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The Promise and Peril of Drones

Katie-Leigh Corder, Katie L. Burke


The automation of tasks at work and at home is just around the corner, including driving cars, piloting planes, delivering packages, and transporting weapons. Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, are rapidly evolving to meet both society’s and the military’s needs in automation and better efficiency.

Dr. Missy Cummings, an associate professor at Duke University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and the director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab, is at the forefront of drone technologies. During her time as one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy, Cummings observed that computers could take off and land a plane more precisely than humans. Because of this breakthrough and her fascination with this growing technology, she made a career change and began human–drone interaction research.

Photo from Duke University's Human and Autonomy Lab:

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Compounds Treat Substance Abuse and Parkinson's Disease

Katie L. Burke, Katie-Leigh Corder

CarrollPodcastF. Ivy Carroll is a distinguished fellow for medicinal chemistry at the Research Triangle Institute, where he is the director of their Center for Organic and Medicinal Chemistry. Carroll has spent more than 30 years studying potential treatments for substance abuse. Among them are two compounds, RTI-336 and JDTic, that he and colleagues studied as potential treatments for cocaine abuse, as well as a potential diagnostic agent for Parkinson’s disease, called Iodine-123 RTI-55.

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Through the Theoretical Glass

Katie L. Burke


It’s difficult to envision what dimensions beyond 3D are, and why physicists, chemists, and mathematicians want to study them. Duke University chemist Patrick Charbonneau studies the theory behind the formation of glass, tackling questions about an area of research called the glass problem. His research has helped progress this field to a new paradigm. American Scientist associate editor Katie L. Burke interviewed him in September 2013.

Photo credit: Les Todd/Duke Photography.

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Preventing Spread of an Avian Influenza Strain as an Army Veterinarian

Katie-Leigh Corder, Katie L. Burke

YingstVetWhen a person says he or she works in the U.S. Army, people may immediately assume he or she works in combat or engineering. But there are a vast and unique set of skills in the U.S. Army, especially in science and research. An army veterinarian discusses his journeys to different places in the Middle East and Northeast Africa to study various zoonotic diseases (contagious diseases transmittable between animals and humans), including influenza A virus subtype H5N1.

Lieutenant Colonel Sam Yingst, PhD, is the chief of the U.S. Army’s Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Department and studies many zoonotic diseases worldwide by assisting those in developing countries with their research.

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Redesigning the Human Genome with DNA-Binding Proteins

Katie-Leigh Corder, Katie L. Burke

Gene therapy

Gene therapy and genomic engineering are rapidly burgeoning areas of research. Dr. Charles Gersbach of Duke University sat down with associate editor Katie L. Burke to discuss the history of gene therapy and what we can do now that we couldn’t do even a few years ago.

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Ultrafast Animals: Mantis Shrimp and Trap-Jaw Ants

Katie-Leigh Corder, Katie L. Burke

Mantis Shrimp

When people think of the fastest animals, most consider running cheetahs, flitting hummingbirds, or jumping kangaroos. But there's a level above what we think of as “fast”: Ultrafast organisms conserve energy and move in nano- or even micro-seconds.

TJ Ants

Dr. Sheila Patek discusses her research with two ultrafast creatures: mantis shrimp and trap-jaw ants.

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Chasing Down Cosmic Dust

Fenella Saunders, Katie-Leigh Corder

Cosmic Dust Image

The formation of tiny particles of pollutants in the atmosphere, raindrops in a cloud, and cosmic dust share common physics, closely related to a process called nucleation, the means by which molecules begin to form solids. The key unknown is the physics and behavior of nanoclusters that are far more complex than a single molecule, yet not big enough to be considered solids or liquids. Davide Lazzati discusses his research on cosmic dust and how additional findings can improve the current theory's performance and ability to predict the properties and formation of nanoparticles.

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Uncovering the Complexity of Bartonellosis

Katie L. Burke

Click to Enlarge Image

There is little truth to the saying "what you don't know can't hurt you" when it comes to infection with bacteria in the genus Bartonella. Over two decades of research, veterinarian and professor of medicine Ed Breitschwerdt of North Carolina State University has shown that these bacteria can infect humans and other mammals, and in turn, cause a variety of perplexing symptoms.

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Retracing the Evolution of African Penguins

Katie-Leigh Corder, Fenella Saunders

African Penguins

"Penguins are 10 times older than humans and have been here for a very, very long time," said Daniel Ksepka, Ph.D., a researcher at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). Dr. Ksepka researches the evolution of penguins and how they came to inhabit the African continent.

Because penguins have been around for over 60 million years, their fossil record is extensive. Fossils that Dr. Ksepka and his colleagues have discovered provide clues about migration patterns and the diversity of penguin species.

Dr. Ksepka goes into more depth about how his research is piecing together the evolutionary puzzle of penguins and other related bird species.

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Smart Materials Used to Treat Uterine Fibroids

Katie-Leigh Corder, Sandra J. Ackerman

Uterine FibroidClick to Enlarge Image

Dr. Darlene Taylor is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at North Carolina Central University. She uses molecular engineering to develop what she calls “smart materials”- substances that can sense and respond in some way to a change in their environment. Perhaps the most exciting use for smart materials is helping to deliver powerful drugs to specific target sites deep inside the body without affecting other tissues along the way.

Dr. Taylor discusses her research in an interview with Sandra Ackerman, senior editor at American Scientist magazine.

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Total Records : 35


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PODCAST & VIDEO: 3D Printing Replacement Body Parts

Regenerative medicine, a fledgling field with the aim of regrowing parts from a person’s own cells, is being amplified with 3D-printing technology, which can now use organic materials to create scaffolds that cells need to grow into their final forms. Richard Wysk, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at North Carolina State University, discusses the latest successes with this research, and the timeline for creating more complicated structures.

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