Last night, at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan, I attended a screening of a wonderful documentary by Richard and Carole Rifkind entitled “Naturally Obsessed: The Making of a Scientist”. This film documented the path and travails of 3 graduate students who were lucky enough to be in the laboratory of Dr. Lawrence Shapiro at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City. The beauty and clarity with which the film was shot made the graduate student experience feel as real as any film could. As someone who got her PhD in developmental and molecular biology from another well known biomedical research institution, I felt that the experiences of the students featured in the film were prettier than my own (mine was particularly harrowing), but in many ways, the film was dead on. (more…)

I have always loved animals. When I was about 3 years old, I was fascinated with a beautiful collie that lived in my building. This dog did not like people, but I loved him. I distinctly remember one day running around him, hugging, petting and talking to him, and I remember hearing him growl (he was taller than me), but for some reason, he put up with the unwanted attention. I only remember being acquainted with him that one time – I think after that, my Mom and his owner colluded to keep me away from him. (more…)

Currently on view at the New York Academy of Sciences Art Gallery is an exhibit of the molecular illustrations of Kenneth Eward. I followed the links to Kenneth’s website and found one of the most captivating animated illustrations of the molecular development of human life. His “A Window Into Human Life” won an honorable mention at the 2008 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

We are living at a truly monumental moment in history, as we stand on the brink of what will probably be one of the most important presidential elections in all of United States history. The air is absolutely crackling with the anticipation of the election of the first African American President of the United States of America. (more…)


According to the diagnostic test in the ground-breaking book The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron, Ph.D., I am a “Highly Sensitive Person” (HSP). In her book, Dr. Aron, a pioneering psychologist, cites major studies demonstrating that approximately 15-20% of the human population possess a nervous system that, due to genetically inherited physiological characteristics, cause them to experience greatly heightened sensitivity to stress in any environment they find themselves in. This inherited trait of heightened arousal is demonstrated also in similar proportions (15-20%) in several other mammalian species. In other words, highly sensitive individuals are much more easily aroused by subtle cues in their environment, which many people are less likely to pick up on. (more…)

I have been trying to sort of just go about my business without getting too caught up in the heavy spirit of this day, but its everywhere I look and almost all I hear on the radio, TV.  I find the only way I can really do any justice to the profound loss that resulted from this unspeakable tragedy is to just recount where I was that day, and how my family and friends and I dealt with the horrible news. Thank G-d, no one in our immediate family was lost, nor were any of our close friends. I can only pray for those who were less fortunate, and I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of their loss. (more…)

Humans, mice — indeed all mammals — have two types of fat cells in their bodies; white and brown. White fat cells store energy. In contrast, brown fat cells dissipate energy as heat, thus counteracting obesity. Much to the chagrin of humans living in industrialized societies, most fat cells in our (adult) bodies are white fat cells. While this trait served our kind well throughout our evolutionary history, we now face a vast abundance of inexpensive, easily accessible, high energy content foods. This, combined with our body’s tendency to want to store up energy for times when food is scarce, leads to obesity and its accompanying adverse health effects. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have more brown fat cells and less white fat cells? (more…)

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