A COMPENDIUM OF RECENT HIGHLIGHTS
If astronauts stay in space for thirty days or more, their eyesight often loses sharpness. Before sending humans to Mars, NASA needs to know the cause of that condition. The space program chose Texas A&M to investigate how microgravity may cause swelling near the back of the eye. The team, led by David C. Zawieja, College of Medicine, expects to complete its study in early 2022.
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UNDER THE OCEAN FLOOR
Life exists beneath the ocean floor, according to research from the College of Geosciences. Texas A&M oceanographers led by Jayson Sylvan found active microbes inside rock cores from almost 2,600 feet under the bottom of the Indian Ocean, extracted by an International Ocean Discovery Program expedition. The cell counts and methane measurements were conducted at Texas A&M. The team published its findings in the journal Nature.
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When the 2021 winter storms hit the Texas Gulf Coast, frigid waters threatened thousands of sea turtles. Unusually frigid water can stun turtles, putting them into a nearly comatose state. As their body temperature falls, sea turtles can quickly die. Volunteers brought 150 cold-stunned turtles to Texas A&M’s Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research, directed by Christopher D. Marshall, Texas A&M University at Galveston. Wrapped in moist towels, the turtles recovered in a 60°F room for a day. After a medical exam and a swim test, healthy turtles were released into warmer waters.
Image: Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research
TEST RUNS PROTECT NATURE
Transgenes may allow scientists to alter the genetic code in mosquitoes to stop the spread of malaria, Zika, Chikungunya, and other diseases. Critics worry about the unintended effects on nature. Supported by a federal grant, researchers Zach Adelman and Kevin Myles, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, are developing transgenes that eventually delete themselves. That new Texas A&M AgriLife Research project aims to enable temporary “test runs” of each new transgene, after which the changes remove themselves from the mosquitoes’ genetic code.
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The Glasscock Center awarded eleven COVID-19 microgrants in 2020. One helped fund Social Distancing in a World of Memes, a project led by Heidi A. Campbell, College of Liberal Arts. The project chronicles the first six months of the pandemic through internet memes that showcase the public’s anxiety.
A NEW CLASS OF ANTIBIOTICS
Doctors desperately need new antibiotics to fight drug-resistant bacteria. The solution may come from “hidden genes” found inside bacteriophages: viruses that infect and destroy bacteria. Published research supervised by Ryland Young, Center for Phage Technology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Texas A&M AgriLife Research, says those genes offer vast, untapped sources for a whole new class of antibiotics.
Flooding from Hurricane Harvey in 2017 made a bad situation worse for Manchester, a contaminated neighborhood near the Houston Ship Channel. Researchers led by Garett Sansom, School of Public Health, analyzed soil samples from forty sites, all collected a week after the storm. The analysis showed differences in concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons across all 40 sample sites, with nearly half of Manchester contaminated to some degree, and nine sites scored pollution levels that exceed the minimum for increased cancer risk.
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Located in the College of Liberal Arts, the World Shakespeare Bibliography Online is a searchable, accessible, and comprehensive electronic database of Shakespeare-related scholarship and theatrical productions published or produced worldwide since 1960. The editorial team recently added Dorothy Todd as a new associate editor. Todd joins Kris May, associate editor, and Heidi Craig, editor, in collecting and curating more than 132,500 records and counting.
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