Fertile Ground

Volume 26 Issue 11 | November 2012




Meet some of the people featured in the November 2012 issue of The Scientist.


Long and Rocky Roads

From basic research to beneficial therapies

Speaking of Science

Speaking of Science

November 2012's selection of notable quotes


Dolled-Up Turtles

Borrowing techniques from nail and hair salons, researchers have devised a method to tag small, previously untrackable sea turtles.

Chocolate and Cheese

Taking gastronomy to the molecular level creates unprecedented flavor combos.

A Celebrated Symposium

A conference, started 10 years ago partly as a disease ecologist’s birthday party, has become one of the most valued meetings in the field.  


Comparing the protein profile of a 500-year-old Inca mummy to modern humans reveals an active lung infection prior to sacrifice.  

Critic at Large

Little Fish in a Big Pond

Continued overfishing of forage fish such as sardines and herring can result in devastating ecological and economic outcomes.

Military Mind Wars

How neuroscience research can inform military counterintelligence tactics, and the moral responsibilities that accompany such research

Modus Operandi

Timing Turnover

Two-tone fluorescent tags track the movement and life span of proteins within living cells.

Cover Story

Coming to Terms

New noninvasive methods of selecting the most viable embryo could revolutionize in vitro fertilization.


Omega-3s: Fishing for a Mechanism

Despite abundant evidence supporting their ability to help prevent and treat cardiovascular disease, the therapeutic effectiveness of fish oil–derived fatty acids remains controversial.

Salary Survey

Life Sciences Salary Survey 2012

Researcher salaries continue to buck the trend of the millennium’s first decade, remaining flat or even declining across most life science disciplines.

The Literature

Viral Skeleton

A newly discovered family of tubulins—members of the cytoskeleton—encoded by bacteriophages plays a role in arranging the location of DNA within virus’s bacterial host.

Microbial Awakening

Successive awakening of soil microbes drives a huge pulse of CO2 following the first rain after a dry summer.

Exit Strategy

Large RNA-protein packets use a novel mechanism to escape the cell nucleus.


The Road Less Traveled

First, Aravinda Chakravarti drew a map of how scientists might unravel the genetics of complex disease. Then he blazed the trail.

Scientist to Watch

Erica Larschan: Hitting Her Targets

Assistant Professor, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, & Biochemistry Brown University, Age: 36

Lab Tools

Creative Emulsification

Enhancing data collection from emulsion PCR reactions: three case studies


PCR Usage and Preferences

Quantitative real-time technology dominates the market today but digital PCR is on the rise.

Lab Tools

A Guide to the Epigenome

Making sense of the data deluge

Bio Business

Tumor Snipers

After two headline successes, companies rush to develop “smart bomb” cancer drugs.

Reading Frames

Truth and Consequences

Studying the consequences of behavior has shed light on a wide range of life-science phenomena, pathological as well as everyday.

Capsule Reviews

Capsule Reviews

Spillover, Answers for Aristotle, Who’s in Charge? and Science Set Free


Poetry and Pictures, circa 1830

On the bicentennial of his birth, Edward Lear is celebrated for his whimsical poetry and his stunningly accurate scientific illustrations.


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