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  • Feature

    The SN 10: Meet the scientists making the next big discoveries

    In a recent poll, more than four-fifths of U.S. adults could not name a living scientist. Of those who could, the plurality (40 percent) named Stephen Hawking. (The next highest response was Neil deGrasse Tyson, followed by Jane Goodall.) No offense to the rightfully famous Hawking, but at Science News we would like to change these results. Why aren’t more scientists, particularly those who...

    09/21/2016 - 11:09 Science & Society
  • Feature

    Aneil Agrawal unites math and mess

    Aneil Agrawal, 41Evolutionary geneticistUniversity of Toronto

    Aneil Agrawal, his rangy frame at ease on a black metal street bench, is staring into some midair memory and speaking about disgust.

    “I was first exposed to the idea of theoretical biology as an undergraduate and I actually hated it,” he says. “I loved biology and I liked math — it was like two different food...

    09/21/2016 - 11:08 Evolution, Genetics
  • Feature

    Phil Baran finds simple recipes for complex molecules

    Phil Baran, 39ChemistScripps Research Institute

    This is not chemist Phil Baran’s first rodeo: It’s clear that he has done media interviews before. In his Scripps Research Institute office perched above a golf course along the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, Calif., he is at ease, helpful and patient answering basic questions — why is it important to develop a new way to make a carbon-carbon bond? —...

    09/21/2016 - 11:08 Biomedicine, Chemistry, Science & Society
  • Feature

    Jessica Cantlon seeks the origins of numerical thinking

    Jessica Cantlon, 40Cognitive neuroscientistUniversity of Rochester

    The first time Jessica Cantlon met Kumang at the Seneca Park Zoo, the matriarch orangutan regurgitated her previous meal right into Cantlon’s face. “I was retching,” Cantlon recalls. “It was so gross.” But Cantlon was there to kick off a series of behavioral experiments, and her students, who would be working with Kumang...

    09/21/2016 - 11:07 Neuroscience, Human Evolution
  • Feature

    Qian Chen makes matter come alive

    Qian Chen, 30Materials scientistUniversity of Illinois

    In a darkened room, bathed in the glow of green light, materials scientist Qian Chen watches gold nanorods dance. They wiggle across a computer screen displaying real-time video from a gigantic microscope — a tall, beige tube about as wide as a telephone pole.

    Chen has observed these and other minuscule specks of matter...

    09/21/2016 - 11:07 Materials, Technology, Chemistry
  • Feature

    Lawrence David’s gut check gets personal

    Lawrence David, 33Computational biologistDuke University

    A Jim Carrey movie inspired computational biologist Lawrence David to change the course of his research. As a graduate student, David saw Yes Man, a 2008 film in which Carrey’s character is forced to say yes to all propositions.

    David thought the movie’s message about opening yourself to new experiences, even uncomfortable ones,...

    09/21/2016 - 11:06 Human Evolution, Microbes, Cells
  • Feature

    Anna Frebel digs a young universe

    Anna Frebel, 36AstronomerMassachusetts Institute of Technology

    Anna Frebel can’t explain her fascination with the stars. It’d be like explaining why “berry purple-pink” is one of her favorite colors. “They are just a part of me,” says Frebel, an astronomer at MIT. “What’s going on with them and what they can tell us — there is something magical.”

    Frebel’s fascination has led to the...

    09/21/2016 - 11:05 Astronomy
  • Feature

    Jeremy Freeman seeks to simplify complex brain science

    Jeremy Freeman, 30NeuroscientistHoward Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Research Campus

    Jeremy Freeman loves clean, simple lines. To see his bent toward aesthetic minimalism, you need look no further than his spare, calm website that slowly shifts colors.

    In the past, this fixation with style has occasionally veered toward the extreme. In graduate school at New York University, “...

    09/21/2016 - 11:05 Neuroscience, Cells, Computing
  • Feature

    Shayan Oveis Gharan finds the shortest route to success

    Shayan Oveis Gharan, 30Theoretical computer scientistUniversity of Washington

    It’s a problem that sounds simple, but the best minds in mathematics have puzzled over it for generations: A salesman wants to hawk his wares in several cities and return home when he’s done. If he’s only visiting a handful of places, it’s easy for him to schedule his visits to create the shortest round-trip...

    09/21/2016 - 11:04 Computing, Numbers
  • Feature

    Melissa Omand’s clever tech follows the fate of ocean carbon

    Melissa Omand, 36OceanographerUniversity of Rhode Island

    As chief scientist for a voyage of the research vessel Endeavor, oceanographer Melissa Omand oversaw everything from the deployment of robotic submarines to crew-member bunk assignments. The November 2015 expedition 150 kilometers off Rhode Island’s coast was collecting data for Omand’s ongoing investigations of the fate of carbon...

    09/21/2016 - 11:04 Oceans, Microbes, Climate