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A Taste of Sweetness in Bioplastics

Tsai et al. | Apr 05, 2019

A Taste of Sweetness in Bioplastics

Sweet potatoes are one of the most common starches in Taiwan, and sweet potato peels hold significant potential to make biodegradable plastics which can alleviate the environmental impact of conventional petroleum-based plastics. In this paper, Tsai et al created starch-based bioplastics derived from sweet potato peels and manipulated the amount of added glycerol to alter the plastic’s strength and flexibility properties. Their results indicated that higher concentrations of glycerol yield more malleable plastics, providing insights into how recycled agricultural waste material might be used to slow down the rate of pollution caused by widespread production of conventional plastics.

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Performance of Panicum virgatum cultivars in competition with Bromus inermis and differing amounts of N fertilizer

Ferris et al. | Mar 04, 2019

Performance of Panicum virgatum cultivars in competition with Bromus inermis and differing amounts of N fertilizer

With growing demands for ethanol, many researchers are turning to Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) as a feedstock of cellulosic ethanol. In this study, Ferris and Gillan examine the germination, biomass, nitrogen, survival, and chlorophyll absorbance of two switchgrass cultivars of grown in competition with Bromus inermis (smooth brome) with two varying levels of nitrogen fertilizer. Results presented indicate that during establishment, competition from other species has a greater effect than nitrogen fertilizer.

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A Quantitative Analysis of the Proliferation of Microplastics in Williamston’s Waterways

Schafer et al. | Feb 17, 2019

A Quantitative Analysis of the Proliferation of Microplastics in Williamston’s Waterways

Plastic debris can disrupt marine ecosystems, spread contaminants, and take years to naturally degrade. In this study, Wu et al aim to establish an understanding of the scope of Williamston, Michigan’s microplastics problem, as well as to attempt to find the source of these plastics. Initially, the authors hypothesize that the Williamston Wastewater Treatment Plant was the primary contributor to Williamston’s microplastics pollution. Although they find a general trend of increasing concentrations of microplastics from upstream to downstream, they do not pinpoint the source of Williamston’s microplastics pollution in the present research.

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Androgen Diffusion Patterns in Soil: Potential Watershed Impacts

Corson et al. | Jan 24, 2019

Androgen Diffusion Patterns in Soil: Potential Watershed Impacts

Androgens are natural or synthetic steroid hormones that control secondary male sex characteristics. Androgens are excreted in cattle urine and feces, and can run off or seep into nearby waters, negatively impacting aquatic life and potentially polluting human water sources. Here, the authors investigated the effectiveness of soil as a natural barrier against androgen flow into vulnerable waterways. Their results, obtained by testing diffusion patterns of luminol, an androgen chemical analog, indicated that soil is a poor barrier to androgen diffusion.

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The Effects of Post-Consumer Waste Polystyrene on the Rate of Mealworm Consumption

Green et al. | Nov 29, 2018

The Effects of Post-Consumer Waste Polystyrene on the Rate of Mealworm Consumption

In a world where plastic waste accumulation is threatening both land and sea life, Green et al. investigate the ability of mealworms to breakdown polystyrene, a non-recyclable form of petrochemical-based polymer we use in our daily lives. They confirm that these organisms, can degrade various forms of polystyrene, even after it has been put to use in our daily lives. Although the efficiency of the degradation process still requires improvement, the good news is, the worms are tiny and themselves are biodegradable, so we can use plenty of them without worrying about space and how to get rid of them. This is very promising and certainly good news for the planet.

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Using DNA Barcodes to Evaluate Ecosystem Health in the SWRCMS Reserve

Horton et al. | Sep 27, 2018

Using DNA Barcodes to Evaluate Ecosystem Health in the SWRCMS Reserve

Although the United States maintains millions of square kilometers of nature reserves to protect the biodiversity of the specimens living there, little is known about how confining these species within designated protected lands influences the genetic variation required for a healthy population. In this study, the authors sequenced genetic barcodes of insects from a recently established nature reserve, the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve (SWRCMSR), and a non-protected area, the Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) Menifee campus, to compare the genetic variation between the two populations. Their results demonstrated that the midge fly population from the SWRCMSR had fewer unique DNA barcode sequence changes than the MSJC population, indicating that the comparatively younger nature reserve's population had likely not yet established its own unique genetic drift changes.

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Increasing Average Yearly Temperature in Two U.S. Cities Shows Evidence for Climate Change

Savage et al. | Sep 20, 2018

Increasing Average Yearly Temperature in Two U.S. Cities Shows Evidence for Climate Change

The authors were interested in whether they could observe the effects of climate change by analyzing historical temperature data of two U.S. cities. They predicted that they should observe a warming trend in both cities. Their results showed that despite yearly variations, warming trends can be observed both in Rochester, NY and Seattle, WA which fit the predictions of climate change forecasts.

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Simulations of Cheetah Roaming Demonstrate the Effect of Safety Corridors on Genetic Diversity and Human-Cheetah Conflict

Acton et al. | Apr 02, 2018

Simulations of Cheetah Roaming Demonstrate the Effect of Safety Corridors on Genetic Diversity and Human-Cheetah Conflict

Ecological corridors are geographic features designated to allow the movement of wildlife populations between habitats that have been fragmented by human landscapes. Corridors can be a pivotal aspect in wildlife conservation because they preserve a suitable habitat for isolated populations to live and intermingle. Here, two students simulate the effect of introducing a safety corridor for cheetahs, based on real tracking data on cheetahs in Namibia.

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Modeling Energy Produced by Solar Panels

Meister et al. | Jan 13, 2018

Modeling Energy Produced by Solar Panels

In this study, the authors test the effect that the tilt angle of a solar panel has on the amount of energy it generates. This investigation highlights a simple way that people can harvest renewable energy more efficiently and effectively.

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Estimating Paleoenvironments Utilizing Foraminiferal Fossils from the Toyohama Formation, Aichi Prefecture, Central Japan

Kimitsuki et al. | Dec 11, 2017

Estimating Paleoenvironments Utilizing Foraminiferal Fossils from the Toyohama Formation, Aichi Prefecture, Central Japan

Foraminifera are a diverse phylum of marine protists that produce elaborate shells. Because of their abundance and morphological diversity, foraminiferal fossil assemblages are used for biostratigraphy, to accurately date sedimentary rocks and to characterize past ocean environments. In this paper, authors collected fossils within the Morozaki Group in central Honshu, Japan, to assess past marine environments and species diversity.

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Bacterial Richness of Soil Samples from Southern New Hampshire

Chalasani et al. | Sep 21, 2016

Bacterial Richness of Soil Samples from Southern New Hampshire

Advancement in DNA sequencing technology has greatly increased our understanding about the role of bacteria in soil. The authors of this study examine the microbial content of soil samples taken from three locations in southern New Hampshire with varying pH and plant composition.

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Purification of Water by Aloe

Sharma et al. | Aug 19, 2016

Purification of Water by Aloe

The authors test the ability of aloe vera gel to purify water of four separate contaminants. Aloe reduced the levels of copper, iron, and phosphate, but not nitrate. Potential applications of this purification system are discussed.

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Green Tea Extract as an Environmentally Friendly Antibacterial Agent Against Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato on Plants

Lo et al. | Oct 27, 2015

Green Tea Extract as an Environmentally Friendly Antibacterial Agent Against <i>Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato </i>on Plants

Plant pathogens can cause significant crop loss each year, but controlling them with bactericides or antibiotics can be costly and may be harmful to the environment. Green tea naturally contains polyphenols, which have been shown to have some antimicrobial properties. In this study, the authors show that green tea extract can inhibit growth of the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato and may be useful as an alternative bactericide for crops.

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The Analysis of the Effects of Smoke and Water Vapor on Insect Pheromone Communication and Physical Condition: An Investigation of the Causes of Colony Collapse Disorder

Delatorre et al. | May 20, 2015

The Analysis of the Effects of Smoke and Water Vapor on Insect Pheromone Communication and Physical Condition:  An Investigation of the Causes of Colony Collapse Disorder

The cause of insect colony collapse disorder (CCD) is still a mystery. In this study, the authors aimed to test the effects of two environmental factors, water vapor and smoke levels, on the social behavior and physical condition of insects. Their findings could help shed light on how changing environmental factors can contribute to CCD.

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