Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ready for Winter Shutdown

The readers have gone, with freshly printed boarding passes.
Book returns - emptied, all items checked in and organized.  Shelving comes later!
Plants - watered.
Last week's journals - shelved.
Wayward items gathered from tables and nasty neglected food items deposited in a trash receptacle outside the library.  Ick.

Computers - after much crawling under tables, shutdown and unplugged.
Printers & copiers - off, thank goodness.  No complaints today, yeah.

Newly reupholstered chairs, looking so plump, await the return of students in January.  We are ready!  The library reopens January 2.  A restful, restorative winter break to all.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Recent Student and Faculty Publications in Chemistry and Biology

Thomson Reuters Web of Science reports several new publications by Oberlin College students and faculty.  Last names of Oberlin-affiliated authors are in bold font:

  • Chivers, P. T., Benanti, E. L., Heil-Chapdelaine, V., Iwig, J. S., & Rowe, J. L. (2012). Identification of ni-(L-his)(2) as a substrate for NikABCDE-dependent nickel uptake in escherichia coli. Metallomics, 4(10), 1043-1050.  Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry Peter Chivers and four former Oberlin students as co-authors.
  • Moran, S. D., Decatur, S. M., & Zanni, M. T. (2012). Structural and sequence analysis of the human gamma D-crystallin amyloid fibril core using 2D IR spectroscopy, segmental C-13 labeling, and mass spectrometry. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 134(44), 18410-18416.   Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Chemistry Sean Decatur.
  • Rosenthal, M. F., Murphy, T. G., Darling, N., & Tarvin, K. A.  (2012). Ornamental bill color rapidly signals changing condition. Journal of Avian Biology, 43(6), 553-564.   Associate Professor of Biology Keith Tarvin, with Nancy Darling, Professor of Psychology and Malcom Rosenthal (OC '09).
  • Zuber, S. T., Muller, K., Laushman, R. H., & Roles, A. J. (2012). Hybridization between an invasive and a native species of the crayfish genus orconectes in north-central ohio. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 32(6), 962-971. [To be deposited in the OhioLINK EJC]  Assistant Professor of Biology Angela Roles with Professor of Biology Roger Laushman and alumni Sierra Zuber and Katherine Muller. 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP Satellite

Just yesterday, new images were released of our planet by night, captured by the new NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP Satellite which was launched last year. Check out this article, embedded with incredible images and videos, from NASA's webpage to learn more.

Interested in this subject?

For more on remote sensing and observations of earth from space, check out the following titles in the Science Library:
Earth Observations from Space: the first 50 years of scientific achievement
Our Changing Planet: the view from space

Additionally, the following are available online as electronic resources:
Exploring space, exploring earth
Advances in earth observation of global change

Copulation in the Animal Kingdom (and beyond!)

This week the Oberlin SIC (Sexual Information Center) brings us their annual Safer Sex Week to promote sexual awareness, education, and positivity. As often as issues of sex and sexuality are discussed in the context of humanities here at Oberlin, there are countless relevant topics to explore within the natural sciences. So, I present to you, from the Oberlin College Science Library, this blog post to introduce you to just a few of the interesting texts we have on our shelves!

To get you started, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, by Mary Roach, is a both scientifically engaging and utterly entertaining read if you'd like to pick something up for fun and learn about historical and current research that's been conducted on the topic of human sex.

For all you neuro majors out there, if you're interested in the neuroscience and endocrinology behind sexuality, Biological Substrates of Human Sexuality would provide a great look into the most recent findings in this field.

Moving beyond human sex and sexuality, if you have an interest in insects, marine fishes, plants (regarding mate choice, or an introduction to their reproductive biology, perhaps), crustaceans, animal homosexuality, monogamy, or hermaphroditism, we have plenty to fuel your curiosity!

Finally, if you're in the mood to watch a movie this weekend (because, let's face it, reading period and finals are almost here and you're running out of down-time...) check out our DVD shelf for The Botany of Desire, based on the book by Michael Pollan. This may be somewhat of a stretch for this blog entry but definitely worth mentioning, as it explores the concepts of sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control in the context of four plants that are tied closely to our lives.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Robert Owen, Professor of Physics published in Physical Review

A new publication by Robert Owen, professor of physics, as reported in Web of Science:

Zhang F., A. Zimmerman, D. A. Nichols, Y. Chen, G. Lovelace, K. D. Matthews, R. Owen, and K. S. Thorne. 2012. Visualizing spacetime curvature via frame-drag vortexes and tidal tendexes. II. Stationary black holes. Physical Review D 86:084049. [access for subscribers, provided by the library]

Here is just one sentence from the abstract, to draw you into this particular spin: "We also explore how the tendex and vortex lines change as the spin of a black hole is increased, and we find, for example, that as a black hole is spun up through a dimensionless spin a/M=√3/2, the horizon tendicity at its poles changes sign, and an observer hovering or falling inward there switches from being stretched radially to being squeezed."

I would only observe that neither radial stretching nor squeezing sounds particularly desirable, in the context of falling inward to a black hole.  Learn more: Black holes in higher dimensions / edited by Gary T. Horowitz.  Cambridge Univ Press, 2012.

Marine life off the coast of Texas

What began as an in-house project to identify organisms caught in routine sampling by Texas Parks & Wildlife Coastal Fisheries field staff has become an extensive database of photographs, descriptions, definitions and taxonomic information for a widely diverse collection of organisms found off the Texas coast.  Freely available on the internet, the Identification Guide to Marine Organisms of Texas is useful for anyone interested in animals and vegetation of the Gulf Coast.  Visual glossary photos depict the anatomy of common species, and the "fish feature query" is a fun way to discover fish species based on selected characteristics.  The site is an excellent way to help the public appreciate species diversity in the region, while serving the educational and research mission of a state-supported agency.  Thanks to the TPWD and webmaster Brenda Bowling for making it publicly available.

Texas Coral Reefs, by Jesse Cancelmo (Texas A&M University Press, c2008), an ebook accessible through OBIS, is a good place to start for a broader look at the ecology of the Texas coast.  This image is a small portion of a photograph of Geyer Bank, appearing on page 109 of the book.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's looking even worse than we feared

Just received (in print):  New Scientist, issue for Nov 17-23, with the cover story "Climate change: five years ago we feared the worst.  But it's looking even worse than that."  Coming on the heals of yesterday's talk by Peter Harper (What Americans don't get about climate change), seven worrisome signs of potential catastrophe should shake-up anyone feeling complacent or uncertain about the reality of climate change.  Writer Michael Le Page outlines why things are looking very grim indeed:

  1. Arctic ice is warming faster than predicted
  2. Extreme weather is getting more extreme
  3. Food production is taking a hit
  4. Sea levels will rise faster than expected
  5. Greenhouse gas levels could keep rising even if our emissions stop
  6. We're emitting more than ever
  7. Heat stress means big trouble
This last point is particularly ominous.  Steven Sherwood, an atmospheric scientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, concludes that "if we full 'develop' all of the world's coal, tar sands, shales and other fossil fuels we run a high risk of ending up in a few generations with a largely unlivable planet."  As Peter Harper so aptly put it, I would like my granddaughter's granddaughter to know that we tenants of the early 21st century did all that was humanly possible to keep Earth a hospitable place.

45 years = 114,801,000 more people in USA

On this date in 1967, just a few minutes after 11am, the U.S. Department of Commerce Census Clock passed 200 million.*  Population growth has slowed worldwide since the peak of the 1970s, but is still galloping along.  Now, exactly 45 years after passing the 200 million mark, the U.S. resident population is nearly 314,801,000.  World population long ago exceeded the 6 billion mark and is projected to surpass 9 billion by 2050.
This is a pivotal moment, according to the authors of a book with that title.  "A difference in fertility of a single child per woman’s lifetime between now and 2050 alters the projection by 3 billion, a difference equal to the entire world population in 1960." [p 29]  A Pivotal Moment : Population, Justice, and the Environmental Challenge is available electronically and in print, in the main library.

*according to the Illustrated Almanac of Science, Technology, and Invention.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday's Total Solar Eclipse

Unless you've been to northern Australia and back in the last twenty-four hours, you didn't get the chance witness, in person, the total solar eclipse that happened yesterday. You may have, however, been watching online as there were several live-streams available from a number of sources!

Whether or not you took part in this event yesterday, you may be interested in learning more about solar eclipses. The science library has you covered! From their context in mythology to astronomy, solar eclipses are fascinating occurrences, and the following titles can provide you with lots of information (and a few incredible pictures):

Littmann, Totality : eclipses of the sun

Montelle, Chasing shadows : mathematics, astronomy, and the early history of eclipse reckoning

Steel, Eclipse : the celestial phenomenon that changed the course of history

And --although a bit late in this case-- to prepare you for next time (which is a hybrid solar eclipse scheduled for November 2013):

Harrington, Eclipse! : the what, where, when, why, and how guide to watching solar and lunar eclipses

Frog, Pumpkin, Mosquito. What do they have in common?

Answer: They are on the new book shelf. Not an actual frog, pumpkin or mosquito - but intriguing new books about them. The pumpkin book, especially, is quite tempting this time of year. And how can one resist the enthusiasm expressed by the frog on the cover of our newest addition to the Reaktion series on animals?  There are plenty of other things to borrow in the new book area, in physics, chemistry, biochemistry, ecology, neuroscience, plant physiology, geology... the list goes on and on!  Come see. 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Recent Publications: Craig, Page, Simonson and Stalnaker

Articles by Oberlin science faculty published this fall included the following (Oberlin faculty indicated in bold font):
Craig, Norman C., Fuson, H. A., Tian, H., & Blake, T. A. (2012). Analysis of the rotational structure in the high-resolution infrared spectra of trans-hexatriene-1,1-d(2) and -cis-1-d(1). Journal of Molecular Structure,1023, 68-74. 
Cunningham, L. C., Page, F. Zeb, Simonson, Bruce M., Kozdon, R., & Valley, J. W. (2012). Ion microprobe analyses of delta O-18 in early quartz cements from 1.9 ga granular iron formations (GIFs): A pilot study.Precambrian Research, 214, 258-268. 
Demaison, J., Craig, Norman C., Conrad, A. R., Tubergen, M. J., & Rudolph, H. D. (2012). Semiexperimental equilibrium structure of the lower energy conformer of glycidol by the mixed estimation method. Journal of Physical Chemistry a, 116(36), 9116-9122. 
Stalnaker, Jason E., Chen, S. L., Rowan, M. E., Nguyen, K., Pradhananga, T., Palm, C. A., & Kimball, D. F. J. (2012). Velocity-selective direct frequency-comb spectroscopy of atomic vapors. Physical Review a, 86(3), 033832.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Science Center roof slabs get hauled away

The damaged slabs of roof covering are now being hauled away - great work on the part of the Facilities Operations staff and contractors!

Temporary repairs are underway, and the library remains dry.  With any luck, the science center will reopen tomorrow, if all systems are back online.  Meanwhile, the little outpost of science reserve materials is in operation at Wilder Student Union.  Come talk to us in the lobby.  We might just give you a treat on this All Hallow's Eve!  Our service desk will be open until 11pm.

UPDATE, 4:45pm - the science center will reopen on Thursday.  Hurray!  Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen.

Science Reserve Items Available to Lend in Wilder

Given the lack of access to the Science Center today, we have moved part of the reserve operation to Wilder Student Union.  Come see us in the lobby!  Required textbooks, laptops, calculators, even a few headphones, are all available to check out. There are plenty of quiet areas in Wilder where you can use the materials.  We'll also help with reference questions - don't hesitate to ask.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Science Center & Library CLOSED

The science center and science library were closed at 1:30pm today, due to hazardous weather conditions and leaky areas of the roof.  High winds have pulled slabs of the elegant aluminium cover off the roof, and the incessant rain is finding its way into the exposed roofing material.  

Notice the big slab of aluminum perched on the roof over the walkway between the east and north areas of the science center (photo left).  So far, the library has not experienced water leakage like that occurring in a few rooms on the upper floors of the science center. Send kind and heartening thoughts to our friends in Safety and Security and Facilities Operations, who have been working hours in this driving rain to minimize risks to us all.

A much bigger slab of the roof pealed away yesterday afternoon and came down on the north side of the building, just outside the windows of West Lecture Hall.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Biodiversity at PLoS Hubs

Listening to the discussion at an ALAO pre-conference session on open access publishing led to a brief look at the Biodiversity Hub at PLoS (Public Library of Science).  PLoS Hubs serve to aggregate journal articles in a given discipline, highlighting connections among researchers world-wide, and articles from different publishers and various publishers.  Learn more.  There are now over 1,319 articles highlighted in the Biodiversity Hub, added to the Hub between September 2010 and March 2012.  Take a look!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Break... even the sleepers are gone

Looking east from the library entrance.
The view out our north windows.
 Mid-week of Fall break is a very, very quiet time in the library.  A brief pause in the semester.  The view toward north quad is delightful - perfect weather for ultimate practice, but the players are elsewhere.  A good time for quiet work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Energy for Future Presidents

If you watched the second of the presidential debates last night, you may have noticed an increased focus on the subject of energy. In light of this ongoing discussion over energy policy in the United States, I bring you --or, rather, author Richard A. Muller brings you-- Energy for Future Presidents: the science behind the headlines. In this book, Muller tackles the full gamut of current energy challenges, analyzing everything from the fallout at Fukushima to the future of natural gas. If you're interested in these important issues, whether as a concerned citizen or an environmental studies major, come in and check this book out from our "New Books" shelf under the display window!

Additionally, here's an interview with Richard A. Muller from NPR's Morning Edition; and two more articles (from the LA Times and Huffington Post) covering energy in the context of the presidential debates if you'd like to keep reading!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halucinatory Realism and the Nobel Prize in Literature

How does the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature relate to science?  The phrase "hallucinatory realism" caught my imagination when I read the announcement of the award to Chinese-born Mo Yan "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary."  Hallucinations stem from disturbances in the brain, and that's neuroscience, my friend.  Or do these experiences fall in the realm of religion, psychology or philosophy? Literature, for sure, and historical documents abound with references to hallucination and illusion. Do a subject search on "hallucinations and illusions" in OBIS, and books in a wide range of disciplines, from many different decades, are listed - from scientific to the bizarre, and everything in between. Perfect for a liberal arts collection.  A recent book from Oxford University gives the more scientific overview: Perception, hallucination, and illusion / William Fish. The library's print copy is checked out, but OhioLINK users can access this online.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

G-protein–coupled receptors the focus of Nobel Prize in Chemistry

      The Nobel Prize site provides an excellent summary of the function and importance of G-protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) written for the "non-medical" reader in preparation for today's announcement of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry.  Two Americans share the 2012 prize: Robert J. Lefkowitz, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Duke University Medical Center, and Brian K. Kobilka, Stanford University School of Medicine.  Lefkowitz co-authored a book, cataloged in OBIS, that grew out of his early research at Duke University: Receptor binding studies in adrenergic pharmacology. Articles by Kobilka appear in several books listed in the OhioLINK catalog.  All told, there are many hundreds of articles authored or co-authored by Lefkowitz and Kobilka, as found in the Web of Knowledge: 213 articles by Kobilka, cited 12,290 times and 1,177 articles by Lefkowitz, cited 29,842 times.  The sheer number of publications and citations to those works attests to the productivity of their research teams and significance of their findings.

A broader overview of research methodology for GPCRs is given in the monograph edited by Poyner and Wheatley [a Wiley ebook, accessible online at ebrary]. Many related titles can be found with a quick keyword search in OBIS and OhioLINK.  Search: g protein and coupled receptor*.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

How to Scrutinize a Photon Without Changing Its Properties
NPR's Richard Harris did a fine job on Morning Edition today, explaining the importance of the research of Serge Haroche and David Wineland, co-winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics. Richard said that the two scientists figured out how to "observe and manipulate subatomic particles without destroying them." That's important, he said, because it allows scientists to understand how those particles behave, which in turn could lead to breakthroughs in quantum computing.  Follow more updates on this story from Mark Memmott on The Two-Way, NPR's news blog.

Scientific American gives good coverage also, with a link to an article by Christopher Moore and David Wineland ("Quantum computing with ions," August 2008), and much more.  Find that issue of Scientific American in the science library's compact shelving or online in Academic Search Complete (subscribers only).

Monday, October 08, 2012

Regenerating Bodies & Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Today's announcement of the Noble Prize in Medicine, awarded jointly to Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka, brought to mind the new title Regenerating Bodies by Julie Kent (now on the new book shelf).  Kent does not directly cite either Gurdon and Yamanaka, but her work is nonetheless dependent on their research.  Kent writes from a sociological perspective, to engage "with a series of questions about the implications of new and emerging health technologies that use human tissues and cells."  She provides a perspective on pluripotent cells that delves into moral, ethical, and social issues, including such dilemmas as defining personhood and the boundaries of the corporal body.  It makes for fascinating reading at the interface of science, the humanities and social sciences.
Read more about Gurdon's and Yamanaka's research, from today's New York Times.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Science-Related Questions for Obama and Romney

If you noticed the lack of science topics in this week's presidential debate, you are in good company.  The Union for Concerned Scientists collaborated with Science Debate and other scientific organizations—including the National Academies of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Physical Society—to come up with fourteen science policy questions for the presidential candidates. Read their answers at Scientific American

Political spin and pundits not-with-standing, being informed about important issues, from non-partisan sources that understand the essential need for accurate scientific understanding in a democracy, is our best hope this election season.  Be informed.  Register to vote.  Make wise decisions.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Welcome to Laura - and SO many new books!

It is suddenly October!  Never has the first month of an academic year slid by so quickly.  I welcome Laura Gray to the science library blog, and look forward to many more posts from her.  Thanks for joining Speaking of Science, Laura!

Now, it's time to get many more folks perusing the new book shelf, where dozens of books beckon readers in every science-related discipline.  The Violinist's Thumb relates directly to Laura's post on genomic research.  If the question "Can genetics explain a cat lady's obsessive love for felines?" gets you thinking, or you would like to know how the "right combination of genes created the exceptionally flexible thumbs and fingers of a truly singular violinist," you should check this out.

The latest volume of The best American science writing is perfect for a series of relatively short, always enlightening essays on current thinking and future directions in a widely diverse representation of scientific pursuit.  It is a great respite from political ads on every form of media in this election season - and should also be required reading for all politicians who have the potential to determine funding and policies for scientific research.

There are so many more - too many to feature here, let alone have time to read them all - let at least one captivate your interest.  See the entire list of books received during September - October 2.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Taking Home your Genome!

Hey all you science fanatics, majors and non-majors alike! My name is Laura Gray and I'm a second-year studying biology here at Oberlin. I've just started working at the Science Library (arguably the best place on campus) and will now be contributing to our blog. I'm excited to be here!

This week on Morning Edition, NPR kicked off their "$1,000 Genome" series with two stories discussing the prospect of low-cost (compared to the initial $3 billion project) genome sequencing that would be available to the average citizen. This individualized sequencing may become a part of standard medical check-ups and prevention measures very soon. Knowledge of your genome may not stop that welcome-back-to-Oberlin cold going around, but would you want to know about other medical risks? Check out what James Watson had to say about having his genome sequenced in the article, here!

For more on this fascinating topic, you should also come pick up one of our newest books, located under the display case, called The Genome Generation, by Elizabeth Finkel!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Images of Biodiversity on Pinterest

Earlier this summer, the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) launched on Pinterest, and the number of images they have uploaded ("pinned") has increased rapidly - there are now more than 1,320 images in 15 collections ("Boards") and the image quality is wonderful.  Portraits of naturalists and exquisite drawings of birds, insects, mammals, fish, plants and many other aspects of nature can be viewed and shared at the site.  One board is devoted to photographs of biodiversity depicted in the ancient world, including art objects.  BHL is a global consortium of natural history and botanical institutions that cooperate to digitize and make freely available the biodiversity literature in their collections. Sharing images from their libraries on Pinterest is a great way to make them openly accessible to a very wide audience.  Take a look!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 wants your opinion

Have you taken advantage of as a gateway to the scientific and technical information provided by the U.S. government?  It's an excellent launching point for any search of science-related documents from federal agencies.  Give it a thorough test - then take the survey offered to provide user feedback.

From the website: searches over 55 databases and over 2100 selected websites from 13 federal agencies, offering 200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information including research and development results.

It's hard to get more comprehensive than that!  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Reading... a LONG list!

We have been inundated with wonderful new books this month!  Now we need more readers to help lighten the load at the new book shelf.  See the entire list.  Here are just a few:

catalog record

catalog record
catalog record
catalog record
catalog record
catalog record
catalog record
There are so many more we could highlight!  Best just to stop in and peruse the shelves yourself.  It's lovely and cool in the library...

Friday, June 01, 2012

New Faculty Publications in Chemistry, Environmental Studies and Geology

Belitsky, Jason M., Chemistry
Sono K, Lye D, Moore CA, Boyd WC, Gorlin TA, Belitsky JM. 2012. Melanin-based coatings as lead-binding agents. Bioinorganic Chemistry and Applications :361803. [access at PMC]

Hubbard, Dennis, Geology
Lescinsky H, Titus B, Hubbard D. 2012. Live coral cover in the fossil record: An example from holocene reefs of the dominican republic. Coral Reefs 31(2):335-46. [access at EJC]

Page, F. Zeb, Geology
Blondes MS, Brandon MT, Reiners PW, Page FZ, Kita NT. 2012. Generation of forsteritic olivine (fo(99 center dot 8)) by subsolidus oxidation in basaltic flows. J Petrol 53(5):971-84. [access at EJC]

Shammin, Md Rumi, Environmental Studies
Bagstad KJ and Shammin MR. 2012. Can the genuine progress indicator better inform sustainable regional progress?-A case study for northeast ohio. Ecol Ind 18:330-41. [access at EJC]
Simonson, Bruce, Geology
Bottke WF, Vokrouhlicky D, Minton D, Nesvorny D, Morbidelli A, Brasser R, Simonson B, Levison HF. 2012. An archaean heavy bombardment from a destabilized extension of the asteroid belt. Nature 485(7396):78-81. [access at Nature]

Thompson, Robert Q., Chemistry
Thompson RQ, Chu C, Gent R, Gould AP, Rios L, Vertigan TM. 2012. Visualizing capsaicinoids: Colorimetric analysis of chili peppers. J Chem Educ 89(5):610-2. [access at ACS]

These six articles were found by searching "Oberlin Coll*" in the address field of Web of Science, limited to the last four weeks in Science Citation Index, then exporting the references to RefWorks and formatting the list according to the Ecology journal format.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just in time... for you to have no time.

Recognizing that the first day of exams is not when most people will look at the new books shelf (more's the pity), I will highlight just two:

Pictured rocks of the Upper Peninsula is purely a personal choice, as a Michigander and someone who loves the northern parts of the state.  Spend just a few minutes with this book and you will feel refreshed and ready for the next exam:
Geology and landscape of Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and vicinity / William L. Blewett.
The world of trees  is my second choice.  The trees around Oberlin this spring are amazing! - in fact, anything that uses carbon dioxide for growth (anything plant-like, that is) is growing by leaps and bounds.  It's a bit alarming, to be honest.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Buddha? Mycobacterial infection following tattoo

Annika Sullivan '12 is a co-author on a paper originating from the Oregon Health & Science University, Portland:
Happy Buddha? Kevin L. Winthrop; Cara D. Varley; Annika Sullivan; Robert S. Hopkins.  2012.  Clinical Infectious Diseases  54: 1670-1671.
Oberlin does not subscribe to this journal, but the publisher provided this link for limited number of free access views of the html version. The tattoo identified in the article as the origin of a mycobacterial infection depicts a joyful buddha in a standing pose, completed using a grey ink. The dye was created by mixing black tattoo ink with tap water, a common source of Mycobacterium chelonae.

The authors observed "Outbreaks associated with [Myccobacterium organisms] may occur when contaminated tap water is inappropriately used in surgical, cosmetic, or other procedures. Symptoms typically develop 2–3 weeks after exposure."

Today's lesson: when getting a tattoo, insist that purified water be used throughout the procedure.

Friday, May 11, 2012

University of Minnesota compiles database of peer-reviewed, open-source textbooks | Inside Higher Ed

This is an exciting development, and could dramatically change the learning process in undergraduate courses.  Reliable participation by faculty in many colleges and universities would be useful, to extend peer-review to a wider audience.
University of Minnesota compiles database of peer-reviewed, open-source textbooks | Inside Higher Ed

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Something fishy online

We now have access to Elsevier's Encyclopedia of Fish Physiology online, at  If you are asked to identify your institutional affiliation before gaining access, be sure to select the Oberlin College option (not Oberlin College/OhioLINK, which gives access to the journals archive only).

Here's a snippet to pique your interest:
"At a conservative estimate at least 40% of the world's vertebrates are fish. On the one hand they are united by their adaptations to an aquatic environment and on the other they show a variety of adaptations to differing environmental conditions - often to extremes of temperature, salinity, oxygen level and water chemistry."  One chapter begins with this truism:  "All fish are united by the requirement to obtain food, while (at least during some phase of their life) avoiding being food." It's a challenging life, beneath the water's surface.  Take the plunge and learn more.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

New articles by faculty and students

Oberlin-authored articles published in April 2012 included the following:

From Emeritus professor of chemistry Norm Craig with Oberlin student Hengfeng Tian -
Craig N. C., H. Tian, and T. A. Blake. 2012. Analysis of the Rotational Structure in the High-Resolution Infrared Spectrum of trans-Hexatriene-1-C-13(1): A Semiexperimental Equilibrium Structure for the C-6 Backbone of trans-Hexatriene. Journal of Physical Chemistry A 116:3148-3155. [access at ACS]

From Neuroscience professor Jan Thornton with Oberlin students Sarah McConnell, Juliet Alla, and Elizabeth Wheat -
McConnell S. E. A., J. Alla, E. Wheat, R. D. Romeo, B. McEwen, and J. E. Thornton. 2012. The role of testicular hormones and luteinizing hormone in spatial memory in adult male rats. Hormones and behavior 61:479-486. [access at OhioLINK EJC or]
Curious about those hormones and spatial memory?  Here's the summary statement from the abstract:
"[The] data indicate that testicular androgens are important for maximal levels of spatial working memory in male rats, that testosterone may be converted to estradiol and/or dihydrotestosterone to exert its effects, and that some of the effects of these steroid hormones may occur via negative feedback effects on luteinizing hormone."  No indication is given on any possible linkage between testosterone and human male behavior vis-à-vis seeking directions while traveling through unfamiliar territory.  Sorry, couldn't resist.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Petersen article in Marine Ecological Processes

A recent publication from John Petersen, Associate Professor/Director of the Environmental Studies Program, was selected for inclusion in the treatise Marine Ecological Processes (2010), edited by J.H. Steele [borrow through OhioLINK]. Petersen's article first appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences, 2nd ed., which subscribers can access on
Petersen, John E. & W.M. Kemp. 2008. Mesocosms: enclosed experimental ecosystems in ocean science. Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences.  Elsevier, New York, pp 732–747.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New publications from faculty & students

Five recent publications by science faculty, some co-authored with current students or recent alumni, are higlighted here.  Oberlin affiliated authors are noted with bold text:

Craig, Norman C., Clay C. Easterday, Deacon J. Nemchick, Drew F.K. Williamson, Robert L. Sams  2012. Rotational analysis of bands in the high-resolution infrared spectra of cis,cis- and trans,trans-1,4-difluorobutadiene-2-d(1). Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy 272(1):2-10.

De Smet I., P. J. White, A. G. Bengough, L. Dupuy, B. Parizot, I. Casimiro, R. Heidstra, Marta Laskowski, M. Lepetit, F. Hochholdinger, X. Draye, H. Zhang, M. R. Broadley, B. Peret, J. P. Hammond, H. Fukaki, S. Mooney, J. P. Lynch, P. Nacry, U. Schurr, L. Laplaze, P. Benfey, T. Beeckman, and M. Bennett. 2012. Analyzing lateral root development: how to move forward. Plant Cell 24(1):15-20.

Glass B. P., Bruce M. Simonson. 2012. Distal impact ejecta layers: spherules and more. Elements 8(1):43-48.

Moran Sean D., A. M. Woys, L. E. Buchanan, Eli Bixby, Sean M. Decatur, and M. T. Zanni. 2012. Two-dimensional IR spectroscopy and segmental C-13 labeling reveals the domain structure of human gamma D-crystallin amyloid fibrils. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109(9):3329-3334.

Schmidt, Amanda H., A. S. T. Robbins, J. K. Combs, A. Freeburg, R. G. Jesperson, H. S. Rogers, K. S. Sheldon, and E. Wheat. 2012. A new model for training graduate students to conduct interdisciplinary, interorganizational, and international research. Bioscience 62(3):296-304.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Contentious Bird Flu Research Will Be Published

From the NPR health blog on March 30, 2012:
by Nell Greenfieldboyce

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity "has reconsidered its advice to keep certain details of bird flu experiments secret. Revised versions of manuscripts that describe two recent studies can be openly published, the committee now says. The decision could help end a contentious debate that has raged within the scientific community for months."

Nature and Science are the two journals in the process of publishing the reports.  Nature's blog, in a post by Ed Yong, featured this headline last week: "Mutations behind flu spread revealed.  Details of one of two controversial mutant flu papers discussed in London."

Yoshihiro Kawaoka, of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, revealed that an altered form of the H5N1 virus was able to reproduce in a ferret's airways, and that spontaneous mutations of that form of the virus resulted in three new mutations (not represented in any virus database) which allowed the virus to go airborne between infected and healthy ferrets.       

Read more about the research and the controversy surrounding it in Nature‘s mutant flu special and in news analysis dated April 6 from Science, by Jon Cohen and David Malakoff.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Open Access from Nature Climate Change

This comes from The Nature Publishing Group at, in an email dated April 4, 2012:
"Nature Climate Change is one! To celebrate, the editors have pulled together a collection of highlights from the journal over the last year – free to view until the end of April 2012."
See the First anniversary highlights 
"Launched in April 2011, Nature Climate Change is a monthly journal dedicated to publishing the most significant and cutting-edge research on the impacts of global climate change and its implications for the economy, policy and the world at large. The journal is interdisciplnary and strives to forge and synthesize ideas across the physical and social sciences." 
While at, read the news note "How carbon dioxide melted the world," summarizing research findings published yesterday: Shakun, J. D. et al. Nature 484, 49–54 (2012). NPR adds insight with a story from Christopher Joyce this morning: Shake it off: earth's wobble may have ended ice age.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Neurobiology books on exhibit, coincides with presentation by Jeffrey Burgdorf

From the book display
in the Science Library
First In Family Speaker Series features Jeffrey Burgdorf on Wednesday, April 4. Dr. Burgdorf will present "The Neurobiology of Positive Emotions: from laughing rats to a novel antidepressant in clinical trials for depression."  Stop in the science library to peruse a selection of books from our neurobiology section, on exhibit in conjunction with Burgdorf's talk.

Copies of recent papers by Burgdorf and collaborators are also on display, including "Frequency modulated 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations reflect a positive emotional state in the rat : neural substrates and therapeutic implications" by Jeffrey Burgdorf and Joseph R. Moskal in Handbook of behavioral neuroscience, v. 19.

From the OC Events calendar:
First In Family Speaker Series
WHEN: 4:30pm - 6:00pm
WHERE: Science Center, Norman C. Craig ’53 Lecture Hall @ 119 Woodland Street, Oberlin, OH 44074

Dr. Burgdorf earned a doctorate in 2005 at Bowling Green State University, where he validated that rat ultrasonic vocalizations reflect distinct positive and negative emotional states relevant to depression, and further explored the neuronal basis of these vocalizations. 

Monday, April 02, 2012

Poetry in Science

April is National Poetry Month; while the science library is full of instructive, enlightening and absorbing prose, poetry is harder to find in our stacks.  But poems with scientific imagery are not hard to find!  Try this book, as a starting place: Curve away from stillness : science poems / John Allman ; afterword by Peter S. Coleman. New York : New Directions, c1989.
Available in the OhioLINK ebook center or from the Main library.  There are enough poems in this little book to read one a day during the entire month (one per day for each workday, that is).

If you loved every minute of CHEM254 or BIO213 you are sure to appreciate the Biochemists' Songbook (complete with selected scores and detailed biochemical pathways).  It is in the Science library and also online.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Glorious Magnolias

This was a spectacular day last week - in the midst of midterms, the warming sun and sweet fragrance under the magnolias improved outdoor studying immeasurably.

The blossoms fell fast in the days following, and now litter the pavement in front of the Science Center.  The fragrance lingers, however, to lessen disappointment on this overcast, chilly day.  Such is spring break in Oberlin.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sounds of the natural world = sounds of the divine

Living on Earth featured a marvelous conversation this week with Bernie Klaus, trained musician who is now an "acoustic adventurer."  Listen to the miraculous sounds he has recorded, including a haunting symphony by two packs of wolves, the scraping of insects' wings and sap moving inside trees.  Remarkable!

We will order Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places, by Klaus, just published this year.   Listen to other sounds from nature in the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics archive in the OhioLINK DMC. The Birds of North America also offers audio files, as does Grzimek's Animal Life.

Klaus remarked, toward the end of the Living on Earth segment, that "the sounds of the natural world are the sounds of the divine."  You may share that conviction after listening to his recordings.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sherwood Rowland, CFCs, ozone depletion and the public role of scientists

Sherwood Rowland, CFCs, ozone depletion and the public role of scientists
RealClimate has posted a fine tribute to Nobel Prize Winner F. Sherwood Rowland, who died on March 10 at the age of 84 (obituary in Nature).  This observation of Dr. Rowland, following a lecture that prompted questions from an audience member with slight understanding of atmospheric science, is particularly telling:
"While everyone else was enjoying a beverage, cookies, and conversation, Sherry had been off in the corner for about 30 minutes talking with the questioner, explaining basic principles of atmospheric science, how the greenhouse effect works, etc. It didn’t matter that one of the two of them had a Nobel Prize while the other may not have had any formal education. What mattered to Sherry is that he had an opportunity to educate someone about this important issue, and that mattered more than anything."
I greatly appreciate this quote from Dr. Rowland, spoken during this Nobel Prize acceptance speech:
“What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chemistry books top the new books list

The preponderance of new books in our last shipment are chemistry related, from Philosophy of Chemistry and The Chemical Element to Chemical Crystallography.  The last title includes highly specialized chapters by different contributors (e.g., "Construction and structure of metal-organic frameworks with specific ion-exchange property," by Man-Sheng Chen), while the first two are aimed at a broader audience.  The Chemical Element was published in conjunction with the International Year of Chemistry (2011) and relates directly to the UN Millennium Development Goals.  It demonstrates how the science of chemistry is essential for solving the most critical goals related to energy, climate, food, water, poverty, education and health.  It is accessible, important reading for anyone concerned about achieving a sustainable future for 10 billion or more people.  More new books.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Caterpillars: beautiful, mundane, beneficial and destructive

Now on the new book shelf:
Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America, by  David L. Wagner, Dale F. Schweitzer, J. Bolling Sullivan & Richard C. Reardon.  Princeton Univ Press.

This arrived on approval from our book vendor, YBP (Yankee Book Peddler, a division of Baker & Taylor), and I was entranced.  The publisher's description speaks for itself, and the thousands of color photographs are indeed impressive.  This is more than a guide to identifying species; the accompanying text tells the important story of the essential roles caterpillars have in varying ecosystems.  Gain a new appreciation of such humble seeming invertebrates by spending a bit of time perusing this volume.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography online

From Gale/Cengage
We have owned the print format of the Dictionary of Scientific Biography for many years, and can access it in the OhioLINK Electronic Books Center.  We now subscribe to the online version at the publisher's website (Gale/Cengage), part of the Gale Virtual Reference Library, where searching and browsing functions are very nicely supported.  Link to it from the OBIS catalog record.  Composed of 18 large print volumes, the title "Dictionary" does not do justice to this comprehensive encyclopedic work.  Take time to browse the index volume and jump from one entry to another, and you will gain a new understanding of the development of science and the people who advanced that knowledge throughout centuries.  Simply browsing the list of illustrations indicates the wide breadth of scientific information represented in the work.  Go discover!

Monday, February 13, 2012

In Memoriam: Sonali Seth, '02

We were so sorry to learn of the passing of Sonali Seth, '02 who was a bright, engaging and lively member of our student staff for two years.  Sonali's welcome to all who entered in the library was warm and genuine, and she was a wonderful reference assistant in the period of transition between the old and new library.  As a senior science major, Sonali was truly helpful to everyone getting their bearings in the new science center.  A 2005 graduated of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as a new MPH, Sonali had a passion for humanitarian assistance and health & human rights.  Her good works will be remembered by the hundreds of people whose lives she touched.  This photo was taken when Sonali first began work with us, in the fall of 2000, in the last year of operation of the library in Kettering Hall.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Energy Matters: Oberlin Project Blog is launched

Head over to Cindy Frantz's first post on the new Oberlin Project blog, where you can respond with your own thoughts on what is important about Oberlin and sign up for the project's e-newsletter.  Associate Professor of Psychology Frantz is also the Co-Chair of the Energy Planning Committee of the Oberlin Project.  Today's blog post appears in this week's Oberlin News Tribune, with the promise of future columns on "energy matters" in Oberlin and the immediate environs.  Frantz concludes her first column with these remarks:  "Energy matters in Oberlin because we care about each other, our community, and our planet.  We all want Oberlin to be healthy and prosperous.  By thinking carefully about our energy, we pave the way for a future we can all get excited about."  These are sentiments we can support throughout the community.  I encourage all residents - college and town - to learn more and be engaged in the Oberlin Project.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Spring Carrel Sign-Up Starts Today

Welcome to Spring Semester!  All carrels were cleared at the end of fall semester, and new carrel assignments for spring semester will be posted on Friday, February 10.
Carrel applications are on the circulation desk -- open to all students; preference is given to science majors, based on seniority.  Carrel regulations and an application form are also online, here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wild-eyed forerunners

Among the new books received today is this research monograph, with a strong emphasis on understanding evolution of the earliest non-mammalian therapsids through understanding their bone microstructure. Sixteen specialists contributed to the volume, edited by Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan (who also co-authored six of the book's eleven chapters).  

Detailed research findings on cranial microstructure, bone and dental histology, bone degradation, and vascularized bone tissue patterns fill most of the chapters, within the context of relating those minute observations to new understandings of how the earliest land vertebrates evolved into modern day mammals.  Fascinating stuff, evolution!  See the OBIS record for table of contents and contributors.

Other new books received today cover a wide range of subjects, from anthropology to geophysics, as well as polar bears facing extinction, a birdwatching guide controversy, bioconstitutionalism and genomics, mountains in Antarctica and beaches worldwide, plus an impressively chunky dictionary of entomology.  See the new book list.

Science Breakthrough of 2011: HIV Treatment as Prevention

Science's editors and news staff have selected "HIV Treatment as Prevention" as the Scientific Breakthrough of the Year 2011, based on findings by the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) that antiretroviral drugs reduced the risk of heterosexual transmission by 96%.  Read the full story.

Science is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

7 new publications by Karla Parsons-Hubbard and colleagues

All seven of the following articles by Associate Professor of Geology Karla Parsons-Hubbard are published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, special issue:  The Shelf and Slope Experimental Taphonomy Initiative (SSETI): Thirteen years of taphonomic observations on carbonate and wood in the Bahamas and Gulf of Mexico.  [access for subscribers at OhioLINK EJC or]

  • Brett CE, Parsons-Hubbard KM, Walker SE, Ferguson C, Powell EN, Staff G, Ashton-Alcox KA, Raymond A. 2011. Gradients and patterns of sclerobionts on experimentally deployed bivalve shells: Synopsis of bathymetric and temporal trends on a decadal time scale. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 312(3-4):278-304.
  • Heise EA, Raymond A, Parsons-Hubbard K, Walker SE, Staff G, Powell EA, Brett C, Ashton-Alcox KA. 2011. Wood taphonomy in a tropical marine carbonate environment: Experimental results from lee stocking island, bahamas. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 312(3-4):363-79.
  • Krause RA, Jr., Parsons-Hubbard K, Walker SE. 2011. Experimental taphonomy of a decapod crustacean: Long-term data and their implications. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 312(3-4):350-62.
  • Parsons-Hubbard KM, Brett CE, Walker SE. 2011. Taphonomic field experiments and the role of the shelf and slope experimental taphonomy initiative. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 312(3-4):195-208.
  • Powell EN, Staff GM, Callender WR, Ashton-Alcox KA, Brett CE, Parsons-Hubbard KM, Walker SE, Raymond A. 2011. Taphonomic degradation of molluscan remains during thirteen years on the continental shelf and slope of the northwestern gulf of mexico. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 312(3-4):209-32.
  • Powell EN, Staff GM, Callender WR, Ashton-Alcox KA, Brett CE, Parsons-Hubbard KM, Walker SE, Raymond A. 2011. The influence of molluscan taxon on taphofacies development over a broad range of environments of preservation: The SSETI experience. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 312(3-4):233-64.
  • Walker SE, Parsons-Hubbard K, Richardson-White S, Brett C, Powell E. 2011. Alpha and beta diversity of encrusting foraminifera that recruit to long-term experiments along a carbonate platform-to-slope gradient: Paleoecological and paleoenvironmental implications. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 312(3-4):325-49.