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Life, Earth and Space

Virus carrying DNA of black widow spider toxin discovered

Oct. 11, 2016—DNA related to black widow spider toxin been discovered in a phage that infects the bacterial parasite Wolbachia. It is the first time animal-like DNA has been found in a bacterial virus.

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Vanderbilt astrophysicist makes ‘The Root’s’ 100 List of Black Influencers

Sep. 27, 2016—Vanderbilt astrophysicist Jedidah Isler has joined Beyoncé, LeBron James and Serena Williams as a member of The Root’s 100 List of Black Influencers.

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Cave study designed to solve puzzle of prehistoric megadroughts in the western U.S.

Aug. 26, 2016—Paleoclimatic cave study in California is designed to identify the factors that made megadroughts commonplace in the western U.S. from 5,000 to 8,000 years ago.

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Congressman Cooper honors Hamilton and Ramayya for superheavy element discovery

Aug. 13, 2016—U.S. Representative Jim Cooper honored nuclear physicists Joe Hamilton and A.V. Ramayya Aug. 12 for their role in the discovery of the new superheavy element 117 that has been provisionally named Tennessine.

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Total number of neurons—not enlarged prefrontal region—hallmark of human brain

Aug. 9, 2016—Research by Associate Professor of Psychology Suzana Herculano-Houzel finds that human intelligence comes from the number of neurons in our brains—and it was the invention of cooking that made neuron development possible.

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Discovery of male-harming DNA mutation reinforces ‘mother’s curse’ hypothesis

Aug. 2, 2016—There is new evidence that the "mother’s curse" – the possibility that moms may transmit genes to their children that harm their sons but not their daughters – holds true in animals.

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Newly discovered fossils strengthen proposition that world’s first mass extinction engineered by early animals

Jul. 29, 2016—New fossil evidence strengthens the proposition that the world’s first mass extinction was caused by ‘ecosystem engineers’ – newly evolved organisms that radically altered the environment.

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Super-eruptions may give only a year’s warning before they blow

Jul. 20, 2016—A microscopic analysis of quartz crystals from an ancient California super-eruption indicates that the process of decompression preceding the eruption took place less than a year before.

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These days, fecal transplantation is no joke

Jul. 12, 2016—Fecal transplants are increasingly being used to treat certain human illnesses and more scientists have begun to research the transplants' effects in animals.

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When mitochondrial genes act up

Jul. 12, 2016—A team of Vanderbilt scientists have identified some of the methods that mutant mitochondrial DNA use to circumvent the molecular mechanisms that cells use to regulate mitochondrial activity.

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Renowned molecular biologist Sidney Fleischer dies at 86

Jun. 21, 2016—Sidney Fleischer, a renowned molecular biologist famous internationally for his work on calcium and the discovery of the ryanodine receptor, was remembered as a “true giant” in his field who worked along with his wife to advance the field of cell signaling. He died May 27 at the age of 86.

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Astrophysicist explains meaning of the discovery of gravitational waves

Jun. 17, 2016—Vanderbilt Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Kelly Holley-Bockelmann explains the meaning of the first discovery of gravitational waves at TEDx Nashville.

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