A Fork in the Road: Jack Stilgoe Considers the Future with Self-Driving Cars

Try to imagine a future with self-driving cars. What do you picture? Are you sliding into your own Tesla Model S, or are you calling up Driverless Cars Company X for a ride? Do the cars circle campuses and downtown streets until summoned? Or do they quietly return to driveways and parking lots, ready to be woken up when needed? For all of Elon Musk’s confidence, it is still unclear how self-driving cars will fit into our society.


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The Acidic Ocean: How Ocean Acidification Is Damaging Our Global Ecosystem

Why should we care about ocean acidification?

Natalie Freeman, a PhD candidate in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences department, studies the effects of ocean acidification on microscopic shell-making organisms known as coccolithophores—the same organisms that form England’s famed White Cliffs of Dover. She often has to explain why we should care we about the acidification of our oceans.

“If I’m on an airplane and I say what I do, I usually talk about how the ocean takes up a lot of carbon … [which] affects the organisms living in the ocean. And they’re important because they feed all of the fish we eat and they also give you every second breath.”


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Sour Skittles and Ocean Acidification

Sour Skittles are addictive.

In an attempt to enjoy all of the tongue-tingling flavor I could, I once held each individual Skittle on my tongue until all of its sugary sour coating had dissolved. This was a great idea at first. After a while though, my tongue started to burn. I powered through, intent on maximizing my Sour Skittles experience. But by the time I finished the pack, my tongue was completely raw. Did I taste the rainbow? No. Actually, I couldn’t taste anything for the next two days.

Luckily for me, the cells on your tongue regrow quickly so no harm, no foul. But what happened? Citric acid—the same stuff that gives lemons their mouth-puckering sour flavor—makes up that delicious coating on the outside of Sour Skittles. And that acid began to eat away at my tongue. While I was able to handle a little bit of the citric acid, I overexposed myself. Unfortunately, my Sour Skittles experience has parallels with an overlooked aspect of climate change—ocean acidification.


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Zoe Donaldson on being young and female in academia


A Twitter storm reminded her.

Zoe Donaldson, a jointly appointed assistant professor in the departments of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology and Psychology & Neuroscience, isn’t quite the same person she was when she was looking for a job.

Two years—one ‘golden year’ of funded, independent research and a second spent establishing her lab in Boulder— separate those versions of herself.

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Ben Pollard re-defines physics culture


I expected Ben Pollard to be aligning lasers in a dark basement. As a sixth year graduate student in the Department of Physics, he anticipates defending his PhD research this spring. However, he actually spends much of his time connecting with other physics students on a personal level. Their main question: how do you change the culture of physics and build community from within? Ben’s answer is finding a way “to cultivate physicists as people.”

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Science communication lessons from Dr. Julie Gerberding, first woman to head the CDC

In our increasingly globalized world, the consequences of climate change and pandemics are far-reaching while vaccine hesitancy, climate skepticism, and the Trump administration’s science and energy policies threaten to block efforts toward finding solutions.

Halfway through its first week, the Trump administration froze the Environmental Protection Agency’s grants and contracts, issued a gag order on public communication, and ordered the agency to remove climate change from its website. Now more than ever, there is a need for individuals who can engage the deeply partisan public in scientific issues, in ways that foster interest and excitement while helping to weed out fear mongering and misinformation.


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Bringing Science to the Table

Engaged Scientist

What is an engaged scientist?

While many scientists recognize the need for better science communication and want to connect people in their communities with science, the nitty gritty of engaging with the public is not obvious. But, the nitty gritty is really where all the fun happens! At least that’s what I learned at the first Engaged Scientist Series seminar and workshop at CU Boulder.

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An open letter to a country disillusioned with science

chasm with people crop

It’s almost midnight, and I’m still in lab.

Even on a long day like this, when I’m trying to get an experiment to work for the third day in a row, I love what I do. But it’s hard. And with the constant barrage of social media opinions about how vaccinations are hurting our children, or how climate change is a hoax, I often feel that my passion doesn’t fit into this world—a place where science has a tendency to be unappreciated, mistrusted, or even hated.

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New tech monitors solar flares, space weather and keeps GPS accurate


It’s easy to forget that the sun isn’t the uniformly glowing orb it appears to be from Earth. In actuality, the sun is a tumultuous ball of nuclear explosions. Although those explosions don’t usually affect us in a physical way on Earth, they do affect the thousands of satellites orbiting our planet that control things like GPS and communications services we depend on everyday.

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