Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic joined Columbia University's department of biomedical engineering last summer following 12 years as principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On page 35 she writes about the strides science is making toward creating biological "spare parts." The trick to successful tissue engineering, she says, is to give cells conditions mimicking the well-optimized process of embryogenesis. The field is quite promising, but "we are mostly at the stage of advanced lab research and animal studies," she says.
Boston-based journalist Karen Hopkin returns in this issue after a two-month maternity leave from her regular role writing profiles of leading scientists. Since she received her biochemistry PhD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1992, Hopkin has also produced for NPR?s Science Friday and created the "Studmuffins of Science" calendar. This month?s profile on page 61 is of primate researcher Ajit Varki, the "only person who ever could with...
Since earning master?s degrees in biology from University of California, Los Angeles and science writing from New York University, Bijal Trivedi has written for publications including The Economist, Wired, National Geographic, and Science. This year, she received a Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award and a Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award. For this issue, Trivedi set out to discover if the "massive bottleneck" of American postdocs en route to academia and stiffer competition for NIH grants are signs that we?re training too many PhDs. Find out what?s happening to all those PhDs on page 42.
Nick Atkinson is finishing a neurophysiology postdoc at Newcastle University after studying the ecological genetics of fire-bellied toads at Edinburgh University. On page 28 the former wildlife zoologist turns his attention to human mate selection. It turns out that factors as far-ranging as waist-to-hip ratio, dancing ability, facial movements, and kindness may figure into the equation. As psychological, evolutionary, and other approaches come to bear, "we?re finding many surprises along the way," says Atkinson. As for the selection of his own wife of eight years: "It?s just animal attraction I think."
The Scientist recently sent Kate Travis to a symposium on nutrigenomics-"how things that you eat affect how your genes behave"-to balance good and bad cholesterol, for example. The freelancer and associate editor at Science News holds a science and technology journalism degree from Texas A&M and was previously news editor at the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. "Nutrition?s been around for a long time, we?ve known about genetics for a long time," she says. "But the marriage of the two is just getting started." Read about her findings on page 50.