science

Erin Krall / WWNO

Five years ago on April 20, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off the Louisiana coast. Scientists are still studying the effects of more than 3 million barrels of oil that a federal court determined gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. And those evaluating the effects on birds are still unsure what to expect.

Oil-covered pelicans became the icons of what happened when the oil seeped into the marshes on the Louisiana coast. That damage was clear.

Old Cancer Drug, New Formula

Apr 13, 2015


For the past eight years, Professor Zhijun Liu of LSU’s AgCenter has been focusing on a chemotherapy drug called Taxol, used to treat ovarian and breast cancer.  It’s a potent drug, and the body struggles to dissolve and absorb it.  Liu is looking for ways to fix that.

 

For a decade, Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center in Shreveport has hosted Science Academy, bussing dozens of elementary school students to the science museum for seven weeks. They get an extra boost of science and math skills, according to Sci-Port’s education coordinator Kim Solice.

“I think it’s a bonus for these students. These are students who I think have real interest in science, and they will continue that interest in their middle and high school years. Eventually, what we hope is it will become a career for them,” Solice said.

Dozens of Genetic Markers Contribute to Obesity

Mar 23, 2015

Inside the Human Genomics Lab at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Dr. Tuomo Rankinen points to a chip -- much like one you'd find in a computer -- that contains DNA samples. The chips are designed to read genetic markers, or DNA sequences, that determine things like blood type and eye color, and also risk for diseases like obesity. 

NASA / Wikimedia Commons

The Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy at Tulane University received $1.4 million from the BP Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to fund research about impacts of the 2010 oil spill in Louisiana and Alabama. 

This three year program will focus on three coastal communities. Two areas in Louisiana and one in Alabama will be selected to study the impact of the oil spill.

A Health Blog / Flickr

University of New Orleans computer science professor Stephen Ware is the recipient of a two-year $138,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create artificial intelligence systems that integrate computer reasoning with the human art of storytelling.

WWNO’s Tech & Innovation Reporter Janaya Williams recently spoke with Ware about his Narrative Intelligence Lab at UNO, and the challenge of teaching computers how to “think” more like human beings.

UNMEER / Flickr

This week, the Food and Drug Administration gave its stamp of approval to a new rapid test to detect the Ebola virus. The test is based on technology originally discovered at Tulane University.

'Rock Star Nurse' Fights Ebola

Feb 23, 2015

As the threat of Ebola has left the U.S. and the story has left the headlines, people are still heading over to West Africa to fight the virus that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives.

Yanti Turang is one of those going. The indie rock band singer-turned-nurse and founder of the nonprofit LearnToLive is heading to Sierra Leone to help save lives.

The MRI machine in Dr. Owen Carmichael's lab blares as it scans a subject's brain.  Carmichael, Director of Biomedical Imaging at Pennington Research Center, studies those scans trying to understand how the brain ages.

Carmichael explains that "what you'll see on the MRI scan is the amount of brain tissue.  And all of that brain tissue is part of that electrical circuitry that makes it possible for you to think."  As we age, our brains tend to shrink.  And as that tissue goes away, the harder it becomes to think.

He describes the young brain as a grape that's just been pulled from the vine, while "the elderly brain looks more like a raisin, in that it's deflated and smaller in size.  And the person with Alzheimer's, that 'looking like a grape' goes even further, it's extremely shriveled up."

Madhusudan Katti / Flickr

Elevated lead levels in the environment can cause a number of health problems for children and adults, and parts of New Orleans have consistently tested high for lead pollution.

Researchers at Tulane University are experimenting with a new way to test for lead exposure — by listening to bird songs to find out what they can tell us about heavy metals in the environment. 

Tulane researcher Renata Ribeiro spends a lot of time out in the field, recording the songs of Northern Mockingbirds.

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