In The News

Thanks For A Successful SLI!

Posted: July 17, 2018

The NSELA SLI was a great success in Philadelphia, where emerging and veteran leaders from across the country came together for two and one-half days to live out the conference motto, "Ringing the Bell for Equity, Finding Common Ground, and Believing in Every Child’s Future."  

Okhee Lee, Professor of Childhood Education, along with Scott Grapin and Alison Haas from New York University Steinhardt, inspired us with sessions that demonstrated how to incorporate computational thinking into science learning for all students.  They lead sessions on computational thinking, computer science, and equity for students in STEM.  

Jody Bintz, Associate Director for Strategic Partnerships and Professional Learning, BSCS explored the resource NextGen TIME, a toolkit for instructional materials evaluation and implementation.

We enjoyed a keynote from Dr. Mark A. Pauley, who explained the importance of bioinformatics in understanding biological data. 

Rodger Bybee, Author and NGSS Writing Team Leader, elaborated on the impact of STEM on the history of the United States. 

We enjoyed a panel of experts that engaged the audience to consider how to make STEM more meaningful - facilitated by Peter McLaren, Director, Next Gen Education. National Science Consultant, NGSS Writer.  

We thank our sponsors, Texas Instruments, eXplore Learning and Vernier for making this all possible.  Please consider joining us for our Leadership Summit on April 10 in St. Louis!  


Social Isolation: Animals That Break Away From the Pack Can Influence Evolution

Posted: July 17, 2018

For some animals -- such as beetles, ants, toads, and primates -- short-term social isolation can be just as vital as social interaction to development and long-term evolution. In a review published July 17 in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution, two evolutionary biologists describe approaches for testing how an animal's isolation might impact natural selection and evolution. This framework can help design more effective breeding, reintroduction, and conservation strategies.

Research on evolution typically focuses on the importance of social interactions, including parent-offspring bonding, competition for resources, and courtship and mating rituals. But Nathan Bailey at the University of St Andrews in Scotland and his colleague Allen Moore at the University of Georgia realized that isolation must then be an extreme condition worthy of equal attention.

"The environment an animal experiences can influence which genes it expresses, when, and how much, so conditions of social isolation might cause expression of different traits," says Bailey. "This in turn could affect responses to natural selection in terms of survival and reproduction, which has evolutionary consequences. For some species, it might even mean that temporary social isolation is favorable."

The invasive cane toad Rhinella marina of Australia, for instance, will venture off on its own to expand into new territory, but the isolation this causes drives an uncharacteristically strong attraction to members of the opposite sex upon the toad's return to a social environment. This boosts the likelihood of both communication and successful mating, which are necessary for survival as the toads expand into new regions. This means that social isolation itself provides the conditions for natural selection to favor adaptations to cope with it.

Likewise, when poisoned, the European ant Temnothorax unifasciatus secludes itself from its kin until death. This eliminates contact with its nestmates, protecting them from the infection, ensuring its relatives' survival, and overall lessening some of the costs associated with social living, such as spreading disease.

"Traits expressed during social interactions might exist because they've been shaped by selection, but at the same time, social interactions themselves represent a type of environment that can select and shape how individuals behave," says Bailey.

This duality of social interaction as both trait and environment merits further study, and Bailey and Moore propose gaining a more complete understanding of social isolation's effects using a measurement termed the "index of social isolation." The index would allow researchers to compare an animal's ideal amount of isolation with how much it is actually experiencing.

To do this, researchers must first measure the optimal balance of interaction and isolation by testing individuals with different levels of each to find the best possible outcome in terms of survival and reproduction. Comparing this ideal to real observations will help determine whether animals are more or less isolated than they should be and ultimately allow for more effective designs for conservation strategies, reintroduction models, and breeding programs.

"To understand how short-term social isolation experienced by individual animals translates into trans-generational evolutionary impacts for a larger population, we need a number, something measurable that we can compare across different species and contexts," says Bailey. "After all, isolation that has negative effects for one species could in fact be beneficial for another."

This research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and the National Science Foundation.

Click here for the original article. 


Save the Date: 2019 Leadership Summit!

Posted: July 17, 2018

Mark your calendars! The 2019 NSELA Leadership Summit will happen in St. Louis, Missouri on April 10. More details will be available soon! 


"A Safety Minute" by Dr. Ken Roy - NSELA Safety Compliance Officer

Posted: July 17, 2018

Laboratory Safety Autoclaves/Sterilizers Hazards!

Do your labs have autoclaves/sterilizers?  Do you know the potential worksite hazards if you or your employees are exposed while doing a job?  Check out "Laboratory Safety Autoclaves/Sterilizers OSHA Quick Facts!"  Under OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment standard (29 CFR 1910.132), your employer must assess and identify potential work-site hazards which includes use of autoclaves/sterilizers:

For current safety updates five days a week, follow Dr. Ken on Twitter @drroysafersci. Also follow Dr. Ken on Instagram at Drkensafetyjob1.


3 Science Leaders Have Joined NSELA Last Week

Posted: July 17, 2018

3 science leaders have joined/renewed to NSELA last week.

They are: 


• Emily McGrady - School District of PhiledelphiaJenkintown, Pennsylvania
• Gretchen Schultz -  Perris Union High School District; Perris, California
• Kathy Sparrow - Delray Beach, Florida

Please welcome our new members Emily, Gretchen, and Kathy!

Members, you can connect to all NSELA members through the NSELA Member Directory. You must be signed in to access. Not yet a member? Join today!

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