The Dawn of the Living, Talking Robots

The Dawn of the Living, Talking Robots

Bullseye. That is the pattern that you would see if you looked onto the lawn of E.coli covering the petri dish from the labs of Frances Arnold and Ron Weiss. What is actually going on between the cells on the petri dish is even stranger: the bacteria are "telling" each other to form the bullseye. These bacterial cells were successfully programmed to communicate with each other in order to form a color pattern specified by the researcher. In effect, the bacteria have been made into microscopic robots.

Letter From JYI Co-Founder Brian Su

Author:  Dr. Brian Su
Institution:  Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Date:  June 2005

Dear Friends,

It is with great excitement to address you as The Journal of Young Investigators (JYI) publishes its 100th research article. JYI began when Andrew Medina-Marino observed that undergraduate student researchers learn far too late how to write and publish science. This concept, with the help of four other students was made a reality in 1997. Nature magazine in describing the founding of JYI highlighted the scene of five undergraduate students who locked themselves up in a Baltimore hotel for hours to construct the mission statement for an undergraduate research journal. I remember that day like it was yesterday. The statement as signed by the five of us was only two pages long but very clearly stated the intention of creating a venue that would help undergraduates understand the process of scientific writing, review, and publication.

By the time we established the infrastructure, obtained funding, and recruited the original editorial staff for JYI, the five of us were approaching graduation. When we left JYI's Board of Directors we had questions as to the viability and future of JYI because of the inevitably high turnover rate from an undergraduate run organization. Over the last six years as a JYI alumni and part of the Board of Trustees, I have had the honor of seeing remarkable individuals contribute to JYI's leadership and develop different ways of reaching out to undergraduate scientists. Through the constant inflow of talented staff, JYI has flourished more than any of us could have expected.

Frequent turnover of staff and leadership means instillation of new ideas and energy to the journal. One of the major additions to the journal was the science journalism section; a project spearheaded by Mary Patyten. JYI continues to refine the reviewing and publication process; this issue marks the publication of our 100th research article. Since the founding of JYI, we have published 104 original peer reviewed manuscripts and 163 features articles with submissions from 15 different countries. These articles range from the Toxic Effects of Mercury on Survival Rates of the GL Strain Danio rerio (Zebrafish) to Shape Invariance in Supersymmetric Quantum Mechanics and its Application to Selected Special Functions of Modern Physics. This past month, the JYI website received 20,000 unique hits.

More importantly, several hundred undergraduates are affiliated with JYI through either publication or being staff members. This network of young scientists is priceless and is something that we hoped would naturally come out of this organization. As an example, I have had the opportunity to mentor several past members of JYI staff regarding the choice of medical school and residency. I know I am not alone when I say that I made some of my best friends through JYI. We currently have 35 science journalists and 45 associate editors with a staff totaling 130. This staff represents over 80 institutions and four different countries.

In eight years, individuals have dedicated hundreds of hours of their undergraduate careers to JYI. Alumni such as Courtney Peterson, Mary Patyten, Anna Miller, and Scott Kemp have been invaluable to JYI. In addition, Dr. Earl Dowell from Duke University has served as a strong anchor for JYI from the very beginning. The tradition of motivated leaders within JYI is strong with Elina Onitskansky from Harvard University and Selby Cull from Hampshire College as our current CEO and Editor-in-Chief respectively. There is a greater volume of electronic and in-person dialogue than ever amongst the members of JYI. Under their leadership, JYI has received its second grant from the Burroughs-Welcome Fund to create a Science Career Center.

As the original founders of JYI have long moved on, I thought it pertinent to report on where they are in their academic careers:

* I am currently an Orthopaedic Surgery resident at Columbia University Medical Center.

* Mr. Andrew Medina-Marino (Chief Executive Officer, 1998, Editor-In-Chief, 1997) is currently a PhD student at the California Institute of Technology.

* Mr. Tim Sibley (Chief Technical Officer, 1997-1998) inspired by JYI created a successful company StreamSage, Inc; a provider of software products that enable organizations to organize and manage audio/video content. In January 2001, Mr. Sibley received an award from the Washington Techway Magazine as one of the top young technology executives in the DC area.

* Dr. Neal Freedman, (Recruitment Officer, 1997-1998) recently graduated from UCSF with a PhD in Biology. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health at Harvard University.

* Dr. George Lui (Publications Coordinator 1997-1998) is currently finishing his residency in both medicine and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. He has plans to pursue a fellowship in adult and pediatric congenital heart disease.

I can confidently say on behalf of the founders that JYI has gone above what we imagined the fate of this journal to be. I am astounded by the accomplishments of undergraduate scientists and their ability to make endeavors like this one persist. We thank you for successfully fulfilling JYI's mission and look forward to even more growth in the years to come.


Best Regards,

Brian W. Su, MD

Chairperson, Board of Trustees

Chief Financial Officer, 1997-1998

Chief Executive Officer, 1997

Trust in the Dentist-Patient Relationship: A Review

Trust is the foundation of a successful patient-dentist relationship, as with all other relationships. By engendering feelings of ease and confidence in his or her abilities, a skilled dentist is capable of allaying a patient's fears, and of rendering the dental encounter a pleasant and painless one. A heightened sense of trust also facilitates a patient's interactions with the dentist, provides a greater feeling of satisfaction with provided dental services, and promotes therapeutic compliance. Although few studies have directly examined trust, factors that comprise the concept were reviewed in order to recommend ways to increase trust in patient care.

The Effects of Centrifugation and Filtration as Pre-Treatments in Bacterial Retention Studies

The Effects of Centrifugation and Filtration as Pre-Treatments in Bacterial Retention Studies

The ability of a bacterium to adhere to various surfaces is important in environmental and biomedical applications. While studying bacterial adhesion in the laboratory, unwanted artifacts can be caused by cell preparation and treatment protocols, which are used in virtually all experimental investigations. We investigated the effects of three cell separation methods (centrifugation, multiple rounds of centrifugation, and filtration) on the retention behavior of two Gram-negative bacteria: Pseudomonas putida KT2442 and Escherichia coli HB101.

The Role of Pharyngeal Collapse in Nocturnal Homeostasis: Exploring the Benefits and Costs of a Vastly Prevalent Phenomenon under an Evolutionary Framework

The Role of Pharyngeal Collapse in Nocturnal Homeostasis: Exploring the Benefits and Costs of a Vastly Prevalent Phenomenon under an Evolutionary Framework

The present article will explore how the collapse of the pharyngeal airway during sleep, a phenomenon currently identified as an indicator of disease, may confer specific homeostatic benefits. More specifically, we will consider how the pathologically large size of the fleshy structures in the pharyngeal airway, along with relative hypotonicity of the pharyngeal musculature may have provided our ancestors with a selective advantage by enabling them to reduce nocturnal, respiratory heat loss.

Differences in Badge Sizes of Male House Sparrows at Food Sources of High and Low Risk

Differences in Badge Sizes of Male House Sparrows at Food Sources of High and Low Risk

The present experiment investigated relationships among dominance status, sex, risk, and feeding behavior using house sparrows, Passer domesticus. Feeding behavior was observed in wild male and female house sparrows at high- and low-risk food sites (i.e., those with and without a model snake, respectively). At high-risk sites, birds avoided the snake by feeding on the opposite side of the food source. Small-badge (presumed subordinate) males far outnumbered other males at high-risk feeding sites, whereas medium-badge (presumed intermediate ranked) males far outnumbered other males at the low-risk sites. For low-ranking males, this strategy might maximize food acquisition and reduce the cost of competition. Overall, the present findings suggest that animals' feeding behaviors and responses to risk differ depending on social rank.