Becky Barak is a Ph.D. candidate in Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden's Graduate Program in Plant Biology and Conservation. She gave an "ignite" talk at this August's Ecological Society of America meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Ignite talks are only 5 minutes, and slides advance automatically every 15 seconds. Becky, and others in her session, described their research using only the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language. This fun challenge was inspired by xkcd's "Upgoer Five" cartoon.
[Anna writes...] The following piece won runner-up in UWE Bristol's SCU Science Writing Competion. for a 700 word article on the "next big thing in science." Read the judge's comments on Anna's work, and the other winners' pieces, here.
[Andy writes...] There’s a debate raging in some corners of the internet regarding how we should view genetic modification of plants in our world. We can all agree that a healthy food supply and a clean environment are top priorities, but how GMOs fit in is not always clear. Earlier this week I was in the middle of retweeting some commentary on the subject when I was struck mid-click by a question: does anyone even care about this? There are so many causes and arguments and debates in the world, who cares if I support one side or another regarding genetic modification of plants? Maybe this is just another argument in the never-ending cesspool of arguments on the internet. Why do I care? Should anyone else care too?
[Anna writes…] A few days ago I shared with you all the great opportunity that I think video games could serve in connecting people with nature. I wrote that post a week or two ago, and just so happened to post and share right in time for the explosion of Pokémon Go after its release last Wednesday.
[Anna writes...] Recently a girl with a triforce tattoo sent me the trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the upcoming Nintendo release from our favorite video game series.
I would’ve been excited about any Zelda trailer, especially since I hadn’t heard about the new game. But after watching, this one had me excited for a new reason.
You see, I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on why some people are interested in nature, why others aren’t, and how it can all be explained by video games.
[Andy writes...] I recently had the chance to attend the annual Plant and Animal Genome conference in San Diego. This conference gathers a few thousand genetics and genomics scientists from around the world so that they can share their research, learn about new advances in the field, and strengthen the genetics community as a whole. Generally I would expect detailed, cutting edge seminars, and for the most part my expectations were exceeded. However my biggest takeaway from the whole conference came from the opening keynote address by Alison Van Eenennaam regarding communication in science.
My favorite plant scientist, Andy Funk, has just joined the Plant//People blog team! We've also moved to a new domain, plantpeopleblog.com. I [Anna] will keep posting about plants (and more) in the natural world, and academic life as an ecologist. Andy will broaden our ponderings with his perspectives on plant genetics, crops, and the more lab-based side of plant academia.
We'll label our posts with [Anna writes...] or [Andy writes...] so you know who's talking. We may even have more guest contributors in the future! Stay tuned, exciting times are ahead!
Check it out! Tell your friends! Plant//People on Instagram!
Picture this: you're standing out in nature. Look down. What do you see?
Is it plants in your yard? Is it barnacles on a rocky sea shore? Is it a forest floor?
It doesn't matter what it is, as long as you're picturing it! (Mine's a prairie.)
Nearly every eco-savvy gardener knows that native plants are best for attracting native animal species. We plant milkweed for the monarchs and thistles for the finches. With native plants themselves in increasingly short supply in their wild habitats, and increasing evidence that pollinators are in trouble (e.g., Potts et al 2010 in Trends in Ecology & Evolution), the more natives we can plant for the pollinators, the better.
But a scientific research paper published in the Journal of Applied Ecology last year (Salisbury et al. 2015) is challenging the assumption that natives are always the way to go.