A&S in the News – Dec. 16–31

As China’s Largest Freshwater Lake Shrinks, Solution Faces Criticism

New York Times – Dec. 28

Long celebrated as China’s largest freshwater lake, Poyang reaches more than three times the expanse of Los Angeles in the summer wet season. It is home to the rare Yangtze finless porpoise, and its mud flats are the primary winter feeding grounds for thousands of birds that fly south each autumn to escape Siberia’s chill, including the critically endangered Siberian crane … “I think you’re proposing a solution without understanding the causes of the problem,” said David Shankman, a professor emeritus of geography at the University of Alabama who has studied the lake’s hydrology.

He spends hours underwater looking for creatures you can’t see

Belleville (Illinois) News-Democrat – Dec. 27

Kevin Kocot
Kevin Kocot is an assistant professor of biology at The University of Alabama and curator of invertebrate zoology at UA’s Alabama Museum of Natural History.

Pulling a giant fish or a small octopus from the ocean isn’t a big deal to marine biologist Kevin Kocot. He just throws it back in the water. That’s because he’s after small-fry — life that’s often invisible to the naked eye. “They’re everywhere,” says the Maryville native of his work with a group of molluscs. “Just no one’s looking for them.” The “everywhere” he’s looked has grown from his grandparents’ backyard next door, searching for garden bugs when he was a child, to the deepest parts of the ocean this past summer to chronicle the oceans’ biodiversity. Kevin earned a bachelor of science degree from Illinois State University and a doctorate in molecular biology from Auburn University. He has a second post-doctoral degree from The University of Queensland in Australia. For the past year, he’s been an assistant professor and assistant curator of invertebrates at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Chemistry consortium uses titan supercomputer to understand actinides

Gas and Electricity – Dec. 26

That same energy also makes actinides highly radioactive. Scientists doing early research with these substances in the 1940s and 50s did not fully understand the risks of long-term handling and storage for the resulting waste products … “We put this group together because we were already collaborating on scientific papers,” said professor David Dixon of The University of Alabama. “Rather than just saying that we were going to do one reaction and needed computing time, we’re using a team approach to try and get a broad, fundamental understanding of actinide science.”

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