Biology

Energy harvested from evaporation can cut by half the amount of water lost to natural evaporation, researchers say.  Water-strapped cities with growing populations and energy needs could benefit most, including greater Phoenix, served by the above reservoir and irrigation system fed by the Colorado River. (Central Arizona Project)

In the first evaluation of evaporation as a renewable energy source, researchers at Columbia University find that U.S. lakes and reservoirs could generate 325 gigawatts of power, nearly 70 percent of what the United States currently produces.

Ivaylo Ivanov is studying how commensal bacteria (green) interact with intestinal tissues (pink) to activate immune cells in the gut to fight infection. Image courtesy of Ivanov.

Ivaylo Ivanov, an immunologist at Columbia who studies the role of intestinal bacteria in the body’s immune response, in collaboration with Caltech researcher Pamela Bjorkman, has received a two-year, $200,000 Innovation Fund award from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The grant will fund Ivanov’s ongoing research with Bjorkman.
In a study analyzing the genomes of 210,000 people in the United States and Britain, Columbia researchers find that the genetic variants linked to Alzheimer’s disease and heavy smoking are less frequent in people with longer lifespans, suggesting that natural selection is weeding out these unfavorable variants in both populations.
Ken Shepard
Ken Shepard is part of a growing push to develop brain-computer interfaces to repair senses and skills lost to injury or disease.
Stavros Lomvardas
Stavros Lomvardas has studied smell to the molecular level, uncovering how the nose knows different scents.
Amelia Wolf walking through a field of flowers and a mountain scenery behind her.

Amelia Wolf in the California field she used to study what effect diversity loss would have on the remaining plants.

Gardeners and nature lovers have noticed that plants are flowering earlier every year—a phenomenon generally attributed to climate change.

Columbia University researchers have developed an extremely low-cost, low-maintenance, on-site dipstick test they hope will aid in the surveillance and early detection of fungal pathogens responsible for major human disease, agricultural damage and food spoilage worldwide.

In this cover drawing for Cell Reports, Columbia researchers illustrate the concept that neurons fire in a consistent pattern during a seizure no matter how quickly the seizure spreads. The above string pattern stays the same regardless of whether both hands move closer or farther apart. (Michael Wenzel) 

Of the 50 million people who suffer from epilepsy worldwide, a third fail to respond to medication. As the search for better drugs continues, researchers are still trying to make sense of how seizures start and spread.

A new study indicates that the number of plant and animal species at risk of extinction may be considerably higher than previously thought. A team of researchers, however, believe they’ve come up with a formula that will help paint a more accurate picture.

Illustration by Nicoletta Barolini

Researchers at Columbia University have made a significant step toward breaking the so-called “color barrier” of light microscopy for biological systems, allowing for much more comprehensive, system-wide labeling and imaging of a greater number of biomolecules in living cells and tissues t

Pages