All posts tagged: writing

We Can Count on Bees, but Can Bees Count?

We all appreciate honeybees as reliable, hardworking, and generous insects which play vital roles in different ecosystems. But did you know that they are quite smart, too? A study published last February in Science Advances has shown that one species of honeybees—Apis mellifera— can solve problems involving some basic arithmetic operations. Cecilia Grimaldi, “Sweet math”, Digital color photography Bees’ cognitive capacities are not news to researches. Previous studies have shown that these insects not only can grasp concepts like ‘left/right,’ ‘above/below,’ and ‘larger/smaller,’ but they are able to count and even understand a concept as complex as the quantitive value of nothing, placing zero at the lower end of sequential positive numbers. To further investigate bees’ numerical capacities, Scarlett Howard and colleagues trained honeybees to associate symbols of a specific color, either blue or yellow, with the arithmetic operations of addition or subtraction, respectively. At the entrance of a Y-maze, bees were presented with a certain number of colored symbols. Once they had viewed this stimulus, they could fly into one of two possible decision chambers. If …

Couples Counselling for Zebrafish: How to Optimize Breeding Efficiency

Are you a scientist working with zebrafish? Are you having trouble making zebrafish couples mating? Are you tired of wasting your time staring at them swimming around, with no intention of spawning a single egg for your experiments? Check out my article “COUPLES COUNSELLING FOR ZEBRAFISH: HOW TO OPTIMIZE BREEDING EFFICIENCY,” published on the website Bitesize Bio.

All Like It Hot

Have you ever wondered how does temperature affect the taste of your coffee? I had just turned a page when suddenly a cool breeze blew on my cup of coffee and revived the flame of the candle that had been quietly dying on the table for hours. I turned my head; somebody had left without closing the front door behind them. I can’t abide my coffee getting cold; it is one of my rules. I’d rather pay the painful price of a scalded tongue than drink it cold. There is nothing left in a tepid coffee but bitterness. The aroma, the body, the flavor, the lingering aftertaste, all gone; just bitterness. And I am convinced that everyone gets more than enough bitterness for free in a lifetime. So I dog-eared my book, pulled the cuffs of my favorite sweater down over my hands, and walked towards the coffee house’s entrance to close the door.  It was at that moment I realized that the rain had stopped, and a soft, foggy light filtered through the half-opened door. It was the …

“I keep the positives of science into focus”: an interview with Prof. Marianne Bronner

As a member of the Women in Science network from CiM, I have recently interviewed Prof. Marianne Bronner, a professor of developmental biology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). We discussed her point of view on issues like impostor’s syndrome, mentorship strategies, and the importance of motivating young female scientists by projecting the positive and fun aspects of a scientific career. You can read the full interview here: An interview with Prof. Marianne Bronner    

“What matters most in doing research is enjoying the process”: an interview with Prof. Anna Akhmanova

Prof. Anna Akhmanova, a professor of cell biology at Utrecht University, has recently given a talk as part of the lecture series ‘Pioneers in Cell Dynamics and Imaging’ organized by the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (CiM) in Muenster, Germany. In that occasion, I had the pleasure to interview her and get to know her point of view on pros and cons of a career in academia, the greatest challenges of mentorship, and the role of women in science. You can read the interview here: An interview with Prof. Anna Akhmanova 

I want to know, have you ever smelled the rain?

Going for a walk? You better ask your nose if you should bring an umbrella along (A.K.A: What is the scientific explanation for the scent of a rainstorm?). The day had started without many expectations and then had turned into a Sunday afternoon dominated by black clouds that obscured both the sky as well as any hope of finding an explanation for my melancholy. Rainy days are never a good time for me to reason life out. Rain usually brings along a heavy, gloomy desire to do nothing but look up with my eyes and back with my mind. And on that day I knew rain was about to start; I could smell it… Wait a minute, could I?! Is it true that people can smell oncoming storms? And if yes, how is that possible? People who claim (me included) that they can smell the fresh, earthy aroma of an approaching rainstorm aren’t just imagining it. Storms produce distinctive odors that can be detected by human noses and are even stronger after a dry spell. More specifically, identifiable scents are …