Connecting Science and Society
Professor Leila Farhadi – Remote Sensing & Computer Modelling: Understanding the Dynamic Water Cycle
The Earth’s water cycle is an incredibly complex system, and is closely coupled to the planet’s energy and carbon cycles. One of the biggest challenges for hydrologists is to accurately model the components of this system and begin to understand how human-induced changes to the climate and landscape will affect it. Combining computer modelling with observational data, Professor Leila Farhadi and her team at the George Washington University created a novel approach to mapping two critical components of the water cycle: evapotranspiration from the landscape and recharge to aquifers. Their work has implications for predicting and responding to water shortages, towards ensuring global water and food security.
If there is one thing to celebrate about this year, it’s the fact that the country has finally started to wake up to the climate emergency. Thanks, among other things, to the thousands of children regularly striking for their right to have a better future than the one we have been building for them, a majority of the UK public, now back a 2030 zero-carbon target.
The economically important Norway spruce tree naturally grows in mountain forest ecosystems, and is the main tree species in vast plantations across Europe. However, in the recent decades, its risk of attack by the destructive Eurasian spruce bark beetle has considerably increased. Although the complex interactions of host, pest and environmental conditions that allow attacks to occur have been extensively studied for more than 100 years, predictive tools for pest management still suffer from knowledge gaps. Dr Sigrid Netherer and her team at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Austria, have been investigating the role of drought stress and other environmental and biotic factors on infestations, to produce a novel universal framework for monitoring and predicting bark beetle outbreaks.
Materials science – the discovery and characterisation of new materials – drives forward the creation of new technology. In particular, the development of thin films of materials is vital to the electronics industry, as they are used in various device components such as displays and sensors. The properties of these materials are defined by their atomic structure, and until recently it was a major challenge for scientists to accurately characterise this. Towards this aim, Professor Yoshio Waseda and his team at the Institute of Multidisciplinary Research for Advanced Materials have developed a novel method for characterising the atomic structure of thin films.
As humans, we communicate our emotions to others in several different ways, including touch, motion, facial expression, and of course, speech. We can also communicate social information through chemosensory signals. Dr Bettina Pause, a professor at Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, has carried out extensive research exploring human communication and sensory perception, and in particular, how we quickly and effectively convey emotional states such as anxiety and aggression to others without even using words.
STRENGTHENING THE STEM COMMUNITY THROUGH INCLUSIVE EDUCATION In this critical issue of Scientia, we showcase an inspiring array of projects, each seeking to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education worldwide....
SHAPING A BETTER WORLD THROUGH SOCIAL SCIENCE AND HUMANITIES RESEARCH In this captivating edition of Scientia, we showcase a diverse selection of research achievements across the humanities and social sciences, from history to linguistics, and...
CELEBRATING DISCOVERY AND INNOVATION IN GENETIC SCIENCE This important issue of Scientia showcases the vital work of scientists in the field of genetics, the branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity....
Dr Tammy Movsas, MD, MPH – Towards a Brighter Future: How Zietchick Research Institute Plans to Transform Treatment for Retinal Disease
Both diabetic adults and premature babies are at risk for a similar type of eye disease that involves the growth of abnormal, blood vessels in the retina, the photosensitive layer of the eye. When this eye disease occurs in diabetics, it is called diabetic retinopathy and when it occurs in premature infants, it is called retinopathy of prematurity. The pathologic vessels, seen in both of these diseases, can pull on the retina and cause it to detach, leading to blindness. Dr Tammy Movsas (Executive Director and Principal Investigator) and Dr Arivalagan Muthusamy (Chief Scientist) at the Zietchick Research Institute, USA, are developing new therapeutics to treat these serious retinal diseases that affect both premature baby eyes and mature adult eyes, such as those of diabetic women.
Sparks is a UK-based charity funded entirely by their supporters. Their current campaign, No Time to Lose, aims to raise £10 million in the next four years to find the treatments children with rare conditions urgently need. In this exclusive interview, we speak with Kiki Syrad, Director of Grants, to hear about the importance of their work and how they aim to transform the futures of children afflicted by disease.
Most universities and companies have a media department to take care of related matters, and they can do a good job. The problem with the latter is, the skill set required for public sci-comm is a little different and it is often better carried out by someone with experience in the area. Furthermore, if a representative does all of your public sci-comm, no one will get to know you, or your science, on an intimate level.
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