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The Koyal Group Info Mag Articles: 30,000 year-old giant virus found in Siberia
A new type of giant virus called “Pithovirus” has been discovered in the frozen ground of extreme north-eastern Siberia by researchers from the Information Génomique et Structurale laboratory (CNRS/AMU), in association with teams from the Biologie à Grande Echelle laboratory (CEA/INSERM/Université Joseph Fourier), Génoscope (CEA/CNRS) and the Russian Academy of Sciences. Buried underground, this giant virus, which is harmless to humans and animals, has survived being frozen for more than 30,000 years. Although its size and amphora shape are reminiscent of Pandoravirus, analysis of its genome and replication mechanism proves that Pithovirus is very different. This work brings to three the number of distinct families of giant viruses.
In the families Megaviridae (represented in particular by Mimivirus, discovered in 2003) and Pandoraviridae, researchers thought they had classified the diversity of giant viruses (the only viruses visible under optical microscopy, since their diameter exceeds 0.5 microns). These viruses, which infect amoebae such as Acanthamoeba, contain a very large number of genes compared to common viruses (like influenza or AIDS, which only contain about ten genes). Their genome is about the same size or even larger than that of many bacteria.
By studying a sample from the frozen ground of extreme north-eastern Siberia, in the Chukotka autonomous region, researchers were surprised to discover a new giant virus more than 30,000 years old (contemporaneous with the extinction of Neanderthal man), which they have named Pithovirus sibericum. Because of its amphora shape, similar to Pandoravirus, the scientists initially thought that this was a new member — albeit certainly ancient — of this family. Yet genome analysis on Pithovirus showed that this is not the case: there is no genetic relationship between Pithovirus and Pandoravirus. Though it is large for a virus, the Pithovirus genome contains much fewer genes (about 500) than the Pandoravirus genome (up to 2,500). Researchers also analyzed the protein composition (proteome) of the Pithovirus particle (1..5 microns long and 0.5 microns wide) and found that out of the hundreds of proteins that make it up, only one or two are common to the Pandoravirus particle.
Another primordial difference between the two viruses is how they replicate inside amoeba cells. While Pandoravirus requires the participation of many functions in the amoeba cell nucleus to replicate, the Pithovirus multiplication process mostly occurs in the cytoplasm (outside the nucleus) of the infected cell, in a similar fashion to the behavior of large DNA viruses, such as those of the Megaviridae family. Paradoxically, in spite of having a smaller genome than Pandoravirus, Pithovirus seems to be less reliant on the amoeba’s cellular machinery to propagate. The degree of autonomy from the host cell of giant viruses does not therefore appear to correlate with the size of their genome — itself not related to the size of the particle that transports them.
In-depth analysis of Pithovirus showed that it has almost nothing in common with the giant viruses that have previously been characterized. This makes it the first member of a new virus family, bringing to three the number of distinct families of giant viruses known to date. This discovery, coming soon after that of Pandoravirus, suggests that amphora-shaped viruses are perhaps as diverse as icosahedral viruses, which are among the most widespread today. This shows how incomplete our understanding of microscopic biodiversity is when it comes to exploring new environments.
Finally, this study demonstrates that viruses can survive in permafrost (the permanently frozen layer of soil found in the Arctic regions) almost over geological time periods, i.e. for more than 30,000 years (corresponding to the Late Pleistocene). These findings have important implications in terms of public health risks related to the exploitation of mining and energy resources in circumpolar regions, which may arise as a result of global warming. The re-emergence of viruses considered to be eradicated, such as smallpox, whose replication process is similar to Pithovirus, is no longer the domain of science fiction. The probability of this type of scenario needs to be estimated realistically. With the support of the France-Génomique infrastructure, set up as part of the national Investments for the Future program, the “Information Génomique et Structurale” laboratory is already working on the issue via a metagenomic study of the permafrost.
While there is a collective fear for microorganisms for causing human diseases in particular, many of them are actually beneficiel in the field of food, vehicle and antibiotic production. Koyal Info Mag prides itself in its wide coverage of scientific news, discoveries and resources that caters to researchers, scientists, students, scholars, healthcare practitioners and various institutions.
The above article is a repost from ScienceDaily
The Koyal Group Info Mag articles - A zircon crystal embedded in sandstone found on a sheep ranch in Australia is the oldest piece of the Earth’s crust to be discovered, shedding new light on our planet’s formation.
The zircon, described in the journal Nature Geoscience, is about 4.4 billion years old and much smaller than a single grain of rice. But the tiny crystal carries an outsize significance: It is evidence that by that point in its history, Earth had gone from a superheated ball of molten rock to a congealed surface eventually capable of supporting life.
“One of the main goals of the space program is to understand if there’s life elsewhere in the universe,” said John Valley, a University of Wisconsin professor who led the study, collaborating with scientists in Australia, Canada and Puerto Rico.
By studying how the conditions of life came together on our planet, scientists believe we will learn what to look for on other planets.
But the earliest rocks and first evidences of life have been subject to dispute over the years. Some scientists, for example, maintain that the earliest evidence of life is about 3.8 billion years old and found in Isua, Greenland. Skeptics, however, note that no fossils were found in the Greenland rock. They point instead to 3.5 billion-year-old evidence of life found in rocks in Pilbara, Australia.
That’s no small difference — 300 million years.
The age of the zircon described by the Valley team, however, does not appear to be in dispute. The Valley team used a new technique called atom-probe tomography, which allowed them to confirm the accuracy of the crystal’s age. The new instrument, made in Wisconsin, is so sensitive that researchers were able to identify the atomic number and mass of each atom in the sample.
“I think they have shown unequivocally, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this grain is that old,” said Samuel Bowring, an expert in the early history of the Earth and a geology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bowring was not involved in the new study.
“It’s only one grain, mind you,” he added, “but it’s very significant.”
Jim Mattinson, a professor emeritus in the department of earth science at University of California, Santa Barbara, said zircons have been found previously that were about the same age as the one in the current paper, but the earlier discoveries were met with skepticism.
“This paper drives a nail into that coffin (of doubt),” Mattinson said. “We’re really getting back as far as we can go in the Earth’s geologic records.”
Zircon crystals are composed mainly of the elements zirconium, silicon and oxygen. Small amounts of uranium also appear in zircon.
The uranium decays at a set rate, forming lead. Because of these characteristics, scientists can use the lead and any remaining uranium in a zircon crystal to calculate the age.
Zircon is found embedded in younger rock. Valley found the zircon used for the current study in sandstone collected in the arid Jack Hills of western Australia, a region known to contain some of the oldest pieces of the planet’s crust.
“The oldest rock in Australia was collected not far from where we were working,” Valley said.
Dating of the zircon helps clarify an early chapter in the Earth’s history. Scientists have theorized that one of the crucial early events occurred when an asteroid roughly the size of Mars struck a glancing blow to the Earth, vaporizing the mantle and crust. Dust from the collision merged to form the moon.
The enormous energy from the collision transformed the surfaces of the Earth and moon into oceans of molten rock. Both subsequently cooled. Zircon was one of the minerals formed when the planet cooled.
Although minerals also were formed as far back in history, what makes zircon so valuable to geologists is its ability to endure. Zircon is a very hard mineral with stable chemistry able to survive extreme temperatures.
“We like to say that zircons are forever,” Valley said. “They really persist in the rock record.”
The Koyal Group Info Mag Articles - Dozens of University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) scientists and student researchers will present new research findings at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting at the Hawai‘i Convention Center on February 24-28. This 17th biennial meeting will be the largest international assembly of oceanographers and other aquatic science researchers and policy makers, with attendance expected to exceed 4,000.
For a full list of sessions and presentations, visit: http://www.sgmeet.com/osm2014/. Conference registration is complimentary for members of the news media.
A selection of School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) highlights includes the following:
Science Research Sessions and Presentations:
Celebrating 25 years of sustained marine observations, scientists working at the open ocean field site Station ALOHA will share biological, chemical and physical oceanography discoveries deriving from Hawai‘i’s own unique ocean science field programs. Station ALOHA was established by the Hawaiʻi Ocean Time-series (HOT) program in 1988, and has been visited on a monthly basis since that time. The emerging data comprise one of the only existing records of decadal-scale ecosystem change in the North Pacific Ocean. "Time series research is more important than ever before; understanding planetary change requires high quality observations and measurements,” said Matthew Church, UHM Oceanography Professor and HOT Program Principle Investigator. “Humans are influencing the oceans in many ways, and measurements made at Station ALOHA are helping us understand and document how ocean ecosystems are responding to these changes.” This session includes more than 25 presentations drawing from observations from present day back to 1988, including long-term changes and trends observed in ocean biology, chemistry, and physics. Among the notable topics highlighted in this session include documenting ocean acidification, studies on time-varying changes in biodiversity, and the influence of local and regional climate on ocean ecosystem behavior around Hawai‘i.
Chip Fletcher, UHM Geology Professor and his team will describe their effort to monitor and evaluate beach erosion rates at the Royal Hawaiian Beach in Waikīkī. One year after a major sand replenishment program, the beach width appears to vary by location and by season, resulting in net erosion in eastern and western portions of beach.
In the “Story of Marine Debris from the 2011 Tsunami in Japan,” UHM International Pacific Research Center scientists Jan Hafner and Nikolai Maximenko will present the latest synthesis of modeling and observations over the 3 years tracking the debris. This synthesis has resulted in understanding the pathways of the drift from the debris. The improved ocean drift model can help locate marine debris, marine animals, and people lost at sea.
Other research presentations will focus on ocean acidification, sea-level rise and inundation, and climate change including extreme sea level variability due to El Nino events, among many other topics.
Education and Engagement:
UH Mānoa’s Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute are hosting a Youth Science Symposium on Tuesday, February 25, from 4-6 p.m. Nearly 20 middle and high school youth scientists will present posters of their research.
SOEST will share several programs aimed at recruiting Native Hawaiian students into ocean and earth science. Funded by C-MORE and NSF, the Ocean TECH program engages middle school, high school and community college students in the ocean and earth sciences through technology, career pathways and interaction with career professionals. Funded by the UHM Sea Grant College Program and offered in partnership with Kapiʻolani and Leeward Community Colleges, the SOEST Maile Mentoring Bridge supports Native Hawaiian students throughout their undergraduate years through mentoring relationships that offer encouragement and the sharing of academic and non-academic knowledge.
“Marine Microbiological Mysteries” is a new UHM Outreach College program designed for grades 9-12 to help foster interest in pursuing STEM careers. The hands-on learning opportunity at the Waikīkī Aquarium places microbiology in a real-world context. This presentation is part of an OSM session titled “Sea-ing connections: Ocean science as a catalyst to inspire the next wave of young (preK-16) scientists and keep students engaged within and outside the classroom.”
Physicist (and Star Trek expert) Lawrence Krauss talks about the unpredictability of the future.
The Koyal Group Info Mag Articles - Lawrence Krauss is a busy man. A theoretical physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State University, Krauss has studied the universe, served on the science policy committee for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, and crossed paths with intellectuals like Stephen Hawking and Christopher Hitchens. He has authored several books, including The Physics of Star Trek. In February 2014, Krauss took part in an American Association for the Advancement of Science symposium titled Where’s My Flying Car? Science, Science Fiction, and a Changing Vision of the Future.
So, where is my flying car?
Your flying car is still in the dreams of people 50 years ago. You can feel bad that we don’t have flying cars, that we’re not living in hotels in space, but the real world intervenes. Certain [technological innovations] are just a lot harder, a lot more expensive.
At the same time, there’s a flipside: The real things that have happened are much more interesting. The Internet is a clear example of how our lives have changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined: a distributed information source, which is invisible to everyone, where you can access anything, and it’s distributed throughout the whole world. Basically, communication is instantaneous.
When it comes to the things that people really want in science fiction—like space travel—the simplest things end up causing them not to happen. Humans are 100-pound bags of water, built to live on Earth.
We hoped for flying cars and got the Internet instead. What’s to blame for the difference between our hopes and the reality we end up with instead?
I would say [innovations] almost never come from predictable places. If innovations were predictable, they wouldn’t be discoveries. When people extrapolate into the future, they extrapolate [from] the known present. If I knew what the next big thing was, I’d be doing it now.
What have we done to the world? Climate change. Overpopulation. Global inequity. Perhaps a virus we set loose from the animal world by displacing so many exotic species, which could wipe us all out. These all either seem to be here already or looming in our near future.
The virus thing: I wouldn’t stay up overnight on it. We’re pretty robust; we’ve survived for four and a half million years.
So what does the future hold?
It looks like we’re destroying the world as we know it. We certainly are entering Earth 2.0. But where that will go is not clear.
Are you hopeful for the future?
It depends on the day. I’m not very hopeful that humanity can act en masse to address what are now truly global problems that require a new way of thinking. As Einstein said when nuclear weapons were created: “Everything’s changed save the way we think.”
I think we need to change the way we think to address these global problems. Will it happen? Maybe kicking and screaming. My friend, the writer Cormac McCarthy, told me once: “I’m a pessimist, but that’s no reason to be gloomy.” In a sense, that’s my attitude.
Five hundred years from now, will we be living on Mars?
Maybe. If we do space travel, it will tend to be one-way trips. Throughout human history, people have done these ridiculously difficult one-way voyages for one reason: because where they lived was so awful they were willing to get on a little wooden vessel that might sink and go across an ocean to some unknown place that they would probably never return from because it was so crummy where they were.
Maybe we’ll do that for ourselves. We’ll make the world so miserable that living in some harsh environment on Mars might seem attractive.
The Koyal Group Info Mag Articles - NASA’s Kepler space telescope may be hobbled, but scientists continue to pull new discoveries from its huge dataset.
The space agency will announce more findings by Kepler — whose original planet-hunting mission was halted by a glitch in May 2013 — during a press conference on Wednesday (Feb. 26). You can listen to the event, which begins at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT), live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA.
The following people will participate in the press conference:
— Douglas Hudgins, exoplanet exploration program scientist, NASA’s Astrophysics Division in Washington
— Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist, NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
— Jason Rowe, research scientist, SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, Mountain View, Calif.
— Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
The $600 million Kepler mission launched in March 2009 to determine how commonly Earth-like planets occur around the Milky Way galaxy. Kepler has been incredibly prolific and successful, detecting 3,600 potential exoplanets to date, 246 of which have been confirmed by follow-up observations. (Mission scientists expect that at least 90 percent of Kepler’s candidates will turn out to be the real deal.)
Kepler’s original mission ended in May 2013 when the second of its four orientation-maintaining reaction wheels failed, robbing the instrument of its ultraprecise pointing ability. However, Kepler team members have said that the data the observatory gathered in its first four years of operation should allow them to achieve the mission’s major goals.
Further, researchers have proposed a new mission for Kepler called K2, which would allow the observatory to continue hunting for alien planets (albeit in a modified fashion), as well as other celestial objects and phenomena such as comets, asteroids and supernova explosions.
NASA is expected to make a final decision about the K2 mission proposal, and Kepler’s ultimate fate, by this summer.
The Koyal Group Info Mag Articles - While these stories may have not made Science’s ‘Top 10 science stories of the year’ list touting the biggest discoveries of the year, many interesting findings made headline in 2013.
Last year held plenty of off-beat and off-the-beaten-track findings and news: Humans ate the first test-tube hamburger, a plan to capture an asteroid was launched, and a mind-controlled prosthetic leg was made.
These are the kinds of findings that make science fun, so we decided to ditch the over-hyped stories and make a list of the most remarkable things you might have missed last year. Here are the incredible stories.
A hydrogen bond was photographed for the first time.
In September, scientists captured the first images of one of the most important physical interactions in the world — the hydrogen bond — which holds DNA together and gives water its unique properties.
These never-before-seen photos are an encouraging advancement in atomic force microscopy, a method of scanning that can see details at the fraction of a nanometer level.
A skull from Georgia suggests that all early humans were a single species.
The analysis of a 1.8-million-year-old skull found in a region of Georgia suggests that the earliest members of the Homo genus actually belonged to the same species. The skull was discovered alongside the remains of four other early human ancestors, but had different physical features despite being from the same time period and location.
Researchers have traditionally used variation among Homo fossils to define separate species, but now think that early, diverse Homo fossils from Africa actually represent members of a single, evolving lineage — they just looked different from one another.
For the first time in 35 years, a new carnivorous mammal was discovered in the Americas.
A relative of the raccoon, the olinguito, has been described as looking like a “cross between a house cat and a teddy bear.”
The animal’s discovery in the forests of Ecuador, confirmed in August, shows that the world is not yet completely explored. It’s the first new species of mammal discovered in 35 years.
It will see back in time farther than any space telescope ever has before—back to the first light following the big bang.
It will watch the first stars and galaxies form.
And it will hunt for distant habitable planets by peering into their atmospheres.
Expectations are high for the science that will come from the $8.7 billion James Webb Space Telescope—the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope’s four main science instruments are now all in one place, as are its 18 mirror sections. When assembled in space, they will create the largest orbiting mirror ever seen.
This long-awaited coming together is taking place in a vast clean room at the Goddard Space Flight Center in suburban Maryland. The last pieces have arrived, and now the two- to three-year task of assembling the telescope has begun.
On Monday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Senior Project Scientist and Nobel laureate John Mather, and the Webb team celebrated this milestone. And, with equal enthusiasm, they anticipated the science that will come in once the Webb telescope is in orbit, about one million miles from Earth.
With a mirror six times larger in area than the Hubble’s, the Webb telescope’s possibilities are dramatic:
1. The James Webb Space Telescope is designed to see to the time when stars began to form in the universe.
Astronomers put that time at about 300 million years after the big bang, the period when the universe emerged from its dark ages. The Hubble has been able to see back to 800 million years after the big bang, an unprecedented feat but considerably less than the capability of the Webb telescope.
The first stars in the universe are believed to have been 30 to 300 times as massive as our sun and millions of times as bright. They would have burned for only a few million years before dying in tremendous explosions, or supernovae. The Webb will be able to detect the earliest of these explosions.
2. The Webb can peek inside galaxies.
The Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes have already identified many tiny galaxies that were pumping out new stars at a surprising rate more than 13 billion years ago. These galaxies are only one-twentieth the size of the Milky Way, but they probably contain a billion stars crammed together.
The Webb’s large mirror is designed to see longer wavelength, invisible-to-the-eye infrared light, which can be used to see farther and to see through thick cosmic dust. This means the telescope will be able to see into the star-creating centers of galaxies as never before.
Webb telescope officials describe their goal as learning about the first galaxies when they were just babies. The Hubble telescope has been looking at toddlers.
3. Scientists now are convinced that each galaxy has, at its center, a supermassive black hole.
The Webb will test why and how these monster black holes came to exist. A favored theory says that the early massive supernovae spewed out chemical elements newly formed in the first stars before they collapsed into black holes or were destroyed.
The newborn black holes are theorized to have then consumed the gas, dust, and stars around them, becoming extremely bright objects called mini-quasars. Mini-quasars are suspected to have grown and then merged to become the huge black holes found in the centers of galaxies.
Understanding the connection between newly formed galaxies and the supermassive black holes at their centers would be an enormous breakthrough in astronomy.
4. The Webb will search for signs of extraterrestrial life.
Using the Webb telescope’s spectrograph, scientists will be able to analyze the atmospheres of the billions of exoplanets now understood to orbit stars in the Milky Way. Depending on what chemicals are identified, researchers can come to conclusions about the likelihood of Earth-like conditions. The presence of large amounts of oxygen or ozone in the atmosphere, for instance, would strongly suggest that life was present on the planet.
"We’ll be able to do so many things with the Webb that were never possible before," Mather said at the Goddard gathering. "It will revolutionize astronomy and, potentially, our understanding of the universe."
The Webb telescope is scheduled to launch in 2018 from the European Space Agency spaceport in French Guiana, and will settle at a point about four times farther from the Earth than the moon. Fifteen nations have contributed to the effort, and their scientists will be able to observe and discover alongside NASA’s scientists.
In nature, some organisms create their own mineralized body parts—such as bone, teeth and shells—from sources they find readily available in their environment. Certain sea creatures, for example, construct their shells from calcium carbonate crystals they build from ions found in the ocean.
"The organism takes brittle carbonate and turns it into a structural shape that protects it from predators, and from being bashed against the rocks," says Lara Estroff, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Cornell University. "There is much scientific interest in how the organism controls the crystal growth, and what mechanisms are involved in strengthening and toughening the shells, especially in comparison to their components, which are brittle."
Researchers such as Estroff are very interested in synthesizing this kind of biology in the lab, and creating new organic and inorganic materials that mimic the “biomineralization” that occurs in nature, so they can gain a better understanding of how these natural processes work.
"We are trying to learn the techniques from the organisms, and apply them in the laboratory," says the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded scientist, a synthetic chemist by training. "Part of it is creating simplified systems so that we can tease apart the more complicated mechanisms that are going on in biology. I am not recreating biology in the lab. I am learning from biology to create new materials."
Estroff’s primary research focus is to discover the role of gels in crystal formation. Hydrogels, which are gels made in water, similar to Jell-O®, are involved in a number of natural biological systems, including the mother-of-pearl in mollusk shells, tooth enamel in mammals, even otoconia, which are tiny particles found in human ears. These substances are composed of both organic and inorganic materials; often the organic components form a gel. Estroff wants to know their purpose.
"Is there something special about a hydrogel in directing crystal growth?" she asks. "Does it change properties? Is it somehow responsible for giving rise to organic-inorganic composites?"
Understanding and controlling crystal growth is very important in many industrial fields, chief among them the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, since many drugs are in crystalline form, and “it’s of vast importance to know how to modulate the solubility of crystals and how they pack into tablets,” she says.
There also may be potential applications in producing biomaterials for bone and tooth repair, and in creating more functional inorganic materials, such as substances structured at the nanoscale that could enhance energy storage, for example in batteries. “Being able to manipulate these crystal structures down to the nanoscale opens up a lot of opportunities,” she says.
Estroff is conducting her research under an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, which she received in 2009. The award supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organization. NSF is funding her work with $472,773 over five years.
The project focuses on observations, both in nature and in the laboratory, of macroscopic, single crystals with incorporated polymer fibers and other macromolecules. The project aims to understand the mechanisms by which these polymer networks become incorporated into macroscopic, single crystals.
Her lab, in studying crystal growth mechanisms in gels and their relationship to biomineralization, is trying to answer at least three questions. “First, what is the internal structure of these crystals, and where does the gel material become trapped?” she asks. “Second, can we understand the mechanism of how it is trapped to control how much is trapped? And, third, what effect does this material have on the mechanical properties of the crystals?”
To find the answers, her team developed a synthetic analog to the biological system. Using agarose, a more purified form of the gel agar-agar, they grew their own crystals in the lab, then compared them to crystals grown without gel in an ordinary water-based solution, and later to natural biological crystals.
During the process, they ran a high resolution electron tomography scan of their samples, creating a three-dimensional image of the gel-grown crystal, which “was the first time that people had actually seen how the organic phase can be incorporated in the crystal,” she says. “A crystal is an order array of ions, and a polymer is a floppy, poorly-defined blob. How do you accommodate this floppy blob into this ordered array?”
In comparing their synthetic crystals to natural ones, “there were similarities and differences,” she says. “We now have the best image of how these objects are incorporated and now can start asking questions about the structure-property relationships, including how this internal structure translates into changes in the mechanical properties. We’ve been poking at the crystals and looking at the response.”
As it turns out, “these organic inclusions mechanically strengthen and toughen the material in both biological crystals and synthetic crystals,” she says. “The organic material that is trapped within the crystals makes them stronger and harder—more resistant to fracture—than their geologic counterparts with no organic material.”
The researchers’ next step is to synthesize other materials. “We’d like to find out if we can grow different types of crystals in different types of gels,” she says. “We’re now pursuing that route.”
As part of the grant’s educational component, Estroff teaches a course on biomineralization for both graduate students and undergraduates. “One of my goals is to get them reading primary literature and analyzing it,” she says. “They also go out and look for biomineralizing organisms on campus. They go to local streams and bring them back to the lab.”
She also is trying to recruit more female students to her department. She is the faculty advisor to a group known as WIMSE, which stands for Women in Materials Science and Engineering, and has organized a mentoring program where freshmen and sophomores are paired with juniors and seniors who, in turn, are paired with graduate students. The enrollment of women in the materials science and engineering major has grown from 10 percent to 30 percent during the last five years.
"Having a group creates a critical mass," she says. "It’s really had a positive impact."
— Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation
#0845212 CAREER: Synthesis, Characterization, and Application of Gel-Grown, Polymer-Reinforced Single Crystals