New Horizons in Science

presented by

New Horizons in Science 2013 Program

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Breakfast

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Session 1

The tree of lice and the tree of life: Tales of evolution and symbiosis written in one parasite’s gut

3 Nov 2013 -
9:30am to 10:30am
Evolution and Ecology
Enlarged microscopic image of a male human head louse

How much science can you do with one lousy insect? Tons. As companions riding on humans through their evolution, lice reveal much about our species’ migration, evolution and history. But the blood of living and fossil lice doesn’t just carry the DNA of their hosts and their hosts’ microbiome; lice themselves are hosts to a shifting cast of endosymbiotic bacteria.

David Reed

curator of mammals and chair, Department of Natural History
Florida Museum of Natural History

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Session 2 Parallel Sessions

Crashing markets, power blackouts and sudden death: The physics of a networked world

3 Nov 2013 -
9:30am to 10:30am
Network Science

Massive power outages, global financial crashes and sudden death in the elderly are all startling and befuddling events. To Gene Stanley, they're unavoidable shocks in an interconnected world, where interdependencies between networks create dangerous vulnerabilities. Stanley and his colleagues have uncovered new laws that show why everyday fluctuations in one network can trigger abrupt failures across coupled networks. They've found that the rapid switching typical of financial networks produces features analogous to phase transitions in physics.

H. Eugene Stanley

William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor; professor of physics, chemistry, biomedical engineering and physiology; director, Center for Polymer Studies
Boston University

From Haiti to the Hajj: Real-time science to prevent pandemics

3 Nov 2013 -
9:30am to 10:30am
Emerging Diseases
Throngs of people on Hajj pilgrimage surrounding the Kaaba

As the annual Hajj pilgrimage approaches, world health officials are watching with concern a SARS-like coronavirus that has already caused dozens of deaths in Saudi Arabia this year. Glenn Morris and his collaborators at the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida scramble to do the basic science necessary to fend off and combat pandemics. Areas of current activity include understanding the transmission of the Saudi Arabian virus from animals to humans.

Gregory C. Gray

Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental and Global Health, College of Public Health and Health Professions; Director, Global Pathogens Laboratory
University of Florida

J. Glenn Morris Jr.

director, Emerging Pathogens Institute; professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and public health
University of Florida

Gainesville 2013 Sunday break 1

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Session 3

Simplicity, surprise, science

3 Nov 2013 -
10:45am to 11:45am
Inquiry and invention
Three slices of red onions showing the concentric rings

Sir William Bragg is said to have said: “The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.” Having worked at the frontier of one of the most complex of the sciences, chemistry, George M. Whitesides has launched an effort Bragg would applaud: peeling back the layers of complexity in modern science to discern the scientific meaning of simplicity and thus to discover new scientific methods and approaches to invention.

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Lunch

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Session 4 Parallel Sessions

When you go to Mars, take a towel—and a handful of seeds

3 Nov 2013 -
1:45pm to 2:30pm
Space Agriculture
Mixture of seeds including common beans, lentils and split peas

For Anna-Lisa Paul, taking plants into a space is a way of understanding just what they’re made of. Challenged to survive outside their ancestral environment, plants leverage a unique genetic toolkit to adapt to new challenges; in the process, they reveal how they work. Usinc zero-g experiments, for example, Paul and her colleagues achieved a new understanding of how plants’ roots grow, upending a long-held theory that gravity holds the key. She is currently combining parabolic flight and orbital experiments with imaging and gene expression studies.

Anna-Lisa Paul

research associate professor of horticultural sciences
University of Florida

Rethinking the origins of dogs

3 Nov 2013 -
1:45pm to 2:30pm
Genetics and Behavior
Australian blue healer dog at play

However popular, useful and abundant they are, dogs hold many mysteries. For one thing, just how did they come to be? Clive Wynne has been traveling the world to re-examine evidence supporting two dominant ideas: the “hunter’s helper” and “dumpster diver” theories. Wynne, who conducts behavioral research with both dogs and wolves, focuses on such issues as how the first dogs achieved the reproductive isolation needed to create a canid subspecies.

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Tour 1

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Session 5 Parallel Sessions

Probing nanoparticles for answers to big climate questions

3 Nov 2013 -
2:30pm to 3:15pm
Atmospheric Chemistry
Bubbles in the dark

For years, tiny organic particles in the air we breath have bedeviled climate modelers. Some of these particles are byproducts of human activity; others can be traced to oxidized gas molecules emitted by trees. These particles play a significant role in climate and have the remarkable habit of trapping toxic pollutants and transporting them from industrial regions to the pristine arctic. So far, models have been able to explain at best one-tenth of the organics actually measured in the atmosphere.

Alla Zelenyuk

senior research scientist
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Gainesville 2013 Sunday break 2

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Tour 2

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Session 6 Parallel Sessions

One Medicine: how dogs are accelerating human cancer research

3 Nov 2013 -
3:45pm to 4:30pm
Cancer Genomics
Image of Alaskan Husky eyes, one blue one brown

Matthew Breen knows the source of the cancers common in purebred dogs: people. As we bred dogs for behavioral and appearance traits, humans unwittingly selected for susceptibility to maladies including retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia and certain cancers. But genomic studies have revealed a silver lining: Research on these inbred populations can radically accelerate progress on cancers shared by humans and their loyal companions. By looking at 150 dogs with lymphoma, Breen and colleagues identified a genetic signature that predicts how long a dog will respond to chemotherapy.

Matthew Breen

professor of genomics, Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine
North Carolina State University

Planck cosmology: Zooming in on big-bang inflation

3 Nov 2013 -
3:45pm to 4:30pm
oval map of the universe in blues and yellows

What would the universe look like to an electron some 370,000 years after the big bang? This spring the Planck cosmology probe released a fine-scale map of the subtle thermal variations imprinted on the cosmos around that time, revealing that the universe was slightly older than previously thought. But the Planck instruments also measured the polarized intensities of the ancient light. Mission scientists are now working to zoom in using the polarization data, getting that electron’s-eye insider view of the early universe.

Charles Lawrence

principal scientist, astrophysics; US project scientist for the Planck Collaboration
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Session 7

The future of spaceflight: An update from Virgin Galactic

3 Nov 2013 -
4:30pm to 5:30pm
Space Exploration
painted tin space ship toy with robotic tin pilot

On April 29 this year, a new space vehicle–Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo–reached supersonic speeds in its first rocket-powered flight over the Mojave Desert. By the time ScienceWriters convenes in November, Virgin Galactic will have flown again, and more than 600 passengers are now lined up for commercial flights into space that could start next year. CEO George T. Whitesides will bring a report on the countdown to space operations at Spaceport America, where Richard Branson hopes to ride his ship 50 miles up–officially reaching space to open the age of commercial flight.

Gainesville 2013 Sunday Innovation Hub Reception / Dinner

Gainesville Downtown dine-around

Gainesville 2013 Monday Breakfast

Gainesville 2013 Monday Session 1

From reductionism to sustainable science

4 Nov 2013 -
8:30am to 9:30am
Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of winged flying craft

Paul Anastas acknowledges that science has made huge progress through reductionism and tinkering, learning what happens when you change just one parameter. But the resulting products and processes have given us a 21st-century world that is awash in unintended consequences and expends enormous agency on flawed and ineffective risk analysis. Reductionism, he says, is “a wonderful tool, a terrible master, an even worse religion.” He will propose ways for scientists and engineers to embrace systems thinking, systems design and “transformative innovation.”

Paul T. Anastas

director, Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering; Teresa and H. John Heinz III professor in the practice of chemistry for the environment
Yale University

Gainesville 2013 Monday Session 2 Parallel Sessions

Tiny mammals, giant reptiles: Fossil snapshots of biotic response to climate

4 Nov 2013 -
9:30am to 10:15am
Fossilized mammal lying prone

What will happen to life on Earth in a rapidly warming planet? Jon Bloch says we have only to look in the fossil record for abundant data from past global hyperthermal events—the big experiments already run by the planet. Along with Titanoboa, the 48-foot long biggest snake ever, he has found the tiny ungulate ancestors of horses, cows, pigs, camels, rhinos and whales during a big planetary warmup around 60 million years ago. Bloch’s recent work in the Americas tells a dynamic story of the biotic response to global climate change.

Jonathan I. Bloch

director of the Program of Vertebrate Paleontology
Florida Museum of Natural History

Viral gene therapy: Leveraging structural biology for safer cures

4 Nov 2013 -
9:30am to 10:15am
Structural Biology
Micrograph of Adeno-associated virus

After decades of effort, gene therapy is happening: In November 2012, the European Commission approved a viral gene therapy for a rare metabolic syndrome causing pancreatitis, while clinical trials are well under way for a treatment for a rare form of blindness. Both therapies use adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) as a vector for delivering genes to the cell nucleus. But the pursuit of viral vectors for gene therapy and the battle against pathogenic viruses are both hampered by the subtle shape-shifting of viruses and the immune system’s equally dynamic response to them.

Mavis Agbandje-McKenna

director, Center for Structural Biology, McKnight Brain Institute; professor of biochemistry and molecular biology
University of Florida

Gainesville 2013 Monday break 1

Gainesville 2013 Monday Session 3 Parallel Sessions

A pathogen hunter flies into African dust plumes

4 Nov 2013 -
10:30am to 11:15am
Plant Pathology
satelite image of sandstorm plume over Africa

Each summer, huge atmospheric plumes from African dust storms dump some 50 million metric tons of dust on the state of Florida before spreading through the eastern U.S. The plumes bring with them spores and microbes scoured from the agricultural lands of the Sahel. Many plant and animal pathogens have been found in the dust, but only sparse sampling is possible on land. So plant pathologist Andrew Schuerger is taking to the air.

Andrew Schuerger

research assistant professor in astrobiology and plant pathology
University of Florida

The cell as a pump

4 Nov 2013 -
10:30am to 11:15am
Micrograph of biofilm made up of a variety of bacteria

What are cells? Among other things, most are pumps, and that’s how Tommy Angelini sees them. Animal cells are built to generate contractile forces; they pull on each other and can generally pump an amount of fluid 10 times their internal volume in an hour. This mechanical perspective turns the notion of cell signaling on its head. A biochemist might imagine cell signaling as a diffusion process; Angelini, understanding cells as machines, says cells respond to mechanical signals by pushing signaling molecules through their pores.

Thomas E. Angelini

assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering
University of Florida

Gainesville 2013 Monday Session 4

Reading the drug-dosing instructions written in your genome

4 Nov 2013 -
11:15am to 12:00pm
chromosomes in the human genome

How close is medicine to a world in which your treatment for hypertension, coronary artery disease or pain is fine-tuned to your genotype? Weaving a path through the thorny issues surrounding “personalized medicine,” Julie Johnson and her colleagues are now showing that a genotype-driven approach to drug dosing can work. An example is the blood thinner warfarin, where the therapeutic daily dose can be anywhere from 1 to 20 milligrams, and patients must have frequent blood tests to prevent dangerous bleeding and strokes.

Julie A. Johnson

Distinguished Professor of pharmacy and pharmaceutics and medicine; Dean, College of Pharmacy
University of Florida

Gainesville 2013 Monday Lunch

Gainesville 2013 Monday Tour 1

Gainesville 2013 Monday Session 5

Can the climate-change locomotive be stopped?

4 Nov 2013 -
1:00pm to 1:45pm
Sepiatone image of polluted industrial city

Burning tanker trains, oil sands, fracking, pipeline wars. A quarter-century after the G20 nations agreed on a target for reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide, local and regional ecological crises dominate the debate over energy and environment. Mark Jaccard sees international economic and political systems as paralyzed by a sort of mass delusion about global carbon. Jaccard, a contributor to the early IPCC reports, will offer an economist's perspective on North American energy controversies as well as the IPCC reports coming out this fall.

Mark Jaccard

professor of sustainable energy
Simon Fraser University

Gainesville 2013 Monday Session 6

LEDs arm a greenhouse "light brigade"

4 Nov 2013 -
1:45pm to 2:30pm
Horticulture and Nutrition
close up of LEDs from a sign

What will the strawberry field, grocery store, florist’s greenhouse and space station of the future have in common? In Kevin Folta’s vision, they’ll all have automatic lighting systems and reflective surfaces that use varying colors of light to fine-tune nutrition, flavor and many other attributes in plants. Since the dawn of photosynthesis, many aspects of the lives of plants have been managed by photoreceptor chemistry.

Kevin M. Folta

associate professor and chair, Department of Horticultural Sciences
University of Florida

Gainesville 2013 Monday break 2

Gainesville 2013 Monday Tour 2

Gainesville 2013 Monday Session 7

Climate CSI: A geologist reports from Greenland’s melting ice sheet

4 Nov 2013 -
3:00pm to 3:45pm

Climate scientists have been watching Greenland with alarm in recent years as its massive glaciers melt, crack and break off, losing ice at a rate that has doubled in the past 10 years. Ellen Martin and her collaborator Jon Martin are spending summers capturing a geochemical record of Greenland’s change, hoping to use this natural laboratory to inform paleoclimate studies. Ellen Martin studies the global carbon cycle by analyzing isotopic signatures of continental weathering.

Ellen E. Martin

professor of paleoceanography and paleoclimatology
University of Florida

Gainesville 2013 Monday Session 8

Bursts of color on the tree of life: The turbulent evolution of flowers

4 Nov 2013 -
3:45pm to 4:30pm
Plant Evolution
Blocks of multicolored and multispecies flowers

Even if your name is Rose or Daisy, to an evolutionary geneticist you’re a pale imitation of a flower. Flowering plants frequently go through whole-genome doubling and other radical events rare in the animal kingdom. The fossil and phylogenetic record of plants is full of bursts of speciation and radiation and turbulent periods of rapid evolutionary experimentation. As a result, a number of today’s crops and flowering species have large and remarkable toolkits allowing surprising adaptations.

Doug Soltis

Distinguished Professor, Department of Biology
University of Florida

Pam Soltis

Distinguished Professor; curator of molecular systematics and evolutionary genetics
University of Florida; Florida Museum of Natural History

Gainesville 2013 Monday Session 9

I don’t feel your pain: Solving the puzzle of subjective measurement

4 Nov 2013 -
4:30pm to 5:30pm

Nurses everywhere know the drill: “Tell me how bad your pain is on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the worst pain you’ve ever experienced.” Linda Bartoshuk wouldn’t use such a poor question to make decisions about pain medication. Bartoshuk studies the senses, especially taste, and she made her mark with research revealing why the experience of taste varies across individuals. Now she’s trying to fix the way scientists measure perception.

Linda Bartoshuk

Presidential Endowed Professor of community dentistry and behavioral science; director of human research, Center for Smell and Taste
University of Florida

Gainesville 2013 Monday Food Trucks / Dinner

Gainesville 2013 Monday Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Subscribe to

About CASW

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing is committed to improving the quality and quantity of science news reaching the public. Directed and advised by distinguished journalists and scientists, CASW develops and funds programs that encourage accurate and informative writing about developments in science, technology, medicine and the environment.

Follow CASW