial College London, provides an upbeat look at topics that run the gamut from psychosis to education to how the brain keeps time. Hosted by the Nature Publishing Group, podcasts have been published monthly since 2006 and the archives contain a host of wonderful material.

May 01 2015

Websites of Interest

Career One Stop: Green Careers: Interest in green careers (those that promote the health of the environment) has been growing for decades. But students are not always clear about what the options are. This U.S. Department of Labor website can help. Readers can scout the site in a number of interesting ways. A first step might be the What Are Green Careers? section, which outlines how the Department of Labor defines green careers, as well as some of the terminology used throughout the site. Readers may then locate and explore more than 200 green careers, in categories such as Renewable Energy Generation, Transportation, Green Construction, and about a dozen others. The Find Education and Training section is also informative, as it links to options that run the gamut from short-term on-the-job training to master’s degrees. This is an excellent resource for guidance counselors, advisers, or anyone who works with young people to help them clarify and pursue their careers.

Farmers Bear the Brunt of Climate Impacts: Nearly a third of the seven billion people alive on Earth today directly depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. So when floods, storms, and – above all – droughts occur, it is this swath of the population that suffers most. In addition, a new United Nations study concludes that as the effects of global climate change increase, these losses accrue more and more to the farmers who can least afford them. Featured here is the complete UN study, “Farmers Bear Brunt of Climate Impacts.” Readers may want to begin by reading the short overview of the report. More information can also be found in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ press release, which goes into more detail. This content here can be especially useful to educators who are teaching about Sub-Saharan Africa and other Third World economies, politics, and agricultural practices.

Moorea Coral Reef LTER: Coral reefs are enormously complex ecosystems, teeming with biodiversity. However, due to overfishing, coastal development, and factors associated with global climate change, the world’s coral reefs are dying off at staggering rates. In fact, researchers estimate that we’ve already lost 20% of our reefs worldwide, and we’re set to lose another 35% by 2050 if the global community doesn’t act quickly. The Moorea Coral Reef Long-Term Ecological Research Site (MCR LTER), a National Science Foundation-funded project intended to study and protect reefs in Moorea, French Polynesia, boasts a particularly informative web site. Under General Information, readers may browse sections on News, What We Do, Locality, and Habitats Studied for information about the project, as well as beautiful pictures of this tropical paradise. The Research link takes readers to glosses of long-term trends and process-oriented studies. Educators may be particularly interested in the Education & Outreach link, which navigates to a separate website designed for teachers.

Washington Post: Energy and Environment: For readers who are looking for a clear-eyed source for news about ecological issues, the Washington Post’s new blog, Energy and Environment with Chris Mooney, is a fantastic place to start. Mooney and his colleagues publish daily articles about the intersection of water rights, economics, psychology and behavioral science, global warming, and many other topics. Each article is professionally researched and presented with a balanced journalistic prose. The site can be searched by five categories (Climate Change, Energy, Psychology and Behavior, Science, and Endangered Species). It’s also interesting to simply scroll down the news feed, examining the most recent posts. However readers approach the site, they will find up-to-date coverage of the latest science, politics, and economics of environmental issues.

Mar 03 2015

Upcoming Social Media Event for Garden Lovers!

You are invited to participate in the Biodiversity Heritage Library / BHL’s “Garden Stories” campaign, which will occur March 23-27, 2015.

“Garden Stories” is a week long social media event for garden lovers. The campaign will explore the fascinating world of gardening, from the rise of agriculture to the home garden and the mail order gardening phenomenon. Content for the campaign will include gardening tips, history, and plant factoids, using the over 13,000 seed and nursery catalogs in BHL to help tell these stories and provide this information.

Content will be published via the BHL Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Pinterest,
with additional posts through the Smithsonian Libraries’ Tumblr.

All content will be tagged with #BHLinbloom.Creation Stories

For more information, go to:

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/collection/seedcatalogs

Feb 01 2015

Websites of Interest

NSF Science Now: Hosted by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Dena Headlee, NSF Science Now is a weekly newscast that covers some of the latest innovations from NSF-funded projects around the country and the world. For instance, a recent episode focused on increased plant productivity, the activity of the brain during reading, manufacturing a more reliable prosthesis, and better predicting earthquakes and tsunamis. At three to five minutes long, each video is fast-paced and entertaining. NSF Science Now is a great way to track what the NSF is sponsoring and how those projects are breaking new ground in everything from astrophysics to zoology.

The Salt: What’s On Your Plate?: NPR’s The Salt is an extraordinarily entertaining food blog with an eye toward “food news from the farm to the plate and beyond.” The site updates daily. Recent articles have covered such topics as faux fish made from plants, an investment fund that is bankrolling environmentally sustainable fish farming, and a debate about whether oranges or orange juice are more nutritious. The articles are fresh and punchy, highlighting the simultaneous seriousness and absurdity of food and food culture in sparkling prose.

The Untold History of Women in Science and Technology: The White House provides this website, a set of largely unknown stories of female pioneers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, dating from the 19th to the 21st centuries. Examples include Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) who, in 1843, wrote the first computer algorithm for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Lovelace’s story is read by U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith. Other women in STEM who appear on the site are astronaut and physicist Sally Ride, environmentalist Rachel Carson, molecular biologist and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) at Cytonome/ST Lydia Villa-Komaroff, and geneticist Barbara McClintock, the only woman to win an unshared Nobel Prize for her work. With women from across the Administration sharing stories of their personal heroes, this website is intended to inspire girls to go into the STEM fields.

Zooniverse: The Zooniverse provides an extraordinarily popular venue for citizen science projects. To explore what’s on offer, readers may click on projects, then select either science or laboratory. Dozens of possibilities present themselves, from programs that examine how galaxies form to projects that study the lives of the ancient Greeks. Readers may join a project and start contributing to data analysis of various kinds, from coding British World War I diaries to monitoring the wildlife of urban Chicago. Teachers will appreciate the extensive Education resources on the site, found within the Community tab. Zoo Teach, a companion website, can be explored by subjects (sciences, math, humanities, arts) as well as ages (from middle school through higher education). This is where readers will find lesson plans and activities to brighten a wide range of related topics.

Dec 01 2014

Websites of Interest

Anatomical Atlas of Flies: This interactive anatomical atlas is a great resource for educators who are teaching the anatomy of flies. Built by scientists from the U.S. and Australia, the user friendly interface allows users to click on body parts to discover the name, or to click on a name to identify the correct anatomical region. The site opens with an explanation of the project. From there, select Access the Anatomical Atlas to open crystal clear photographs taken using a stereo microscope. The four major fly groups can be explored in great detail. This is a gem of a resource with snappy visuals and meticulous anatomical precision.

Future Climate Change: With more than half of the current congress skeptical about climate change despite overwhelming scientific evidence for rising temperatures, sea levels, and severe weather patterns, it’s nice to know that at least the Environmental Protection Agency still has a head on its shoulders. This website offers clear indications of how global warming will impact our food supply, water resources, infrastructure, ecosystems, and health. The hidden gem is a series of slideshows answering the question: How do climate models work? Readers can learn about models and scenarios, how they are tested, and how they diagnose the past and estimate the future.

Introduction to Technical Communication: What if you could take a technical communication class with a world class professor at a leading university? What if it was all laid out for you – the readings, the lectures, the assignments? And what if the only thing you had to pay for was a couple of books? That’s exactly what Dr. Donald N.S. Unger and the MIT Open Courseware system are offering here. On this site, viewers can browse the syllabus, have a look at the required readings, and ponder the ten assignments that form the foundation of this writing intensive class. Self-directed learners who want to improve their technical and scientific writing need look no further than this web-based adaptation of an MIT classic.

LabWrite: Improving Lab Reports: This National Science Foundation funded site from North Carolina State University “guides you through the entire laboratory experience, from before you walk into the lab to after you get back your graded report.” Start with How to Use LabWrite for a comprehensive Powerpoint overview of the program. Then, navigate slowly through the steps of PreLab, InLab, PostLab, and LabCheck, each of which provides careful instructions on everything from formulating a hypothesis to presenting results. Teachers will especially recognize this tool as a welcome supplement to in class discussions of best lab practices.

Nov 07 2014

NC Launches Major AgBio Marketing Push

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center branded the state’s globally leading agricultural biotechnology hub as the AgBio[sphere] at a November 5th rollout event. NCBiotech President and CEO Doug Edgeton explained that the AgBio[sphere] brand will provide a recognizable identity to North Carolina’s complete value package for all facets of the industry. Those include academic research, workforce development, business support programs, a strong agricultural sector and a massive $59 billion-a-year biotech industry involving some 650 companies, more than 80 of which are ag biotech firms. Several state ag leaders made commitments during the rollout event to use the brand as a global recognitiion tool in corporate recruitment and other promotional activities. For the full WRAL TechWire story, go to:
http://wraltechwire.com/north-carolina-launches-major-agbio-marketing-push/14154277/

Nov 03 2014

Websites of Interest

bioRxiv: The Preprint Server for Biology: In a time of instant information, many scientists wonder why the publishing process still functions at such a glacial pace, with the time between submission and publication of articles sometimes taking half a year or more. bioRxiv (pronounced “bio-archive”), a preprint server for biology published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, seeks to remedy this situation by posting preprints of studies. While these papers will not be peer-reviewed, and it will therefore be up to the reader to judge their validity, proponents of the new system argue that it could be a support to the slower peer-reviewed process as it will at least allow scientists to examine one another’s results quickly. The site is easily searchable by subject area, date, author, keyword, and title. Equally easy and straightforward is the submission process for those interested in adding to the archive.

eLife: This highly thought of open access journal promises a speed and ease of publishing unheard of in most traditional life science journals. Initial decisions on a manuscript are usually made within days. Post-review decisions are made within weeks. Most articles only go through a single round of revisions. For the reader, this means that the results you’re reading are hot off the lab bench. Best of all, unlike most scientific journals, which can cost upwards of $20 for a single article, the 842 (and counting) articles on this site are completely free. The eLIFE podcast is also available for easy download, online listening, or subscription.

Encyclopedia of Earth: Biodiversity: The Encyclopedia of Earth, a project by the National Council for Science and the Environment, was launched in 2006 as a “free, fully searchable online resource on the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society.” Over 1,400 scholars from around the world have contributed to the site to make it one of the most reliable sources for environmental and policy information on the web. This link to the Biodiversity section of the Encyclopedia opens a small universe of insights into the diversity of life on our planet. Featured Articles are forefront on the site, with topics such as Coral Reefs, Crustacea, or Habitat Fragmentation. Each category opens to dozens of loosely related articles. The Recently Updated section is another great place to start for those daunted by the variety of conceivable subjects related to biodiversity.

Long Term Ecological Research Network: Established in 1980 and funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF), The Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTER) is committed to providing “scientific expertise, research platforms, and long-term datasets necessary to document and analyze environmental change.” The site is arranged for four broad types of users: Researchers, Educators & Students, Media Professionals, and Decision Makers. Information for researchers includes a link to the LTER data portal (a separate site, https://portal.lternet.edu/nis/home.jsp) and instructions on how to write a data plan for an NSF grant. Similarly, the Educators & Students area links to the LTER Education Digital Library, also a separate site (http://educationlibrary.lternet.edu/ ), with a searchable collection of lesson plans. Press releases make up the majority of the Media Professionals section, while the area for decision makers is populated with LTER Key Research Findings. These are presented as short reports with citations and are designed to be easily built into the talking points of a public presentation.

Sep 01 2014

Websites of Interest

The DNA Files: The DNA Files are a series of award-winning radio programs hosted by John Hockenberry with consultation from a panel of expert scientists. From 1998 to 2007, the Soundvision team produced nineteen one-hour radio programs that explored the science of genetics, along with its ethical and social implications. On this site, visitors can take an aural trip through their work by listening to the programs in full, exploring the transcripts by keyword, or looking over the Big Ideas section. All of the episodes can be found within the Radio Programs section, including “Designing the Brain,” “Minding the Brain,” and “Beyond Human.” Moving on, the site also includes a Community Outreach area that brings together projects providing resources that help educators use the programs more effectively in the classroom.

RealClimate: Climate Science from Climate Scientists: Looking for quick, trustworthy information on climate change? Look no further. This winner of the Scientific American Science and Technology Web Award delivers up-to-date, empirically solid articles, commentaries, and data sources about the global climate situation. To begin, click the Start Here link, and peruse articles divided by level of expertise. “For complete beginners,” for instance, lists links to the National Center for Atmospheric Research and NASA, among others. “For those with some knowledge” includes links to 20 more advanced articles on climate change, while “Informed but in need of more detail” showcases actual reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

SciShow: The Sci Show, an entertaining series of quirky YouTube videos, tackles topics ranging from “How Do Polarized Sunglasses Work” to “Strong Interaction: The Four Fundamental Forces of Physics.” Most episodes are less than five minutes long, but they pack a wallop of handy science info. Anyone short on time but long on big questions will benefit from the series. Episodes will be helpful to teachers and parents looking to spark enthusiasm in young minds. Viewers may want to start with recent episodes like “Today’s Mass Extinction,” “World’s First See-Through Animal,” “What You Need to Know About Ebola,” and “How Do Animals Change Color?” before digging into the archives for gems like “The Truth About Gingers” and “The Science of Lying.”

Aug 01 2014

Websites of Interest

Alvin’s Animals: Alvin’s Animals is just another fabulous scientific offering from the talented people at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The “Alvin” in question is one of its deep sea exploration vehicles and this collection offers up high-quality engaging images of the various benthic-dwelling creatures it has found during its travels. Here, visitors can look over these items by topical heading such as “Benthic Life,” “Sharks & Other Fish,” and “Underwater Vehicles.” Clicking on one of these headings brings up dozens of images, organized by date. Each image contains detailed bibliographic information, and in some cases, short essays that provide additional context.

National Academies of Science: Literacy for Science What will the future of science literacy look like? That’s the subject of this study based on a panel of experts convened by the National Academies’ Board on Science Education. Brought together for a workshop held in February 2014, these scholars looked at how Common Core education standards work to achieve various federal school guidelines as well as the areas where the standards may intersect between subjects and disciplines. This 80-page document summarizes the findings from this workshop and includes a detailed appendix and list of additional resources. Policy makers and other education analysts will find much to ponder here.

Nature.com blogs: This site brings together all of the blogs for the Nature Publishing Group, including discussions on public health, genetics, chemistry, and other interesting topics. First-time visitors can glance over recent meditations from British physicians on new and improved surgical operations and the Higgs-Boson particle. Visitors can read through one or all of the fifteen blogs or scroll down to the New Comments and Popular areas. In this last section, visitors can get a sense of the Most Read, Most Shared, and Most Commented items by other readers.

PLOS Blogs Network: The Public Library of Science (PLOS) is a wonderful project that brings high-quality scientific research to anyone with an Internet connection. On this site, visitors can explore three different drop-down menus: Staff Blogs, Blogs Network, and Community. Staff Blogs offers readers a variety of chatty and interesting internal blogs, such as PLOS Biologue, along with several dozen independent blogs, such as Mind the Brain. Next up, in Blogs Network, readers will find a plethora of blogs written or commissioned by members of the PLOS Journals editorial staff with topics ranging from DNA science to paleontology. There’s a little bit of everything here, and savvy visitors might opt for helpful word tags to focus in on posts of note.

Jul 01 2014

Websites of Interest

Biodiversity Heritage Library: The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) “is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections.” Partnering with the Internet Archive, these wonderful items have been brought together for consideration by the general public. All told, there are over 79,000 items in this collection and visitors can browse around by title or author or even look over the Recently Reviewed Items list for suggestions. The Most Downloaded Items list is quite revealing, as it contains some fine items such as “Fish hatchery management” and “Bergey’s manual of determinative bacteriology.” Visitors can also use the tag cloud to get started.

BioInteractive: The Origin of Species: The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) produces a range of free resources for science education as part of its BioInteractive series. This recent addition is called The Origin of Species and it deals with two primary questions: How do new species form? and Why are there so many species? On this site, visitors can look over three excellent short films that address these matters. The first is a 30 minute exploration into the epic voyages of Charles Darwin and his initial period of discovery and revelation. The second film, “The Beak of the Finch,” looks at four decades of research on finch species that live only on the Galapagos Islands. The final work looks at the ways lizards have adapted to several common habitats with rather interesting results.

Expeditions at the Field Museum: Amazonian Birds: Want to take a trip up the Rio Japura with world renowned ornithologists? It is completely possible with this lovely site from the Field Museum in Chicago, documenting the conservation expeditions of John Bates, Jason Wechstein, Alexandre Aleixo and their team. Visitors can make their way through six different sections, including Meet the Team, Photo Galleries, and Videos and Interactives. Be sure to check out the Latest Updates featured on the homepage to explore follow-ups from post-expedition findings, along with information about the team’s published research and related videos and podcasts. The interactive map offered in Videos and Interactives is another great feature, allowing visitors to follow in the scientists’ footsteps as they track over two dozen bird species and catalog their sounds and activities along the way.

NOVA: Journey of the Butterflies: Where do butterflies journey each year? Many in North America end up in a sanctuary in the highlands of Mexico and NOVA has the complete story on this remarkable migration. To capture this story, NOVA’s filmmakers used a helicopter, ultralight, and hot-air balloon for amazing aerial views along the transcontinental route. Visitors can watch the entire program here, as well as a number of great bonus features. Near the bottom of the site, visitors can make their way through fun activities, including Pick the Pollinator, and an interview with filmmaker Nick de Pencier about how this documentary was made.