Posts Tagged ‘Research’

A climate change study that doesn’t end in tears

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Corals from the Ofu Lagoon, American Samoa

As an Earth Systems major, I can say it’s sometimes difficult to stay positive about my choice of field because there are so many urgent and intricate problems woven into the daily fabric of life–and in order to learn how to solve them, you have to appreciate how intricate and difficult to undo they really are.  So it’s nice when conservation research pays off, especially for animals in as dire straits as corals are.

Awesome Stanford professor Stephen Palumbi–who among other accomplishments has used molecular genetics to track the incidence of marine mammal meat in canned tuna and formed a band called ‘Flagella’–has found a key difference in the genomics of heat-resistant corals from the waters of American Samoa that might be used in genetic therapy for corals worldwide, potentially saving coral reefs from the worst effects of global warming.  When water temperatures rise above a certain extent, corals get stressed and their photosynthetic partners, zooxanthellae, are expelled from the tissue of the coral, leaving it hard-pressed to manufacture enough carbohydrates without the ability to make sugars from sunlight.    Palumbi and other researchers discovered in their warm-water corals that 60 heat stress genes were activated whether or not the corals were subjected to excessive heat.  If this pattern could be transferred to cooler-water corals, it could potentially avert cases of coral bleaching from extreme heat.

This treatment, if applied, doesn’t solve all the problems coral reefs are facing in the future, of course.  Corals will still have to contend with the rising acidity in the world’s oceans due to the excessive deposition of carbon dioxide from our increasingly CO2-filled atmosphere–an acidity change that makes it harder for corals to build skeletons, because waters become less saturated with calcium carbonate.  Runaway algae growth is also a possibility and a threat, and more frequent and violent tropical storms are predicted in future years, which could be a huge challenge for coral communities to withstand.  However, finding ways to combat heat stress is a necessary first step (we are committed to further global warming, we might be able to stave off the worst ocean acidification), and Palumbi and his team have unlocked a very important discovery.

Hey, punk, get a job!!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

This teacher must be such a n00b.

Despite the antagonistic title, this post is intended to help give Stanford students – especially frosh and sophs – a leg up on finding positions this summer.

You may wonder why I think I can help.  Allow me to rewind to the Kristi of 2009.

In fall 2009, when I entered Stanford, I was not just a n00b.  I was the n00biest of n00bs.  The Grand Poobah of n00bs.  You see, two weeks into my Stanford career, I strutted into Stanford’s Computer Forum Fair with my CV.  And oh, what a CV it was.

Freshman Kristi believed that “MOAR information is ALWAYS better!”, so my whopping six-page CV included every accomplishment ever in my entire life leading chronologically backwards to the “progress card” comments from my early childhood development center.  Which is just a fancy way of saying “preschool.”  Looking back now, it’s pretty comical, but at the time I naively thought, “awww yeah, everybody’s gonna wanna get a piece of this ‘good listener’ who ‘likes to share’!  Get at me, Google!”

Needless to say, I showed up first at the HP booth, where the well-intentioned rep kindly suppressed giggles long enough to provide some editing advice.  I pedaled forlornly back to Stern, trying to keep the metaphorical tail between my legs from getting caught in my bike chain.

Young padawans, I’ve been there and done that so you never have to.  Below I’ve listed my top tips for finding the job that works for you this summer.  I don’t claim to know nearly everything, though, so fellow old-timers are welcome to supplement my advice in the comments!  :)  Hopefully this is a good starting place.  Happy exploring!

Lists are also just generally a good way to keep up with campus events!

Get on lists!

Student groups and departments alike have email lists galore which are a goldmine of opportunities.  The best places to look are minority or special interest groups that are specific to you, like SWE, the Women’s Community CenterSSCLES, the Native American Cultural Center, and SBSE, which often have specific recruitment lists that you can sign up for.  (Forgive me if my examples tend towards techy offerings – it’s what I’m most familiar with!)

Undecided between different departments?  That’s totally fine!  In fact, it might be even better: the more lists you sign up for, the more chances you’ll have at finding your dream summer job.  Not too shabby. (more…)

Racking my Brain: A few of the Benefits of Psych Studies

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Unofficial Stanford blog readers, I am about to share something quite personal.  So personal, that I myself only first clearly viewed this thing a few days ago.  Yes, here is a picture of my brain:

Yes, that is a real picture, from a real MRI machine, of my real brain (as opposed to my fake brain).  And this is a story of yet another reason I love this University: the psych studies.

In case you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of Stanford’s psych studies.  Not only did I  get pictures of my brain, as well as contributing to scientist’s knowledge of how the brain reacts to emotions, but I also got paid $126 for four hours of my time.  I can’t think of *ahem* many things that yield that type of pay.  And only for about an hour and a half of that time was I having to lie still in the MRI machine.  The rest of it was consent forms and computer games.

I also learned a little about Stanford’s Lucas Center.  I know we’re a leading research institution and yada yada, but it really is cool to know how much our school is influencing research in the rest of the world.  The Lucas Center is the place where a lot of that goes down.

So if you haven’t, take the opportunity to sign up for a psych study, and get paid to do something easy.  It’s pretty cool.