Earth's Organisms – Recent talk of walls in the media has brought up a lot of emotions, but what do walls do in nature?

When a Wall is just a Wall

Blog Take a break from arguing about political walls and learn what a cell wall can do Read More ›

Grad School Diaries – A day of inspiration and learning at the Life Sciences Graduate Research

The Birds and the Beetles: Research Highlights from UMass Grad Students

Blog Highlights from UMass Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium, plus a Q&A with the two award winners. Get inspired! Read More ›

Our Ecosystems

The Earth is a blue marble (and the world is green)

Blog “You may have heard the Earth called the blue marble, but do you know why the world is also green?” Read More ›

How It Works

GMO! The Places You'll Go!

Blog Genetically modified organisms may seem like science fiction! What are the benefits and risks of this technology in our food and daily products? Read More ›

How It Works – New-Fangled Paleontology

Really Old Fossils, Really Strong Predators, and Cool New Tech

Blog Digital reconstructions of ancient mammal fossils help us understand that mammals rule and dinosaurs drool. Read More ›

How It Works

A Brief History of Evolutionary Thought, part III

Blog Evolutionary biology has made huge strides in the past 30 years, and yet, there’s still a long way to go. Read More ›

How It Works

Saving face: transplanting our most distinctive features

Blog The face switching of scifi is now reality – but it's not what you think! Read More ›

Our Ecosystems

Four Unexpected Ways that Living in Cities Affects Wildlife

Blog “Many people make cities home – But did you know that many species of wildlife do as well?" Read More ›

How It Works

A Brief History of Evolutionary Thought, part II

Blog Evolutionary biology has come a long way since the Origin of Species was published in 1859. Today we look at how the Modern Synthesis reconciled genetics and natural selection Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – Bees are more than buzzing insects around you

May the Bees Be With You: Maintaining the Sweet Balance in Life

Blog Without bees the world would look very different. Why are bees in decline, and what can we do to help them? Read More ›

How It Works – DNA as a solution for data storage

DNA - Nature’s Hard Drive

Blog In 60 short years we've discovered how to read, write, and edit DNA. Now could it be the answer to our data storage problems? Read More ›

How It Works – A Crash Course in the Coolness of Mitochondria

Mitochondria: The Underrated Organelles

Blog Think mitochondria are just little batteries for your cells? Think again. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – Neither a toad nor a worm

Nematodes: The super microscopic animal!

Blog Nematodes are the greatest animal of which you most likely have never heard! Read More ›

How It Works – A Pollinator’s Job Description and Why We Should All Care About Them

Pollination 101

Blog Pollinators are not only beautiful but are also integral to our food system. Unfortunately, pollinators are in trouble. Read More ›

Grad School Diaries

An American Graduate Student in France

Blog Graduate school can be challenging, but it has its perks. Getting to travel and do science abroad is one of the best! Read More ›

How It Works

You May Say I’m Biased, But I’m Not the Only One

Blog Being human, otherwise known as the art of making decisions without sufficient data. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – Snap! Flash! Bang! Find out how ocean-dwelling pistol shrimp fire bubble ‘bullets’ to stun their unsuspecting prey.

How Pistol Shrimp Kill with Bubbles

Blog Pistol shrimp are aptly named. Despite their small, unassuming presence, they carry with them an impressive weapon that can discharge powerful underwater ‘bullets’ capable of stunning or even killing prey. Read More ›

How It Works – The evolution of one of the greatest medical discoveries in history.

The Path of Least Resistance: Our Relationship with Antibiotics

Blog They think they can beat us with their antibiotics?! Silly humans... Read More ›

Grad School Diaries – Science may be a universal language, but for international students, many other things are lost in translation.

Science - A Universal Language

Blog Studying abroad is an opportunity for advancing in a scientific career; it is also a test to one’s endurance. Hear from those who decided to embark on this journey. Read More ›

Our Ecosystems – Celebrating 117 Years of Christmas Bird Counts

'Tis the Season for Citizen Science

Blog The nation’s longest-running citizen science project is both a scientific and cultural treasure. Read More ›

How It Works – Mother Nature’s History Book

Estimating the Age of Life Long-Gone

Blog T. rex lived 68 to 66 million years ago. How do scientists know the ages of things that lived long before humans existed? Read More ›

Our Ecosystems – Why fish deserve our research money

Fish are friends AND food

Blog Many people don’t think about fish beyond what’s in their tanks or on their plate. Fish are actually a valuable and important focus for research efforts. I have trillions of reasons why! Read More ›

How It Works – Proprioception as a vital sense

Know Your Limb-its

Blog Detecting the location of your own fingertips without seeing them is a sense we should all appreciate. But what do we know about this sense in other animals? Read More ›

How It Works – Man’s Best Artificially-Selected Friend

Your Dog is a GMO Wolf

Blog Call of the wild becomes call of the squeaky toy through artificial selection. Read More ›

Our Ecosystems – Integrating knowledge of microbial ecology into building architecture.

Building with Microbes (In Mind)

Blog Human microbiome studies have demonstrated how crucial bacteria are to our health. Will microbiome of the built environment be as important? Read More ›

How It Works

Better Safe Than Sorry: The Pesticide Industry is Getting a Revamp

Blog Did you know that some pesticides are not hazardous? The industry is shifting towards safer formulations that mitigate non-target impacts. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

Who needs males after all?

Blog Meet these all female lizards who propagate their species with some diversified cloning and lady lovin’. Read More ›

How It Works – Sometimes scientists have to get creative in order to effectively do science – especially on a budget.

The Bizarre Shopping List of a Determined Scientist

Blog Why would a scientist need a selfie stick? What use is a bunch of scrap chicken bones from the butcher shop? Science isn’t only accomplished with high-tech equipment -- read below to find out how everyday items are used by scientists in non-traditional ways! Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – Ecology and Behavior of Woodchucks

Opposition Research on My Garden’s Greatest Nemesis

Blog Even if a woodchuck could chuck wood, it would still rather eat your garden! Read More ›

How It Works

Insects Get Sick Too: The Study of Insect Pathology

Blog Understanding the diseases insects get has implications for protecting our beneficial insects, managing pest species, and modeling our own diseases. Read More ›

Grad School Diaries

I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again

Blog As a researcher, you can’t be afraid of failure. This is the #1 rule you should stress when mentoring in a lab setting. Read More ›

How It Works – Our teeny tiny friends and their huge potential

Employee of the Month - Hire a Microbe to Do Your Work

Blog Thought that microbes were only important for our health and making food for us? Turns out these little factories still have a lot more to offer. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – Vision in Jumping Spiders

Watching Your Every Move

Blog Jumping spiders can change the direction of their gaze without changing their body’s position. If you think about it, it’s just like a creepy painting with eyes that follow you across a room… Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

Slimed and Consumed - The Blob is Real!

Blog It's the season of darkness - rationalize your fear of those strange creatures found at your every turn Read More ›

Our Ecosystems – Halloween Tales from the Ocean

A thorny, venomous creature is terrorizing coral reefs

Blog When you’ve got venomous thorns and you eat innocent beautiful coral for breakfast, I think you qualify as a new kind of monster. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – The Evolution and Ecological Impacts of Cats

Lion in Sheep's Clothing

Blog Cats may seem cute and cuddly, but hunting is in their blood. Domestic cats evolved from wild cats and are now shaping animal populations in nature. Read More ›

How It Works

A Brief History of Evolutionary Thought - Part I

Blog Evolutionary biology has come a long way since the Origin of Species was published in 1859. Today let’s discuss the history of evolutionary thinking, focusing on the earliest, and often surprising, roots of the science. Read More ›

Grad School Diaries

Science Outreach: “Inspiring all girls to be strong, smart & bold” with Plant Science!

Blog Our 1-day and 3-day workshops on Plant Science were described as “lit” by the Eureka! Girls. Read More ›

How It Works – The Effects of Custom Build Paradise

Artificial Islands

Blog Artificial islands have been build all around the world for a variety of reasons. But what is their impact on the local ecological communities? Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – What happens when frogs have to compete for acoustic space and a chance to be heard?

Struggling to be Heard - Competition in a Complex Soundscape

Blog When a loud, invasive frog species acoustically overpowers native frog calling, important communication can be blocked. Then what? Read More ›

How It Works

To B(PA) Or To Not B(PA): Regulating Endocrine Disruptors

Blog To B(PA) or not to B(PA) - what about this environmental toxicant is so concerning? Read on to find out why regulating BPA is important. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – Think Genghis Khan and Napoleon were the most successful invaders? Think again.

Invasive Species and Invasion: Part 1

Blog Confused about invasive species? Read on to learn more about the how, what, and why of invasive species. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

When, and how, terror birds invade

Blog When the Earth changes, it can bring unexpected visitors. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

8 Reasons Plants Are Amazing

Blog From chemotherapies to smelling like carrion, plants have an amazingly diverse skillset. Here are 8 reasons to get excited about the plant kingdom. Read More ›

How It Works – Bioluminescence truly looks like it is nothing short of sorcery, and although this naturally occurring phenomenon is well studied and explained, that does not take away from its beauty.

Fireflies of the Ocean: Lighting up the Dark with Science

Blog If you’re perfectly happy thinking of bioluminescence as the result of sheer magic, do not read this post. If you’d like to understand the biological mechanism behind it, however, this post is for you. Spoiler alert: it’s not magic (and the tooth fairy isn’t real either…) Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – Too Clean for Comfort

How our obsession with cleanliness might be hurting our health

Blog The old adage “a little dirt never hurt” might actually be good health advice after all! Find out how our obsession with being “clean” might be doing more harm than good for our health. Read More ›

Our Ecosystems – The magic of in-between places along the Appalachian Trail

Walking through Transitions

Blog #Walking isn’t just good exercise, but a great way to be in many places at once! #ecotone #AppalachianTrail Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

Stop, evaluate, and listen - serotonin surges when a female is present

Blog A brain region involved in hearing surges with serotonin in male mice when a female is present but drops if the mouse is romantically rejected. Read More ›

Our Ecosystems

How are forest insect outbreaks like wildfires?

Blog Wildfire and insect outbreak both affect our forest in complex and interconnected ways. Learn more in this post. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

No Teeth, Long Tongue, No Problem - Adaptations for Ant-eating

Blog A strict ant diet plus convergent evolution leads to cool adaptations. Read More ›

How It Works – Part II - Cases of altruism in the animal kingdom

Charity cases in nature - when are animals more likely to be altruistic?

Blog With the understanding that true altruism never benefits an individual, let’s explore some of these interesting cases of altruism in nature. Read More ›

Our Ecosystems

Sharing the ecosystem with wildlife - why getting outside is more important than ever

Blog Backyard bears and flying fish - Human’s sometimes misguided approach to wildlife control Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Predators, Parasitoids, and Parasites

Blog What Simba didn’t know about the circle of life - parasitoids, predators and parasites Read More ›

How It Works – Part I - Why true altruism is a rare behavior in the animal kingdom

Being selfish means staying alive

Blog When I say altruism, you probably think of giving to others. As humans, we admire when someone acts altruistic and consider altruism to be a good personality trait. Why then, is true altruism in the animal kingdom rare? Read More ›

How It Works

Penguins and other strange things we study from space

Blog How scientists use satellites to answer questions about life here on planet Earth. Read More ›

Our Ecosystems – How Mercury in Fish Could End Up in Your Dish

The Mercurial Path of Mercury to Aquatic Ecosystems

Blog The trophic transfer of mercury has bearing on my life. I eat fish regularly, but select small species. Let me explain why. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – How our microbiome affects our health and vice versa

If you don't care for your microbiome, you might want to start

Blog Microbes are estimated to have a nearly 1:1 association with the human body. That’s 1 microbe for every 1 human cell. Do we ever get sick because of these microbes? Read More ›

Our Ecosystems

Nicotine Dreams - Baby Birds Protected by Cigarettes

Blog Birds know how to fumigate for unwanted pests! Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – Finding new ways to grow bacteria to progress science

Culturing the Least Cultured Members of Society

Blog Bacteria are everywhere, and we are very effective at growing billions of them in our guts, on our shower curtains, and on our food. But those bacteria we think about every day cover just a tiny fraction of the diversity of bacteria that exist in the world. How do we learn about all these other bacteria? Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

Hit the Road Jack

Blog Picture swimming in a pool of honey. Not the easiest of tasks right? This is how microbes feel moving through water! Read More ›

How It Works

Pseudoreplication and the Art of Biological Statistics

Blog Ever wondered how biologists learn about the world? They use statistics. Learn more about the use (and misuse) of stats in biology! Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

What Happened to Your Nose?

Blog Fancy schnozzes have surprising functions across the mammal family tree. Read More ›

Our Ecosystems – A reflection about the value of water and the forest

Drinking from the rivers and eating from the forests

Blog Environmental disasters are happening around the world and most of us are not even aware. Read More ›

How It Works – What is wrong with my tomatoes?...And other plant disease questions

Why did orange prices increase?

Blog Citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing or Dragon Yellows, is causing devastating losses to citrus trees in Africa, Asia, Brazil, and the southern United States. Plant pathologists are working hard to combat this disease and keep oranges on our tables (and at a reasonable price)! Read More ›

Our Ecosystems – Good intentions sometimes lead to unfortunate outcomes

4 ways humans harm the environment (when they are trying to help)

Blog There’s no question that human activities impact the natural environment. Some human activities have devastating consequences on the environment, while others have the sole purpose of improving or restoring the environment. Unfortunately, the latter occasionally has negative results, despite having positive intentions. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

Building better plants - Norman Borlaug and the Green Revolution

Blog There are a lot of hungry mouths to feed in the world. How did modern agriculture come to support such a large population? Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

Love Songs for Nobody - Birdsong in Winter

Blog We typically understand singing in birds to function in mate attraction and territory defense, two behaviors closely tied to breeding. But sometimes birds sing far from their breeding grounds and outside of their mating season, when singing doesn’t seem to make biological sense. So what the heck is going on? A recent study sheds light on this long-debated topic! Read More ›

How It Works – How fecal microbiota transplants can improve lives and possibly save them

The Wonders of Fecal Transplants

Blog Fecal microbiota transplantation is the new ‘it’ treatment. Here’s why you should give a s**t. Read More ›

Our Ecosystems – Catch-and-release anglers catalyze conservation for the prized golden dorado fish

Fishing Towards Conservation

Blog Anglers are vital advocates for their beloved waters; some decide to leave fish in the rivers and off the dinner table. Read More ›

Our Ecosystems

Marvel at Larval - An Appreciation for Young and Developing Fish

Blog Below the surface, fish live fascinating and complex lives! Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – We know we get infections from time to time. Why does this happen?

The Evolution of Virulence

Blog Have you ever wondered why pathogens, or microorganisms that cause disease, exist? Why do these microbes choose to attack our bodies? What is fascinating is that pathogenic microbes are typically not—at least initially—looking for their next target. Instead, these microbes are generally just really good survivors. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – How cheese rinds may be a valuable tool for microbial discovery

The Unseen World – On Cheese?

Blog Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

Find Me Where the Wild Things Are

Blog Take a minute and think - what do you consider “wild things”? Would bacteria count in your book? Click to explore the tiny world of microbes and learn about some fundamental microbial ecology! Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – A commentary on how to make science more ‘clickable’

You won’t believe this simple trick to tell if your coral is healthy or not

Blog The internet is a big place. Amidst intense competition for readership online, could scientists make their research feel more ‘clickable’? Should they? Read More ›

Grad School Diaries – Why I care about ecology and you should, too!

Why I chose to be a field ecologist

Blog Think everyone who works outside likes dirt? Think again! Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – Some species hide in plain sight, but scientists have ways to suss them out

Cryptic Species Hide in Plain Sight

Blog The advent of affordable DNA sequencing has put molecular techniques at the forefront of species discovery. For the sake of biodiversity, ecological conservation, public health, and pest management, let’s hope that “new age of [species] discovery” has only just begun. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – Minuscule Hitchhikers Pinch a Ride

Creature Feature - Pseudoscorpions

Blog These small arachnids are all around us, and may even live in your house! Read More ›

Our Ecosystems

Some Australians consider kangaroos to be pests. Surprised? So was I.

Blog Kangaroos, posterchildren for the Australian outback, are considered by some to be pests in their homeland. In fact, most tourists have experienced the availability of kangaroo meat and leather in parts of Australia. How did this come to be? Read More ›

Grad School Diaries – re: thoughts about something you’re going to write anyway…

Five Sentence Emails

Blog Brevity is the soul of email. Here’s the buzz about writing emails that are concise, elegant, and logical Read More ›

How It Works – The scientific facts behind the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccines

Calling the Shots - Discussing Vaccines

Blog You’ve probably encountered memes, celebrities, and blogs vilifying childhood vaccines - let’s dive into some facts that will hopefully help clarify just how safe and effective the science community agrees vaccines to be. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

World Fish Migration Day 2016!

Blog Each year, in rivers all around the world, several fish species make an all-or-nothing trek from sea to freshwater (or vice versa) in order to reproduce. Join us in celebrating the second ever World Fish Migration Day on May 21st! On World Fish Migration Day, we celebrate the ecological, economical, and cultural importance of these fish through education and outreach in order to promote a better future for all of the organisms that rely on migratory fish (including ourselves). Read More ›

Our Ecosystems

A World without Birdsong

Blog What would the world be like if it weren’t for natural sounds? Are we facing an imminent extinction of the natural soundscape experience? Read More ›

Grad School Diaries – Juggling teaching, research, and outreach

Life in the balance

Blog I’m a up-and-coming molecular biologist, and I study genetics, evolution, and development. But what do I actually do all day? Read More ›

How It Works

3D Printing for Fun and Science

Blog Almost any conceivable object can now be 3D printed into reality. The process is fun and futuristic, but it’s also opening new doors for biological research. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms

Walking With Giant Anteaters

Blog Do you know anteaters? Read More ›

How It Works – What is wrong with my tomatoes?...And other plant disease questions

What is Phytopathology?

Blog Plants, including tomatoes, are constantly under attack by microscopic organisms, like bacteria and viruses, and larger organisms, like insects and deer. Phytopathology is the study of plant diseases with the aim of keeping our plants from becoming sick. Read More ›

Grad School Diaries

Welcome To That's Life [Science]

Blog All we knew is that we wanted to make an outreach blog. We weren’t sure how or who would be willing to help with such an endeavor. Read More ›

Earth's Organisms – Why we should care about sea turtles

When A Sea Turtle Balanced Earth

Blog What about sea turtles instills a power of captivation over so many people -- to the point even, that conservationists would sacrifice their life to save them? Why should we be alarmed that this ancient species is disappearing from the globe? Read More ›

Grad School Diaries – What happens when a researcher steps outside the lab and into the public sphere?

Unexpected Encounters of the Human Kind

Blog Research in a lab setting allows for control over many environmental variables and conditions, but can be limiting due to the unnatural context. Research in a field setting can be more natural and realistic, however that tight control over the environment is lost. One unpredictable source of a challenging field environment? People. Read More ›

How It Works

Medical Mysteries Still Surrounding Zika Virus

Blog The challenges of understanding, diagnosing, and treating Zika virus: there are more questions than answers. Read More ›

Our Ecosystems – A closer look at species diversity in the tropics

It's Standing Room Only At The Equator

Blog Ever wonder why the tropics have more plants and animals than places closer to the poles? You aren't alone. Read More ›