Category Archives: Nova

Talking about epigenetics with Dr. Mark Clanton

Ever since I saw a NOVA program about epigenetics, I’ve been interested about how our environment can change our DNA.

In my latest video with Dr. Mark Clanton, we learn more about epigenetics and how scientists are trying to understand how our genes can change or be damaged based on the exposures that we have during life, such as what we eat, radiation, smoking, etc.

Dr. Clanton also talks about CH3 methyl groups that you can pick up when eating certain types of food and their affect on DNA methylation and our epigenome.

Interview series with Dr. Clanton

This is the third part in my interview series with Dr. Clanton, who is the chief medical officer of the High Plains Division of the American Cancer Society and who was the deputy director of the United States National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

Watch other videos in this interview series:

Dr. Clanton’s talk, “The War on Cancer: 41 Years after Nixon’s Declaration“, was part of the awesome Hot Science – Cool Talks series.

Spring 2013 Hot Science – Cool Talks

Happy new year!

There are some great Hot Science – Cool Talks presentations coming up this spring from the UT Austin Environmental Science Institute:

(1) Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico: The History and Future of the Texas Coast

Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 7:00 p.m. CT

The Gulf of Mexico has seen some of the most destructive hurricanes on record.  What can residents in the Gulf region expect future storms to be like? Dr. Kerry A. Emanuel will share his groundbreaking research on how climate change can affect hurricane activity and discuss its implications for the Gulf region.

(2) Environmental Justice:  Progress towards Sustainability

Friday, February 22, 2013, 7:00 p.m. CT

Dr. Robert Bullard will present an insightful account of events, individuals, and organizations that have shaped the environmental justice movement over the past two decades. He will also describe a framework for how major advances in environmental justice can and should be achieved.

(3) Diagnosing Ourselves: Biotechnology in Your Back Pocket

Thursday, April 4, 2013, 7:00 p.m. CT

What advances are being made to allow people without medical training to readily detect things like viruses? Can such biotechnology help us understand our own unique physiology?  Dr. Andy Ellington will discuss exciting advances in low-cost, personalized diagnostics and the promise of creating virtual clinical trials through social networks to improve healthcare on a global scale.

If you’re not in Austin, Texas, that’s okay. You can also watch a live webcast of the talks from wherever you’re at! 🙂

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under American Cancer Society, Cancer, DNA, DNA methylation, Dr. Mark Clanton, Environmental Science Institute, epigenetics, epigenome, Genes, Hot Science - Cool Talks, Nova, University of Texas, UT Austin, War on Cancer

Can Invasive Species Trigger Black Swan Events in Nature?

I’m looking forward to the upcoming Fall 2012 series of Hot Science – Cool Talks.

During the first presentation, Black Swans & the U.S. Future: Creating Sustainable & Resilient Societies, Dr. David W. Orr will talk about how sudden and unpredictable events drive change in human and natural systems.

I’m especially interested to learn if the introductions of invasive species to an ecosystem may represent black swan events in nature.

Deep Sea Invasion

I remember watching a rerun of the PBS Nova episode, Deep Sea Invasion, which showed how a bright green seaweed (Caulerpa taxifolia) that was used to decorate salt water aquariums escaped into the Mediterranean sea and created a choking monoculture wherever it went.

The dense carpet of seaweed represented a great change in the ecosystem since it overwhelmed native species and deprived native marine animals of food since the seaweed has a toxin that the creatures cannot eat.

In 2000, scientists found this invasive seaweed growing in the waters outside of San Diego, California, probably accidentally released by an aquarium owner, but due to early detection and rapid response, scientists were able to contain this killer alga with plastic and eradicate it with chlorine.

Like the Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) seaweed shown in First wave of tsunami debris brings dock loaded with invasive species to the US West Coast, Caulerpa taxifolia is also in the Global Invasive Species database lists as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species.

I can’t wait to attend the next Hot Science – Cool Talks and learn more about black swan events from Dr. Orr and the Environmental Science Institute at UT Austin.

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under black swan, Deep Sea Invasion, Dr. David Orr, Early detection, Environmental, Environmental Science Institute, ESI, Global Invasive Species, Hot Science - Cool Talks, Invasive Species, Japanese tsunami, killer alga, Monoculture, Nova, PBS, Rapid response, tsunami debris, University of Texas, Wakame, Wakame