Efforts to increase the representation of women among chemistry faculty at top Ph.D.-granting institutions appear to be paying off. The percentage of women holding faculty positions at the top 50 schools in terms of chemical R&D spending was 19.1% for the 2014–15 academic year, a more than 2% gain over the previous academic year, according to the latest survey conducted by the Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE), a diversity equity initiative cofunded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Energy. Read More.
University of Utah researchers have found that the structure of an insulin molecule produced by predatory cone snails may be an improvement over current fast-acting therapeutic insulin. The finding suggests that the cone snail insulin, produced by the snails to stun their prey, could begin working in as few as five minutes, compared with 15 minutes for the fastest-acting insulin currently available. Biologist Helena Safavi, co-author on a paper describing the cone snail insulin published September 12 in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, says that studying complex venom cocktails can open doors to new drug discoveries. Read More.
Loss of megaherbivores such as elephants and hippos can allow woody plants and non-grassy herbs and flowering plants to encroach on grasslands in African national parks, according to a new University of Utah study, published September 12 in Scientific Reports. The study used isotopes in hippopotamus teeth to find a shift in the diet of hippos over the course of a decade in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park following widespread elephant poaching in the 1970s. Read More.
Carbonaceous particles account for 10% of the particulate matter in the atmosphere. Atmospheric oxidation and aging of soot modulates its ice nucleation ability. It has been suggested that an increase in the ice nucleation ability of aged soot results from an increase in the hydrophilicity of the surfaces upon oxidation. Oxidation, however, also impacts the nanostructure of soot, making it difficult to assess the separate effects of soot nanostructure and hydrophilicity in experiments. Read More.
University of Utah ornithologist and biology department professor Çağan Şekercioğlu presents a new book, “Why Birds Matter,” this week at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu. Held every four years, this is the world’s largest conservation event. Over 8300 delegates from 184 countries gathered for the meeting where President Obama made an appearance on Wednesday. Şekercioğlu represents his Turkish environmental organization KuzeyDoğa that was elected an IUCN Member this year with the support of National Geographic Society and Wildlife Conservation Society. Read More.
Because glucose is energy dense and abundant in the body, scientists have been trying to use it in fuel cells to power medical implants. Glucose fuel cells made so far store a large amount of energy but cannot deliver it in the quick bursts that an implant, such as a pacemaker or brain stimulator, needs. Now, researchers have made a compact device that delivers such bursts by combining a biofuel cell with a supercapacitor. Read More.