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15 news posts in Guest editorials

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Climate action

08 Aug 2023

Antarctic extreme events: ‘All-time records are being shattered not from decades ago, but from the last few years and months’

By Prof Martin Siegert, University of Exeter (Cornwall) Image: Shutterstock.com 42 governments around the world have agreed to protect Antarctica’s environment. While the main focus has been on operational activities in Antarctica, global warming caused by fossil-fuel burning by these (and other) countries has left Antarctica on the brink of irreversible change. A new study published in Frontiers in Environmental Science has revealed that, in addition to the influence of gradual global heating, Antarctica is increasingly affected by extreme environmental events; a recognized and predicted outcome of our heating world. Writing as part of Frontiers’ guest editorials series, the study’s lead author – Prof Martin Siegert, deputy vice chancellor of the University of Exeter (Cornwall) – discusses how without there being a rapid shift to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the Antarctic environment will experience ever more drastic changes. Extreme weather events appear to be increasing in size and occurrence, with disastrous outcomes for lives and livelihoods, whether it be from intense heatwaves, severe droughts, deluge rainfall, flooding, and deep storms. All-time records are being shattered not from those of decades ago, but from the last few years and months, exemplifying the human-induced forces we are subjecting our planet […]

Humanities

22 Jun 2023

Breaking down invisible barriers for LGBTQIA+ in STEM

By Dr Aswathi K Sivan and Dr Andrew L Miller June is the month of the year dedicated to LGBTQIA+ pride. In a previous post, we interviewed Dr Alfredo Carpineti (chair of the association Pride in STEM) and we talked about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in science and research. As we mentioned, Frontiers is proud to offer a platform for the empowerment of openly-LGBTQIA+ editors. Specifically, the journal Frontiers in Nanotechnology recently launched a special issue with an editorial team composed fully of openly queer researchers in nanotechnology. We asked this editorial team to share with us their point of view, so as to be able to focus the attention on relevant themes and really offer an empowering platform to the community we wish to represent. The following opinion piece is from Dr Aswathi K Sivan (University of Basel), in collaboration with Dr Andrew L Miller (Dutch National Institute for Subatomic Physics). LGBTQIA+ scientists have made significant contributions to their respective fields, despite the myriad of barriers they face. The pioneering works of several scientists such as Alan Turing, Lynn Conway, and Ben Barres have paved the way for a greater acceptance and inclusivity of LGBTQIA+ people in the scientific community. Despite all the […]

Environment

20 Apr 2023

Restoring Asia’s roar: Our plan to see tigers flourish again in historic locations

By Dr Thomas Gray, WWF Tigers Alive Initiative Image: Shutterstock.com Dr Thomas Gray is a conservation biologist and Tiger Recovery Lead at the WWF Tigers Alive Initiative. His current research focuses on the active recovery of threatened Asian species and sustainable financing for landscape-scale conservation. In this newest guest editorial, he explains how habitats from which tigers have been lost could be restored and how this may help biodiversity and landscape restoration at large.  Tigers are Asia’s iconic predator and, perhaps, the most recognizable species on the planet. Tigers used to occur over vast areas of Asia: from the Black Sea of Turkey to the Korean Peninsula and south through the rainforests of south-east Asia to the islands of Java and Bali. However, as a result of centuries of persecution and habitat loss, tigers currently occur in only a tiny fraction of this historic range. More tigers, but difficult circumstances Since 2010, a ‘year of the Tiger’ under the Asian lunar calendar, there has been considerable global attention on tiger conservation. This attention appears to have reversed the decline in tiger numbers with the 2022 IUCN Red List Assessment estimating around 4,500 wild tigers remain in the world (an increase […]

Featured news

13 Mar 2023

Why understanding human evolution on Earth will be absolutely essential for any future deep-space colonies to survive and thrive

By Lee G Irons, Norfolk Institute, and Morgan A Irons, Cornell University Photo of Lee and Morgan, Credit: Lee Irons and Morgan Irons Is human migration into space inevitable? Is it based on facts, or is it based upon a belief in human exceptionalism? These are some of the questions explored by Lee and Morgan Irons in a recent article published in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, asking whether humans’ evolutionary connection to Earth requires us to inhabit space the same way we do here. Lee is a physicist, engineer, and the executive director of Norfolk Institute. Morgan is an astro-ecologist and PhD candidate at Cornell University, a Carl Sagan Institute Fellow, a US National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and a Norfolk Institute Fellow. In this latest guest editorial, they explain why – and why not – space settlement might be possible. How can such a feat be accomplished? Is it just a matter of leveraging the resources of a billionaire and the capital power of the economically developed Earth to ship the materials to Mars to build a city with a dome, followed by pressurizing the dome with an Earth-like atmosphere, and spreading biosolids (ie, sterilized human […]

Featured news

13 Dec 2022

The (un)fair allocation of scarce vaccines and how maths can provide a solution

By Prof Carlos Alós-Ferrer Prof Carlos Alós-Ferrer. Image: Nomis Foundation The Covid-19 global vaccine roll-out is considered one of the greatest achievements in modern medical history, saving hundreds of thousands of lives. However, it was marred by decisions that saw those most in need of a vaccine in some countries wait too long, while those perceived to be least at risk getting them first. Now, Prof Carlos Alós-Ferrer of the University of Zurich writes about how he and his colleagues’ latest research in Frontiers in Public Health shows that one maths procedure can ensure a fair distribution of scarce vaccines across the globe. Remember when Covid-19 vaccines first became available? After many months of lockdowns and  increasing casualty rates, people across the planet were allowed to exhale a collective sigh of relief.  However, as is always the case when new vaccines are developed, there were not enough doses for all who wanted them. Rationing had to be imposed. Unfortunately, the rationing procedures violated elementary ethical principles, which might have led to some elderly and at-risk patients being neglected while younger, healthier citizens were already vaccinated. How did it go wrong? Vaccine acquisition and allocation across the world was as centralized […]

Environment

12 Oct 2022

The ultimate death stare: How moth wing patterns scare off predatory birds with amazing optical illusion

by Dr Hannah Rowland, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, and Dr John Skelhorn, Newcastle University Image: Dr Hannah Rowland Many prey species have eyespot markings that are believed to ward off predators. But how, and does a predator’s angle of approach make them less effective? Dr Hannah Rowland and Dr John Skelhorn write for Frontiers about their research, published today in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, into how these protective patterns on moth wings convince birds it’s not worth attacking the insects. How art mirrors life when it comes to moth wings Have you ever felt that a person in a portrait is watching you, their eyes following you about a room? This optical illusion is known as the Mona Lisa effect, after Leonardo da Vinci’s famously enigmatic painting. When artists paint their sitter’s eyes with the pupils perfectly centered, no matter where visitors stand – to the left, right, or in front of the painting – eye contact is guaranteed. Nature seems to have hit upon the same idea. But in the animal kingdom it can be a matter of life or death. Many species of fish, butterflies, moths, praying mantids, and beetles have paired circular markings on […]

Featured news

04 Feb 2022

Sex disparities in sports medicine research may threaten the health and careers of female athletes

By Emily Parker, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Image: leungchopan/Shutterstock.com ‘Hormones’ have long been blamed for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in female athletes, but according to a new review paper, one menstrual hormone may be mediating the damage: relaxin. University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine student, Emily Parker, writes to Frontiers that upon noticing the lack of progress in the 20-odd years since early relaxin-musculoskeletal studies, the support of orthopedic department mentors and the assistance of a fellow student allowed a thorough dive into the disjointed, cross-disciplinary research trail. Female athletes are between three and eight times more likely to suffer devastating ACL injuries compared to their male counterparts. That’s according to 16 years of data from the US National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Injury Surveillance System, published in a new paper to Frontiers in Endocrinology. Alex Meyer, one of the authors of this latest research, noted: “It has almost been accepted that these [ACL injuries] are just more prevalent in women.” The cost of female ACL injuries is huge and multi-faceted, seen in the billions of dollars of healthcare costs, team rosters picked apart by injury come tournament time, and future consequences such as post-traumatic […]

Featured news

19 Nov 2021

Common household sounds are stressing out our pets, but little research has been put into giving them a happier life

By Dr Emma K Grigg, University of California, Davis Dr Emma K Grigg, University of California, Davis. Image: Sherri Rieck We may not realize it, but many household appliances are causing our pets significant stress, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science. Now, one of its authors, Dr Emma K Grigg of University of California, Davis, writes about another less-discussed issue: how little effort is being put into better understanding our pets. Grigg is a certified applied animal behaviorist and a staff research associate and lecturer at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also a lecturer in canine behavior at Bergin University of Canine Studies in northern California and has authored a number of scientific publications on canine, feline, and marine mammal behavior. Her first book, The Science Behind a Happy Dog, was published in June 2017. As an animal behavior researcher who specializes in dogs and cats, I have been trained to carefully observe and interpret their body language to better understand and predict their behavior, to study the ways in which they interact with their worlds, and to continually consider the impacts of human activities on their wellbeing. My […]

Featured news

13 Oct 2021

‘Risks linked with parental mental illness and substance use are undeniable, but efforts to scale-out and sustain evidence-based practices are challenging’

By Prof Joanne Nicholson, the Institute for Behavioral Health at The Heller School, Brandeis University, Massachusetts Prof Joanne Nicholson. Image: Brandeis University Researchers working in the area of parental mental illness and substance use disorders face a number of challenges conducting rigorous research and implementing change effectively. Now, the highly experienced Prof Joanne Nicholson of the Institute for Behavioral Health at The Heller School, Brandeis University, Massachusetts, reveals that despite the urgency, the opportunities for scaling out and sustaining prevention and intervention innovation for these families are largely unrealized. I have the good fortune of being the lead editor for the initial Frontiers Research Topic on Parents with Mental and/or Substance Use Disorders and Their Children.  With more than 118,000 total views, it seems the topic is of interest to many readers. We know that mental health and/or substance use disorders convey challenges to adults as well as to their children and family members. The risks and impact associated with parental mental illness are undeniable and the opportunities for prevention and intervention abound but are largely untapped. Clearly, intervention development and testing and, ultimately, sustainment, are important issues to be addressed in the field. Of the 26 papers published in […]

Featured news

29 Sep 2021

Scientists develop revolutionary AI system to find music you’ll like

By Mr Khalil Damak (graduate student, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Louisville), Dr Olfa Nasraoui (professor, Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science, University of Louisville), and Dr William Scott Sanders (assistant professor, Department of Communication, University of Louisville) Image credit: Tada Images / Shutterstock.com Recommendation systems are intelligent online user interfaces like Amazon, Youtube, or Netflix, where the system identify music, films, or books you might like based on your previous interaction with the system. Such systems use so-called ‘Deep Learning‘, a branch of artificial intelligence (AI). In a recent paper in Frontiers in Big Data, scientists from the University of Louisville, KY, USA, use Deep Learning to propose a more accurate and personalized recommendation system for finding songs online. Here, the authors explain how their novel system works, and what makes it different. What are recommender systems and why are they important? Recommender systems are computational engines whose goal is to learn the users’ preferences in order to personalize their experiences online. These systems have become prevalent in various fields, and have become especially essential on e-commerce websites, streaming platforms, and other internet-based platforms that offer millions of products or options for users to choose […]

Featured news

12 Aug 2021

Are enteroviruses behind mysterious outbreaks of chronic fatigue syndrome?

By Prof Maureen Hanson, Cornell University Image: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels.com Chronic fatigue syndrome is a long-term illness with a wide range of symptoms, no known treatment, and undetermined origins. However, with as many as 65m people across the world living with the illness, researchers continue to search for answers. Now, Prof Maureen Hanson of Cornell University discusses how she and graduate student Adam O’Neal searched through the research archives to see whether a genus of RNA viruses called enteroviruses are the most likely culprits and whether the findings have implications in future ‘long Covid’ research. Like SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, viruses, enteroviruses (EVs) are RNA viruses that can lead to cause serious illness and death. One type of EV causes poliomyelitis, which is now largely conquered through near-universal vaccination. But no vaccine exists against many other types of EVs, which are free to circulate widely. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates between 10m-15m enteroviral infections occur each year in the US. EVs have long been suspected as causal agents in outbreaks of an illness that is now usually named ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome). Outbreaks have been documented since the turn of the previous century and may have […]