SciPod podcast

Optimising Carbon - Hydrogen Bond Activation For Efficient Organic Synthesis - Dr Oscar Verho, Uppsala University

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Choosing which drug molecule to build is only one part of pharmaceutical research; medicinal chemists also need to know how to synthesise drug molecules in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Dr Oscar Verho and his team at Uppsala University in Sweden have made significant progress in this area and are aiming to reduce the time and resources needed to make drug compounds. The team is researching methods to ‘activate’ the carbon-hydrogen bonds that are commonly found in organic molecules to ultimately shorten the synthetic route to the required compound.

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    ‘Green Manure’: How Cover Crops Create Healthy Soils and Boost Crop Yields - Dr Lynn Brandenberger | Dr Joshua Massey


    In order to meet the demands of a growing human population, farmers across the globe are attempting to improve the yields and nutritional content of their crops. However, this is an especially difficult challenge, in an age where climate change is negatively impacting our agricultural systems. To address these pressing issues, Dr Lynn Brandenberger and Dr Joshua Massey of Oklahoma State University focus on the intersection of soil health and crop production. Recently, they demonstrated how cover crops can greatly improve soil health and, consequently, enhance crop yields.
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    Providing Effective Pest Management Education Through Animations - Dr Julia Bello-Bravo


    Integrated pest management describes effective and environmentally sensitive approaches to controlling agricultural pests, which are based on combinations of different practices. Educational information on integrated pest management is much more accessible in the developed world than in developing countries. This is due to a combination of language and technology barriers around information sharing. To ensure that reliable content related to integrated pest management systems and other educational resources can also be widely accessed by people in developing countries, researchers at Michigan State University and Purdue University have created Scientific Animations Without Borders – or SAWBO – which provides scientifically accurate animations about various important topics.
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    Engineering the Path to New Semiconductors - Dr Yasuo Koide


    As fundamental components of our electronic and optical devices, semiconductors are essential to our modern way of life. Dr Yasuo Koide of the National Institute for Material Science in Japan has an extensive history of researching and developing these unique materials. Alongside his colleagues, Dr Koide continues to break through the boundaries of our existing knowledge to create new and exciting technologies.
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    Causality: A Fundamental Necessity or Part of the Problem?


    For thousands of years, the notion of a one-way flow of cause-and-effect has underpinned virtually every scientific theory. Yet Dr Martin Tamm at the University of Stockholm argues that this notion of ‘causality’ may be holding back our understanding of how the Universe really works. Through his research, he suggests an alternative approach, based around a mathematical construct named ‘probability space’. His ideas could ultimately lead to new solutions to problems that physicists have struggled with for decades.
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    Strategies and Tools for Studying Microglial-Mediated Synapse Elimination and Refinement


    Synapse elimination is a tightly regulated process, and an aberrant number of synapses both during the early stages of development or later in aging, has been observed in several neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia or autism. Effective methodological approaches for investigating how supernumerary synapses and apoptotic material are removed from the brain are vital for understanding the underlying mechanisms, and this, in turn, may provide exciting avenues for the development of new treatments. Dr Morini, Dr Filipello and colleagues at Humanitas University and at Washington University in St Louis have recently published a review about the different strategies and tools available to study the role of microglia, the phagocytes of the brain, in neuronal and synaptic substrates phagocytosis.
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    Uncovering The Trigger For Mars’ Global Dust Storms - James H. Shirley


    Enshrouding the Martian surface with thick clouds of dust, the Red Planet’s unique global dust storms have long mystified astronomers and planetary scientists. James Shirley, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has shown through his research that the occurrence of these global storms is strongly linked to the changes in Mars’ motion about the gravitational centre of the solar system. Already boasting strong observational evidence, his results could not only improve our understanding of the Mars atmosphere – they may also lead to a better understanding of turbulent weather patterns on Earth.
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    The HBCU - HDI Women In STEM Conferences - Dr Sonya Smith


    Although the number of women enrolling in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses has increased over the past few years, women still remain widely underrepresented in STEM fields. To address this serious issue, the HBCU-HDI Women in STEM Conference, an event organised by Dr Sonya Smith and her colleagues at Howard University, brings female scientists and graduate students from the US and South Africa together to openly discuss the challenges and opportunities for women pursuing careers in STEM-related fields.
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    The Galapagos Initiative Saving The Enchanted Islands - Dr Stephen Walsh, University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill


    The Galapagos Islands are facing increasing danger. Local and global forces – including tourism and climate change – threaten the fragile island ecosystems. The high number of unique plants and animals on the islands means that the loss of a Galapagos species may represent a global extinction event. The Galapagos Initiative, founded by Dr Stephen Walsh of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Dr Carlos Mena of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, aims to save the Galapagos Islands with an innovative, sustainable strategy combining evidence from key interdisciplinary projects and a robust mapping and modelling program.
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    The Benefits Of A High - Protein Diet Across The Lifespan - Dr Jamie I. Baum, University Of Arkansas


    Being overweight is a well-recognised risk factor for the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, and certain types of cancer. As such, obesity represents a significant public health issue worldwide. It is the leading cause of death in the USA, notably in Arkansas, where Dr Jamie I. Baum, at the Department of Food Science at the University of Arkansas, is exploring, with her colleagues, the relationship between dietary protein intake and its impact on body composition and metabolism to develop efficient nutritional guidelines to prevent and treat obesity.
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    Superinsulators The Hideout Of Magnetic Monopoles


    Magnetic monopoles have long been dismissed as impossible by many physicists, but their existence has nonetheless been theorised for many decades. Through their extensive research, scientists at Terra Quantum AG, the University of Perugia, and SwissScientific Technologies, show that the end could soon be in sight for this conflict. The team’s investigations into superconducting materials not only show that magnetic monopoles must be real – their discoveries also set the stage for exciting technological advances.

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