Suitland, MD, United States
Suitland, MD, United States

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Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: MSCA-NIGHT-2016 | Award Amount: 171.75K | Year: 2016

FRESH (Find Research Everywhere and SHare) is led by the Center for Research and Analysis with 13 partners and 5 associated partners. The Consortium includes Bulgarias first technological park, a chamber of industry and commerce, a pan-European organisation, leading research organisations, academia, and media. The aim is to create a series of participatory and media events to promote research careers, aimed in particular towards young people and their parents. Building on existing understanding developed through previous local initiatives including Researchers Night, and with reference to Europe-wide research like the Special Eurobarometer 401, as well as the MASIS report and the in-depth Education and Training Monitor 2015 for Bulgaria , the focus of this 20-month programme will be on enhancing the public understanding of and engagement with science. Core activities during the Night will include a digital participatory campaign to engage audiences across the country; international live streaming; science city quests and quizzes; science cafes; hands-on experiments; science shows; simulations; games and competitions. Thematic programmes will include, among other, food and nutrition, inspired by 2016 International Year of Pulses , engineering, oceanology, innovation and business incubators, technological transfer, medicine, and others. The on-the-ground activities will take place in the largest cities including several where Researchers Night has not been marked. Innovation will be an intricate part of the events through the use of online technology to enhance the physical activity, engage particularly young audiences and to guarantee sustainability outside the lifespan of the project. The activities of the first year will allow learning to accrue from a thorough evaluation. The project will strengthen the capabilities of the partners in organising events for a general audience, and for underserved audiences, including girls and people with hearing disabilities.


Temkin I.,National Museum of Natural History
BMC Evolutionary Biology | Year: 2010

Background. The superfamily Pterioidea is a morphologically and ecologically diverse lineage of epifaunal marine bivalves distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical continental shelf regions. This group includes commercially important pearl culture species and model organisms used for medical studies of biomineralization. Recent morphological treatment of selected pterioideans and molecular phylogenetic analyses of higher-level relationships in Bivalvia have challenged the traditional view that pterioidean families are monophyletic. This issue is examined here in light of molecular data sets composed of DNA sequences for nuclear and mitochondrial loci, and a published character data set of anatomical and shell morphological characters. Results. The present study is the first comprehensive species-level analysis of the Pterioidea to produce a well-resolved, robust phylogenetic hypothesis for nearly all extant taxa. The data were analyzed for potential biases due to taxon and character sampling, and idiosyncracies of different molecular evolutionary processes. The congruence and contribution of different partitions were quantified, and the sensitivity of clade stability to alignment parameters was explored. Conclusions. Four primary conclusions were reached: (1) the results strongly supported the monophyly of the Pterioidea; (2) none of the previously defined families (except for the monotypic Pulvinitidae) were monophyletic; (3) the arrangement of the genera was novel and unanticipated, however strongly supported and robust to changes in alignment parameters; and (4) optimizing key morphological characters onto topologies derived from the analysis of molecular data revealed many instances of homoplasy and uncovered synapomorphies for major nodes. Additionally, a complete species-level sampling of the genus Pinctada provided further insights into the on-going controversy regarding the taxonomic identity of major pearl culture species. © 2010 Tmkin; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Wagner P.J.,National Museum of Natural History | Estabrook G.F.,University of Michigan
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2014

Evolution provides many cases of apparent shifts in diversification associated with particular anatomical traits. Three general models connect these patterns to anatomical evolution: (i) elevated net extinction of taxa bearing particular traits, (ii) elevated net speciation of taxa bearing particular traits, and (iii) elevated evolvability expanding the range of anatomies available to some species. Traitbased diversification shifts predict elevated hierarchical stratigraphic compatibility (i.e., primitive→derived→highly derived sequences) among pairs of anatomical characters. The three specific models further predict (i) early loss of diversity for taxa retaining primitive conditions (elevated net extinction), (ii) increased diversification among later members of a clade (elevated net speciation), and (iii) increased disparity among later members in a clade (elevated evolvability). Analyses of 319 anatomical and stratigraphic datasets for fossil species and genera show that hierarchical stratigraphic compatibility exceeds the expectations of trait-independent diversification in the vast majority of cases, which was expected if traitdependent diversification shifts are common. Excess hierarchical stratigraphic compatibility correlates with early loss of diversity for groups retaining primitive conditions rather than delayed bursts of diversity or disparity across entire clades. Cambrian clades (predominantly trilobites) alone fit null expectations well. However, it is not clearwhether evolution was unusual among Cambrian taxa or only early trilobites. At least among post-Cambrian taxa, these results implicate models, such as competition and extinction selectivity/resistance, as major drivers of trait-based diversification shifts at the species and genus levels while contradicting the predictions of elevated net speciation and elevated evolvability models.


Lavelle C.,National Museum of Natural History | Lavelle C.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Lavelle C.,French Institute of Health and Medical Research
Current Opinion in Genetics and Development | Year: 2014

Molecular motors such as polymerases produce physical constraints on DNA and chromatin. Recent techniques, in particular single-molecule micromanipulation, provide estimation of the forces and torques at stake. These biophysical approaches have improved our understanding of chromatin behaviour under physiological physical constraints and should, in conjunction with genome wide and in vivo studies, help to build more realistic mechanistic models of transcription in the context of chromatin. Here, we wish to provide a brief overview of our current knowledge in the field, and emphasize at the same time the importance of DNA supercoiling as a major parameter in gene regulation. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IRSES | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IRSES | Award Amount: 478.80K | Year: 2011

The project is finalized to establish long-term research co-operations through a coordinated joint program of research staff exchanges for short periods on the following topics: selection of plant species according to ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological approaches; breeding to preserve biodiversity and gene reservation of food, medicinal and aromatic plants; cultivation of food, medicinal and aromatic plant species to improve the quality of the starting material for industrial use (using good agrotechnological guidelines); biotechnological protocols for the production of standardized plant material or for the maintainance of plant species; identification of rural areas which have to be examined as mapped sites and official knowledge degree of the nutraceuticals field; extraction, isolation and structural elucidation of secondary metabolites from plants in order to evaluate biological properties of plant extracts and their bioactive constituents as nutraceutical ingredients with innovative techniques and facilities; development of extraction and quali-quantitative evaluation of plant constituents with medicinal, food, agronomic and industrial interest (bioactive compounds, essential oils, natural aroma, flavour, fragrances, natural dyes); chemical profile of essential oils and volatile fractions for the selection of essential oil from different plant families; development and validation of bio-analytical methods devoted to biomarkers and active compounds in plant extracts; evaluation of antibacterial, antioxidant, cytotoxic, genotoxic, mutagen and antimutagen, apoptotic activity of plant extracts and derivatives; structure-activity relationship studies on standardized extracts or new bioactive compounds isolated from the selected plant material; Emi- or total synthesis of novel products from natural products identified as molecular target to development new drugs.


The hook's evolution from utilitarian tool to expression of cultural heritage is the subject of a paper by Jonathan Malindine, a doctoral student in UC Santa Barbara's Department of Anthropology. In "Northwest Coast Halibut Hooks: an Evolving Tradition of Form, Function, and Fishing," published in the journal Human Ecology, he traces the arc of the hook's design and how its dimensions have changed over time. "I used to be a commercial fisherman in Alaska, and also lived in a Tlingit and Haida community," Malindine said. "So, the intersection of fisheries and Alaska Native art has always fascinated me. These NWC hooks are really effective at catching halibut, and also are intricately carved with rich, figural designs. Between the technology and the mythological imagery, there's a lot going on." Halibut hooks, often called wood hooks, are part of a sophisticated apparatus for catching the flat, bottom-dwelling fish that can weigh more than 500 pounds. Constructed in two pieces of different woods, they look something like an open fish mouth from the side, with a barb, facing backwards, lashed to the top piece. When the fish tries to spit out the hook, the barb sets in its jaw. Hooks were carefully carved to maximize their potential for catching fish, and their shape and size varied depending on the size of halibut they were used for. But as modern fishing technology displaced traditional gear, wood hooks began to change, varying greatly in design and dimension from early versions. These "art hooks" were created as decorative objects, often depicting animals important to NWC traditions and using materials such as abalone inlay. It was that transition in the hooks, from utility to art, that Malindine studied. To do so, he examined, photographed and took detailed measurements of every intact NWC hook—109 total—in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian. He found that "in the case of NWC halibut hooks, shifting function drives the shift in materials, dimension, and meaning," he writes in the paper. "The NWC halibut hook has largely ceased to function to catch fish, and its dimensions are changing to favor decorative and symbolic content over utilitarian/functional requirements. Nowadays it is primarily designed to link Alaska Natives to their ancestral heritage, and the art buyer to a tangible representation of NWC mythological and artistic tradition." In addition to its contributions to academia, the research will benefit NWC carvers of wood hooks. Malindine has shared his work with them, allowing them to see what the hooks looked like as many as 150 years ago. "The Alaska Native carvers and Tribal members with whom I've shared these images and dimensional measurements are just happy to see them," he said. "These hooks are part of their cultural heritage, and have basically been locked away in storage facilities—sometimes for a hundred years. "I've specifically given the images and measurements I produced to several Alaska Native artists and carving instructors, so they can use them in their classes when teaching students to carve halibut hooks," he continued. "Hopefully these images and measurements will be really useful in that type of classroom setting, especially for creating accurate reproductions." Malindine's study of the hooks came through his participation in the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) program, which is funded by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation. He was one of 12 graduate students chosen from around the country to learn to use museum collections as field sites for research. "There are vast numbers of important objects hidden away in museum collections facilities that are rarely studied," he said. "The SIMA program taught us how to approach studying museum objects—from theory of material culture, collections management, conservation and object handling, to photography, research design, data collection, analysis and eventual publication of results." As Malindine noted, wood hooks are still more than curiosities or museum pieces. "I was fortunate enough to interview two of the very few people who still fish with traditional wood hooks," he said. "One of them, Jon Rowan, claims he has as much, if not more, success using wood hooks to catch halibut than he does using modern fishing gear. These have stuck around for a reason: They're very good at catching halibut. Of course most people don't want to risk losing a valuable and beautiful carved NWC halibut hook, so almost everyone these days uses commercially produced circle hooks that cost a few dollars each." Casey Walsh, an associate professor of anthropology and Malindine's graduate advisor, called the examination of wood hooks solid science that places it in a human context. "Jonathan's paper is a great example of the explanatory strength of a holistic approach to understanding humans," Walsh said. "He skillfully combined environmental, social and cultural elements to tell us why halibut hooks matter, not only for basic sustenance, but also for people's relationships with each other and their creative, artistic lives." More information: Jonathan Malindine. Northwest Coast Halibut Hooks: an Evolving Tradition of Form, Function, and Fishing, Human Ecology (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s10745-016-9884-z


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that up to 90 percent of predatory fish are gone from Caribbean coral reefs, straining the ocean ecosystem and coastal economy. The good news? They identified reefs, known as supersites, which can support large numbers of predator fishes that if reintroduced, can help restore the environmental and economic setback inflicted by overfishing. The work, led by former UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student Abel Valdivia working with John Bruno, a marine biologist at UNC College of Arts & Sciences, suggests that these supersites - reefs with many nooks and crannies on its surface that act as hiding places for prey (and attract predators) - should be prioritized for protection and could serve as regional models showcasing the value of biodiversity for tourism and other uses. Other features that make a supersite are amount of available food, size of reef and proximity to mangroves. "On land, a supersite would be a national park like Yellowstone, which naturally supports an abundance of varied wildlife and has been protected by the federal government," said Bruno, whose work appears in the March 1 issue of Science Advances. The team surveyed 39 reefs across the Bahamas, Cuba, Florida, Mexico and Belize, both inside and outside marine reserves, to determine how much fish had been lost by comparing fish biomass on pristine sites to fish biomass on a typical reef. They estimated the biomass in each location and found that 90 percent of predatory fish were gone due to overfishing. What they didn't expect to find was a ray of hope -- a small number of reef locations that if protected could substantially contribute to the recovery of predatory fish populations and help restore depleted species. "Some features have a surprisingly large effect on how many predators a reef can support," said Courtney Ellen Cox, a coauthor and former UNC-Chapel Hill doctoral student now at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. For example, researchers believe that the Columbia Reef within the fisheries closures of Cozumel, Mexico, could support an average 10 times the current level of predatory fish if protected. Not long ago, large fishes were plentiful on coral reefs, but are now largely absent due to targeted fishing. Today, predators are larger and more abundant within the marine reserves than on unprotected, overfished reefs. But even some of the marine reserves have seen striking declines, largely due to lack of enforcement of fishing regulations. The bottom line is protection of predatory fish is a win-win from both an environmental and an economical perspective, explained Bruno. "A live shark is worth over a million dollars in tourism revenue over its lifespan because sharks live for decades and thousands of people will travel and dive just to see them up close," said Valdivia, now at the Center for Biological Diversity in Oakland, Calif. "There is a massive economic incentive to restore and protect sharks and other top predators on coral reefs."


News Article | February 20, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Winner of an eBay auction Steve Mix received the opportunity to pick the name for a new species of satiny-white winged moth collected from the white gypsum dunes of the White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. A fan of butterflies and moths himself, he chose to honor his supportive and encouraging mother Delinda Mix, so the moth is now formally listed under the species name delindae. It is described in the open access journal ZooKeys. Having spent 10 years studying the moth fauna at the White Sands National Monument, Eric H. Metzler, curator at the Michigan State University, but also research collaborator at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and research associate at the University of New Mexico and the University of Florida, discovered the moth during the first year of the study, in 2007. Back then, he spotted a curious small white moth with a satiny appearance, which immediately drew his attention. Already assigned to the genus Givira to the family commonly known as carpenter millers, the moth was yet to be identified as a species. While most of its North American 'relatives' are either dark-colored, or have substantial dark smudges on the forewings, there are only four of them, including the new species, which are substantially white with few or no dark markings. Further hindrance occurred when the researcher tried to study the specimens, as pinned moths turned out greased due to their abdomens being full of fatty tissue. However, the specialist managed to degrease them by carefully brushing their scales, and, having compared them to related species, confirmed them as representatives of a species new to science. Then, Eric joined the fundraising event, organized by the Western National Parks Association (WNPA), a non-profit education partner of the US National Park Service. The highest bidder in the eBay auction would receive the chance to pick the scientific name for the satiny-looking moth, and thus, become part of history. Having won the opportunity, Steve Mix, who himself had once been interested in studying butterflies and moths, and has been maintaining his fondness of them ever since, decided to name the species after his mother Delinda Mix, in gratitude for "the support and encouragement she gave to her son". "Steve Mix submitted the winning bid, and he chose to have the moth named after his mother because of the lasting nature of this naming opportunity", shares Eric. "I received no remuneration in this fundraising venture, and by volunteering my personal money, time, expertise, and experience I was able to help WNPA gain world-wide positive publicity while raising some much needed cash. The rewards to me were being able to help WNPA and Steve Mix honor his mother, which is just so very sentimental". "WNPA is so pleased that we were able to work with Eric and we are grateful to Steve. This project is a shining example of working together towards the common good of our parks with the added value of providing a priceless experience for everyone involved", says Amy Reichgott, Development Manager at the Western National Parks Association. Metzler EH (2017) The Lepidoptera of White Sands National Monument, Otero County, New Mexico, USA 9. A new species of Givira Walker (Cossidae, Hypoptinae) dedicated to Delinda Mix, including a list of species of Cossidae recorded from the Monument. ZooKeys 655: 141-156. https:/


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The Tlingit and Haida, indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast (NWC), have used carved wooden hooks to catch halibut for centuries. As modern fishing technology crept into use, however, the old hooks practically disappeared from the sea. But they thrived on land -- as decorative art. The hook's evolution from utilitarian tool to expression of cultural heritage is the subject of a paper by Jonathan Malindine, a doctoral student in UC Santa Barbara's Department of Anthropology. In "Northwest Coast Halibut Hooks: an Evolving Tradition of Form, Function, and Fishing," published in the journal Human Ecology, he traces the arc of the hook's design and how its dimensions have changed over time. "I used to be a commercial fisherman in Alaska, and also lived in a Tlingit and Haida community," Malindine said. "So, the intersection of fisheries and Alaska Native art has always fascinated me. These NWC hooks are really effective at catching halibut, and also are intricately carved with rich, figural designs. Between the technology and the mythological imagery, there's a lot going on." Halibut hooks, often called wood hooks, are part of a sophisticated apparatus for catching the flat, bottom-dwelling fish that can weigh more than 500 pounds. Constructed in two pieces of different woods, they look something like an open fish mouth from the side, with a barb, facing backwards, lashed to the top piece. When the fish tries to spit out the hook, the barb sets in its jaw. Hooks were carefully carved to maximize their potential for catching fish, and their shape and size varied depending on the size of halibut they were used for. But as modern fishing technology displaced traditional gear, wood hooks began to change, varying greatly in design and dimension from early versions. These "art hooks" were created as decorative objects, often depicting animals important to NWC traditions and using materials such as abalone inlay. It was that transition in the hooks, from utility to art, that Malindine studied. To do so, he examined, photographed and took detailed measurements of every intact NWC hook -- 109 total -- in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian. He found that "in the case of NWC halibut hooks, shifting function drives the shift in materials, dimension, and meaning," he writes in the paper. "The NWC halibut hook has largely ceased to function to catch fish, and its dimensions are changing to favor decorative and symbolic content over utilitarian/functional requirements. Nowadays it is primarily designed to link Alaska Natives to their ancestral heritage, and the art buyer to a tangible representation of NWC mythological and artistic tradition." In addition to its contributions to academia, the research will benefit NWC carvers of wood hooks. Malindine has shared his work with them, allowing them to see what the hooks looked like as many as 150 years ago. "The Alaska Native carvers and Tribal members with whom I've shared these images and dimensional measurements are just happy to see them," he said. "These hooks are part of their cultural heritage, and have basically been locked away in storage facilities -- sometimes for a hundred years. "I've specifically given the images and measurements I produced to several Alaska Native artists and carving instructors, so they can use them in their classes when teaching students to carve halibut hooks," he continued. "Hopefully these images and measurements will be really useful in that type of classroom setting, especially for creating accurate reproductions." Malindine's study of the hooks came through his participation in the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) program, which is funded by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation. He was one of 12 graduate students chosen from around the country to learn to use museum collections as field sites for research. "There are vast numbers of important objects hidden away in museum collections facilities that are rarely studied," he said. "The SIMA program taught us how to approach studying museum objects -- from theory of material culture, collections management, conservation and object handling, to photography, research design, data collection, analysis and eventual publication of results." As Malindine noted, wood hooks are still more than curiosities or museum pieces. "I was fortunate enough to interview two of the very few people who still fish with traditional wood hooks," he said. "One of them, Jon Rowan, claims he has as much, if not more, success using wood hooks to catch halibut than he does using modern fishing gear. These have stuck around for a reason: They're very good at catching halibut. Of course most people don't want to risk losing a valuable and beautiful carved NWC halibut hook, so almost everyone these days uses commercially produced circle hooks that cost a few dollars each." Casey Walsh, an associate professor of anthropology and Malindine's graduate advisor, called the examination of wood hooks solid science that places it in a human context. "Jonathan's paper is a great example of the explanatory strength of a holistic approach to understanding humans," Walsh said. "He skillfully combined environmental, social and cultural elements to tell us why halibut hooks matter, not only for basic sustenance, but also for people's relationships with each other and their creative, artistic lives."


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

The Smithsonian and the National Art Education Association (NAEA), the leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts educators, announced a three-year agreement to work collaboratively on educator professional development and to support teacher creation of model curriculum. The first major project under the collaboration is two full days of Smithsonian programming during the NAEA National Convention, March 2-4, in New York City. Smithsonian educators from the center and from the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Freer/Sackler Galleries, and the National Museum of African Art will offer professional development sessions such as A full list of sessions is available at s.si.edu/NAEA2017. Educators attending the sessions will use the Smithsonian Learning Lab, an online toolkit to find, customize and share digital museum resources with others, using technology devices provided by Lenovo. The Learning Lab offers free digital access to nearly two million diverse resources — including artworks, interviews with artists, videos with curators, and artists’ papers and archival records — with simple-to-use tools to organize, augment and personalize them. The Smithsonian and NAEA collaborated on a webinar on the Lab, “Discover Digital Museum Resources through the Smithsonian Learning Lab,” which is available at the NAEA Virtual Art Educators Website. About Smithsonian Institution Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has been committed to inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery. The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. There are 6,500 Smithsonian employees and 6,300 volunteers. There were 30 million visits to the Smithsonian in 2016. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at 154 million, including more than 145 million specimens and artifacts at the National Museum of Natural History. http://www.smithsonian.org About National Art Education Association Founded in 1947, the National Art Education Association is the leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts educators. Members include elementary, middle and high school visual arts educators; college and university professors; university students preparing to be art educators; researchers and scholars; teaching artists; administrators and supervisors; and art museum educators—as well as more than 54,000 students who are members of the National Art Honor Society.

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