If there’s one thing I love and hate about biology, it’s that it is so very complicated. One of the things that makes it so complicated is sex. In this case, I’m thinking of the fact that sex likely evolved because, sometimes, it’s better when things are complicated.
Students are taught how to examine a DNA sequence and given the option of studying their own genetic data.
It wasn’t until my next flight had lifted off, treating me to a panoramic view of dawn over the southern Pacific Ocean, that I realized the irony of what I’d done. Overnight, a plane had carried me across the world’s biggest body of water, containing the world’s largest trash dump, the Pacific Garbage Patch. In the morning, I had, though indirectly, contributed to its continued expansion.
Unfortunately, the way the message was presented was somewhat flawed — to raise awareness about the ecological impacts of various foods, the museum put out plates of shrimp cocktails and sashimi. Of course, this just made me hungry, and after leaving the museum — and I’m really ashamed to admit this — I went to a restaurant and ordered myself a shrimp cocktail. Oops. Fortunately, there is a silver lining to this story. My guilt has compelled me to dedicate this week’s column to the poor, delicious shrimp and all the other endangered animals by recommending that you pursue a career as a wildlife rehabilitator.
As a teaching assistant for the pilot section of Bio 44Y, I spend Wednesday afternoons accompanying 10 students of field ecology to Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Only five miles from the main quad, we’ve battled rattlesnakes and squeezed past poison oak — but the nearest I’ve come to disaster was almost letting a wasp fly into our class van.
Between Easter’s religious reminders and a molecular evolution class overdose of population genetics, I shouldn’t have been surprised to wake up yesterday from an unsettling dream about taking my midterm exam on Noah’s Ark. The ocean was rising, Noah was hustling animals aboard, and I was battling asthma (thanks, furry animal allergies). But what bothered me most about all this wasn’t that I’d forgotten the formula for heterozygosity. It was that there were only two animals of every kind.
To help students better understand biological processes, Stanford professor Ingmar Riedel-Kruse creates video games that affect microorganisms in real time.