A profile of Semahat Demir, former director of the National Science Foundation's Biomedical Engineering program. Article published in IEEE Pulse.
Hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching activities have increased in 28 U.S. states over the last five years, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation State Overview Report shows that the largest increase – 47 percent – occurred in Alaska, with Louisiana a close second at 40 percent. MORE
South African conservationists unveiled details of a proposal to overturn a 30-year global ban on rhinoceros horn trade, on the final day of the IVth International Wildlife Management Congress in Durban, South Africa. The proposal marks the latest effort to curb rhino poaching, which has spiked in recent years, threatening the continued survival of critically endangered black and white rhinos. MORE
Nine bioengineers describe their research and why Southern California has the biotech market cornered. Article published in IEEE Pulse magazine.
With a vibrant yellow crown of petals atop an array of one-inch purplish spines, yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) is the most common exotic plant in California, covering some 15 million acres (Pitcairn et.al. 2006). During the dry summer months, its colors fade and the plant becomes dangerously combustible — a fuel for wildfires. Able to thrive in the disturbed soils of agricultural lands, this invasive releases a toxin that deters native plant growth and has deep tap roots that rob other plants of water. It also spreads very rapidly. MORE
The Asian redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus) is half the length of an eyelash and resembles an armor-plated, flying coffee bean. It bores into the trunks of trees, leaving telltale strips of frass, and begins to cultivate fungal spores that females transport inside their head. The fungus provides food for the beetle but also cuts off the tree’s food and water transport system, killing a healthy tree within months. This disease, called “laurel wilt,” attacks at least eight Laurel family species, including avocado. MORE
Some call it Frankenfish. Others, Fishzilla. With a snake-like head and sharp teeth for impaling prey, the invasive snakehead fish (Channa spp.) is a voracious predator that eats whatever crosses its path — especially other fish, even its own species. It can also out-compete native species in poor habitats because it survives on low oxygen, enabling it to live under ice or mud for months. It can even breathe air and survive on land as long as it stays moist — a trait that has inspired a string of B movies about killer fish walking the Earth. MORE
Since at least the 1960s, a European species of common reed (Phragmites australis) has hidden, seemingly benign, among native reed species in Nebraska’s Platte River Basin. But a drought in the early 2000s left many channels dry, and the exotic species began to thrive (left) before channels were cleared (below) by herbicides. “We were kind of asleep on this one,” says Rich Walters, coordinator of Nebraska’s Platte Valley Weed Management Area (PV WMA) and Implementation and Evaluation Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy. “In six years we went from barely noticing it to it dominating the channels.” MORE
On his 70th birthday, Shu Chien’s colleagues put together a 600-page book of letters, essays, and photographs as a tribute not only to his contributions to the field of bioengineering but also in honor of his character as a valued friend, research collaborator, and family member. Perhaps they thought that the book would commemorate the moment when Chien began to consider retirement. But in the last decade, he has added more than 140 publications to an already impressive list of 379. And he shows no sign of slowing down. MORE
Early in his career, Yongmin Kim adopted an interdisciplinary approach to research that a more ego-driven researcher would have shied away from. He teamed with statisticians, electrical engineers, medical doctors, computer scientists, and industry executives to produce a steady stream of around 450 publications and a slew of innovations to medical imaging equipment that he has often had the pleasure of seeing put to use in hospitals in as short as two years. But Kim did not sit back and bask in his accomplishments. The moment he reached a goal, he set his sights on the next one. Having helped build the University of Washington’s Bioengineering Department, where he led students and faculty for 29 years, the IEEE Fellow and former Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) president resigned his tenured faculty position and set out to meet another challenge: serving as president of South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH). MORE