Environment Science Policy 

The Unfortunate Withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) This article is part of a series about key science policy issues. Please use these articles to become an informed voter, ask political candidates about the issues, and put every candidate on record about science. In December 2015, parties of the UNFCCC (United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change) gathered at the twenty-first Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris to create a new international deal to mitigate climate change, called the Paris Agreement. Its ultimate goal was to keep the rise in average surface temperature below…

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Chemistry Health 

Artificial Sweeteners Affect Our Bodies and Environment

By Emily Folk (@EmilySFolk) Artificial sweeteners are prevalent in many grocery stores, restaurants, and fast-food chains, particularly aspartame (sold as Equal), sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), and acesulfame (Sunett or Sweet One). Society’s food technology has evolved drastically in the past century, enabling us to make these types of commercial sweeteners, which are often added to sodas or other beverages for the taste and low-calorie benefit. Yet changes in the environment are showing that these seemingly innocent beverage additives come with a cost. The sweeteners used as health-promoting sugar substitutes…

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Biota Project Health 

Medicinal Plants to Nourish the Soul

White sage. Peyote. Opium Poppy. African Dream Root. What do all these species have in common? These are all plants that serve both medicinal and spiritual roles in cultures across the world. Plants have long since played important roles in human experience since time immemorial. Plants have provided civilization with food, shelter, tools, and the earliest form of health care. It is from the plant kingdom that people began developing the first medicines. Foxgloves, from the genus Digitalis, native to Europe, Asia, and northwestern Africa, were the original sources of…

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Citizen Science Connected Blog Oceanography 

Diving into Citizen Science with Ocean Sanctuaries

by Michael Bear Since 2000, I’ve been an avid scuba diver in Southern California. When the Yukon, a 366 ft. long Canadian warship, sunk off the coast of San Diego in July of 2000, it became an artificial reef for divers to explore, piquing my interest in and igniting a lifelong passion for diving. In late 2006, my dive buddy, Barbara Lloyd, and I found ourselves at a crossroads. Both of us had earned various diving certifications, up to and including Rescue Diver and Master Diver. We had logged over…

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Biology Health 

Nicotine Receptor May Play a Part in Cannabis Addiction

By Andrew Neff (@neuroscience_fu) In 2019 scientists discovered an association between the prevalence of cannabis use disorder and a mutant nicotine receptor in the brain (Demontis, 2019). What does this mean for diagnostics or treatment? Maybe not a lot in the near future. But what does it mean for science?  The thing is, we know pretty well how cannabis works. The main psychoactive ingredient is THC, which itself can make people feel high and is known to interact with a dedicated system of receptors in the brain. So when this…

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Animals Citizen Science Connected Blog 

Manatee Chat: Uncovering Manatee Secrets

It has long been believed that the manatee is a solitary animal with a very simple communication system that primarily serves one purpose: to keep mom and a calf in contact. However, in recent years, these assumptions have been questioned, based on new research indicating that manatees may not be that solitary after all and that their communication system might be more complex than we previously realized.  Manatees clearly cannot compete with other marine mammals in terms of vocal complexity—such as dolphins, for example—yet we still know surprisingly little about…

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Citizen Science Ecology 

Monitoring Soil Health through Citizen Science

By Sandra Arango-Caro and Terry Woodford-Thomas MO DIRT, Missourians Doing Impact Research Together, is a program that educates individuals on soil science and engages them as citizen scientists. These volunteers contribute baseline information that helps our understanding of the current health status of Missouri soils. Soil health is the ability of the soil to function as a vital ecosystem that sustains living organisms, their processes, and environmental quality. Human existence is determined in part by soil health because of its critical role in food security and climate security.  Citizen science…

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Book Reviews Citizen Science Connected Blog 

Reflecting on the Life of a Citizen Scientist

by Danielle Griffin Smitten by Giraffe: My Life as a Citizen Scientist is a memoir by Anne Innis Dagg. In the text, she describes her pursuits as a citizen scientist, ranging from her first encounter with giraffe (the plural of giraffe used in Smitten By Giraffe is “giraffe”) as a child, through her studies at the University of Toronto in the 1950s, to her more recent projects. Dagg calls herself a citizen scientist, but like many other citizen scientists, she has in fact worn many hats in her long and…

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Biology Botany 

Steroid Hormones Protect Cotton from Drought

By Radhika Desikan As you are reading this, chances are that you are wearing something made of cotton, or have come in contact with some cotton fabric today. Cotton accounts for nearly half of all clothing material in the world. Cotton plants date back to prehistoric times; there is evidence of cotton farming from around 5000 BC in the Indian subcontinent. Cotton fabric is made of cotton fibres, which grow in the protective cases (bolls) around the seeds of the cotton plant (Gossypium hirsutum). However, it is not just the…

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Citizen Science Connected Blog Ecology 

Protect Local Waterways with the EarthEcho Water Challenge

By Sean Russell On March 22, this year’s EarthEcho Water Challenge kicked off, empowering young people and community members around the world to monitor and protect local water resources in their communities. Initiated in 2003 as the World Water Monitoring Challenge (in celebration of the U.S. Clean Water Act), this year-round, global program is designed to connect anyone, of any age, to their local water resources through water quality monitoring. Participants share their water quality data through the global EarthEcho Water Challenge online database, contributing to our understanding of the…

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