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Butterflies provide ‘extraordinary’ help pollinating cotton fields


“This paper will drive people to look at the importance of butterflies as pollinators,” says Karen Oberhauser, a butterfly biologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who was not involved in the research. If the results hold up in other crops, butterflies might be added to a short list of commercially important pollinators including honey bees, bumble bees, hoverflies, and beetles.

The genetic mistakes that could shape our species

BBC Future

“In the whole global accounting of Crispr [gene editing] therapies, somatic cell genome editing is going to be a large fraction of that,” says Krishanu Saha, a bioengineer at University of Wisconsin-Madison who is currently part of a consortium investigating the technique’s safety. “I mean, that’s certainly the case now, if you look at where trials are, where investment is.”

Why covid arm and other post-vaccine rashes might actually be a ‘good thing’

The Washington Post

“It doesn’t happen in the summer,” says Beth Drolet, professor and chair of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, who is studying the covid toe phenomenon. “The toes can stay blue for weeks, but eventually go back to normal.”

As the vaccine rollout accelerates this spring and summer, “we would expect to see a decrease in post vaccination covid toes,” says Lisa Arkin, director of pediatric dermatology at Wisconsin. “Covid toes are easily treatable with rewarming. They resolve spontaneously. Sometimes, we use topical medicines to treat inflammation in the skin.  Most patients experience mild swelling and itch, which resolves within days to weeks.”

Meghan Markle won’t travel to Prince Philip’s funeral. Experts say flying while pregnant during the pandemic can be risky.

Business Insider

Dr. Makeba Williams, an OB-GYN at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, told Insider flying during pregnancy is generally safe before 36 weeks, though more precautions are needed during the pandemic, especially if you’re not vaccinated.

“It’s unfortunate we have to talk about [flying while pregnant] in the context of a death,” she said, “but it’s relevant to a lot of people.”

Key ingredient in coronavirus tests comes from Yellowstone’s lakes

National Geographic

When Brock went to Yellowstone to study hot springs, he never imagined his work would revolutionize the study of DNA. “I was free to do what is called basic research … Some people called it useless because it was not focused on practical ends,” Brock said in an acceptance speech for an honorary degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “What use could there be in looking for living bacteria in hot springs and boiling pools at Yellowstone National Park?”

How Wisconsin turned around its lagging vaccination program — and buoyed a Biden health pick

Washington Post

These factors make Wisconsin well-prepared for the next phase of its immunization campaign, as the challenge of insufficient supply gives way to issues of access and vaccine hesitancy, said Jonathan Temte, associate dean for public health and community engagement at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. That’s because a robust network of small and midsized providers allows tailored outreach to vulnerable or resistant groups.

Vapor condenser copies beetle trick to harvest water


“Water sustainability is a global issue,” says Zongfu Yu, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, another leading corresponding author. “You can’t set out to solve the water problem without addressing energy.”

Why Being ‘Anti-Media’ Is Now Part Of The GOP Identity


Take, for instance, a recent study of tweets mentioning “fake news.” Over the course of 15 months, study authors Jianing Li and Min-Hsin Su of the University of Wisconsin-Madison found an uptick in the number of tweets that used the words “we” or “our” and “they” or “their” in conjunction with the phrase “fake news.” Essentially, the researchers concluded that online discussions about “fake news” were a way for conservatives to create a sense of group belonging (“This is the worst kind of fake news possible.

The Way Bosses Conduct And Communicate Layoffs Is Inhumane. There’s Another Way.

HuffPost Life

After layoffs, morale tanks and turnover increases. As Charlie Trevor, a professor of management and human resources at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, previously told HuffPost, how layoffs are handled can tell “a survivor a great deal about the company’s priorities and about the type of treatment one might expect moving forward.”

Naming The Gunman Glorifies His Crimes, Not Naming Him Could Undermine The Truth : NPR Public Editor


The language that develops in the immediate aftermath of a shooting becomes the predominant narrative among citizens, said LiLi Johnson, an assistant professor of gender & women’s studies and Asian American studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Even dictionary definitions of the term [massage parlor] associate it with sex work,” she said in an email. “Given the fact that Asian and Asian American women are already sexualized in United States culture, uncritical use of the term ’massage parlor’ can reinforce those associations.”

Genome Sequencing and Covid-19: How Scientists Are Tracking the Virus

The New York Times

As machines improved, the impact was felt mainly in university labs, which had relied on a process called Sanger sequencing, developed in the mid-1970s by the Nobel laureate Frederick Sanger. This laborious technique, which involved running DNA samples through baths of electrically charged gels, was what the scientists at Oxford had depended upon in the mid-1990s; it was also what Dave O’Connor, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, was using in the early 2000s, as he and his lab partner, Tom Friedrich, tracked virus mutations. “The H.I.V. genome has about 10,000 letters,” O’Connor told me, which makes it simpler than the human genome (at three billion letters) or the SARS-CoV-2 genome (at about 30,000). “In an H.I.V. genome, when we first started doing it, we would be able to look at a couple hundred letters at a time.” But O’Connor says his work changed with the advent of new sequencing machines. By around 2010, he and Friedrich could decode 500,000 letters in a day. A few years later, it was five million.

Businesses May Benefit From Sharing Covid Testing Resources, Study Suggests

The New York Times

The study has “really profound implications, especially if others can replicate it,” said David O’Connor, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who was not involved in the analysis but reviewed a draft of the paper. As the pandemic enters its second year, he said, “We want to start using more sophisticated modeling and probably economic theory to inform what an optimal testing program would look like.”

AstraZeneca used ‘outdated and potentially misleading data’ that overstated the effectiveness of its vaccine, independent panel says

The Washington Post

David L. DeMets, a University of Wisconsin at Madison biostatistics expert, said that while he has no specific information on what occurred in this case, his experience serving on data safety and monitoring committees for nearly half a century was that it would be “very uncommon” for those experts to challenge a company or scientists on the content of a news release.

House bill does little to protect our local elections

The Hill

The bill makes huge strides for American democracy. No one should claim that dark money and large-scale statewide voting barriers aren’t noxious. Indeed, experts estimate that voter identification requirements may disenfranchise millions of Americans, and such laws disproportionately harm poor voters and voters of color. But no one, except the federal government, has the capacity to ensure fair federal elections at the local level. And sadly, For the People Act fails to do so.

Steven Wright served in the Voting Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice for five years. He currently teaches Law and English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

These Moms Work as Doctors and Scientists. But They’ve Also Taken On Another Job: Fighting COVID-19 Misinformation Online


One common myth claims that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, like the ones from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, may cause infertility. The Dear Pandemic group received so many queries on this topic that its co-founder Malia Jones, an associate scientist in health geography at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Applied Population Laboratory, posted a video explicitly calling out the theory as a “scare tactic”: “I just want to call it what it is: it’s a fabrication meant to play on our emotions,” she said.

Amazing Video Shows Northern Lights Dancing in Sky Above Wisconsin Lake


As such, the northern lights can be spotted in northern U.S. states such as Wisconsin and Alaska, but also Pennsylvania. They have also been known to appear in states including Illinois, Oregon, Maine, Washington and Montana. According to a blog post by professor Jerry Zhu of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, some northern states can see a few shows of aurora borealis each year.

Fox weather forecaster Dean turns into fierce Cuomo critic


Kathleen Bartzen Culver, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin, said those situations aren’t comparable.

“It might be wise for us to take this out of the context of Fox News and ask whether the weather personality on our local station should be calling for the arrest of our mayor,” she said. “I think that would make people profoundly uncomfortable and justifiably so.”

Are food and energy prices included in inflation rates?


So how is inflation even measured? Well, “there’s as many measures of inflation as there are economists studying it,” said Steven Deller, a professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But the inflation rates we hear about most often do include health care, energy and food. Economists will sometimes look at a number called “core” inflation that takes out food and energy prices because they can fluctuate quite a bit.

Another main measure is the personal consumption expenditures price index, or the PCE. This measure, run by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, updates how items are weighted in its formula to better reflect consumer behavior, said Menzie Chinn, professor of public affairs and economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Because of this, the PCE is in some sense more representative of the costs consumers face, Chinn said.

2 million Americans have been repaying their federal student-loans for 20 years


“You’re working with a small number of people in the first place who were in it,” said Nicholas Hillman, an associate professor in the school of education at The University of Wisconsin-Madison. “A lot can happen in your life in 25 years; to whittle it down to 32 at the end, 32 people who must have stuck with that bureaucratic mess over this period of time, in some ways that’s not at all surprising because it’s a gauntlet.”

Other States Seek to Emulate Wisconsin’s Wolf Massacre

Sierra Club

Dr. Adrian Treves, a professor of environmental studies at UW-Madison and founder of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab, says the hunt was problematic for many reasons, but a few stand out. First, it throws off last year’s wolf count, which would have been used to create a new wolf management plan. “The data is now unreliable because a wolf that might have been counted could very well be dead by now,” says Treves.

EXPLAINER: Ex-cop trial to include ‘spark of life’ on Floyd

AP News

“I’ve never encountered this before,” said John Gross, an associate law professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has worked as a public defender in New York City and taught criminal defense strategies at Syracuse University and the University of Alabama. “It’s pretty obvious how much potential prejudice that could have on the jury. It’s a little surprising to me this is potentially fair game in Minnesota. If it isn’t evidence of guilt, why is it there?”

COVID Relief Bill Could Cut US Poverty in Half, For Now

Voice of America

“It’s a huge change,” said Sarah Halpern-Meekin, a professor in the LaFollette School of Public Affairs and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She said the nearest historical comparison in terms of impact on society would be the Social Security Act of 1935, which set up a system of guaranteed income for most retirees in America.

U.S. Lawmakers Suggest 25 Movies About Latinos to the Film Registry – The New York Times

New York Times

The list speaks to many parts of the Latino experience, including people who are native to the United States and its territories and those who migrated to the country because of its politics and interventions in Latin America, Theresa Delgadillo, a Chicana and Latina studies professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in an interview.

Oprah’s deft royal interview shows why she’s still the queen


“The thing that struck me first and I think will stay with me the longest is that she began the interview” with ethics-related disclosures, said Kathleen Bartzen Culver, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “That was such a fantastic way to be transparent about what we were going to see in that interview last night, and how we as viewers can judge its credibility.”

Pulling racist Dr. Seuss books makes kids? literature better and more inclusive, writes Meena Harris

The Washington Post

But the problem isn’t just the presence of stereotypes in children’s literature. There’s also an absence of inclusion. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s school of education, about half of new children’s books in 2018 centered White characters while about 1 in 4 focused on people of color.

UW-Madison professor Tracey Holloway wants to educate moms on climate change through work with Science Moms

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

As a scientist, Tracey Holloway has spent a lot of time thinking about how climate change is going to affect the world.

As a mother of two young boys, she spends a lot of time thinking about what the world will be like when her youngest son — now only 10 months — turns 30.

“It always seemed like 2050 was so far into the future, but now my baby’s going to be 30 in 2050, and that’s not that far away,” she said.

Holloway, a professor at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been studying air quality and pollution for nearly 20 years. Now, she’s teaming up with other women scientists to help make understanding climate change accessible, forming a group called Science Moms.

Is it possible to have safe and equitable elections?

The Hill

Holding elections in the coming years will not be simple but it is within our grasp to have a safe and uneventful elections. Using proven scientific methods is the path to improvement.

Dr. Laura A. Albert is a professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Barry C. Burden is a professor of Political Science and director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Cape Cod robins gather in noisy flocks in winter to follow the food

Cape Cod Times

Elizabeth Howard, founder and director of Journey North at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, told The Nature Conservancy’s “Cool Green Science” that the birds “can withstand very cold temperatures. In most places you can see robins in the wintertime. You’ll see them wandering around and yet it’s not considered migration because basically they’re moving in a nomadic way, following the food.”

What Is a Mask Brace? Does It Work?

Popular Mechanics

To bring surgical and cloth masks up to par with N95s and KN95s, you can opt for a mask brace, which is an even better solution than double masking, says David Rothamer, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has conducted work evaluating mask braces.”It’s kind of interesting that it’s taken awhile for mask fitters or braces to have more visibility,” Rothamer tells Popular Mechanics. “The whole double masking thing is really trying to do the same thing as a mask fitter or a brace, but in a more indirect way. My main concern with double masking is that it’s going to depend on the combination of the two masks.”

Proposed Legislation Aims To Address Racial Disparities In Maternal Health Care

Wisconsin Public Radio

In Wisconsin, while the maternal mortality ratios are lower in absolute terms than the nationwide average, the magnitude of the gap between Black mothers and white mothers is larger, said Tiffany Green, University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor in the Departments of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology.

US life expectancy falls by a year amid COVID-19 pandemic

New York Post

But the US experienced a backslide due to the pandemic, according to Michal Engelman, associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“This has been an issue of concern for a while, that we weren’t making progress and we were sliding a little bit backwards,” Engelman told the newspaper. “After a couple of years of worrisome declines, we dropped as a country a whole year just in the first half of 2020.”

Advice About the End of the Pandemic, From a Combat Veteran


Someday, maybe soon, this will all be over. Things will start to get back to a kind of “normal,” whatever that may look like, and lives will begin to pick up where they might have left off. At least, that’s what many are hoping for.

Chad S.A. Gibbs served in the US Army from 2002-2009, including deployment to Iraq. He is currently a PhD candidate in the history of the Holocaust at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He tweets at @Chad_G101.

Nature Makes Wood. Could a Lab Make It Better?


In addition to the tantalizing possibilities of growing whole furniture, the plant-based materials could enhance fuels and chemicals production, says Xuejun Pan, a professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who wasn’t involved in the study. “You don’t have to necessarily grow a strong piece of wood. If you can produce a biomass, for example, as a future feedstock for bioindustry—competitively and productively—that could be attractive,” he says

Panpsychism: The Trippy Theory That Everything From Bananas to Bicycles Are Conscious

Discover Magazine

Of course, panpsychism is likely not falsifiable. There’s no experiment that can determine whether or not your mailbox has a mental life, much less a quark. Yet that doesn’t mean science isn’t working on the problem. Giulio Tononi, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, has developed something called the integrated information theory of consciousness (IIT). IIT holds that consciousness is actually a kind of information and can be measured mathematically, though doing so is not very straightforward and has caused some to discount the theory.

What Presidents Mean When They Talk About ‘Equity’


While Obama also used equity in the more modern, social-justice sense of the word, he did so less often than Biden already has — a possible sign of his reluctance to center race as a national issue as the country’s first Black president, said Dietram A. Scheufele, a social scientist who studies political communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Opportunity in America starts with fixing the internet, says social investing pioneer


Streur pointed to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison that shows how COVID-19 has made life in rural and low-income communities in Wisconsin, which ranks 38th for internet access out of all 50 states, even harder without broadband.

A team of university researchers led by Tessa Conroy found that even before the pandemic, those on the winning side of Wisconsin’s “digital divide” often had higher home values, improved health outcomes, better entrepreneurship opportunities and higher educational outcomes than those living without fast internet.