Guest Work

Inside the world of tiny phytoplankton – microscopic algae that provide most of our oxygen

Guest Author Apr 30, 2021

Abigail McQuatters-Gollop, University of Plymouth Phytoplankton are microscopic algae living throughout the ocean’s surface waters. They can’t swim and are at the mercy of the currents and tides. Despite their small size, phytoplankton enable life in the oceans – and throughout the planet – to exist. There are two types of plankton – zooplankton, which are animals, and phytoplankton, which … Read More

Meet 5 of Australia’s tiniest mammals, who tread a tightrope between life and death every night

Guest Author Apr 29, 2021

Andrew Baker, Queensland University of Technology Australia has a rich diversity of mammals, with around 320 native, land-based species, 87% of which are found here and nowhere else. Many of these mammals are secretive, only active at night, and small, weighing less than one kilogram. Mammals are “endotherms”, which means they must generate their own heat and maintain the … Read More

Treated like dirt: urban soil is often overlooked as a resource

Guest Author Apr 27, 2021

Roisin O’Riordan, Lancaster University When you think about soil, you probably think of rolling fields of countryside. But what about urban soil? With city dwellers expected to account for 68% of the world’s population by 2050, this oft forgotten resource is increasingly important. City-based agriculture is on the rise. But urban soil is more often associated with contamination … Read More

Endless itching: how Anzacs treated lice in the trenches with poetry and their own brand of medicine

Guest Author Apr 26, 2021

Georgia McWhinney, Macquarie University We think we know a lot about Australian and New Zealand soldiers’ health in the first world war. Many books, novels and television programs speak of wounds and war doctors, documenting the work of both Anzac nations’ medical corps. Often these histories begin with front-line doctors — known as regimental medical officers — who first … Read More

Seedkeeping can connect people with their roots and preserve crops for future generations

Guest Author Apr 23, 2021

Natalie Jesionka, University of Toronto “All seeds are sacred, these seeds are connected to 10,000 years of human relationship to the land,” says Owen Taylor, co-founder of Philadelphia-based Truelove Seeds, who sells vegetable, herb and flower seeds that tell ancestral and regional stories. He adds, “seedkeeping refers to not just the saving of seeds, but also the keeping of … Read More

Demand for rare-earth metals is skyrocketing, so we’re creating a safer, cleaner way to recover them from old phones and laptops

Guest Author Apr 20, 2021

Cristina Pozo-Gonzalo, Deakin University Rare-earth metals are critical to the high-tech society we live in as an essential component of mobile phones, computers and many other everyday devices. But increasing demand and limited global supply means we must urgently find a way to recover these metals efficiently from discarded products. Rare-earth metals are currently mined or recovered via traditional e-waste … Read More

Heroes, villains … biology: 3 reasons comic books are great science teachers

Guest Author Apr 19, 2021

Caitlyn Forster, University of Sydney People may think of comics and science as worlds apart, but they have been cross-pollinating each other in more than ways than one. Many classic comic book characters are inspired by biology such as Spider-Man, Ant-Man and Poison Ivy. And they can act as educational tools to gain some fun facts about the natural world. Read More

Male fertility: how everyday chemicals are destroying sperm counts in humans and animals

Guest Author Apr 15, 2021

Alex Ford, University of Portsmouth and Gary Hutchison, Edinburgh Napier University Within just a few generations, human sperm counts may decline to levels below those considered adequate for fertility. That’s the alarming claim made in epidemiologist Shanna Swan’s new book, “Countdown”, which assembles a raft of evidence to show that the sperm count of western men has plunged by … Read More

ACC’s policy of not covering birth injuries is one more sign the system is overdue for reform

Guest Author Apr 13, 2021

Claire Breen, University of Waikato Recent media coverage of women not being able to get treatment for birth injuries highlights yet another example of gender bias in healthcare in New Zealand. Following a policy review, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), which covers accidental injuries, has restricted access to compensation for women who suffer perineal tears during birth. Read More

Viking DNA and the pitfalls of genetic ancestry tests

Guest Author Apr 12, 2021

Anna Källén, Stockholm University and Daniel Strand, Uppsala University A middle-aged white man raises his sword to the skies and roars to the gods. The results of his genetic ancestry test have just arrived in his suburban mailbox. His eyes fill with tears as he learns that he is “0.012% Viking”. These are the scenes from a video advertisement … Read More