HRS177|Spring2014

Silk Protein Sericin: Then a Garbage, now a Goldmine

Silk consists of 25-30% sericin, a natural macromolecular protein that facilitates the formation of a cocoon with its adhesive properties. Sericin is most often removed during silk production and discarded in silk processing wastewater. However, recent researches suggest that this by-product of silk industry can be recovered for other uses. These applications of sericin reduce environmental impact of silk manufacture and create economic and social benefit.

Hive Mind

Bees and humans exhibit similar interests in forming complex social communities. As pointed out in last week’s presentation, bees are intelligent, meticulous, and social animals. At first, I was struck by the complicated nature of bee societies. In addition to having unique forms of communication, such as “waggle dancing,” bees are also known for being altruistic. Like ants and other animals that form large social groups or colonies, bees act in ways that preserve the well-being of their community rather than simply their own lives.

Water Moves

            Where there is life, there must be water. For the roles and functions of water are endless, and we as humans, would not be able to exist without it. In his paper entitled, “Why Water is Weird?”, Philip Ball examines the many unique qualities that water possesses, and how these characteristics give water its very special ability to function in so many ways. He focuses on the different stages of water and how each of them is important in its own way.

Honey and the Fight Against MRSA

 

As a microbiology major and a pre-med student, I am constantly captivated by the interplay between microbes and their pathogenic effects on humans. Being able to spend time in both the hospital with the patients and doctors and in the lab with scientists and researchers gives me a perspective that many people never attain. A huge problem that has plagued hospitals everywhere is MRSA, also known as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. MRSA is caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and is characterized by a skin infection (Pantosti, 2012).

Bee Genetics and Social Structure

Honeybee genetics allow their complex social structure.  Drones are haploid, meaning that worker bees will have all of their father’s genetic material and fifty percent of their mother’s DNA so that workers share three quarters of their DNA with their sisters.  Therefore the inclusive fitness of helping their mother raise more sisters is higher than raising their own offspring.  This strategy is shared by wasps and ants which have a similar worker and queen social structure.  This sort of behavior is known as Eusociality. 

You're Sweeter Than Honey

This week's presentation on bees and silkworms was the funnest yet. I loved it! The cocoons under the fluorescent lighting was spectacular, the presentations on bee keeping and bee hierarchy was extremely enlightening and the best part about the presentation was the honey sampling. I really think the honey we tasted should go out and get marketed because they were incredibly delicious; by far the best honey I have ever tasted.

Of the Earth

Christina and Ellie's installation made me think of the social networks that exist between scientists (or between scientists and artists). The career path I hope to take is one that falls under "different" disciplines. Psychology + Public Health = Public Mental Health. When you consider either psychology or public health on their own (or chemistry and physics), they seem rigidly distinct.

Of Bacteria and Soil

It’s been a while since I last blogged about Hnrs 177, but, I guess it’s better to do it than never. About a week ago I saw the an exhibition on the Dirtmap project. This is a project funded by the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts. Soil collected along the Pacific Crest Trail was gathered by Ellie and sent to Christina, which works at UCLA, to analyze the bacterial species present in each sample.

Week 5: Disconnecting and Biophilia

This week's art gallery opening resonated with me for several reasons: because there was beautiful and simplistic representation of scientific data that appealed to the lay person, and more specifically because it reminded me of my upbringing and how in touch with nature I was as a growing child in Armenia. We visited the idea of disconnecting - separating yourself from external stimuli, especially from modern technology - and making connections with ourselves through reconnecting with the natural environment around us.

Disconnect to Connect

When doing research in today’s age, we have been taught to be dependent on technology, which is why I found Ellie Harmon’s disconnect from technology while conducting research on dirt and soil inspiring. Harmon’s digital disconnect and spiritual journey up the coast, collecting dirt samples could be thought of a union between the sciences and religion. By being disconnected from technology, scientific data, and her colleagues she was able to embark on a more spiritual journey of research opposed to being in the lab.

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