With the COVID-19 pandemic necessitating the transition to remote learning, disruption to daily school routine has impacted educational experiences on a global scale. As a result, it has potentially worsened reading achievement gaps typically exacerbated by long summer months. To address literacy skill retention and pandemic-induced social isolation, the non-profit organization ByKids4Kids has created a reading program, “Kindles4Covid Virtual Reading Buddies Program,” to instill a structure for youth to read together and connect with the convenience of Amazon Kindle devices. In this article, the authors determine the efficacy of their invaluable program by assessing changes in reading frequency and self-reported connectedness among program participants.
In this study, the authors investigated the time-dependent cytokine secretion ability of phyto-hemagglutinin (PHA)-activated T cells derived from human peripheral (PB) and cord blood (CB). They hypothesized that the anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10, and pro-inflammatory cytokine, TNFα, levels would be higher in PHA-activated T cells obtained from PB as compared to the levels obtained from CB and would decrease over time. Upon PHA-activation, the IL-10 levels were relatively high while the TNFα levels decreased, making these findings applicable in therapeutic treatments e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and organ transplantation.
Emissions from oil and natural gas (O&G) wells such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and ozone (O3) can severely impact the health of communities located near wells. In this study, we used O&G activity and wind-carried emissions to quantify the extent to which O&G wells affect the air quality of nearby communities, revealing that NO2, NOx, and NO are correlated to O&G activity. We then developed a novel land use regression (LUR) model using machine learning based on O&G prevalence to predict emissions.
There have been several issues concerning the water quality in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in the past few years. This study, we collected 28 samples from 6 districts of Ulaanbaatar to check if the water supply quality met the standards of the World Health Organization, the Environmental Protection Agency, and a Mongolian National Standard. Only three samples fully met all the requirements of the global standards. Samples in Zaisan showed higher hardness (>120 ppm) and alkalinity levels (20–200 ppm) over the other districts in the city. Overall, the results show that it is important to ensure a safe and accessible water supply in Ulaanbaatar to prevent future water quality issues.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) involves the reduction of cholinergic activity due to a decrease in neuronal levels of nAChR α7. In this work, Sanyal and Cuellar-Ortiz explore the role of the nAChR α7 in learning and memory retention, using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. The performance of mutant flies (PΔEY6) was analyzed in locomotive and olfactory-memory retention tests in comparison to wild type (WT) flies and an Alzheimer's disease model Arc-42 (Aβ-42). Their results suggest that the lack of the D. melanogaster-nAChR causes learning, memory, and locomotion impairments, similar to those observed in Alzheimer's models Arc-42.
In this study the author undertakes a careful characterization of a special type of chemical reaction, called an oscillating Belousov-Zhabotinsky (or B-Z) reaction, which has a number of existing applications in biomedical engineering as well as the potential to be useful in future developments in other fields of science and engineering. Specifically, she uses experimental measurements in combination with computational analysis to investigate whether the reaction is cohesive – that is, whether the oscillations between chemical states will remain consistent or change over time as the reaction progresses. Her results indicate that the reaction is not cohesive, providing an important foundation for the development of future technologies using B-Z reactions.
Coral bleaching is a fatal process that reduces coral diversity, leads to habitat loss for marine organisms, and is a symptom of climate change. This process occurs when corals expel their symbiotic dinoflagellates, algae that photosynthesize within coral tissue providing corals with glucose. Restoration efforts have attempted to repair damaged reefs; however, there are over 360,000 square miles of coral reefs worldwide, making it challenging to target conservation efforts. Thus, predicting the likelihood of bleaching in a certain region would make it easier to allocate resources for conservation efforts. We developed a machine learning model to predict global locations at risk for coral bleaching. Data obtained from the Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office consisted of various coral bleaching events and the parameters under which the bleaching occurred. Sea surface temperature, sea surface temperature anomalies, longitude, latitude, and coral depth below the surface were the features found to be most correlated to coral bleaching. Thirty-nine machine learning models were tested to determine which one most accurately used the parameters of interest to predict the percentage of corals that would be bleached. A random forest regressor model with an R-squared value of 0.25 and a root mean squared error value of 7.91 was determined to be the best model for predicting coral bleaching. In the end, the random model had a 96% accuracy in predicting the percentage of corals that would be bleached. This prediction system can make it easier for researchers and conservationists to identify coral bleaching hotspots and properly allocate resources to prevent or mitigate bleaching events.
Caenorhabditis elegans xpa-1 and him-1 are orthologs of human XPA and human SMC1A, respectively. Mutations in the XPA are correlated with Xeroderma pigmentosum, a condition that induces hypersensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Alternatively, SMC1A mutations may lead to Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, a multi-organ disorder that makes patients more sensitive to UVinduced DNA damage. Both C. elegans genes have been found to be involved in protection against UV radiation, but their combined effects have not been tested when they are both knocked down. The authors hypothesized that because these genes are involved in separate pathways, the simultaneous knockdown of both of these genes using RNA interference (RNAi) in C. elegans will cause them to become more sensitive to UV radiation than either of them knocked down individually. UV protection was measured via the percent survival of C. elegans post 365 nm and 5.4x10-19 joules of UV radiation. The double xpa-1/him-1 RNAi knockdown showed a significantly reduced percent survival after 15 and 30 minutes of UV radiation relative to wild-type and xpa-1 and him-1 single knockdowns. These measurements were consistent with their hypothesis and demonstrated that xpa-1 and him-1 genes play distinct roles in resistance against UV stress in C. elegans. This result raises the possibility that the xpa-1/him-1 double knockdown could be useful as an animal model for studying the human disease Xeroderma pigmentosum and Cornelia de Lange Syndrome.
Organic and non-organic contaminants in tap water have been linked to adverse health effects. Tap water is a major source of lead, which is neurotoxic and poses a major health risk, particularly to children and pregnant women. Using publicly available annual water quality reports data for the state of Missouri, the authors show that communities with lower median household income and lower per capita incomes had significantly higher lead levels in their tap water.
A microbial fuel cell is a system to produce electric current using biochemical products from bacteria. In this project authors operated a microbial fuel cell in which glucose was oxidized by Shewanella oneidensis in the anodic compartment. We compared the power output from biomineralized manganese or cobalt oxides, reduced by Leptothrix cholodnii in the cathodic compartment.