Carnegie Science Endorses the March for Science

Washington, D.C.-Carnegie Science believes that the March for Science is the perfect opportunity to showcase the connections between scientific discovery, technology, economic strength, global security, human and animal health, and the condition of our planet. We fully support the official March for Science mission, which “champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity.”

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Washington, DC—Rock samples from northeastern Canada retain chemical signals that help explain what Earth’s crust was like more than 4 billion years ago, reveals new work from Carnegie’s Richard Carlson and Jonathan O’Neil of the University of Ottawa. Their work is published by Science.   There is...
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  • Pasadena, CA—The Carnegie Observatories announces the appointment of Professor Leopoldo Infante of Pontifica Universidad Católica (PUC) de Chile to direct the Las Campanas Observatories (LCO), high in the Atacama Desert in Chile. He will take the post July 31, 2017, succeeding Carnegie astronomer Mark Phillips who stepped in as interim LCO director when the previous director, Miguel Roth, retired in 2014. 

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    People often call dogs “man’s best friend.” But after Elaine Ostrander’s presentation at our Washington, DC, headquarters Thursday, we think that moniker should probably be amended to “geneticist’s super-best friends.”

    When it comes to studying basic genetics, dogs offer researchers an enormous advantage. This is because they have documented breeding histories, explained Ostrander, who is a top scientist at the National Institutes of Health. 

    During her program, “Dog Genes Tell Surprising Tales,” Ostrander broke down her dedication to studying the dog genome. 

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New work from a joint team of plant biologists and ecologists has uncovered the factor behind an important innovation that makes grasses—both the kind found in native prairies and the kind we’ve domesticated for crops—among the most-widespread plants on the planet. Their findings may enable the production of plants that perform better in warmer and dryer climate conditions.

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Rock samples from northeastern Canada retain chemical signals that help explain what Earth’s crust was like more than 4 billion years ago, reveals new work from Carnegie’s Richard Carlson and Jonathan O’Neil of the University of Ottawa. There is much about Earth’s ancient crust that scientists don’t understand. This is because most of the planet’s original crust simply isn’t around any longer to be studied directly—it has either sunk back into the planet’s interior due to the action of plate tectonics or been transformed by geological activity at Earth’s surface to make new, younger rocks

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Recovered minerals that originated in the deep mantle can give scientists a rare glimpse into the dynamic processes occurring deep inside of the Earth and into the history of the planet’s mantle layer. A team co-led by Carnegie's Yingwei Fei has discovered a rare sample of the mineral majorite that originated at least 235 miles below Earth’s surface. Majorite is a type of garnet formed only at depths greater than 100 miles. Fascinatingly, the majorite sample Fei’s team found in Northern China was encased inside a regular garnet—like mineralogical nesting dolls.

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Baltimore, MD—A first-of-its-kind study on almost 20,000 K-12 underrepresented public school students shows that Project BioEYES, based at Carnegie’s Department of Embryology, is effective at increasing students’ science knowledge and positive attitudes about science. Younger students had the greatest attitude changes. The study covered five years and tested students before and after the one-week BioEYES program.

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  • Plants are currently removing more CO2 from the air than they did 200 years ago, according to new work from Carnegie’s Joe Berry and led by J. Elliott Campbell of UC Merced. The team’s findings affirm estimates used in models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “It may be tempting to interpret these results as evidence that Earth’s dynamics are responding in a way that will naturally stabilize CO2 concentrations and climate,” Berry explained. “But the real message is that the increase in photosynthesis has not been large enough to compensate for the burning of fossil fuels. Nature’s brakes are not up to the job.  So now it’s up to us to figure out how to reduce the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.”

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The Giant Magellan Telescope will be one member of the next class of super giant earth-based telescopes that promises to revolutionize our view and understanding of the universe. It will be constructed in the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. Commissioning of the telescope is scheduled to begin in...
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The Carnegie-Spitzer-IMACS (CSI) survey, currently underway at the Magellan-Baade 6.5m telescope in Chile, has been specifically designed to characterize normal galaxies and their environments at a distance of about 4 billion years post Big Bang, expresses by astronomers as  z=1.5. The survey...
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Carnegie researchers are developing new scientific approaches that integrate phylogenetic, chemical and spectral remote sensing perspectives - called Spectranomics - to map canopy function and biological diversity throughout tropical forests of the world. Mapping the composition and chemistry of...
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Broad Branch Road Neighborhood Lectures
Thursday, April 27, 2017 -
6:30pm to 7:30pm

‘Rocks’ from space have had a profound influence on the evolution of Earth – from the giant impact that created the Moon, to the asteroids that killed off the dinosaurs and, more locally, created...

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Astronomy Lecture Series
Monday, May 1, 2017 -
7:30pm to 8:30pm

How do we find planets orbiting stars other than our Sun? How do we know what they’re made of, or if they’re Earth-like?  Dr. Teske will discuss how exoplanets’ composition is “inherited” from...

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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Monday, May 8, 2017 -
6:30pm to 7:45pm

Naturally occurring gene drive systems rig the inheritance game and cause some genes to be preferentially inherited, “driving” them out into the population. CRISPR gene-editing tools can be used...

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We are all made of stardust. Almost all of the chemical elements were produced by nuclear reactions in the interiors of stars. When a star dies a fraction of the elements is released into the inter-stellar gas clouds, out of which successive generations of stars form.  Astronomers have a basic...
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Distant galaxies offer a glimpse of the universe as it was billions of years ago. Understanding how the Milky Way and other galaxies originated provides a unique perspective on the fundamental physics of cosmology, the invisible dark matter, and  repulsive force of dark energy. Patrick McCarthy...
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John Mulchaey, director of the Observatories,  investigates groups and clusters of galaxies, elliptical galaxies, dark matter—the invisible material that makes up most of the universe—active galaxies and black holes. He is also a scientific editor for The Astrophysical Journal and is actively...
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April 12, 2017

Pasadena, CA—The Carnegie Observatories announces the appointment of Professor Leopoldo Infante of Pontifica Universidad Católica (PUC) de Chile to direct the Las Campanas Observatories (LCO), high in the Atacama Desert in Chile. He will take the post July 31, 2017, succeeding Carnegie astronomer Mark Phillips who stepped in as interim LCO director when the previous director, Miguel Roth, retired in 2014. 

Since 2009, Infante has been the founder and director of the Centre for Astro-Engineering at the Chilean university. He joined PUC as an assistant professor in 1990 and has been a full professor since 2006. He was one of the creators of PUC’s Department of Astronomy and

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science
April 7, 2017

Washington, DC—Recovered minerals that originated in the deep mantle can give scientists a rare glimpse into the dynamic processes occurring deep inside of the Earth and into the history of the planet’s mantle layer. A team led by Yingwei Fei, a Carnegie experimental petrologist, and Cheng Xu, a field geologist from Peking University, has discovered that a rare sample of the mineral majorite originated at least 235 miles below Earth’s surface. Their findings are published by Science Advances.

Majorite is a type of garnet formed only at depths greater than 100 miles. Fascinatingly, the majorite sample Fei’s team found in Northern China was encased inside a regular garnet—like

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, UC Merced, NASA
April 5, 2017

Washington, DC—Plants are currently removing more CO2 from the air than they did 200 years ago, according to new work from Carnegie’s Joe Berry and led by J. Elliott Campbell of UC Merced. The team’s findings, which are published in Nature, affirm estimates used in models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  

Plants take up carbon dioxide as part of the process of photosynthesis—a series of cellular reactions through which they transform the Sun’s energy into chemical energy for food. This research from Campbell, Berry, and their colleagues constructs a new history of global changes in photosynthetic activity.

Just as plants in actual glass greenhouses grow

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science
April 4, 2017

Washington, DC—It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of silicon when it comes to computing, solar energy, and other technological applications. (Not to mention the fact that it makes up an awful lot of the Earth’s crust.) Yet there is still so much to learn about how to harness the capabilities of element number 14.

The most-common form of silicon crystallizes in the same structure as diamond. But other forms can be created using different processing techniques. New work led by Carnegie’s Tim Strobel and published in Physical Review Letters shows that one form of silicon, called Si-III (or sometimes BC8), which is synthesized using a high-pressure process, is what’s

April 27, 2017

‘Rocks’ from space have had a profound influence on the evolution of Earth – from the giant impact that created the Moon, to the asteroids that killed off the dinosaurs and, more locally, created the Chesapeake Bay, to tiny grains that may have brought prebiotic molecules that helped kick start life on Earth. The rate at which the Earth has accreted material from space has decayed dramatically since it formed. Nevertheless, ignoring the occasional large ‘hiccup’, some 30-40 thousand tons of extraterrestrial material fall to Earth every year as meteorites and cosmic dust. This has been a boon to science, providing samples of other stars and Mars, helping to develop our picture of the

May 1, 2017

How do we find planets orbiting stars other than our Sun? How do we know what they’re made of, or if they’re Earth-like?  Dr. Teske will discuss how exoplanets’ composition is “inherited” from their host star ‘’genes,” and will highlight new exoplanet discoveries and the Carnegie Institution’s pivotal role in understanding exoplanet formation and composition.

Johanna Teske, Carnegie Origins Postdoctoral Fellow

Registration opens Wednesday, February 15. Registration is required. 

May 8, 2017

Naturally occurring gene drive systems rig the inheritance game and cause some genes to be preferentially inherited, “driving” them out into the population. CRISPR gene-editing tools can be used to create a gene drive in the lab, enabling scientists to promote the inheritance of desired traits over undesirable ones. This opens up the possibility of using this technology to address urgent humanitarian problems, including the spread of insect-borne diseases like malaria, Lyme disease, and Zika. But the potential risks mean that it is crucial that officials develop and enforce safety protocols for employing this technology.

Dr. George M. Church, Professor
Genetics, Harvard

May 15, 2017

We have sought to understand the internal workings of stars for as long as we have done astronomy, with the Sun as our first and best-studied star. Today, the technique of “asteroseismology” has revolutionized our view: just as seismology here on Earth reveals the interior of our own planet, asteroseismology of the stars allows us to view their central engines and structures. 

Jennifer van Saders, Carnegie-Princeton Fellow

Registration opens Wednesday, February 15. Registration is required. 

Superdeep diamonds are  tiny time capsules carrying unchanged impurities made eons ago and providing researchers with important clues about Earth’s formation.  Diamonds derived from below the continental lithosphere, are most likely from the transition zone (415 miles, or 670km deep) or the top of the lower mantle. Understanding diamond origins and compositions of the high-pressure mineral phases has potential to revolutionize our understanding of deep mantle circulation.

Stem cells make headline news as potential treatments for a variety of diseases. But undertstanding the nuts and bolts of how they develop from an undifferentiated cell  that gives rise to cells that are specialized such as organs, or bones, and the nervous system, is not well understood. 

The Lepper lab studies the mechanics of these processes. overturned previous research that identified critical genes for making muscle stem cells. It turns out that the genes that make muscle stem cells in the embryo are surprisingly not needed in adult muscle stem cells to regenerate muscles after injury. The finding challenges the current course of research into muscular dystrophy, muscle

High-elevation, low relief surfaces are common on continents. These intercontinental plateaus influence river networks, climate, and the migration of plants and animals. How these plateaus form is not clear. Researchers are studying the geodynamic processes responsible for surface uplift in the Hangay in central Mongolia to better understand the origin of high topography in continental interiors.

This work focuses on characterizing the physical properties and structure of the lithosphere and sublithospheric mantle, and the timing, rate, and pattern of surface uplift in the Hangay. They are carrying out studies in geomorphology, geochronology, thermochronology, paleoaltimetry,

The Carnegie Hubble program is an ongoing comprehensive effort that has a goal of determining the Hubble constant, the expansion rate of the universe,  to a systematic accuracy of 2%. As part of this program, astronomers are obtaining data at the 3.6 micron wavelength using the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) on Spitzer Space Telescope. The team has demonstrated that the mid-infrared period-luminosity relation for Cepheids, variable stars used to determine distances and the rate of the expansion,  at 3.6 microns is the most accurate means of measuring Cepheid distances to date. At 3.6 microns, it is possible to minimize the known remaining systematic uncertainties in the Cepheid

Understanding how plants grow can lead to improving crops.  Plant scientist Kathryn Barton, who joined Carnegie in 2001, investigates just that: what controls the plant’s body plan, from  the time it’s an embryo to its adult leaves. These processes include how plant parts form different orientations, from top to bottom, and different poles. She looks at regulation by small RNA’s, the function of small so-called Zipper proteins, and how hormone biosynthesis and response controls the plant’s growth.

Despite an enormous variety in leaf shape and arrangement, the basic body plan of plants is about the same: stems and leaves alternate in repeating units. The structure responsible for

Rebecca Bernstein combines observational astronomy with developing new instruments and techniques to study her objects of interest. She focuses on formation and evolution of galaxies by studying the chemistry of objects called extra galactic globular clusters—old, spherical compact groups of stars that are gravitationally bound. She also studies the stellar components of clusters of galaxies and is engaged in various projects related to dark matter and dark energy—the invisible matter and repulsive force that make up most of the universe.

 Although Bernstein joined Carnegie as a staff scientist in 2012, she has had a long history of spectrographic and imaging development, working

Ronald Cohen primarily studies materials through first principles research—computational methods that begin with the most fundamental properties of a system, such as the nuclear charges of atoms, and then calculate what happens to a material under different conditions, such as pressure and temperature. He particularly focuses on properties of materials under extreme conditions such as high pressure and high temperature. This research applies to various topics and problems in geophysics and technological materials.

Some of his work focuses on understanding the behavior of high-technology materials called ferroelectrics—non-conducting crystals with an electric dipole moment similar

Plants are essential to life on Earth and provide us with food, fuel, clothing, and shelter.  Despite all this, we know very little about how they do what they do. Even for the best-studied species, such as Arabidopsis thaliana --a wild mustard studied in the lab--we know about less than 20% of what its genes do and how or why they do it. And understanding this evolution can help develop new crop strains to adapt to climate change.  

Sue Rhee wants to uncover the molecular mechanisms underlying adaptive traits in plants to understand how these traits evolved. A bottleneck has been the limited understanding of the functions of most plant genes. Rhee’s group is building genome-wide