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Showing posts from June, 2017

Diatom of the Month – June 2017: Fragilaria synegrotesca

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by Nick Schulte*
I think Fragilaria synegrotesca is a cute diatom. Although long and lanky (nothing wrong with that!), F. synegrotesca has an adorable, sometimes very slight, potbelly (Fig. 1). 

Fig. 1. a) Live frustules in a rosette colony (http://fcelter.fiu.edu/data/database/diatom/index.htm?species=3568) b) Fragilaria synegrotesca in valve view (Schulte 2014).
Now, some boring diatomist (e.g., me) might describe that little bump in the middle right as “a unilaterally expanded, hyaline central margin” and that’s accurate enough. But I also like to think of it as F. synegrotesca’s belly pooch. It brings to my mind the potbellies of seahorses, pigs, puppies and toddlers, and it seems very boop-able.

But let’s move past the physical attributes of this diatom, as the allure of this species is in its “actions”. Fragilaria synegrotesca has so far only been reported from karstic wetlands of the Caribbean and is most well-known from the Florida Everglades. In the Everglades, F. synegrotesca is …

Affordable Robots in Environmental Science

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Post by: Dong Yoon LeeEmail: dolee@fiu.edu
Let me start with some questions. Have you ever lost all of your samples in a freezer because of a power outrage? Have you made your family unhappy (or happy) because you spend more time with laboratory rats? Have you failed to collect soil samples after a long boat trip because of unpredicted high water levels? Have you found out that super high phytoplankton production was caused by your advisor accidentally turning on a light during dark cycles? It is not uncommon to hear these kinds of unfortunate events from fellow scientists. It seems almost inevitable for biologists to avoid them because nature is full of surprises and that’s why we love studying biology! But wouldn't it be nice if you had a robot preventing unwanted events from happening? In addition, wouldn't it be even better if a robot was easy to program, to make, and most importantly, affordable. We tend to think that a robot is an intelligent object with arms, legs, or at …