Sci & Tech

Watching you Watching Me

Watching you Watching Me

For people who use video chat services to catch up with someone close—a beloved grandma or dear friend—it’s pretty easy to read the cues and reactions of a familiar face. But in video chats among a group of people, say a business meeting among different offices, reading and correctly interpreting the facial cues of others can be difficult. Now a Waltham company’s software is being used in a video system to analyze the facial reactions of participants to deduce their emotional state in real-time. The […]



Local Warming

Local Warming

Humans don’t hibernate — we work in our offices all through the winter. How does being ensconced in a heat bubble  during those cold months strike you? An art installation dubbed “Local Warming” which offers a preview of such personalized climate control, returns from the prestigious Vienna Architecture Biennale next week. This well-received design from MIT’s Senseable City Lab also promises to be an energy saver. Local Warming uses a WiFi-based motion tracking system, developed by MIT’s Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing, to […]



Bamboo Nurseries

Bamboo Nurseries

In a remote, wet evergreen forest in southern India, the male white-spotted bush frog calls to lure a female into his snug bamboo-stalk love nest. Entry is granted through a narrow opening probably bored by insects or rodents. Once inside, the tiny frogs mate in flood-proof confines. Dad cares for the eggs, which hatch directly into froglets — no tadpole stage involved in this dry bamboo nursery. Read the rest here. html. pdf.



Reflections of a Pioneer Woman Scientist

Reflections of a Pioneer Woman Scientist

In her career as a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mildred “Millie” Dresselhaus, who is now 83, has researched the electronic structure of carbon in its myriad forms. Dresselhaus was in Oslo for the Kavli awards ceremony this year. I caught up with her for a chat for Science. Q:Tell us about your early years at MIT. A:I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1958 and married a fellow physicist that year. We both joined the research staff of MIT’s […]



Consulting Careers for PhDs

Consulting Careers for PhDs

It doesn’t matter all that much what your Ph.D. is in—the important thing is the analytical approach you bring, writes Brian Rolfes, partner and director of global recruiting at McKinsey & Company, in an e-mail. “That said,” Rolfes adds, “we are delighted when new hires have specific domain knowledge that is relevant to our clients. People with training in electrical engineering may be suited to serve high-tech clients like the telecom industry. And in our healthcare work we have many people with biology, genetics, bioengineering […]



Leopards in Mumbai City

Leopards in Mumbai City

So, can people and leopards coexist in Mumbai? I ask Vidya Athreya, an ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society-India. She studies human-leopard interactions in heavily populated areas. Her research formed the plot of the Bollywood movie Ajoba, released in Mumbai this summer. She says wildlife living among people, even a potentially dangerous species like leopard, is not a new phenomenon in India. Big cats survive because the rural populace tends to be tolerant. Even around the SGNP in Mumbai, where people live in open houses […]



Some Virtues of Virtual Panels

Douglas Fisher, an associate professor of computer science at Vanderbilt University, started his 3-year rotation as program director at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2007. That fall, he convened and chaired in-person panels to decide the fate of NSF grant proposals in information sciences. But when he started planning ahead for a spring meeting, he recalls by e-mail, “I could find NO room available to hold my panels on the dates I wanted or what I regarded as reasonable alternatives.” So instead, he ran […]



Elite Male Faculty Employ Fewer Women

Elite Male Faculty Employ Fewer Women

Jason Sheltzer is a graduate student in cancer genomics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. He works in the Amon Lab, where the principal investigator (PI), half the graduate students and half the postdocs are women. Sheltzer was astonished when a friend at Princeton University told him she was the first female graduate student at her PI’s physics lab in his 20-plus years as an academic. In fact, that bit of news prompted Sheltzer to take a closer look at gender distribution in […]



Many Strikes, Never Out

Many Strikes, Never Out

In 2009, Chandrakala Puligilla, a young biomedical researcher who studies cell fate specification in mammals, won the prestigious K99 award—the postdoctoral half of the prestigious transition award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—on her first attempt. In 2011, she became an assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina and secured the award’s matching second half, an R00 research grant that provides up to 3 years of research support. Though off to an excellent start, Puligilla must now cement her gains and keep her […]



Elephant Conservation Conundrum

Elephant Conservation Conundrum

Those who grew up in southern India may fondly recall temple elephants with their tinkling neck-bells. As children, we didn’t notice the shackles on their legs. Elephants have iconic status in India, they  were used in warfare, and also in construction and transportation, apart from pageantry. They are still used in religious celebrations. Here is an excellent story about celebrity elephants;  a news item about an 1500 lb.+ golden ornament which a chosen elephant carries during Mysore’s biggest annual festival. Elephants are protected in India; their […]