Showing posts from May, 2015

Introducing Washington's first dinosaur

The following article was originally published on the Burke Museum’s blog and is republished here with permission.

Brace yourselves, dino-lovers: Burke Museum paleontologists have discovered the first dinosaur fossil ever found in Washington state!

The fossil is a partial left thigh bone of a theropod dinosaur, the group of two-legged, meat-eating dinosaurs that includes Velociraptor, Tyrannosaurus rex and modern birds. It was found along the shores of Sucia Island State Park in the San Juan Islands.

The fossil is approximately 80 million years old and is from the Late Cretaceous period. During that time, the rocks that today form Sucia Island were likely further south. How much further south is a topic of scientific debate, with locations ranging between present day Baja California, Mexico, and northern California. Earthquakes and other geologic forces that constantly reshape our planet moved the rocks north to their present-day location.


Octavio Campos: Fake flowers foster fantastic fortuity for further fact-finding

Fake flowers foster fantastic fortuity for further fact-finding - Or: a cool paper on 3D-printed flowers and what it means for the field of plant-pollinator interactions

A few weeks ago (on April 15th, to be exact), my first paper based on my PhD dissertation project came out for publication in the journal Functional Ecology!  The paper documents my early findings into how flower shape influences the ability of dark-adapted hawkmoths to find the nectar reservoir of a flower.

The data presented in the paper are interesting in their own right, but it's actually an aspect of my methods that has garnered lots of media attention in the past few weeks: I used a 3D-printer to manufacture the flowers that I used in my experiments. 

If you want to systematically manipulate flower shape in a series of experiments, using different varieties, cultivares, or species of real flowers is pretty much out of the question because of the uncontrollable variation found even among the various flowers of…

Sonia Singhal: Explain it to me like I’m a four-year-old.

This post was originally written for the BEACON Center blog.
How do you know that you understand a scientific concept?
When you can explain it to a four-year-old.
While this is not a situation I encounter in my day-to-day work, studying viral evolution in Dr. Ben Kerr’s lab at the University of Washington, I do face it frequently as a Science Communication Fellow with the Pacific Science Center. On a Saturday morning every couple of months, I take the bus down to Seattle Center, and in the bright, airy Ackerly Gallery of the Pacific Science Center, I set up a table with boxes of colored beads and sheaves of colored paper. These items form the backbone of the activities I am developing to teach visitors to the Pacific Science Center about evolution.
I run two activities. The first activity, which demonstrates mutation, is a drawing game. Visitors choose a simple line drawing and copy it as many times as they can in one minute. I then encourage them to tell me how their drawings compar…

GSS 2015!

Just a few weeks ago, UW Biology Graduate Students hosted the 12th Annual Graduate Student Symposium. Attendees were entertained and educated by grads sharing their past, present and future research in 15-minute presentations. If you weren't able to make it (or if you did come and want to relive #gss2015), some dedicated researchers, grads and postdocs live-tweeted the conference. Enjoy!

The much anticipated awardees from the talks:
Best dressed: Greg Golembeski and Katrina van Raay
Prettiest pictures: Hilary Hayford
Most appealing to a 3rd grader: Brandon Peecook
Best new artist: Camila Crifo and Hannah Jordt
Best Title: Myles Fenske
Best extemporaneous speaking: Leander LoveAnderegg and Yasmeen Hussain
Best overall talk (faculty pick): Brandon Peecook
[View the story "GSS 2015!" on Storify]