Science Digest

Tufa Dinku, a researcher at Columbia University's International Research Institute for Climate and Society, is working to fill Africa's climate-data gaps by combining satellite measurements with sparse on-the-ground weather-station data. Improved weather and climate forecasts can help farmers and epidemiologists increase crop yields and limit the spread of malaria and other infectious diseases.

Saturated fatty acids build lipids that form ‘frozen islands’ (blue) in cell membrane (green).

Columbia researchers developed a new microscopy technique that allows for the direct tracking of fatty acids after they’ve been absorbed into living cells. What the researchers found could have significant impact on both the understanding and treatment of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
New technology adapted to cheap DNA sequencers can rapidly identify people and cells from their DNA.

New technology adapted to cheap DNA sequencers can rapidly identify people and cells from their DNA. Here, researcher Sophie Zaaijer demonstrates from a NYC rooftop how easy DNA-authentication can be.

Researchers have developed a method to quickly and accurately identify people and cell lines from their DNA. The technology, described in the latest issue of eLife, has a wide range of applications, but its most immediate use could be to flag mislabeled or contaminated cell lines in cancer experiments.

Biofilms are multicellular communities formed by densely-packed microbes that are often associated with persistent infections. Steep gradients of nutrients and oxygen form in these crowded structures. The human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa produces molecules called phenazines that help it to cope with the oxygen-limited conditions within biofilms. Columbia researchers have uncovered new roles for proteins of the electron transport chain that implicate them in utilization of phenazines. Illustration by Nicoletta Barolini.

Columbia University biologists have revealed a mechanism by which bacterial cells in crowded, oxygen-deprived environments access oxygen for energy production, ensuring survival of the cell. The finding could explain how some bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P.

In Matteo Farinella's rendering of the brain, a forest of neurons spread their branches to the sky and a bright Milky Way of neurons shine down upon them. (Image courtesy of Farinella)

A neuroscientist and cartoonist, Matteo Farinella is a postdoc in Columbia's Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience program. He will moderate a seminar on Monday, Nov. 20, on the role of metaphor in science and education.
In a new essay in Nature, Columbia neuroscientist Rafael Yuste joins more than two dozen researchers in calling for ethical guidelines to cover the evolving use of computer hardware and software to enhance or restore human capabilities.

A debugging tool developed by researchers at Columbia and Lehigh generates real-world test images meant to expose logic errors in deep neural networks. The darkened photo at right tricked one set of neurons into telling the car to turn into the guardrail. After catching the mistake, the tool retrains the network to fix the bug. Image Courtesy of Columbia Engineering

Researchers at Columbia and Lehigh universities have come up with a new approach to self-driving cars and other self-taught systems.

An artist's depiction of two neutron stars colliding. (Carnegie Institution for Science)

Astronomers have for the first time witnessed a pair of dead neutron stars colliding, and have confirmed that the heaviest metals in the universe, from gold to platinum, are formed in explosions like this one spotted 130 million light-years away.

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.

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