Dr. Jessica Polka: Revolutionizing Biomedical Research Communication

Dr. Jessica Polka: Revolutionizing Biomedical Research Communication

A major impediment to the scientific endeavor today is a lack of transparency, communication, and public visibility. In 1991, the fields of mathematics, physics, and computer science came up with a partial solution to this problem, arXiv.org, an online repository and forum to store, disperse, and discuss preprints, which are scientific manuscripts and communications prior to peer-review. While there is an increasing recognition of the role preprints play in the future of scientific communication, the life sciences have been indisputably behind the curve. However, this is rapidly changing, and at the forefront of the revolution is Jessica Polka, Ph.D. She is currently a visiting scholar at the Whitehead Institute and director of ASAPbio, a biologist-driven project to promote the productive use of preprints in the life sciences. I recently had the opportunity to speak with her about the rise of preprints in the life sciences.

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Tales of Trailblazing Women in Science

Tales of Trailblazing Women in Science

Women have made essential contributions to how we understand the world around us, from discovering new elements and sub-atomic particles to advancing modern psychology. However, they are often left out of history books and popular discourse while their male colleagues are celebrated. In her new book Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, author and illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky spotlights fifty women who have made, and are currently making, invaluable breakthroughs in science. Illustrated in bold, beautiful colors on a dark background, each woman is depicted doing the work she loves next to a brief biography and fun facts about her life. Signal to Noise had the chance to talk with Ignotofsky about her book and the inspiration behind it.

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World of Concrete

World of Concrete

Like modern technology, concrete has become so ubiquitous, so important, that it perversely disappears altogether. The second most consumed substance on our planet after water, concrete defines our industrialized world. As with most every other aspect of industrialization, the rapid expansion of cement usage over the last century has come at a cost. Cement production accounts for 5% of the world’s total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Gabe Falzone is a graduate student at UCLA working in the Laboratory for the Chemistry of Construction Materials run by Dr. Gaurav Sant. They’re working on ways to improve cement production, testing new techniques and chemical mixtures to make more durable, more sustainable concrete. 

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The Bruin Experiment: Mentors, Middle Schoolers, and Mad Science

The Bruin Experiment: Mentors, Middle Schoolers, and Mad Science

Science fair projects have come a long way since the days of the baking soda volcano.The Bruin Experiment (TBE), founded by two UCLA students, pairs underserved middle-schoolers with undergraduate mentors to work together to brainstorm and complete science projects. Mentors provide the support that kids need to come up with creative experiments, and a science fair is held to celebrate the students' hard work. 

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