Tag Archives: Dan Bewley

OU Scientist Named a National Academy of Inventors Fellow

A note from Dan- The following is a news release from the University of Oklahoma

Dr. Heloise Anne Pereira, courtesy University of Oklahoma

Dr. Heloise Anne Pereira, courtesy University of Oklahoma

Norman, Okla.—University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Professor Heloise Anne Pereira has been named a 2016 National Academy of Inventors Fellow, a high professional distinction awarded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.

Pereira has been on the OU Health Sciences Center faculty for the past 23 years.  Throughout her career, she has been a leader in promoting entrepreneurship and collaboration between academia and the biotechnology industry.  Her research has resulted in numerous patents, and she has transitioned innovative technology from her academic research laboratory into a successful company for commercialization.

In her academic role, Pereira serves as associate dean of research in the OU College of Pharmacy, dean of the Graduate College, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and adjunct professor in cell biology and pathology.  She was awarded the Henry Zarrow Presidential Professorship for Excellence in Scholarship and Teaching from 2008-2012.  Pereira has published 34 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and has contributed to six book chapters.

Pereira is known internationally for her expertise on the naturally occurring protein CAP37 and has been invited to make numerous presentations on her research and commercialization experiences around CAP37-derived antimicrobial peptides.  She has received numerous awards, including the distinction of Fellow to both the American Association for Advancement of Science and American Association of College Pharmacy Academic Research Program.

Pereira has been studying the naturally occurring CAP37 protein for over 25 years.  Through her research, she identified and developed novel CAP37-derived antimicrobial peptides that have the ability to kill bacteria that are resistant to standard antibiotics.  Currently, she has 14 U.S. patents, 4 foreign patents and numerous pending U.S. and foreign applications directed to these novel peptides and their therapeutic uses in infections.

In 2005, Pereira founded the company Biolytx Pharmaceutical Corp., and she currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer for the company.  In the last 10 years, antibiotic-resistant infections have risen around the world, and new therapeutic strategies for treating antibiotic-resistant infections are urgently needed.  Biolytx is working to meet this unmet need and is in pre-clinical development of antibiotic peptides for use in treatment of ocular, topical and serious hospital-acquired infections.

Pereira has been awarded over $7 million in grants to support the commercialization of new antimicrobial therapeutics.  Two basic research grants totaling $3.7 million were awarded to Pereira for basic research on the naturally occurring CAP37 and CAP-37-derived peptides.  An additional $3 million from state-supported funds has been awarded to Pereira and to Biolytx for applied and translational research.  Recently, Biolytx received $1 million in private seed money for continued commercialization efforts.

Pereira will be inducted on April 15, 2016, as part of the Fifth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexander, Va.  Commissioner for Patents Andrew Hirschfeld will provide the keynote address for the induction ceremony.  Fellows will be presented with a special trophy, medal and rosette pin in honor of their outstanding accomplishments.

Rising CO2 Levels Not Good for Grasslands

Rising CO2 levels are not good for grasslands, that’s the result of a four decade study in Montana. Researchers with Montana State University have been studying the same meadow near Bozeman for more than 40 years. They recently published the results of their study in Nature Communications.

The study ran from 1969 to 2012. When it began the concentration of carbon dioxide was at 327 parts per million. 42 years later it had risen by 20% to 402ppm.

So what were the results? Not surprisingly at all, not good. As reported by  The Daily Climate,Dryness over the last several decades is outpacing any potential growth stimulation from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and nitrogen deposition,” said Jack Brookshire, one of the study’s co-author. He added, “Our results demonstrate lasting consequences of recent climate change on grassland production.”

One of the big arguments for climate change deniers is that rising CO2 emissions are good for plants. Our own illustrious Senator with the snowball has made that argument several times. He most recently said it earlier this month on the Senate floor. Here’s the video courtesy of Raw Story.

So basically more CO2 makes plants greener. In a way, that’s correct. But when looking at climate change you have take into everything into account…that includes less rainfall. So more CO2 and less rain means less productivity in grasslands.

Maybe next time the Senator with the snowball will bring a clump of grass to the Senate floor to make his case.

Herpetology Field Trip

The Cameron Siler Lab is based at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Researchers there study herpetology, which means they know just about everything there is to know about reptiles and amphibians.

They just started the first year of a three year grant to study the diversity of those creatures in Oklahoma. They’re also looking to see if any of them show signs of certain diseases that could have a major impact on the populations.

Special thanks to Jessa Watters, the herpetology collections manager, for letting me tag along on one of their field trips. We went to the James Collins Wildlife Management Area in Latimer County. It’s not know if any of the animals you see in this video suffer from those diseases. The researchers take what they’ve collected back to their lab to perform the tests.

If you know of a group of scientists doing field work in Oklahoma please let me know. I’d love to go out there with them. Drop me a line at scienceisok (at) outlook (dot) com.

Snakes and turtles and stuff

A student researcher examines a turtle.

A student researcher examines a turtle.

I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with researchers from OU studying snakes and turtles and stuff. Jessa Watters is the Collection Manager for Herpetology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles.

Watters is part of the Cameron Siler lab at the museum. She was joined by two students this weekend at the James Collins Wildlife Management Area in Latimer County, it’s near Robbers Cave State Park. I’ll be producing a story of my visit soon and show why they say studying these creatures is important.

Researchers from the University of Oklahoma study wildlife in Latimer County.

Researchers from the University of Oklahoma study wildlife in Latimer County.

This Scientist Is OK- Dr. Stanley Rice

Dr. Stanley Rice is a botanist and professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant. He’s one of the more active scientists in Oklahoma in terms of public outreach. He works with Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education and he’s well known for channeling his inner Charles Darwin (check it out at the 1:50 mark) and click here to go to his YouTube channel.

Dr. Rice loves science and has made it his life mission to share his passion. He says, “What’s most important to me is that people can understand why science is important and how that fits in with their lives and their responsibility to all of humankind and to all the world. All the little things we do matter and science helps us understand how those little things matter.”

 

 

What is Scientific Evidence?

The amazing folks at Compound Interest are at it again. This time they’ve created an easy to follow guide explaining what makes up scientific evidence. The chart is below but you can click here to read their entire article.

Here’s why they made it,  “You might think science is science, but some evidence is ranked higher in the scientific community than others, and having an awareness of this can help you sort the science from the pseudoscience when it comes to various internet claims.” They go on to say, “The idea that sources of internet misinformation like the Food Babe might cease to exist with a better public understanding of scientific evidence is a bit of an idealistic one, but perhaps it might give those following cause to stop and question evidence provided, rather than merely accepting it at face value.”

Courtesy: Compound Interest

Courtesy: Compound Interest

Compound Interest has all kinds of wonderful information and they encourage teachers to use it in their classrooms.

Camp Quest

Here’s a great chance for you and your child to learn about science and take in the great outdoors this summer. It’s called Camp Quest. The camp focuses on science and caters to the non-religious. Here’s how it’s described on its website, “The purpose of Camp Quest is to provide children of freethinking parents a residential summer camp dedicated to improving the human condition through rational inquiry, critical and creative thinking, scientific method, self-respect, ethics, competency, democracy, free speech, and the separation of religion and government.” 

The kids learn about everything from DNA to biology. They also go canoeing and learn archery. I spent some time at the camp back in my TV days and it looks like a lot of fun. Click here to see that story from 2013.

You can register for the camp here. They’re also looking for adult volunteers. Check out what the president of Camp Quest Oklahoma posted on Facebook about her experience as a volunteer, “I’ve watched these same children blossom from shy, quiet, and immature kids to outspoken and proud young adults. The best part is returning and seeing these kids year after year and seeing how they’ve grown and matured. These kids let me know that they are going to change this world into a better place.

Got STEM?

Phil Plait is the Bad Astronomer and writes for Slate. He wrote a short post about the need for STEM education and critical thinking in the U.S.

Check it out here.

There’s a fantastic video in that article about a talk at TEDx so be sure to click over there and take a peak. You’ll notice at the top of Plait’s post is a picture of that senator with a snowball, Jim Inhofe. So sad that one of our state’s leaders has become the poster child for a lack of critical thinking.

Weather School

Oklahoma’s weather season is here so what better time to go to weather school. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman is offering just such an opportunity.

Rich Thompson is a lead forecaster at the SPC. He hosts a weekly a series on forecasting tornados. You can attend the workshops live every Tuesday evening at 7:30 at the National Weather Service office in Norman or you can watch online right here. You can also go to this YouTube channel for more archives and other presentations.

The workshops are for anyone who wants to learn more about tornados and science behind how forecasters know where one will next appear.

 

Evolution Explained

I’ve always said evolution is one of those things that you don’t get until you get it. In other words, it can be a difficult to understand until it’s explained the right way and then it’s so simple to understand. The talented folks over at Molecular Life Sciences have created an easy to follow infographic explaining evolution using some of the arguments against it. Here’s one of the many panels…

courtesy: http://molecularlifesciences.tumblr.com

courtesy: http://molecularlifesciences.tumblr.com

Evolution isn’t a belief system. It’s a systematic way to describe how life on Earth has changed over time. I don’t believe in evolution any more than I believe in the Thursday. I understand what it is, how it works, and why it’s the best way to explain the natural world. Major props to Molecular Life Sciences for creating this.

http://molecularlifesciences.tumblr.com/post/75224638930/top-5-misconceptions-about-evolution-a-guide-to