organic strawberries Botany Ecology Health 

Wounding Leaves Produces Sweeter Organic Strawberries

By Radhika Desikan Do you like your fruit to be organically grown or conventionally grown? This has been a choice available to consumers since the first half of the 20th century in response to raised awareness about agriculture’s dependence on synthetic chemicals. With increasing scientific discoveries of novel chemicals that protect and help plants grow, there was also increased knowledge about the possible dangers of having these chemicals in food crops. This resulted in farmers growing crops without the use of agrochemicals, leading to the movement of organic farming. There…

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Phendo: Endometriosis Study Citizen Science Health SciStarter Blog Technology 

Phendo: Understanding Endometriosis

In 2016, Noémie Elhadad and her lab at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center created the Phendo, or “phenotyping endometriosis,” app, to better understand and identify symptoms of endometriosis. Endometriosis is a painful condition that causes overgrowth of the endometrium, or inner lining of the uterus, such that it grows outside the uterus and into other places in the body. Their goal is to fill in the gaps of knowledge about how individuals experience the disease on a day-to-day basis. The app invites anyone over the age of 13 who has…

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asthma, pollution, air quality, environment Environment Genetics Health 

Asthma, Genetics, and the Environment

By Emily Folk @EmilySFolk The relationship between asthma and genetics has evaded scientists for years. Researchers are still unraveling clues today, although they’ve made many advancements in making the connection. Environmental influences have become more significant in their impact, posing new challenges in treating the disease. As scientists explore ways to enhance asthma treatment, they also work to uncover its causes, hoping for more information on its relatively vague origin. How does asthma work? Asthma is an inflammatory lung disease characterized by shortness of breath, chest tightening, coughing, and wheezing.…

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Stacks of a nuclear power plant. (Credit: Markus Distelrath/Pixabay) Anthropology Book Reviews Citizen Science Health SciStarter Blog 

Nuclear Radiation, Citizen Science, and Civic Engagement

In Japan after a nuclear radiation disaster Book Review: Radiation Brain Moms and Citizen Scientists: The Gender Politics of Food Contamination after Fukushima. By Aya Hirata Kimura. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016.  Nuclear Radiation and Food Safety In March 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a tsunami that would result in a tragic loss of life. Water overtook the seawalls at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and damaged critical systems. These events resulted in one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. Survivors near…

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A red crane sits idle at the SWRP mine next to Boulder Ridge. A chain link fence separates the two properties. Citizen Science Environment Health SciStarter Blog 

Researchers, regulators, and residents collaborate to test air quality sensors

This article was originally published by SciStarter on February 4, 2019. By Margaret Hinrichs In early 2018, Scistarter and Arizona State University began the process of collaborating with a local community, Boulder Ridge, to measure the quality of its air. Boulder Ridge is a 55 and older retirement community in Phoenix. Over the past three years, Boulder Ridge residents began to notice increased blasting, crushing, and trucking out of rock and dirt from an open stone mine next door operated by Southwest Rock Products, LLC. On days when there were no…

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Biota Project Environment Health 

Air Pollution: Breathing in Biofuels

By Jessica Monterrosa Think of the last time you were at a bonfire. Maybe you were at the beach, or a camping site. At sunset, everyone huddles around a fire pit. You lean toward the fire to get cozy and cook your hot dogs and s’mores. You wait in anticipation for your perfectly roasted marshmallow, enduring itchy eyes and a sore throat while breathing in the thick smoke. Even though you only spend a few hours next to the fire, you know that your car, your room, and even your…

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Chemistry Health 

How Nonsugar Sweeteners Affect Gut Health

By Brittany Trinh (@brttnytrnh) Do you take your coffee with a spoonful of sugar or use a nonsugar sweetener such as Sweet’N Low or Equal? These nonsugar sweeteners are called nonnutritive sweeteners because they contain little to no calories per gram, compared with nutritive sweeteners such as sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup. Common nonnutritive sweeteners are saccharin and aspartame. Nonsugar sweeteners are often hundreds of times sweeter than sucrose—125 mg of aspartame can replace 25 g of sugar. They have been recommended by medical professionals as sugar substitutes in food…

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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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