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20 news posts in Frontier Scientists

Image: E|A|S (Evolving Asteroid Starships)/Joris Putteneers

Featured news

16 Aug 2023

Sustainability in space travel can aid efforts here on Earth

by Angelo Vermeulen/Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: E|A|S (Evolving Asteroid Starships)/Joris Putteneers Dr Angelo Vermeulen is a space systems researcher at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, where he explores advanced concepts for interstellar exploration. Over the past decade, he has collaborated closely with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) MELiSSA program, developing concepts for bioregenerative life support systems for space. In such systems, a variety of microorganisms progressively break down human waste and the resulting compounds are harnessed by plants to produce oxygen and food for the crew. Beyond his scientific pursuits, Dr Vermeulen is also an accomplished artist and a co-founder of the SEADS (Space Ecologies Art and Design) collective. SEADS creates artworks that seamlessly integrate concepts and technologies from a diverse array of scientific disciplines, including biology, neuroscience, computer science, and astrophysics. He is the author of a recently published Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences article in which he and his co-authors describe a new model that theoretically produces all required food and oxygen during long-duration and remote space missions, removing the necessity for resupply from Earth. In this latest entry to the Frontier Scientists series, he has caught up with us on his current […]


Featured news

08 Jun 2023

Why diversity and inclusion needs to be at the forefront of future AI

by Inês Hipólito/Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: Inês Hipólito is a highly accomplished researcher, recognized for her work in esteemed journals and contributions as a co-editor. She has received research awards including the prestigious Talent Grant from the University of Amsterdam in 2021. After her PhD, she held positions at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Currently, she is a permanent lecturer of the philosophy of AI at Macquarie University, focusing on cognitive development and the interplay between augmented cognition (AI) and the sociocultural environment. Inês co-leads a consortium project on ‘Exploring and Designing Urban Density. Neurourbanism as a Novel Approach in Global Health,’ funded by the Berlin University Alliance. She also serves as an ethicist of AI at Verses. Beyond her research, she co-founded and serves as vice-president of the International Society for the Philosophy of the Sciences of the Mind. Inês is the host of the thought-provoking podcast ‘The PhilospHER’s Way’ and has actively contributed to the Women in Philosophy Committee and the Committee in Diversity and Inclusivity at the Australasian Association of Philosophy from 2017 to 2020. As part of our Frontier Scientist series, Hipólito caught up with Frontiers to tell us […]

Image: Prof Gerold Stucki


31 May 2023

‘Rethinking health beyond disability and disease’

by Liad Hollender, Frontiers science writer Image: Prof Gerold Stucki Is there more to health than just the absence of disease? According to a team of researchers from Swiss Paraplegic Research and the University of Lucerne, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. In an article published in Frontiers in Science, the researchers explain how ‘human functioning’ – a new assessment of health – could revolutionize healthcare, and even help advance the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. But what is human functioning and why is it such a powerful concept? To find out, Frontiers spoke with the team – Prof Jerome Bickenbach, Prof Sara Rubinelli, Cristiana Baffone, and Prof Gerold Stucki. How would you define human functioning? Gerold: Functioning is a concept developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which constitutes a rethinking of health that goes beyond disability and disease. It encompasses people’s biological health as well as their ‘lived health’ – the activities they perform in their daily lives. What activities? Everything from eating and grooming, to working and socializing. This way of thinking is important because while it’s true that our biological health affects what we can do, features of our environment can either improve this capacity or […]

Featured news

09 May 2023

Can lions coexist with cattle in Africa?

by Laurence G Frank/Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: Shutterstock  Protecting lions and the interests of cattle producers in Kenya is a difficult balancing act. In a recent Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution article, Dr Laurence G Frank, a researcher at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia, Kenya, explored how protecting livestock can help protect endangered lions. As part of our Frontiers Scientist series, Frank, who also is the director of Living With Lions, a conservation research group working in nonprotected areas of Kenya to save the remaining wild lions and other predators outside National Parks, caught up with Frontiers to tell us about his career and research. What inspired you to become a researcher? All children love animals and some who never grow up become zoologists. At the age of 10 I was introduced to field biology at a local community museum, where we were taught basic ecology and animal behavior, collecting and specimen preparation technique, and formal field note format. My weekends were spent pestering local reptiles and trapping small mammals in the Bay Area hills; many of my juvenile specimens are in the California Academy of Sciences […]

Featured news

06 Feb 2023

‘Many kids go through a phase where they want to be a marine scientist. For me, it wasn’t a phase’

by Patricia Albano/Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Patricia stands with remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer during an expedition to explore the deep waters off the West Florida Shelf. Image: Patricia Albano.  Marine protected areas are meant to give threatened species space to live and thrive. But in a recent paper in Frontiers in Marine Science, Patricia Albano and colleagues showed that at least one protective area isn’t capturing the range that endangered sharks use as they grow, leaving them vulnerable to commercial fishing. Albano, now the Internship Program Coordinator at the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, NOAA Ocean Exploration, caught up with Frontiers to tell us a little about her career and her research, as part of our Frontiers Scientist series. Albano’s work focuses on shark ecology in an anthropogenic world and the associated conservation implications. After a BA and MSc from the University of Miami, she joined a project evaluating the efficacy of the De Hoop marine protected area (MPA) for threatened and endemic sharks off South Africa. Albano also dedicates her time to working in ocean education, supporting workforce development programs and efforts to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. In 2020, she […]

Featured news

03 Aug 2022

‘I got front row seats to the astronomy event of my lifetime, and it didn’t disappoint’

By Colm Gorey, Frontiers science communications manager/Dr Susan Mullally, STScI Image: Dr Susan Mullally, STScI The successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope earlier this year captivated the world’s attention, promising a revolutionary view deep inside our mysterious universe. One of those involved in the hugely important project was Dr Susan Mullally of the Space Telescope Science Institute who now speaks to Frontiers about the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Last month, a new chapter in humanity’s understanding of the cosmos began when the first images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) were released to the world. Surpassing the capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope, JWST will directly observe a part of space and time never seen before and will gaze into the epoch when the very first stars and galaxies formed, more than 13.5bn years ago. Dr Susan Mullally of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) was among those with backstage access to this latest piece of space history, and is currently the deputy project scientist for JWST working to ensure the scientific productivity of the mission. Previously, she worked in the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) as the lead for archiving the data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet […]

Featured news

25 Apr 2022

World Malaria Day: Meet a researcher using genetic engineering to tackle a serious global disease

By Colm Gorey/Prof Tania de Koning-Ward, Deakin University Prof Tania de Koning-Ward, Deakin University. Image: Deakin University World Malaria Day – held on the 25 April –  is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control. To mark this important awareness day, Frontiers caught up with Prof Tania de Koning-Ward to hear how she is contributing to a global effort to prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Tania de Koning-Ward is a professor in molecular microbiology based at Deakin University’s School of Medicine in Australia and is a senior research fellow of the country’s National Health and Medical Research Council. Here she heads the school’s malaria pathogenesis research group which aims to investigate molecular level, key parasite-host interactions that enable malaria parasites to thrive and survive in their host and cause disease. She has published extensively on the subject, including in an article published to Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology in September 2020. What inspired you to become a researcher? Do you have any specific memories that set off a spark? Growing up, I always enjoyed biology and maths but realized pretty quickly at university that it […]

Featured news

22 Mar 2022

‘Science is a measure of our ignorance: the more we know, the more we realize how little we know’

By Dr Gianluca Calcagni, IEM-CSIC Image: Writing as part of our Frontier Scientists series, Dr Gianluca Calcagni of IEM-CSIC in Madrid gives us an insight into his research that aims to find answers to some of the most puzzling and complex mysteries that makes up almost everything in the universe. Dr Gianluca Calcagni obtained his degree in physics in Italy at Padua University and, in 2005, his PhD at Parma University. He has worked at a number of research institutes in Japan, the UK, the US, Germany and Spain and is now a faculty member of the Instituto de Estructura de la Materia, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (IEM-CSIC) in Madrid. As a member of the LISA and Einstein Telescope consortia, his research areas are gravitational waves, nonlocal quantum gravity, multifractal spacetimes, cosmologies beyond the standard model, and string theory. He has published three books and more than 100 papers in physics since 2003. Since 2016, he has also been doing research in behaviural and clinical psychology, in which he has a degree, an MSc and three published papers. Last year, he was awarded with a Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences Diversity Award for his community engagement as […]

Featured news

17 Sep 2021

Why is Covid-19 more severe in some patients? Using AI, we found a likely answer

By Dr Emmanuelle Logette, EPFL Blue Brain Project Dr Emmanuelle Logette of the EPFL Blue Brain Project Why does Covid-19 present itself more severe in some patients but not in others? The question has puzzled researchers and clinicians since the start of the pandemic, but recent research from the EPFL Blue Brain Project may have found a major clue to solving the mystery thanks to machine learning. Now, one of those leading the breakthrough research, Dr Emmanuelle Logette, reveals as part of the Frontier Scientists series how even at a very young age she knew she wanted to be a researcher in the fascinating world of genetics. Dr Emmanuelle Logette studied molecular biology and biochemistry at the University of Burgundy in France and, in 2002, received her PhD, for her work on the transcriptional regulation of caspase-2, a not very well known member of the caspase family of enzymes involved in apoptosis. In 2006 she joined the laboratory of Dr Jürg Tschopp at the University of Lausanne as a postdoctoral fellow focusing on the signaling pathways involved in DNA repair and apoptosis during tumorigenesis, again trying to better understand the role of caspase-2. Having mainly worked on the oncogenesis field, […]

Climate action

14 Sep 2021

Prof Iain Stewart: “It’s important that challenges to the ‘business as usual’ are not constrained behind a paywall”

By Prof Iain Stewart, Royal Scientific Society, Amman, Jordan/Colm Gorey, Frontiers science writer Prof Iain Stewart speaking at a conference. Image: Prof Iain Stewart Prof Iain Stewart of the Royal Scientific Society in Amman, Jordan has appeared on our television screens to educate us on the fantastic field of geoscience. Now, collaborating with Frontiers, he has highlighted what role universities have in building a more sustainable world. The profound threat to the long-term wellbeing of society as a whole, both present and future generations, is arguably the most acute threat humanity has ever faced. But what is the culpability of universities in allowing this systemic unsustainability to emerge? And how can this existential threat be dealt with if academic institutions are not firmly in the vanguard? This fundamental question is the focus of a research topic (RT) published by Frontiers launched earlier this year, overseen by topic editors including Prof Iain Stewart, titled ‘Re-Purposing Universities for Sustainable Human Progress’. Regular watchers of BBC science documentaries will be familiar with his work, particularly in the field of geoscience, that spanned 15 years. In 2016, Stewart decided to step away from the small screen to become director of the University of Plymouth’s […]

Featured news

20 Aug 2021

World Mosquito Day: How the pest’s diet could lead to discovery of new antimalarial drug

By Suzanna Burgelman/ PhD student and fellow Trizah Koyi Milugo, ICIPE PhD student and fellow Trizah Koyi Milugo. Image: Trizah Koyi Milugo A preventable disease, malaria still threatens millions of people around the world. World Mosquito Day raises awareness about malaria and its transmission via mosquitos. Researchers such as PhD student Trizah Koyi Milugo focus their research on malaria control and prevention and, in her case, is researching the development of a novel tool for controlling malaria transmission. In 2019, 229m clinical cases of malaria occurred and 409,000 people died of the disease, most of them children in Africa. The disease is found in more than 100 countries worldwide, but roughly 70% of the world’s malaria burden is concentrated in Africa and India. Humans get infected with the malaria virus through mosquito bites. Other than malaria, mosquitos carry an array of dangerous diseases, such as dengue, zika, and west Nile virus. Mosquitos are the world’s deadliest creature. World Mosquito Day raises awareness about the dangers of mosquitos and the devastating consequences of malaria. Trizah Koyi Milugo, a PhD student at the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), is currently researching the development of a novel tool for controlling […]


24 Jun 2021

A dog’s life: James A Serpell and his investigation into the origin story of mankind’s best friend

By Colm Gorey, Frontiers science writer/Prof James Serpell, University of Pennsylvania Prof James A Serpell, University of Pennsylvania. Image: University of Pennsylvania Two distinctly different stories have been created to explain how fearsome, wild wolves were first domesticated by humans, according to Prof James A Serpell of the University of Pennsylvania and the Wallis Annenberg PetShape Leadership Institute. However, in the open access journal Frontiers, he recently published a paper investigating the truth of these claims. Despite being considered mankind’s best friend, the ancestors of modern dogs were a lot less welcoming to human owners. However, trying to trace the timeline of when early humans first domesticated wild wolves to serve their needs has proven difficult. One of the most prevalent origin stories in scientific literature suggests the ‘commensal scavenger hypothesis’. This posited that wolves essentially domesticated themselves by invading ancient human settlements in search of animal remains and other edible waste discarded by hunter-gatherers. Over time, tolerance by humans gave a selective advantage to the bolder, less fearful wolves, which then diverged from the ancestral population as they adapted to the new scavenging niche. An alternative hypothesis – sometimes referred to as the pet keeping or cross-species adoption hypothesis […]

Featured news

07 Jun 2021

Dr Tal Gordon: ‘During one of my dives, an animal I collected ejected its digestive system at me’

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer / Tal Gordon, George S Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Israel Tal Gordon during one of her research dives. Image credit: Tal Zaquin Dr Tal Gordon is a zoologist and molecular biologist interested in the molecular basis of regeneration. She grew up in Eilat (Israel) close to the Red Sea and spent much of her childhood by the sea. Her recent PhD thesis at Tel-Aviv University focused on the development and regeneration in ascidians (sea squirts, a non-monophyletic subdivision of tunicates), in particular Polycarpa mytiligera. She discovered that this species has unique regeneration abilities, which makes it an excellent new model system to study regeneration and stem cells. One key result, recently published in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, is that P. mytiligera can regenerate any missing body part, including its entire nervous system, by reactivation of evolutionarily conserved developmental programs. Gordon is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr Omri Wurtzel at Tel-Aviv University, focusing on the molecular basis of regeneration. In her present research, she uses comparative genomics to unravel regulatory pathways that facilitate ascidian regeneration. As part of our Frontier Scientist series, she told us about […]

Featured news

21 May 2021

‘We need more research which examines racism and racialization on health and wellbeing of black women’

By Colm Gorey, Frontiers science writer/Dr Jenny Douglas, The Open University Dr Jenny Douglas, The Open University. Image: Jenny Douglas To mark the launch of the new research topic entitled ‘Dismantling racial inequalities in higher education’, Dr Jenny Douglas of The Open University reveals how events in her childhood opened her eyes to racial inequality and the need for more research into black women’s health and wellbeing. Despite various efforts to tackle racial inequality in higher education across the globe, numerous research efforts have shone a spotlight on the obvious disparity between grades received by people of color versus white students. Now, in an effort to catalogue this inequality, Frontiers has launched a new Research Topic called ‘Dismantling racial inequalities in higher education’ led by topic editors Prof Marcia Wilson and Dr Jenny Douglas of The Open University, based in the UK. It is based on a series of group seminars held by the university for black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers. In relation to racial inequalities in higher education, a plethora of reports have identified the BME awarding gap and the experience of BME students in higher education; the lack of BME academics, particularly BME professors in higher education. […]

Featured news

20 May 2021

How dancing honey bees could help us save pollinators

By Suzanna Burgelman/Dr Margaret Couvillon, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Dr Margaret Couvillon. Image: Margaret Couvillon Pollinators are under threat worldwide. Researchers such as Dr Margaret Couvillon study bees to find solutions that will benefit the survival of pollinators. Specifically, Couvillon studies the honey bee waggle dance, to discover where and how bees find food. Her research can help design bee conservation and management strategies. Bees, insects, birds, butterflies, bats. These species have one crucial thing in common: they are pollinators, and our survival depends on them. Around the world, they contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, and importantly, to food security. World Bee Day raises awareness about pollinators and the many threats they face. As an open access publisher, Frontiers has several research topics focused on pollinator research. Check out this post on our news site for a curated list. The theme for World Bee Day 2021 is ‘Bee engaged’ – build back better for bees. Today (20 May) is all about highlighting the need for worldwide cooperation to restore and support pollinators and the crucial role they play in biodiversity conservation. Dr Margaret Couvillon, assistant professor of pollinator biology and ecology at Virginia Tech, specializes in honey […]