Journal Club

Highlighting recent, timely papers selected by Academy member labs

Category Archives: Journal Club

Study suggests mask-wearing reduces the odds of self-infection with SARS-CoV-2

COVID-19 typically turns deadly when the virus infects the lungs. Hence, how exactly SARS-CoV-2 gets deep into the respiratory tract has been a pressing question since the pandemic started early last year. One pathway is well known: Most people catch … Continue reading

Categories: Immunology | Journal Club | Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Degradable plastic polymer breaks down in sunlight and air

Plastic trash chokes shorelines and oceans, in part because plastic polymers do not easily decompose. But a new kind of environmentally degradable plastic could help change that: It breaks down in about a week in sunlight and air, according to … Continue reading

Categories: Chemistry | Journal Club | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Emotional associations, more than knowledge, determine how much people care about the deep sea

With new technological advances in deep-sea mining, the ocean floor’s trove of valuable metals and rare earth elements is coming within reach of commercial mining operations. The impending reality of this practice, and its associated environmental risks, raises the question … Continue reading

Categories: Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences | Ecology | Journal Club | Social Sciences | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

New culturing techniques track crucial stage of embryo development

The second week of gestation is crucial for human development, as the growing embryo needs to implant in the mother’s womb to survive. Many early pregnancies fail at this point, but it has been difficult to determine exactly why. Lacking … Continue reading

Categories: Cell Biology | Developmental Biology | Journal Club | Reproductive biology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Harmful social behaviors are the toughest to shift

Social norms changed dramatically during the pandemic. Six-foot distancing and mask wearing became de facto rules in some communities, while elsewhere, wearing a mask was seen as an invitation for harassment. A new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society … Continue reading

Categories: Journal Club | Neuroscience | Psychological and Cognitive Sciences | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Easily made, robust chemical reagents could be game changer for developing world science

Enzymes and other chemical reagents are crucial for all sorts of life sciences research. Typically, they’re produced in industrial processes by modified bacteria; then they’re extracted and purified. But scientists in many parts of the world struggle to access such … Continue reading

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A popular household fern may be the first known eusocial plant

Staghorn ferns are popular houseplants, sporting long, antler-like fronds that poke out from a brown, tissue-papery base. They may also be the first known example of a plant that exhibits a type of social organization—that is, the first plant thought … Continue reading

Categories: Ecology | Evolution | Journal Club | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Newly observed forces help geckos stick to surfaces

Even the most advanced glues can’t match the remarkable toe of the gecko: Its impressive stickiness can be quickly deactivated and can support much more than the animal’s weight as it runs across surfaces smooth or rough, wet or dry, … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Applied Biological Sciences | Chemistry | Journal Club | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Atlas identifies genome regions that regulate plant cell identity

Zoom in on the leaf of a corn plant, and you’ll find a patchwork of about 20 different cell types. A recent study, published in Cell, provides an atlas of critical genomic regions that control cell identity in six different … Continue reading

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Transgenic switchgrass cleans up contamination from military explosives

At military sites in the United States and across the globe, routine live-fire trainings produce a downpour of an explosive known as RDX (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine). A synthetic chemical, RDX can threaten human health, damaging the nervous system if inhaled or ingested. … Continue reading

Categories: Chemistry | Genetics | Journal Club | Plant Biology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Gossip drives social bonding and helps people learn

Oscar Wilde said the only thing worse than being talked about was not being talked about. Nevertheless, chit-chat about others has a dubious reputation. That’s unfair, say psychologists and social scientists, who argue that gossip is a useful communication tool, … Continue reading

Categories: Anthropology | Journal Club | Psychological and Cognitive Sciences | Social Sciences | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment