Features

The Peopling of South America
The Peopling of South America
Shawna Williams | Sep 1, 2020
While questions still outnumber answers, new findings from archaeology, genetics, and other disciplines are revealing surprising insights into the early cultures of the most recently populated continent.
Genetics Steps In to Help Tell the Story of Human Origins
Genetics Steps In to Help Tell the Story of Human Origins
Katarina Zimmer | Sep 1, 2020
Africa’s sparse fossil record alone cannot reveal our species’ evolutionary history.
How Groups of Cells Cooperate to Build Organs and Organisms
How Groups of Cells Cooperate to Build Organs and Organisms
Michael Levin | Sep 1, 2020
Understanding biology’s software—the rules that enable great plasticity in how cell collectives generate reliable anatomies—is key to advancing tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Contributors

Contributors
Contributors
Contributors
Meet some of the people featured in the September 2020 issue of The Scientist.

Editorial

Back to School
Back to School
Back to School
Many US educational institutions, from preschools to universities, are opening this fall in the midst of a global pandemic that threatens much more than our health.

Speaking of Science

Ten Minute Sabbatical
Ten Minute Sabbatical
Ten Minute Sabbatical
Take a break from the bench to puzzle and peruse.

Notebook

Ancient Grains Hint at Prehistoric Beer Brewing
Ancient Grains Hint at Prehistoric Beer Brewing
Ancient Grains Hint at Prehistoric Beer Brewing
Microscopic analysis of charred, shapeless lumps from archaeological sites revealed ancient cereal grains that may have undergone malting to make beer.
Study Tracks Geographical Gene Flow and Ancestry in the US
Study Tracks Geographical Gene Flow and Ancestry in the US
Study Tracks Geographical Gene Flow and Ancestry in the US
The analysis adds new details to the picture of migration and mixing in a diverse country.

The Literature

The Gene that Makes Female Birds Drab
The Gene that Makes Female Birds Drab
The Gene that Makes Female Birds Drab
In some finch species, the difference between colorful males and muted females comes down to one gene, BCO2, which encodes an enzyme that degrades carotenoids.
New RNA-Based Tool Could Assess Preeclampsia Risk
New RNA-Based Tool Could Assess Preeclampsia Risk
New RNA-Based Tool Could Assess Preeclampsia Risk
Transcripts circulating in the blood provide real-time information about maternal, fetal, and placental health.

Scientist To Watch

Ibrahim Cissé’s Tools Provide a Lens to Watch RNA Production
Ibrahim Cissé’s Tools Provide a Lens to Watch RNA Production
Ibrahim Cissé’s Tools Provide a Lens to Watch RNA Production
The MIT physicist has demonstrated the importance of clusters of RNA polymerase and other transcription mediators in regulating RNA production.

Careers

Science and Policy Collide During the Pandemic
Science and Policy Collide During the Pandemic
Science and Policy Collide During the Pandemic
COVID-19 has laid bare some of the pitfalls of the relationship between scientific experts and policymakers—but some researchers say there are ways to make it better.

Reading Frames

Opinion: Zoology’s Racism Problem
Opinion: Zoology’s Racism Problem
Opinion: Zoology’s Racism Problem
A new book explores the history of scientists’ efforts to classify living things.

Foundations

Coronavirus Closeup, 1964
Coronavirus Closeup, 1964
Coronavirus Closeup, 1964
Electron microscopy revealed that a deadly disease of birds was not a form of flu, but a different type of virus entirely.

Infographics

Infographic: South America’s Early Prehistory
Infographic: South America’s Early Prehistory
Infographic: South America’s Early Prehistory
Genetics and archaeology yield clues as to when humans first arrived on the continent and how these early settlers lived.
Infographic: Meet Your Ancient Ancestors and Relatives in Africa
Infographic: Meet Your Ancient Ancestors and Relatives in Africa
Infographic: Meet Your Ancient Ancestors and Relatives in Africa
Modern human genomes and bones left behind from ancient hominins in Africa tell a complex story about the origins of our species.
Infographic: Anatomical Construction by Cell Collectives
Infographic: Anatomical Construction by Cell Collectives
Infographic: Anatomical Construction by Cell Collectives
Understanding this complex and still largely enigmatic process will pave the way for researchers to control the development of new morphologies.
Infographic: Dialing Down the Glitz
Infographic: Dialing Down the Glitz
Infographic: Dialing Down the Glitz
The gene BCO2 enables male and female members of some bird species to display dramatically different color patterns.