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Biology

This category contains 187 posts

What if we got rid of the allergens?

I am deathly allergic to peanuts. I have wondered for some time if I’m allergic to all peanuts or whether certain strains of peanuts might be more or less likely to trigger my body’s overreaction to what should be a mundane protein. This, it turns out, is the focus of some research recently presented by … Continue reading

Cortisol and Anxiety

Somebody asked me about the relationship between hormones and anxiety so I did some research and found some really interesting information about cortisol and anxiety. Rather than focus on a particular study I’m going to just go through some of the more interesting connections. Cortisol is a long-term (more than 3 minutes) stress hormone that … Continue reading

The benefits of hoarding

It seems like you can’t walk through Edmonton’s river valley without being yelled at by a red squirrel. It’s pretty obvious that the squirrel is unimpressed by your presence but what exactly is it freaking out about? Chances are, the squirrel is worried you are going to raid its larder and its telling you to … Continue reading

Halloween candy and covid risks

I chose not to hand out candy this Halloween. The covid numbers in my area have been steadily increasing and I just didn’t want to take the risk of contributing. But what are the risks of transmission through Halloween candy? It seems that the science is fairly certain at the moment that most transmission of … Continue reading

The social networks of trees

Canoeing through Edmonton’s river valley this fall reminded me of the connections between some plants. Trembling aspen trees do produce seeds but their main means of reproduction is through runners. These runners result in colonies of genetically identical trees. The fall emphasizes this as entire patches of trees will all change colour at the same … Continue reading

Music and cats under anaesthesia

There are lots of reasons why finding ways to decrease the amount of medication that is needed is positive. Reducing side effects is obviously important but there’s also resource use and social equity factors. If we need less medications it can decrease the energy and materials necessary to create those medications. Decreased amounts of drugs … Continue reading

Turkey, seratonin, and uncertainty

We just had Canadian Thanksgiving here and aside from my growing discomfort with colonial history it is a good time to recognize the many things that I’m grateful for. It is also as good a time to find the science in the everyday. Turkey is of course connected to the turkey stupor, which it turns … Continue reading

Cat Genetics Activities

I created this activity for an introductory biology class. It covers Mendelian and Non-Mendelian patterns of inheritance and has some suggest activities for practicing the Hardy-Weinberg equation. Since most of the questions ask you to cross a cat that you found there is no answer key. Teachers, please feel free to use this activity in … Continue reading

The making of a tabby cat

I’ve found it quite fascinating to look into cat genetics over the past week. I should have my entire planned activity for my bio students to share by next week, but in the meantime I thought I’d write about the agouti and tabby genes. The presence of a dominant agouti gene affects pigment distribution along … Continue reading

Cat Genetics

I’m teaching a bio course this term and I’ve been looking for ways to engage students in lab type activities given that we can’t go into a lab. When someone sent me an article about why most of the human genetic traits we like to use in genetics lessons are inaccurate I was, shall we … Continue reading

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