Science at a crossroads. (1/28)

Science is entering an alliance with the economy that will speed the effect of innovation through society. Despite the slowdown of the 'new economy', a cascade paradigm of innovation appears key to increasing the rate of economic growth. Yet for science to continue to thrive and make this contribution to innovation, it must traverse at least three key crossroads. First, while life sciences have built a strong advocacy model to secure growing federal research funding, the physical sciences (including mathematics and engineering) have not and must now do so to thrive. Second, the drop in the numbers of physical scientists and engineers must be reversed if we are to have the talent to maintain a strong trend of scientific advance. Third, although science advances are increasingly interdisciplinary and occurring in the space between the historic science stovepipes, the organization of federal science support is largely unchanged since the beginning of the cold war. While a decentralized model has value, we must also consider new approaches that encourage deeper cooperation across science sectors and agencies.  (+info)

Interdisciplinary research: putting the methods under the microscope. (2/28)

BACKGROUND: While the desirability of interdisciplinary inquiry has been widely acknowledged, indeed has become 'the mantra of science policy', the methods of interdisciplinary collaboration are opaque to outsiders and generally remain undescribed. DISCUSSION: Many have analysed interdisciplinarity, especially in relation to the creation of new disciplines and institutions. These analyses are briefly outlined. Still, there currently persists a silence about the methods of interdisciplinary collaboration itself, and the core of this paper proposes a template for such methods. SUMMARY: Breaking this silence--by making the methods of interdisciplinary projects transparent--could further invigorate interdisciplinary research.  (+info)

Two models for an effective undergraduate research experience in physiology and other natural sciences. (3/28)

68A realistic research experience is beneficial to undergraduate students, but it is often difficult for liberal arts colleges to offer this opportunity. We describe two approaches for developing and maintaining an interdisciplinary research program at small colleges. An active and continuing involvement of an individual with extensive research experience is an essential element in both. One model was developed by the faculty of Taylor University, Upland, IN and a research scientist who had retired from a major university to join the Taylor faculty as their first Research Professor. The school's Science Research Training Program was initially funded by a modest endowment provided by interested alumni and by extramural grants awarded to the Research Professor and to the institution; the program now enjoys significant funding from diverse sources. Taylor is not located near any large research university and consequently supplies all resources required for the experiments and stipends for students pursuing projects full-time during the summer. The second model was developed by the faculty at Asbury College in Wilmore, KY, working with a scientist having a full-time appointment at the University of Kentucky and a part-time appointment at the college. In this approach, Asbury faculty may place their students for a period of training, often during the summer, in a laboratory of a cooperating host faculty at the University of Kentucky or other institution. The host faculty funds the research and pays a stipend to those students who work full-time during the summer. Relationships established between faculty at the College and at the University of Kentucky have been mutually beneficial. The success of both programs is evidenced by the students' presenting their data at state and national scientific meetings, by their publishing their results in national journals, and by the undergraduate school faculty developing independent research programs.  (+info)

Perceptual knowledge retrieval activates sensory brain regions. (4/28)

Although knowledge indexes our experiences of the world, the neural basis of this relationship remains to be determined. Previous neuroimaging research, especially involving knowledge biased to visual and functional information, suggests that semantic representations depend on modality-specific brain mechanisms. However, it is unclear whether sensory cortical regions, in general, support retrieval of perceptual knowledge. Using neuroimaging methods, we show that semantic decisions that index tactile, gustatory, auditory, and visual knowledge specifically activate brain regions associated with encoding these sensory experiences. Retrieval of tactile knowledge was specifically associated with increased activation in somatosensory, motor, and premotor cortical regions. In contrast, decisions involving flavor knowledge increased activation in an orbitofrontal region previously implicated in processing semantic comparisons among edible items. Perceptual knowledge retrieval that references visual and auditory experiences was associated with increased activity in distinct temporal brain regions involved in the respective sensory processing. These results indicate that retrieval of perceptual knowledge relies on brain regions used to mediate sensory experiences with the referenced objects.  (+info)

Spectral mapping tools from the earth sciences applied to spectral microscopy data. (5/28)

BACKGROUND: Spectral imaging, originating from the field of earth remote sensing, is a powerful tool that is being increasingly used in a wide variety of applications for material identification. Several workers have used techniques like linear spectral unmixing (LSU) to discriminate materials in images derived from spectral microscopy. However, many spectral analysis algorithms rely on assumptions that are often violated in microscopy applications. This study explores algorithms originally developed as improvements on early earth imaging techniques that can be easily translated for use with spectral microscopy. METHODS: To best demonstrate the application of earth remote sensing spectral analysis tools to spectral microscopy data, earth imaging software was used to analyze data acquired with a Leica confocal microscope with mechanical spectral scanning. For this study, spectral training signatures (often referred to as endmembers) were selected with the ENVI (ITT Visual Information Solutions, Boulder, CO) "spectral hourglass" processing flow, a series of tools that use the spectrally over-determined nature of hyperspectral data to find the most spectrally pure (or spectrally unique) pixels within the data set. This set of endmember signatures was then used in the full range of mapping algorithms available in ENVI to determine locations, and in some cases subpixel abundances of endmembers. RESULTS: Mapping and abundance images showed a broad agreement between the spectral analysis algorithms, supported through visual assessment of output classification images and through statistical analysis of the distribution of pixels within each endmember class. CONCLUSIONS: The powerful spectral analysis algorithms available in COTS software, the result of decades of research in earth imaging, are easily translated to new sources of spectral data. Although the scale between earth imagery and spectral microscopy is radically different, the problem is the same: mapping material locations and abundances based on unique spectral signatures.  (+info)

The influence of "new science" on dental education: current concepts, trends, and models for the future. (6/28)

Advances in all aspects of science and discovery continue to occur at an exponential rate, leading to a wealth of new knowledge and technologies that have the potential to transform dental practice. This "new science" within the areas of cell/ molecular biology, genetics, tissue engineering, nanotechnology, and informatics has been available for several years; however, the assimilation of this information into the dental curriculum has been slow. For the profession and the patients it serves to benefit fully from modern science, new knowledge and technologies must be incorporated into the mainstream of dental education. The continued evolution of the dental curriculum presents a major challenge to faculty, administrators, and external constituencies because of the high cost, overcrowded schedule, unique demands of clinical training, changing nature of teaching/assessment methods, and large scope of new material impacting all areas of the educational program. Additionally, there is a lack of personnel with adequate training/experience in both foundational and clinical sciences to support the effective application and/or integration of new science information into curriculum planning, implementation, and assessment processes. Nonetheless, the speed of this evolution must be increased if dentistry is to maintain its standing as a respected health care profession. The influence of new science on dental education and the dental curriculum is already evident in some dental schools. For example, the Marquette University School of Dentistry has developed a comprehensive model of curriculum revision that integrates foundational and clinical sciences and also provides a dedicated research/scholarly track and faculty development programming to support such a curriculum. Educational reforms at other dental schools are based on addition of new curricular elements and include innovative approaches that introduce concepts regarding new advances in science, evidence-based foundations, and translational research. To illustrate these reforms, the Marquette curriculum and initiatives at the University of Connecticut and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio dental schools are described in this article, with recognition that other dental schools may also be developing strategies to infuse new science and evidence-based critical appraisal skills into their students' educational experiences. Discussion of the rationale, goals/objectives, and outcomes within the context of dissemination of these models should help other dental schools to design approaches for integrating this new material that are appropriate to their particular circumstances and mission. For the profession to advance, every dental school must play a role in establishing a culture that attaches value to research/discovery, evidence-based practice, and the application of new knowledge/technologies to patient care.  (+info)

A new paradigm for mentored undergraduate research in molecular microbiology. (7/28)

Science educators agree that an undergraduate research experience is critical for students who are considering graduate school or research careers. The process of researching a topic in the primary literature, designing experiments, implementing those experiments, and analyzing the results is essential in developing the analytical skills necessary to become a true scientist. Because training undergraduates who will only be in the laboratory for a short period is time consuming for faculty mentors, many students are unable to find appropriate research opportunities. We hypothesized that we could effectively mentor several students simultaneously, using a method that is a hybrid of traditional undergraduate research and a traditional laboratory course. This article describes a paradigm for mentored undergraduate research in molecular microbiology where students have ownership of their individual projects, but the projects are done in parallel, enabling the faculty mentor to guide multiple students efficiently.  (+info)

Graduate entry to medicine in Iran. (8/28)