A Biological Compass

Volume 27 Issue 8 | August 2013

Cover Story

A Sense of Mystery

By | August 1, 2013

Researchers from various disciplines are homing in on the mechanics of magnetoreception, an enigmatic sense that some animals use to navigate the globe.

Featured Articles

image: Best Places to Work Academia 2013

Best Places to Work Academia 2013

By | August 1, 2013

Institutional funding and research support is critical to academics during this time of continued budgetary belt-tightening across government agencies.  

image: Engineering Life

Engineering Life

By , , and | August 1, 2013

Cellular “tinkering” is critical for establishing a new engineering discipline that will lead to the next generation of technologies based on life’s building blocks.




Meet some of the people featured in the August 2013 issue of The Scientist.


Finding the Way

A focus on the movements of species and disciplines through space, time, and minds

Speaking of Science

Speaking of Science

August 2013's selection of notable quotes


The Mummy Code

Ancient-DNA researchers have long clashed over work on Egyptian mummies, but next-gen sequencing might resolve their debates.


Science gets personal as researchers—professional and amateur—plumb the depths of their own molecular biology.

Bunker Bats

Military bunkers along the US East Coast may serve as sterile overwintering sites for bat populations threatened by white-nose syndrome.

Smoke Detectors

Ancient receptors in seeds bind a small molecule in smoke that promotes germination.

Critic at Large

Remaking Nature

Synthetic biologists need to work together with conservationists to understand the environmental consequences of this new technology.

Thought Experiment

The Eye of the Finch

Beaks did it for Darwin. Now, monitoring real-time evolution of bacteria that infects finch eyes reveals repeated, rapid evolution of an emerging avian pathogen in backyards throughout the U.S.

Modus Operandi

Cellular Pegs-in-Holes

Cell-containing hydrogel shapes fit into a template to create an artificial tissue environment.

The Literature

Floppy Cells

Cell division in L-forms—bacterial variants that have no cell walls—could shed light on how primitive life forms replicated.

Remodeling Myelin

New oligodendrocytes in the adult mouse brain appear to remodel existing myelin sheaths, which may fine-tune the speed of nerve impulses.

Shushing RNA

The cell detains potentially harmful RNA messages in the spliceosome long enough to create interfering RNAs against the aberrant messages.


Cancer Knows No Borders

Unafraid to tackle cancer disparities across races, Olufunmilayo “Funmi” Olopade has demonstrated that genomics research can make a big impact on public health.

Scientist to Watch

Josh Snodgrass: An Adaptive Mind

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon. Age: 41

Lab Tools

Gene Silencing Is Golden

A beginner’s how-to on RNAi screening in mammalian cells

Molecular Multitasking

Commercial kits use fluorescent beads to probe dozens of cytokines in one reaction.


Preserving Research

The top online archives for storing your unpublished findings

Reading Frames

Intelligent Life: The Search Continues

Humans continue to scan the cosmos for a familiar brand of intelligence while ignoring a deeper form that pulses here at home.

Capsule Reviews

Capsule Reviews: Summer Fiction

Crescent, An Empty Land of Plenty, Prophet of Bones, and Equilateral


Sketching out Cell Theory, circa 1837

How a dinner-table conversation between two biologists led to the formulation of the theory that cells are the building blocks of all living organisms.

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