South Sioux City Middle School teacher Jon Pickinpaugh thought he was going to an assembly Thursday morning to hear school officials laud students’ rising test scores. Instead, in a surprise, Pickinpaugh received a $25,000 Milken Educator Award in front of an enthusiastic crowd of students, administrators and fellow teachers. The presentation was completely unexpected, he said at the conclusion of the ceremony, after lots of hugs and handshakes and a wave of applause and students standing and yelling. “Normally, I don’t like to be surprised, but it was a great surprise,” Pickinpaugh said. Pickinpaugh, 34, is one of just 44 Milken Educator Award winners for the 2017-18 academic year and the only honoree from Siouxland or the state of Nebraska. The annual awards are widely known as the “Oscars of Teaching.” “We don’t accept nominations. You don’t find us, we find you,” Milken Family Foundation Senior Program Administrator Greg Gallagher said. Gallagher, who was present for Thursday’s ceremony, called Pickinpaugh’s exceptional teaching a model for the state and nation.
It’s official–there are some 42 million protein molecules in a simple cell, revealed a team of researchers led by Grant Brown, a biochemistry professor in the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research. Analyzing data from almost two dozen large studies of protein abundance in yeast cells, the team was able to produce for the first time reliable estimates for the number of molecules for each protein, as revealed in a study published this week in the journal Cell Systems. The work was done in collaboration with Anastasia Baryshnikova, a U of T alum and now Principal Investigator at Calico, a California biotechnology company that focuses on aging. Proteins make up our cells and do most of the work in them. This way, they bring genetic code to life because the recipes for building proteins are stored within the genes’ DNA code.Explaining the work, Brown said that given that “the cell is the functional unit of biology, it’s just a natural curiosity to want to know what’s in there and how much of each kind.” Curiosity notwithstanding, there’s another reason why scientists would want to tally up proteins. Many diseases are caused by either having too little or too much of a certain protein. The more scientists know about how protein abundance is controlled, the better they’ll be able to fix it when it goes awry.
The immune system reacts similarly to a high fat and high-calorie diet as to a bacterial infection. This is shown by a recent study led by the University of Bonn. Particularly disturbing: Unhealthy food seems to make the body’s defenses more aggressive in the long term. Even long after switching to a healthy diet, inflammation towards innate immune stimulation is more pronounced. These long-term changes may be involved in the development of arteriosclerosis and diabetes, diseases linked to Western diet consumption. The results will be published in the journal Cell. The scientists placed mice for a month on a so-called “Western diet”: high in fat, high in sugar, and low in fiber. The animals consequently developed a strong inflammatory response throughout the body, almost like after infection with dangerous bacteria. “The unhealthy diet led to an unexpected increase in the number of certain immune cells in the blood of the mice, especially granulocytes and monocytes. This was an indication of an involvement of immune cell progenitors in the bone marrow,” Anette Christ, a postdoctoral fellow in the Institute of Innate Immunity of the University of Bonn explains. To better understand these unexpected findings, bone marrow progenitors for major immune cell types were isolated from mice fed a Western diet or healthy control diet and a systematic analysis of their function and activation state was performed.
Greek astrophysicist Vicky Kalogera has been awarded the 2018 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics for her work with black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs. Ms. Kalogera is Professor of physics and astronomy at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and is director of Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics. The physicist’s work was cited as “fundamental contributions to advancing our understanding of the evolution and fate of compact objects in binary systems, with particular regard to their electromagnetic and gravitational wave signals.” In 2017 Ms. Kalogera was also one of four Northwestern astronomy faculty who collaborated with international researchers to detect the spectacular collision of two neutron stars, and other leading contributions, as per Northwestern University’s release.
A key technology on the prevention of underground water pollution in refuse landfills gained China’s national science award on January 8 amid the Chinese government’s ongoing efforts to protect the environment and build an ecological civilization. The key technology and application of pollution prevention and restoration of the underground water system in landfills won the second prize of the country’s National Award for Science and Technology Progress.The key technology is jointly developed by institutes including Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences along with Tsinghua University and BGE, a high-tech enterprise specialized in environmental technology research and providing systematic anti-pollution solutions. The technology is among the 271 programs that won the National Award for Natural Science, National Award for Technological Invention and National Award for Science and Technology Progress.
We all know that water freezes at 0° Celsius. But seawater can retain its liquid state down to -2° C because of it’s a salt solution. Such sub-zero temperatures can cause fatal harm to cold-blooded organisms such as fish. But cod and the spawning cod that migrate to North Norway have at some time evolved a unique ability to tackle freezing temperatures. This enables them to find food right beneath the surface ice of the polar region in winter without any competition from other fish. Norwegian researchers have now mapped the genetic key to the cod family’s success in adapting to icy ocean waters. “Genes that emerge by chance and natural selection explain the evolutionary success of the cod,” says Research Fellow Helle Tessand Baalsrud, who will soon give her doctoral dissertation on the subject. Her article has been published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.
People visiting Chicken Ranch Beach at very low tide recently might have spotted curious materials floating on the surface: bright green ribbons attached to wire mesh and a plastic bottle containing the message “research, leave alone.” If you passed by and wondered what it was, you are not alone. “When I’m out there, people do ask me what it is,” said Hali Rederer, a master’s candidate with a focus on marine ecology in the biological sciences department at California State University, Sacramento. The materials in the water off Chicken Ranch are part of Ms. Rederer’s thesis project, a two-year investigation into the spawning habits of Pacific herring in Tomales Bay and, in particular, the substrates they prefer to lay their eggs on. Pacific herring are relatively small fish, typically around 12 inches long, that live in large schools from Baja California to Alaska in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The populations in California have been lower than average in recent years, but they are not endangered. The idea for the project arose from Ms. Rederer’s interest in abundance. As a keystone species in the food web, Pacific herring (including their eggs) are “basically eaten by everything,” as she put it: birds, seals, other fish, porpoises and more. To sustain so much sea life, the herring are typically characterized by huge numbers.
The Calder Foundation announced today that the New York-based artist Jill Magid has won the 2017 Calder Prize. The award comes with $50,000 cash and the promise to place one of the artist’s works in a major public collection. Magid will also participate in a residency this spring at Calder’s former home and studio in Roxbury, Connecticut—a first for the prize. “I find it a very exciting invitation,” Magid told artnet News. “When I suggested to Sandy [Rower, the foundation’s president] that staying in Calder’s house might be like the experience I’d had staying in Luis Barragán’s house and studio in Mexico City, he disagreed, saying, ‘the Barragán house and studio is now a museum, and open to the public; Calder’s house is exactly how he left it. It’s as if he walked out to get a carton of milk and never came back.’” The Calder Prize, which was founded in collaboration with the Scone Foundation in 2005, is awarded biannually to a living artist who has “completed exemplary and innovative early work and who has demonstrated the potential to make a major contribution to the field.” Former winners of the prize include Tara Donovan, Rachel Harrison, and, most recently, Haroon Mirza.
Kentucky Derby Museum is pleased to announce the grand prize winner of the Horsing Around With Art competition, presented by WinStar Farm Ivylee McKean, a senior at Pleasure Ridge Park High School, was awarded the top prize out of more than 200 entries from 30 Metro Louisville schools. McKean’s oil painting, flecked with gold leafing, of horses coming down the stretch with the famed Twin Spires in the distance was judged to best “capture the spirit of the Kentucky Derby”. She will receive six box seats to Kentucky Derby 144, a ribbon, plaque and a certificate. PRP’s art department will also receive $500 for art supplies. Her work will be professionally framed and displayed in the Museum for one year. Kentucky Derby Museum Patrick Armstrong, Education Coordinator Heather Hill and other staff members, along with Ivylee’s Mom, surprised her with a dozen red roses and the news that she’d won the contest during her art class Monday.
TEHRAN – A plan by young Iranian artist Payam Mofidi was selected as the best artistic idea at the second edition of the Vista Contemporary Art Prize on Thursday. He won the prize for “Body, Colonial Islands and Strategic Depth” that features a sharp focus on social and humanistic sensitivities and the sacrifice of the body during immigration, and its reflection on the idea of the artwork, the jury said in a statement read during a ceremony at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. The prize, which is a check for 300 million rials (about $6,800), was established by the Vista Gallery in Tehran to praise the best artistic idea. The director of the gallery, Parisa Pahlavan, expressed her hope that Vista finds its real position and that the program will be held in a wider artistic range. The ceremony ended with the presentation of the check and the Vista trophy to the winner to accomplish his new project at the gallery. However, Mofidi was absent from the ceremony and the award was presented to his representative.