Daily Archive: February 27, 2018



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this is a nanowire! learn something new every day with bwog science :)

Yesterday, Bwog Daily Editor Ramisa Murshed and Science Editor Alex Tang attended a highly interdisciplinary physics colloquium talk given by Dr. Moh El-Naggar, where he discussed the relevance and mechanisms behind electron transport in living organisms. Read more if you’re interested in physics, chemistry, and/or biology!

Dr. Moh El-Naggar of the University of Southern California made an appearance at Columbia’s Physics Colloquium to talk about the fascinating mechanisms behind electron transport (in microbe mitochondria) in his lecture, “Life Electric: What Can Microbes Teach Us About Electron Transport, Energy and Sustainability.” Dr. El-Naggar’s work lies within the intersection between physics, biology, and chemistry, and aims to grasp a multifaceted knowledge of electron transport.

Dr. El-Naggar began by stating the purpose of his lecture: to tell a story primarily about the electron transport chain and microbes. His story begins with a comparison between hard materials and life: the digital revolution was enabled by fundamental advances in our understanding of how electric charges change hard materials, but many may overlook the existence of a similar understanding in biological entities. Because his lecture is part of the Physics Colloquium, he recognized that the primary audience would be more physics-oriented, so he began to introduce some biological concepts, starting with mitochondria. After mentioning the now-famous maxim that “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell,” Dr. El-Naggar explained that mitochondria are fundamental electron transport machines that extract electrons from fuels, like food, to produce ATP (energy), which is a mechanism that is common in all respiratory organisms (including us humans!).

Life, Dr. El-Naggar explained, is made possible through these electron transport machines. Microbes specifically are remarkably fast electron transport machines; they convert energy faster than other entities. For example, in the time that it takes the sun to convert approximately 0.0002 Watt/kg, a bacterium can convert approximately 0.1 to 100 Watt/kg. Dr. El-Naggar then began to discuss a certain group of microbes, metal-reducing bacteria, that don’t have to use oxygen as the final electron acceptor for the energy conversion process to occur. These bacteria, as long as they are redox-active, are capable of using external metallic surfaces to transport electrons. This extracellular electron transport serves as an interface between the biotic and abiotic world, or the living and non-living worlds.

Read more to learn how NASA gets involved!



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Chopped like these herbs I can’t name!

Ah, Food Network, the best channel to watch around your parents that still has some entertainment value (Cutthroat Kitchen, anyone?). If you agree, and can cook, Chopped wants you! According to the email Bwog received:

“The hit cooking competition show Chopped is looking for college undergrads who love their schools, and have a talent and passion for cooking, to compete on a special episode of the show. The show requires A ONE-day commitment in NYC in late spring/ early summer 2018. Anyone currently enrolled in an undergraduate program with a talent, passion, and skill for cooking is encouraged to apply. Students of any background, college major/ concentration are welcome!”

This is your opportunity to make a deconstructed grilled cheese, forget one of the ingredients, or use the ice cream machine in the last minute. And you can win $10,000, which is pretty sweet.

The application is available here and is time-sensitive, so get cooking!



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Barnard’s got a new housing lottery system, and everyone is shivering with antici…pation. SGA Bureau Chief Dassi Karp visited last night’s meeting to find out more – as in, what even is it? 

Last night, Barnard’s Student Government Association welcomed Matt Kingston, Associate Director for Housing Operations, to talk about the college’s new housing lottery system and answer questions. Kingston spoke kindly, confidently, and assuredly. He also seemed genuinely happy to be there and just as happy to help pass the SGA microphone around the room.

Unfortunately, not this kind of lottery.

This year, Barnard Res Life was able to purchase access to StarRez software, an “industry leader” in housing lotteries. This particular software is used by many other colleges across the country, including CC and SEAS . Yup, that’s right–Barnard has decided to do something the same way Columbia does. A wonderful move, Res Life–how about we apply the same philosophy to guest sign ins? Kingston praised the system for using a process that people can understand that is flexible enough for last minute changes and adjustments to housing groups.

“There was no housing software company that would run the housing lottery the way we were before,” he explained, so the new process is a bit different than the one used previously.

Some highlights of the changes after the jump



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Meet Hailey Winstead, epigenetics researcher, brunch fan, and the subject of this week’s CU Women in STEM profile!

Bwog Science is back with CU Women in STEM, where we highlight the amazing women in science at Columbia. Our latest profile is from Hailey Winstead (CC ’18), whose interests lie in psychology, specifically behavioral epigenetics!

Major: Psychology/Pre-med

What subjects are you interested in? Psychobiology and Behavioral Epigenetics: basically how the environment can impact our genes, and how our genes then impact our behavior. I am also interested in how hormones, specifically estrogen and testosterone, impact neurodevelopment.

How did you get interested in psychology? Can you remember the specific moment that got you hooked on your subject? My general interest in psychology started in 8th grade when my science class talked about Mamie and Kenneth Clark (see below under favorite scientist). I came into Columbia planning to major in psychology, but thought about switching to biology several times. I stayed with psychology after learning about behavioral epigenetics, because the idea that the environment can change how our genes are expressed and that expression can impact our behavior is just really cool.

What research have you done? I am currently writing a senior thesis on the effects of Bisphenol A (BPA–yes, the stuff in plastics) exposure during the prenatal period. I work in the Champagne Lab and we are interested in the impact of early life experiences on behavior and what epigenetic variations make it possible for associated neural mechanisms to exist within a lifetime and across generations.

What are your career goals? I plan on attending medical school, but am taking a gap year to do research.

Learn more about Hailey here!



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What’s Happening Around The World: The famous German car manufacturing cities of Stuttgart and Dusseldorf have decided to alleviate pollution in the area by banning older diesel vehicles, a move that “sets a precedent” for other German and possibly European cities. It’s like how Apple stops selling “older” iPhones, except way better for the environment. (BBC)

Also, no more rickety-ass trucks. In Germany, anyway.

What’s Happening In The US: The judiciary was the branch of government nobody cared about in AP Gov, but now it’s the only thing keeping us sane – The Supreme Court refused Trump’s request to hear his challenge to DACA, keeping it in place for now, and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to LGB workers, meaning they can’t be fired based on their sexual orientation. (NYTimes, soft paywall; ACLU)

What’s Happening In NYC: Don’t go to the Met, you will get measles and die. An infected tourist decided to visit one of the most popular museums in the world, as well as stay in hotels in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, before seeing a doctor. If you ever felt a burning desire to catch up on your MMR vaccine, this is the time. (Fox)

What’s Happening At Columbia: Big Brother is watching us, argues Columbia professor Bernard Harcourt at an event titled “The Counterrevolution: How our Government Went to War Against its Own Citizens”. If you’re paranoid about surveillance, this may or may not be the event for you – in any case, it takes place in Buell Hall tonight from 6-7:30 pm.

Overheard: “Should I skip the JP Morgan networking breakfast to have brunch with Sig Chi?”

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