ACS AMA Hi Reddit! I’m Adam Boyd, the Program Director for AACT (https://teachchemistry.org/). I have a background in chemistry and business. I work with our extremely talented staff and teacher leaders throughout the country to help provide resources, networking opportunities, and professional development for K–12 teachers of chemistry. And I’m Jenn Parsons, Education Resource Specialist for AACT. I spent 9 years teaching high school chemistry and forensic chemistry in northern Virginia. Now I help develop chemistry resources for use in K–12 classrooms and teachers of chemistry. I have led teacher content-writing teams in partnership with the Dow Chemical Company, as well as the Ford Motor Company. I also lead professional development sessions at science education conferences. Additionally I am the editor of our quarterly periodical, Chemistry Solutions (https://teachchemistry.org/periodical/issues). I’m always looking for contributors for our publication—interested? Or do you know someone who is? Let me know! We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about chemistry education or AACT. We’re eager to work with new teachers, as well as help K–8 teachers integrate more chemistry into their science curriculum. Ask us anything about these topics, we’re here to help! We will be back at 1pm ET (10am PT, 6pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask us anything! We’re here and happy to answer your questions about chemistry education or AACT. We’re eager to work with new teachers, as well as help K–8 teachers integrate more chemistry into their science curriculum. Ask us anything about these topics, we’re here to help! Thanks so much for all of your questions! We have to get back to work, but we will try to check back later if we can. Thanks again, all!
Hello, reddit! My name is William Mair, and I’m an assistant professor of genetics and complex diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. My lab recently published a paper in Nature which, for the first time, reveals a causal link between a process known as “RNA splicing” and aging. This research sheds important light on when and how our cells deteriorate over time. Aging is a key risk factor for a variety of chronic diseases, and our lab is working to identify what’s happening at the molecular level in various organ systems that allows these diseases to occur. What is RNA splicing? In order for bodies—and cells—to maintain youthfulness, they must also maintain proper homeostasis. At the cellular level, that means keeping the flow of biological information, from genes to RNA to proteins, running smoothly and with the right balance. While a considerable amount is known about how dysfunction at the two ends of this process—genes and proteins—can accelerate aging, strikingly little is known about how the middle part, which includes RNA splicing, influences aging. Splicing enables one gene to generate multiple proteins that can act in different ways and in disparate parts of the body. To find this link, we designed a series of experiments in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans to probe the potential connections between splicing and aging. Because the worms’ cells are transparent we were able to use fluorescent genetic tools to visualize the splicing of a single gene in real-time throughout the aging process. After five days, some worms showed a youthful pattern of splicing while others exhibited one indicative of premature aging. We were able to use these differences in splicing (reflected fluorescently) to predict individual worms’ lifespans prior to any overt signs of old age. We still have much more to learn about this, but the findings open up an entirely new avenue of investigation that could help us understand how to live longer and healthier. I’ll be here to answer your questions from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM EST; Ask Me Anything! EDIT: It’s 11:00 AM and we’re getting underway. Thanks for all your questions so far! I’m also joined here by /u/carolineheintz, the first author of the paper. EDIT: It’s 1:17 PM and we have to stop, but thank you for your great questions! If you want to learn more, you can visit our lab website.
Hi reddit! My name is Warren Grill and I’ve spent the past 15 years trying to understand how deep brain stimulation treats symptoms in persons with Parkinson’s disease. This understanding will allow us to make the treatment better. A few years ago, we discovered that the effects of deep brain stimulation depend on the timing of the stimulation pulses. We then used a process based on the principles of evolution to design temporal patterns of stimulation that work better than traditional stimulation at a single high frequency. I’ve been trying to build on that discovery ever since. Our work recently earned a Javits Neuroscience Award from the National Institutes of Health, providing $4 million over the next seven years to fund my laboratory at Duke University. In our experimental work to test the theory that regularization of neural activity was required for deep brain stimulation (DBS) to relieve symptoms, we delivered different random patterns of DBS all at the same average high frequency. The results indeed showed that random patterns were not effective, and of importance to the current work, that the effects of DBS were dependent on the temporal pattern of stimulation. This inspired the idea of designing patterns of stimulation to be more effective and efficient. In one example, we developed a series of temporal patterns that were intended to act as probes for the potential mechanisms of DBS and found that specific patterns were more effective at relieving symptoms than conventional high frequency DBS. These patterns were also more effective at suppressing low frequency oscillatory neural activity. The current work demonstrates the design of patterns that are more efficient than conventional high frequency DBS. One critical aspect of our work is the novel paradigm that we developed to conduct studies during the surgical replacement of the implanted DBS pulse generator due to depleted batteries, as this enabled early translational studies in human subjects. A second key innovation was the design of an electronic system that enabled us to record very small amplitude brain signals in the presence of large artifacts generated by the application of DBS. I’ll be back at 10:30 AM EST to answer your questions. AMA!
Hey Reddit, I’m Liz Davison, a graduate student at Princeton University in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. My research centers on development and application of analytical and computational methods from network science and engineering to study complex dynamical systems, including the human brain. And I’m Ben Turner, and I’m a postdoctoral researcher in cognitive neuroscience at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My research focuses on using functional magnetic resonance imaging to better understand human memory. We recently published a paper titled “Individual Differences in Dynamic Functional Brain Connectivity Structure Across the Lifespan” in PLOS Computational Biology. This paper applied a method for characterizing how connections between brain regions change together over time (see our earlier article published in PLOS Computational Biology to a group of people including young and older adults. Using different methods, other researchers have shown that the neural activity in parts of the brain that belong to the same “network” in young adults tends to become less similar by older adulthood. Our results extend this previous result by showing that when brain regions are put in groups based on how their connections change together over time, older adults have a larger number of groups relative to young adults, indicating less-cohesive changes in connectivity. We’ll be here at 1pm to answer your questions – Ask Us Anything! And feel free to follow Ben on Twitter @neurobot01.
Hi reddit, I’m Greta Shum, and I work as a science communicator at Climate Central. I’m out here on a boat off the coast of Antarctica with other scientists who are studying different aspects of the Southern Ocean. In my usual work, I try to communicate the facts about climate change (causes and effects) at Climate Central. As part of that mission, I’m following three science projects that are focused on the state of the Southern Ocean and how it will change in the future. One group is studying ocean physics along the shelf of the Amundsen Sea; one group studies the microbiology and consequent evolution of the phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean, and one group (SOCCOM) studies the carbon chemistry of the Southern Ocean and how it will change in the future. With me are the following scientists: Professor Stephen Riser is a Professor of Physical Oceanography at the University of Washington, interested in the ocean’s role in climate, and in deducing the general circulation of the ocean and ocean/atmosphere/ice interactions through direct observations of the ocean circulation. Caitlin Whalen, PhD of the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is an expert in ocean mixing. Professor Tatiana Rynearson from U. of Rhode Island: My area of research is in marine genomics and population genetics. My goals are to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes shaping genetic diversity in the plankton and to examine how those processes affect plankton community structure, function and productivity in coastal regions. My approach is to identify and exploit the genetic variation that exists within and between individuals to examine how plankton respond to their environment. Professor Sinead Collins from the U. of Edinburgh: I’m interested in how large populations of small organisms adapt to complex environmental changes. Since that’s a bit too vague, I focus on how marine phytoplankton adapt to ocean acidification. I use experimental evolution in the lab to figure out the basic theory involved, and then head off to collaborate with oceanographers to apply it to marine systems. We’ll be back at 1 pm EST (10 am PST, 6 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask us anything! Thanks for all the excellent questions! We had a terrific time! If you’re looking to keep following us online, check out our blogs here or here.
Hi reddit! 2016 was an amazing year for science, and much of the breakthrough research appeared in the pages (both physical and digital) of Science Magazine. Now, we’re working on a special end-of-year issue that will bestow upon one scientific achievement the title of “Breakthrough of the Year.” Every December, Science magazine announces a Breakthrough of the Year and a short list of runners-up. We, the writers and editors, comb through the year’s scientific advances–with help from the Board of Reviewing Editors and other scientists–and judge which have done the most to benefit humanity, answer long-standing questions, or pave the way for fruitful new research. It’s a tricky task. Many discoveries take years to catch fire; others seem exciting but never fulfill their promise. And even when something big happens in science, it’s not always obvious exactly when and where the “breakthrough” took place. Here is our list of “greatest hits.” All that said, we also have People’s Choice award, and this year, we wanted to come to Reddit to talk about the year in science and what you think might deserve the Breakthrough of the Year award. Ask us anything! Participants, from Science Magazine: Tim Appenzeller, News Editor Adrian Cho, Science writer Catherine Matacic, Associate Online Editor Valda Vinson, Deputy Editor Lisa Chong, Deputy Editor We’ll be back at 1 pm EST (10 am PST, 6 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask us anything!
Hi reddit! I am a disturbance ecologist (think fires, windstorms, landslides) that primarily studies the response of forested ecosystems to emerging disturbances triggered by climate change. I’m particularly interested in how resilient forests may be to these new stresses - and if that resilience is a good thing. Will our forests recover from future disturbances? What will that recovery look like? Does this recovery – or lack thereof – help or hinder species ability to migrate in response to climate change? What new disturbances are emerging? One striking example of all of these issues is the emerging mortality of species along the remote southeast Alaskan and Canadian west coast, where 400,000 ha (so far) of trees have died due to low snow conditions brought about by warming winters. The cause is surprisingly related to freezing – the soil is no longer insulated by snow, so cold snaps can kill. This is an emerging disturbance that we are just beginning to study, and it’s dramatically changing the forest community. But it also appears to be associated with migration in other, less climate sensitive species. So perhaps this disturbance, and others, are facilitating the migration of species into more favorable climates. It’s a complex ecological story of adaption/maladaptation and creative destruction (so to speak), and great fun to investigate. Most of my work involves a focus on either forest biodiversity, forest carbon, or water resources, and I’ve worked in Hawaii, the Rocky Mountains, and Alaska, and collaborated on projects around the world using a combination of fieldwork, remote sensing/satellites, GIS, and modeling. I am also the caretaker of what is believed to be the longest running permanent study plots studying primary succession in the world in Glacier Bay, Alaska (100 years and counting). So the data comes from a lot of sources, and I’m happy to discuss integration of methods as well. For more info, [check out this website.](www.brianbuma.com) I will be answering your questions at 1 PM ET, AMA! Edit: Thanks everyone! Some really interesting and thought provoking questions in here, and it’s humbling and exciting to see so many people concerned and interested in the state of the world’s forests. There were lots of great ideas for next steps, projects, etc mentioned here and I’d love to hear how those progress. I have to run for a meeting but I’ll check back in tonight (it’s only 1PM in Alaska right now, after all, lots of time) and keep on doing what I can. Edit 2: And I’m back for a bit. This is really fun. …off for dinner. Will log in later to reply further. In the meantime, most of my work is posted on my website, and for those great questions about coastal forests I would encourage you to check out the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center (http://acrc.alaska.edu/) for all things coastal forest related. Feel free to email with questions as well, I’m always looking for interested students and research collaborations, in addition to partners in management and policy. Alrighty, it’s late in Alaska, so I’m done (and Denzel is online…). Thanks so much for your questions!
Thanks so much everyone for your questions! I’m out of time now. I’m Carrie Jenkins, a writer and philosopher based in Vancouver, BC. I am a Canada Research Chair in Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, the Principal Investigator on the SSHRC funded project The Nature of Love, and a Co-Investigator on the John Templeton Foundation funded project Knowledge Beyond Natural Science. I’m the author of a new book releasing on January 24, 2017 on the philosophy of love, What Love Is And What It Could Be, available for pre-order now. I studied philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge, and since then have worked at the University of St Andrews, the Australian National University, the University of Michigan, the University of Nottingham, and the University of Aberdeen. From 2011 to 2016, I was one of three principal editors of the award-winning philosophy journal Thought. I recently won an American Philosophical Association Public Philosophy Op Ed Contest award. This year I am also a student again, working towards an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. My philosophical interests have stubbornly refused to be pinned down over the years. Broadly speaking they include epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of logic and language, and philosophy of love. But I’m basically interested in everything. My first book was on a priori arithmetical knowledge, and my second is on the nature of romantic love. I have written papers on knowledge, explanation, realism, flirting, epistemic normativity, modality, concepts, dispositions, naturalism, paradoxes, intuitions, and verbal disputes … among other things! A lot of my recent work is about love, because in addition to its intrinsic interest I see some urgency to the need for more and better critical thinking about this topic. My proof has been verified with the mods of /r/philosophy. Some Links of Interest Amazon link to new book What Love Is And What It Could Be, available for pre-order now, releasing January 24, 2017 NPR 13.7 Interview - Exploring the Metaphysics of Love Globe and Mail article - What’s Love Got to do With Sex? Maybe Everything, winner, APA Public Philosophy Op Ed Contest 2016 Elle Canada - New Ideas on Love CBC podcast interview on love and sex ed Review of new book What Love Is and What It Could Be
Hi Reddit, My name is Hui-Chen Lu and I am a Professor at Indiana University Bloomington. My research focuses on how neural circuits wire up during development and how to keep neurons healthy despite various insults and with aging. The majority of neurons in the brains are born prenatally and have to stay healthy throughout our lifespan. My name is Yousuf Ali and I am an assistant scientist in Dr. Lu’s lab. My research focuses on understanding the underlying mechanisms that disrupt cellular homeostasis and serve as a basis of disease in different proteinopathies, specifically Alzheimer’s disease and tauopathies. My name is Hunter Allen and I am a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Hui-Chen Lu at Indiana University Bloomington. I currently head-up operation of our multi-photon microscope as well manage lab IT functions and assist with technical and computing activities such as Matlab, Python, and other programming for data analysis. My name is Hugo Bellen and I am a Professor at Baylor College of Medicine and a HHMI Investigator. Our research interests include neuronal communication/maintenance and development of scientific tools allowing large scale and efficient scientific discoveries. We recently published a paper titled “NMNAT2: HSP90 Complex Mediates Proteostasis in Proteinopathies” in PLOS Biology. NMNAT2, or nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyl transferase 2, is becoming recognized as a key neuronal maintenance factor. By examining NMNAT2 levels in brains donated by more than 500 elderly people whose cognitive function was tested annually before death, we found higher levels of NMNAT2 in people who had greater resistance to cognitive decline. People with lower NMNAT2 were more likely to suffer from dementia, suggesting that the protein helps preserve neurons related to learning and memory. NMNAT2 exerts both an enzyme function to protect neurons from stress caused by over-excitation, and a ‘chaperone’ function to combat the misfolded proteins produced in the brain during aging. Many neurodegenerative disorders are caused by accumulation of “misfolded” proteins that “clump up” in the brain in forms often referred to as “plaques,” or “tangles.” Using mouse and cell culture models, we found that NMNAT2 act as a molecular chaperone and binds to misfolded proteins to prevent or repair the errors that cause these clumps. Interestingly, its enzymatic function is required to defend against excitotoxicity. Our work here suggests that NMNAT2 uses both its chaperone and enzymatic functions to combat different neuronal insults in a context-dependent manner. We will be answering your questions at 1pm ET – Ask Us Anything!
ACS AMA Hi Reddit, my name is Paul Weiss. I am Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, of Materials Science & Engineering, and at the California NanoSystems Institute where I lead an interdisciplinary research group focused on understanding and controlling chemistry, physics, biology, and materials at the smallest scales. I am also the founding, and current, Editor-in-Chief of ACS Nano one of the top scientific journals in nanoscience and nanotechnology. I have to sign off now. Thank you Redditors for the great AMA discussion and questions! I will try to add a few links later, as noted below. /PSW