Minggu, 28 Desember 2008

Exercising Your Head Cold

When you catch cold, should you continue your usual exercise routine or just stay at home and rest?

According to a pair of articles published about 10 years ago, maintaining your usual exercise regimen may be good for you when you have a cold, or at least it will do no harm. A typical head cold with a runny nose and sneezing does not affect lung function or exercise capacity. And although exercise doesn’t actually speed recovery time, people who continue to exercise during a head cold tend to report that they feel better than people who don't exercise. So the next time you catch a cold, go ahead and continue doing whatever exercise you enjoy doing.

"Effect of rhinovirus-caused upper respiratory illness on pulmonary function test and exercise responses". Weidner TG et al. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 29:604-609, 1997.
"The effect of exercise training on the severity and duration of a viral upper respiratory illness". Weidner TG et al. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 30:1578-1583, 1998.

Minggu, 21 Desember 2008

Federal Jobs II

Two separate announcements below for amphibian jobs in (1) Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks and (2) Yosemite National Park.
1. Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks
National Park Service is seeking up to six aquatic technicians for the 2009 summer field season in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI). All vacancies are GS-5 positions at $14.24/hr. The primary objective of these positions is to restore high elevation aquatic ecosystems, with a focus on enhancing mountain yellow-legged frog populations (Rana muscosa, Rana sierrae). Primary duties include backpacking to lake basins in park Wilderness, removing non-native trout populations from lakes and streams using gill nets and backpack electrofishers, and surveying populations of the mountain yellow-legged frog. Additional duties include following detailed protocols, recording environmental parameters, and communicating an overview of the project to park visitors. Emphasis is on field work in both team and individual settings. Work dates depend on timing of snowmelt, but are estimated to be from mid-June to late-September.

To be competitive for these positions, applicants must have 1) considerable backpacking experience in high elevation mountains, 2) the ability to hike safely across challenging on- and off-trail terrain, 3) the desire to work in remote Wilderness for weeks at a time, and 4) a strong commitment to conducting ecological restoration. Typical past employees have been upper-level undergaduates seeking degrees in aquatic biology/ecology or fish/wildlife programs, or had completed undergraduate or graduate degrees in these fields of study.

Interested applicants must apply through the USAJOBS website at
http://www.usajobs.gov. The job announcement number is SEKI 228053. To retrieve the announcement, type this number in the keywords search window,click the search button, and follow the resulting link. To determine whether you qualify at the GS-5 level, see the "Qualifications & Evaluations" page. Applications must include a resume that contains contact information for at least three references, a completed questionnaire (shown in announcement), and a copy of your college transcripts (if you wish to be qualified based on experience and education). See the "How to Apply" page for specific details.

Complete application packages must be submitted by Tuesday, January 20,2009 to be considered for these positions. For general application questions, contact SEKI Personnel by emailing Kellie_Lasswell@nps.gov or calling 559-565-3752. For specific position questions, contact SEKI Aquatic Resources by emailing Danny_Boiano@nps.gov or calling 559-565-4273.

2. Yosemite National Park
The vacancy announcement below is for amphibian field positions at Yosemite National Park . Work will mostly involve field surveys for amphibians at Yosemite, though some surveys will be conducted elsewhere in northern California . There may also be opportunities to participate in related research on amphibian chytrid fungus and the pesticides. I will be hiring one or two 2-person field crews.

Successful applicants will have:
- experience conducting field research, preferably involving amphibians
- strong outdoor skills that include hiking, backpacking, camping in remote areas
- ability to work well with a field partner under challenging conditions
- experience with maps, PDAs, GPS, and orienteering
USGS will supply all research equipment, field supplies, and a government vehicle. Field crews will have a campsite at one of the park campgrounds. In some years, a cabin is available for a portion of the season (at no cost), but availability of cabins will not be known until after work begins.

If you apply, don't make it hard for me to hire you. Provide sufficient detail for me to evaluate your background and contact key people. Make sure to include names and current phone numbers (not just emails) for all supervisors and references. Applicants who provide a one-page resume or state that "references available by request" are not likely to be hired.

Please get in touch with me if you have questions or need additional information. Thanks.

Gary Fellers
Research Biologist
Western Ecological Research Center, USGS
Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes, CA 94956

Federal Jobs #1

I'm going to post summer job announcements here as I hear of them. If you know of any I haven't posted please let me know. The jobs vary a lot in terms of whether they involve any actual research but I'll post anything that I think might make a good experience for a CCS Bio student.
The US Forest Service is looking for qualified field botanists and weed crews to work throughout California in summer 2009. Seasonal Botanists and Biological Science Technicians are needed for 3-6 months, with pay ranges from $11.34 to $21.65 per hour (GS-3 – GS-9, depending on experience). Government housing may be available.

Job descriptions and Qualifications: Botanists: Conduct field surveys for rare plants and map locations. Weed Crew: Locate and manually remove invasive plants. Exact duties will vary among duty stations, and may include greenhouse work. Desired skills include: plant identification using taxonomic keys, familiarity with California flora; use of GPS, topographic maps, and compass; operating vehicles on rough roads, good physical fitness; and willingness to work under difficult field conditions.

Qualifications: Minimum 1 year college for GS-3 Biological Science Technician. Bachelor’s degree in biology, botany, natural resources, range science, biology, or related area, with 24 semester hours in botany required for GS-9 Botanist.Over 18 years of age, and a U.S. Citizen Position

Locations (Anticipated number of positions) – Contact Person:

  • Eldorado National Forest - Placerville, CA (1 or 2 Botany) – Susan Durham: 530-642-5173
  • Inyo National Forest – Bishop, CA (1 Botany) – Kathleen Nelson: 760-873-2498
  • Klamath National Forest – Happy Camp, CA (1 botany);
  • Fort Jones, CA (1 Botany);
  • Yreka, CA (1 Weeds) – Marla Knight: 530-468-1238
  • Lake Tahoe Basin Unit– South Lake Tahoe, CA (2 Weeds; 3 Botany) – Cecilia Reed: 530-543-2761, Shana Gross: 530-543-2752
  • Lassen National Forest – Susanville, CA (2-4 Weeds; 2 Botany) – Allison Sanger: 530-252-6662
  • Mendocino National Forest – Willows, CA (1 Botany) – Lauren Johnson: 530-934-1153
  • Modoc National Forest – Alturas, CA (2 Botany) – Judy Perkins: 530-233-8827
  • Plumas National Forest – Oroville, CA (3-5 Botany); Quincy, CA (2 Botany) – Chris Christofferson: 530- 532-7473, Jim Belsher-Howe: 530-283-7657
  • Shasta-Trinity National Forest – Weaverville, CA (3-5 Botany); Mount Shasta, CA (3 Weeds/Botany) – Susan Erwin: 530-623-1753, Rhonda Posey: 530-926-9665
  • Sierra National Forest – North Fork, CA (2 or more Botany) – Joanna Clines: 559-877-2218 x 3150, Jamie Tuitele-Lewis: 559-855-5355 x 3352

To Apply: Apply in the automated Forest Service site, AVUE

Job Titles: Biological Science Technician (Plants); Botanist (Temp) Students: Continuing students are eligible for direct hiring under the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP), and should submit applications directly to the Forest of interest. Contacts for each Forest are listed above.

Jumat, 19 Desember 2008

Detecting Protein Markers of Disease

Certain diseases are characterized as having specific abnormal proteins circulating in their blood. These proteins could serve as markers of the presence of the disease. However, the current clinical laboratory tests for these proteins are expensive, making screening millions of people for these diseases impractical. Generally, the only people who are tested are those who are at risk or who are already suspected of having the disease.

A technique just now being developed would make testing for the presence of abnormal plasma proteins easy, quick and cheap. The technique is based on glass and plastic microfluidic chips that can test for dozens of proteins in a single drop of blood, in just minutes, for pennies per test. The new technique is described in the Dec. 19 issue of Science.

Rabu, 17 Desember 2008

Incentives for Organ Donations

There are now over 100,000 patients waiting for an organ transplant. Over 6,000 of them will die this year because they will not find a suitable organ in time. The problem, as discussed in Human Biology 5th ed. (pp. 368-369), is simply too few available organs for too many patients. Aside from the fact that finding a good match among unrelated donors is relatively rare, healthy people are often reluctant to donate an organ for emotional reasons and there is no financial incentive for organ donations. In fact, current federal law states that a person can go to jail and be fined $50,000 if “valuable consideration” is given to a donor. The law was meant to discourage commercial trafficking in human organs (considered to be exploitive of the poor), but it has also had a chilling effect on altruistic giving.

But that may soon change. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania will introduce a bill next year that would allow states to offer certain “incentives” to donors and their families, such as tax credits, contributions to 401K retirement plans, and tuition vouchers. The bill still would still prohibit the direct buying and selling of organs, however, so you won’t be able to buy a kidney on eBay any time soon.

One patient’s emotional odyssey as her kidneys began to fail is described in “Desperately Seeking a Kidney” published two days ago in the New York Times. It might make an interesting additional reading assignment for your students.

Frozen Embryo Dilemma

Fertility treatments and IVF procedures generally produce more viable embryos than are needed in order to achieve a successful pregnancy. So after a couple has a child by IVF, they must decide what to do with the “leftover” embryos. There are at least five choices: 1) freeze and save them for several years in case they choose to have more children, 2) discard them, 3) donate them for research, 4) donate them to another couple, and 5) leave them frozen until some other decision is made.

A recent survey published in the journal Fertility and Sterility (online Dec. 5) indicates that the decision is a difficult one, even for couples that do not want any more children. Over 40% would not feel comfortable discarding the embryos. And even though they no longer needed them for themselves, over 50% would not consider donating their embryos to another couple. Common reasons given were because they wouldn’t want their child brought up by another couple or because of the fear that their child might meet an unknown sibling someday. Forty percent would consider donating their unused embryos for research, but that option is not available at all IVF clinics. Faced with what they view as unacceptable options, twenty percent say they will keep the embryos frozen indefinitely. However, frozen embryos may not be viable after several decades, so this may ultimately be a decision to let the embryos die.

There are now more than 400,000 frozen embryos at IVF clinics. The authors of the survey suggest that potential parents need to be counseled thoroughly about the choices ahead of them before they choose IVF, not after.

What would your students choose to do if they had leftover embryos?

Selasa, 16 Desember 2008


From the Chronicle of Higher Education

Late to Rise Seems to Make Students Wise


When college students refuse to sign up for early-morning classes, parents and faculty members sometimes give them sermons or stale quotations from Benjamin Franklin. But those students might actually have the right instincts, says a new study by two economists.

The study, whose results appear in the December issue of the Economics of Education Review, found
that students earn higher grades in courses that are offered later in the day. The effect is small but unmistakable: For each hour after 8 a.m. that a class begins, students' average grades are 0.024 points higher, on a 4-point grading scale.

The most likely reason, the authors say, is sheer exhaustion. Nineteen-year-olds find plenty of reasons not to go to bed before midnight. And even when they get adequate sleep, adolescents' brains tend to fire up later in the morning than adults' brains.

The effect is partly counteracted when classes meet frequently. Throughout the day, but especially in early-morning classes, students earn higher grades in classes that meet three times a week than in classes that meet only once or twice. Over all, however, the time-of-day effect is stronger than the frequency effect.

The authors-Angela K. Dills, an assistant professor of economics at Mercer University, and Rey Hernández-Julián, an assistant professor of economics at the Metropolitan State College of Denver-analyzed more than 100,000 course grades that were earned at Clemson University in the fall of 2000 and the spring of 2001.

Because their cache of data was so vast, the authors say, they were able to deal with certain challenges that have confounded previous studies of course scheduling. For example, they say that
they were able to partly or entirely eliminate the possibility that professors grade more leniently in their late-day classes than in their break-of-dawn classes, or that the most difficult courses happen to be scheduled in the morning, or that stronger students are the first to register for classes and are thus more likely to enroll in courses that start later in the day.

Kamis, 11 Desember 2008

Campus lagoon Internship opportunity

Water Quality/Hydrology Internship:
I am looking for a student interested in working with me on the data and reports on the Campus lagoon water quality from studies we have completed, implementing follow-up studies, assisting with data monitoring for the larger study and, possibly, helping with modelling of water quality in the lagoon. I need a self-starter willing to do some independent research, collect water samples and collaborate with professors on campus. We have a stipend of $250 for Winter quarter and the possibility of additional funding should the candidate have more time to commit to the project.

Interpretive Sign Research Project Internship:

We are designing a sign to provide essential information about the ecological state of the UCSB Campus Lagoon related to geology, recent history and current ecological status. Looking for an independent person who can do research and is interested in interpretive signage and presentation. Skills in graphic design not required. Creativity a plus! Pays $250.

Both internships come with an expectation of ~ 6 hours per week commitment.

Post-fire biological research opportunities at Parma Park

Dear Professor or Colleague:
The 200-acre Parma Park burned in the recent Tea Fire. While the City of Santa Barbara is busy preparing for winter storms, we realize there may be exciting opportunities to observe post fire vegetation and community succession in the months and years to follow. Parma Park is currently closed to the public. If you are interested in bringing your class to observe, or have students interested in post-fire research (currently no City funding available), please contact me to discuss. There may also be post-fire research opportunities related to wildlife, water resources and geology.

Parma Park is a City of Santa Barbara Open Space park, located off Highway 192 (Stanwood Drive), east of the Sheffield Reservoir. The Park contains a diverse array of native plant communities and wildlife, along with unique assemblages of soil types, geology, steep terrain and tributaries to Stanwood Creek. Native plant communities at Parma Park include chaparral, oak woodland, riparian forest, coastal sage scrub, and remnant patches of native grassland. Non-native plant species also occur within the Park.

Please feel free to forward this email to any parties that may be interested.

Thank you,

Kathy Frye
Natural Areas Planner
City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation

Box 1990, Santa Barbara, CA 93102
PH (805) 897-1976

Senin, 08 Desember 2008

Alzheimer's Disease Linked to a Virus

Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating disorder of the elderly characterized by severe, progressive loss of memory, confusion, irritability, and withdrawal. The disease develops because amyloid plaques accumulate in the brain, interfering with neural transmission. But why do these plaques develop in some elderly persons but not others?

A recent paper in the Journal of Pathology (217:131-138, Jan. 2009) offers some tantalizing clues. It appears that two factors may be involved; 1) a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease, and 2) chronic infection of the brain with the same virus that causes cold sores; Herpes simplex type 1. The herpes virus is present in the brains of a high proportion of elderly persons. In the absence of the genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s the virus doesn’t seem to do much. But in elderly patients with the genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s, the virus is associated with amyloid plaque accumulation and may in fact be the cause of the plaque formation. If this turns out to be correct, Alzheimer’s disease may some day be preventable with a vaccine.

I am reminded of another chronic disease - peptic ulcers - that turned out to be caused by an infection, in this case by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (see Human Biology, 5th ed., p. 328).

Rabu, 03 Desember 2008

More research opportunities

Caltech is excited to announce two summer research opportunities available to
continuing undergraduate students. Questions about these programs can be
directed to Carol Casey at casey@caltech.edu or (626) 395-2887.


The MURF program aims to increase the participation of underrepresented
students (such as African American, Hispanic, and Native American, females
who are underrepresented in their discipline, and first-generation college
students) in science and engineering Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. programs and to make
Caltech's programs more visible to students not traditionally exposed to

Eligibility: Students must be current sophomores through non-graduating
seniors and must be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents. A minimum GPA
of 3.0 is required.

Support: MURF students will receive a $6000 award for the ten-week program.
Additional housing and travel support may be provided.

Application: Online applications are due January 12, 2009.

For more information, please visit www.murf.caltech.edu


Caltech's Amgen Scholars Program is geared towards students in biology,
chemistry, and biotechnology fields. Some of these fields include biology,
biochemistry, bioengineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering, and

Eligibility: Students must be current sophomores through non-graduating
seniors, must be attending a four-year university, and must be U.S. citizens
or U.S. permanent residents. A minimum GPA of 3.2 is required.

Support: Amgen Scholars will receive a $5500 award, round-trip air
transportation, a generous housing allowance, and a food allowance.

Application: Online applications are due February 15, 2009.

For more information, please visit www.amgenscholars.caltech.edu

Carol Casey
Associate Director
Student-Faculty Programs
California Institute of Technology
Mail Code 08-31
Pasadena, CA 91125
(626) 395-2887

Marine biodiversity undergrad research opportunity

For the fifth consecutive year, we will be running The Diversity Project, an NSF funded  research opportunity designed to increase participation of under-represented undergraduate students in the marine sciences. In collaboration between Boston University, Duke University, Old Dominion University and UCLA, students will integrate hands-on field research in the Coral Triangle with cutting edge genetic research. The project will explore the origins marine biodiversity in the Coral Triangle in an effort to improve conservation of this remarkable ecosystems. Students are fully funded for both living and travel expenses. Visit http://www.eeb.ucla.edu/Faculty/Barber/Intro.htm for more information and on-line application.

This research opportunity has been a remarkable personal and professional experience for the students who have participated.
Please encourage any students whom you believe would benefit from such an experience to apply. Applications are due January 15, 2009.

Selasa, 02 Desember 2008

Colloquium and Seminar

For those of you in the Biology colloquium remember that Wednesday is our final meeting and the ball is in your court. Please bring your final two assignments: the review of faculty web pages and the seminar review if you have not already submitted them. Be prepared to speak about your plan of action for finding a research position.

A last minute seminar:
Wednesday Dec. 3
9 AM in MSRB 1302
Shawna McMahon, PhD exit seminar
Seasonality of Arctic Soil Microbial Community Substrate Use.

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