Cells and Burning Stones: Robert Hooke’s Contribution to Science

Posted by Jeremy W. on 4/23/21 12:00 PM

The discovery of cells, and the naming of them, is most often credited to Robert Hooke, an enigmatic genius from England in the mid 1600s.  Robert Hooke was born in July of 1635 on the Isle of Wight and was, by many accounts, brilliant when it came to science, architecture, and engineering, but a little rough around the edges socially.

Read More

Tags: biology

Hormones of the female reproductive system

Posted by Tania F. on 3/1/21 12:00 PM

The female reproductive system can at times feel like a difficult jumble of hormones that all seem to be related, but fluctuate in unpredictable ways. To make sense of the particularities of the female reproductive system, especially for exams like the MCAT, it is important to not only know what hormones are involved, but also to understand what their purpose is and how that purpose is connected to their seemingly random (but actually quite predictable!) cyclic fluctuations. Once you know all that, the reproductive system transforms from a confusing jumble of terms to a beautiful concert of hormones working together to drive and maintain the complex processes of ovulation, menstruation, and pregnancy.

Read More

Tags: biology, MCAT

Gametogenesis and spermatogenesis and oogenesis, oh my!

Posted by Tania F. on 2/26/21 12:00 PM

Meiosis is one of those processes that we all learned about in high school biology as a deceptively simple concept. You take the diploid cell, divide it twice, and it becomes four haploid gametes that are each capable of participating in fertilization. Easy, right?

Read More

Tags: biology, MCAT

Start by learning how you learn…and then tackle the sciences

Posted by Casey L. on 10/6/20 9:57 AM

When I was an undergraduate, I had a wonderful research mentor in a neuroendocrinology lab, and it was this research experience that led me to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. My research mentor was deeply interested in the process of learning. In my time as his advisee, he taught me how to study efficiently, how to really remember something in the long run, and how to make the most of a busy schedule. The principles he taught me not only made me a better student of biology, but a better student period. Learning about how you learn is applicable to any discipline. Here are my tips for getting started:

Read More

Tags: biology, study skills

Pituitary Gland Hormones Made Simple!

Posted by Elizabeth R. on 9/18/20 8:37 AM

What is the pituitary gland?

Even though the pituitary gland is about the size of a pea, it plays a very important role in regulating a lot of our body’s endocrine functions. Located in an area known as the sella turcica at the base of the brain and suspended from the hypothalamus by a stalk, the pituitary gland consists of two parts: the anterior/front lobe (which accounts for the majority of the pituitary gland’s weight), and the posterior/back lobe.

Read More

Tags: biology, medical school admissions, MCAT

How Does the Brain Work Anyway? A Look Back on the Study of Neuroscience

Posted by Anita on 8/8/18 7:35 PM

The brain continues to fascinate scientists and non-scientists alike because it takes up so much real estate in our body and controls virtually everything we do from talking to breathing, thinking and moving. It is probably not surprising that reports about the nervous system (made up of our brain, spinal cord, and nerves spanning our whole body) date back to around 1700 B.C. with the ancient Egyptian document—the Edwin Smith surgical papyrus. The study of nervous system, or neuroscience, began when philosophers and medical practitioners began asking about the origin of emotions, intelligence, sensory perception, and diseases of the mind. Throughout its early history, neuroscience developed from being mostly theoretical to systematically testing ideas that have laid the foundation for understanding how the brain works.

Read More

Tags: biology

A Brief History of Neuroscience and the Field Today

Posted by Anita on 7/16/18 5:41 PM

The discoveries about the brain over the past hundred years have only spurred more questions about how the brain works. These questions have captivated scientists, the public and policymakers alike. In the past 30 years, two Presidents of the United States have introduced large scale initiatives to study the brain. In 1990, President Bush declared the 90s as the “decade of the brain” to increase brain research awareness, and then again in 2013, President Barack Obama announced the Brain Initiative, which increased research funding to create new tools for improving our understanding of the brain. So what have we learned about the brain in the last few decades, and what are scientists currently trying to figure out?

Read More

Tags: biology

How does the brain work anyway? A short overview on the future of neuroscience

Posted by Anita on 6/18/18 5:18 PM

If the ultimate goal of neuroscience is to understand how the brain works, how will scientists know when that goal has been reached? Is it by our ability to build artificial intelligence matching human capabilities? Our ability to treat or completely prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, or mental disorders like schizophrenia? Creating machines that can read our thoughts and actions? Neuroscience has made tremendous strides, but the goal of understanding the brain might be more of a moving target because the more we find out about the brain, the more questions we have. The following questions are the ones likely to be addressed in the next 50 years, but it is also possible that the most interesting questions have not even been asked yet because we lack the technology or need the future generation of scientists to look at old questions from a new angle.

Read More

Tags: biology

Ants Go Marching: Fun Facts About How Ants Navigate

Posted by Ava M. on 5/30/18 6:50 PM

Desert ants don’t need to emulate Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs to get out of the forest; they can just count their steps! Ants who live in dense forests create scented trails home by squeezing glands covering their bodies on the floor. But the intense heat of the Sahara destroys these scents and there are few environmental markers to help the ant navigate back to the nest after foraging for food. Scientists from the University of Ulm discovered that some ants have an internal “pedometer” that helps them evaluate how far they have walked. Specifically, they use a strategy called path integration that uses vector math.

Read More

Tags: biology

What are Lymphocytes? A Guide to Your Immune System

Posted by Laura C. on 12/6/17 5:00 PM

The immune system is designed to prevent disease and fight infection and is critical for human survival. It specializes in the ability to attack foreign microorganisms, but what stops your immune system from eating you alive? Given that cells of the immune system can essentially eat microorganisms, you may be wondering what mechanisms are in place to stop your immune system from attacking you. If so, then continue reading!

Read More

Tags: biology