Science

Medical School Residency Match Day
Guillermo Cabrera-Rojo / Flickr/Creative Commons

Next Friday, over 17,000 U.S. medical students will find out exactly what kind of doctor they will become. The process is called ‘the match’, and it works more like high-stakes speed dating than a job application process. 

During the last year of medical school, much like in high school, medical students apply to residency programs across the country. The programs then send invitations to select applicants to interview at their institution.

For some residency fields such as family medicine, students may only have to interview at a handful of institutions because there are more spots than there are U.S. students applying for that field. But for many other fields, such as plastic surgery or ophthalmology, students often interview at 15 or more places in order to have a good chance at matching. The process takes up to 3 months and can cost thousands of dollars. (Students are expected to pay these costs themselves.) 

Dr. Anthony Atala
Screen Shot from his TED Talk

With the abundance of universities, industry and research companies, it's no surprise that North Carolina is a leader in innovation. Here are three cutting-edge medical and science advancements developed locally that may soon have global effects.

1. Printing Organs with Stem Cells

Brain scan
creative commons

In the future, neuroscientific evidence may be as prevalent as DNA evidence in the criminal justice system. Today on The State of Things, experts discussed the future of neuroscience and the law. Here are some highlights. 

MRI brain scan
creative commons

In the not so distant future, brain scans may be as prevalent as DNA evidence in the criminal justice system. This neuroscientific evidence has the potential to correct biases and predict criminal recidivism. But critics argue it could be misleading and difficult to refute. Exploring the brain as a means of assessing intent also raises privacy concerns. 

NC State University
NC State

It's been a big year for NC State - and it's only February.

David Pizarro black and white photo, laughing
http://www.peezer.net/

  

Feelings of disgust can be a useful in navigating environmental threats. When we are disgusted, we avoid contaminated or poisonous things. But new research shows that disgust may also subconsciously influence our political and moral judgments. Psychology professor David Pizarro examines the ways disgust affects decision-making in the political realm.

Mars One

A North Carolina State University bioengineering student has made the first cut for a Dutch non-profit's mission to Mars. 

Of the 200,000 applicants for a mission to colonize the red planet, Raleigh's Charles Parrish made it to the recent cut of 1,058 candidates. The 23-year-old  has been passionate about space since childhood and has already done research for NASA and the Mars Society.

Creative Commons

Algae may seem harmless, but toxic algae blooms can be a real problem in water supplies used by people.

They can kill wildlife in the water and be dangerous to humans. Host Frank Stasio talks with Hans Paerl, professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City.

Creative Commons

Some scientists tout genetically modified food as a groundbreaking technology that can feed the hungry.

Brian Southwell's new book studies the effectiveness of social networking in spreading health news.
John Hopkins Press

Scientists and public health officials are increasingly turning to social media and peer-to-peer networks to educate the public.  

Fossil Fair at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

  

Science is a place where facts and objectivity reign supreme while politics is a blend of perspectives and opinions. So what happens when science and public policy collide?

waste management system for a 900State of the art lagoon  head hog farm in Georgia.
Jeff Vanuga / Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The struggle over hog waste lagoons in North Carolina is decades long. Historically, the lagoons have caused several fish kills and contaminated the public water supply. 

creative commons

Bats are the subject of much folklore and derision in human society. Some say they are vermin who carry rabies. Others equate them with the undead vampire of legend. 

wikipedia.org

In this Halloween fright fest, The State of Things tackles the so-called Vampire Squid and Vampire Flying Frog. 

catwarren.com
catwarren.com / catwarren.com

Cat Warren is a North Carolina State University professor by day and a superhero by night. Well, sort of. Her dog Solo is a cadaver dog. Warren takes him out to suspected crime scenes to help police find the bodies of the missing and presumed deceased.

The hobby started innocently enough as a way to keep Solo’s energy in check. He wasn't very well behaved, and he flunked out of obedience school a number of times.

“He was a singleton, so he didn’t relate well with dogs," Warren said on The State of Things.

Marianne LaFrance, a psychologist at Yale, makes a comparison between a genuine smile (left) and a fake smile (right).
Marianne LaFrance

Sure, it's more or less a given that we smile when we're happy and we smile when our picture is taken.  But do we also smile automatically throughout the day when we make eye contact with strangers?  How often do we smile in conversation? 

Some science fairs are pushing students to answer new questions rather than confirming old answers.
DML East Branch / Flickr Creative Commons

When you think of school science fair projects, you might think of baking soda volcanoes or Styrofoam models of the planets. More to the point, that’s what a lot of students think of – and what they enter – in science fairs.

But to a lot of real scientists, projects like that are a missed opportunity. They say that rather than just building models, children as young as eight or ten can do actual science and discover new things.

Captain America's Shield
Pop Culture Geek/Flickr / creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

When you watch an X-men movie or read a Captain America comic, you can find a new way to look at material science. Superhero comics can be just as much science as they are magic.

Host Frank Stasio and guests on the State of Things follow the trail of money.
RambergMediaImages / Flickr/Creative Commons

The previous State Elections Board's term expired just as they were beginning to investigate $235,000 of allegedly illegal political donations.  The donations implicate Gov. Pat McCrory and legislators from both parties.  Governor McCrory made the unusual decision of replacing all of the board members. 

Students learning about a weather balloon at last year's North Carolina Science Festival.
NC Science Festival

At the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at UNC Chapel Hill this morning! The experiment is one of many happening this week and next as a part of the North Carolina Science Festival, a statewide series of science-related happenings that began on April 5. Today, the Festival is encouraging people to participate in Experi-Minute, an attempt to engage all North Carolinians in some kind of science-related activity for at least one minute on Friday morning.

Science used to reside within the confines of the paper walls of literary journals and popular magazines. But increasingly, bloggers are at the forefront of science reporting. Bora Zivkovic has been collecting the best online science writing since 2006, and is the series editor for the most recent version, “The Best Online Science Writing 2012

North Carolina continues to be one of the national hot-beds for the Life Sciences.  Entrepreneurs, scientists and venture capitalists in the field are gathering today and tomorrow in Raleigh.

Leoneda Inge:  The CED Life Science Conference is in its 21st year and is one of the biggest events of its type in the southeast.  The idea is to bring some of the best and brightest Life Science companies face-to-face with investors.  Bob Ingram, a General Partner with Hattaras Venture Partners is one of the events co-chairs.

Scientists are used to relying on grants for funding, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. But a recent trend called "crowd-sourcing" could help small projects get underway. It's basically a kick starter campaign where the general public gives online donations for scientists' research. North Carolina State chemistry professor Walter Weare was able to pay for new equipment for his solar energy research using the method.

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