Skip to content

Liz Tracey

Liz Tracey teaches microbiology and studies genetics in Cleveland, OH.

Coronavirus

A Science Reader for COVID-19

Covering concepts from spillover to virus mutation, this collection of free-to-access readings provides scientific context around the COVID-19 pandemic.
The North Ronaldsay or Orkney sheep is a breed from North Ronaldsay, the northernmost island of Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland.

Sheep Snarf Seaweed at the Scottish Seashore

A seaweed-only diet seems to curb methane emissions in sheep on a tiny island in Scotland.
Many cassiopea xamachana, upside down jellyfish

Upside-Down Jellyfish and the Mucus of Death

You could get stung by a jellyfish even when there don't seem to be any around. Meet Cassiopea xamachana and its "stinging water" weirdness.
A hedgehog in a porcelain cup

Biomimicry Comes for the Noble Hedgehog

Inventors often use animals' adaptations to the environment in applications that benefit humans, from sharky swimsuits to hedgehog-inspired helmets.
The cover page of Rebecca Lee Crumpler's book

The “Doctress” Was In: Rebecca Lee Crumpler

The first Black woman physician served communities in the South after the Civil War but was buried in an anonymous grave. That will likely change.
Alice Ball

The Chemist Whose Work Was Stolen from Her

The Black scientist Alice Ball helped develop a treatment for leprosy in the early twentieth century. But someone else took the credit.
J. Ernest Wilkins Jr.

The Black Mathematician Who Resisted Nuclear War

J. Ernest Wilkins Jr. worked on the Manhattan Project and signed a petition that the bomb not be used before Japan was offered terms of surrender.
Termites

Margaret S. Collins, Pioneering Black Entomologist

She was the first African American woman to earn a PhD in entomology as well as an activist for freedom in the Civil Rights Movement.
A puffin carrying tree branches in it's mouth

Puffins Seen Using Tools, Breaking Dumb-Puffin Stereotypes

Reputed to be a less intelligent bird species, puffins have been observed scratching themselves with sticks.
A cartoon of a T Rex holding a boom box

Take These Teenage Dinosaurs Seriously!

Paleontologists recently solved the riddle of whether two fossil specimens were young T. rexes or a whole different species.
A stamp printed by Poland, showing Ibn Sina

The Vast Influence of Ibn Sina, Pioneer of Medicine

In the 11th century CE, science was rapidly advancing in the Islamic world. The scholar Ibn Sina (Avicenna) synthesized its medical wisdom.
An illustration of a syringe and a microscope

The Measles Might Make Your Body “Forget” Its Own Immunity

Scientists have found that sometimes people infected with measles later develop "immune amnesia": their bodies don't remember being sick, even with other viruses.
A composite image of a grey squirrel and a red squirrel

Can CRISPR Save Tufty Fluffytail?

The native red squirrel population in the UK has been decimated by the encroachment of its American cousin, an invasive species. Could a "gene drive" help?
An octopus

Stuck in the Midden with You

A midden is, among other things, a refuse site outside an octopus' home. (Release the Køkkenmødding!)
Mussels

When Cancer Spreads Between Species

The exchange of cancerous cells between organisms is rare. Scientist studied how it happened across species of mussels.

What’s in a (Planet) Name?

Planet names must be 16 letters or less, preferably one word, non-offensive, and not too similar to an existing one.
Molecular model of Penicillin by Dorothy Hodgkin, c.1945

We’re Living in a Post-Antibiotic World

A new CDC report warns: “Stop referring to a coming post-antibiotic era—it’s already here.” Contrast that to a 1944 article on the promise of penicillin.
A smart toilet

Smart Toilets: The Jetpack of the Bathroom

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are envisioning a toilet that can analyze urine for indicators of disease.
brass sundial

Sundials, Sentiments, and S-Town

The immensely popular podcast S-Town features some memorable sundial inscriptions. But where did the slightly morbid tradition come from?
His Girl Friday

Rory Gilmore: The New New Woman

Recently, Netflix brought us the Gilmore Girls revival–Rory, Lorelei, and Emily 10 years on, able to “end” the show as its creator intended.
Vespasian

The Rise and Fall of Pay Toilets

Vespasian's most useful contribution to history may well have been creation of pay toilets.
Roanoke baptism

Our Long Roanoke Nightmare

The sixth season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story focuses on the mysterious lost colony of Roanoke.
Blake's "Newton"

Does Science Destroy Wonder?

Tom Wolfe's new book accidentally rehashes an age-old question: does scientific progress nullify beauty? What's the relationship between science and art?
Stranger Things title

“Stranger Things” and the Psychic Nosebleed

Where did we get the idea that using psychic or telekinetic powers makes a person's nose bleed?
genetic manipulation

Genetic Manipulation: The Next Big Thing

The CRISPR-Cas9 (CRISPR) method of genetic manipulation enables scientists to insert, delete, and edit genes in organisms from lowly microbes to monkeys.