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The Green Machine designed by undergraduates at Washington University in St. Louis won the People’s Choice, second place and Best Single Step awards at the 2014 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. The national competition was held at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, earlier in April. Several of the students were also on the team that won first place last year.MORE
A recent interdisciplinary conference that led to the publication of a special issue of PNAS on domestication raised more questions than it answered. Washington University in St. Louis scientists Fiona Marshall and Ken Olsen, who participated in the conference and contributed to the special issue, discuss some of the key questions that have been raised about this pivotal event in human history.MORE

“Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning” offers students of all ages a clear and compelling primer on the best and worst ways to store and retrieve new knowledge. The book is co-authored by psychologists Henry L. “Roddy” Roediger III and Mark A. McDaniel, leading experts on human learning and memory at Washington University in St. Louis, along with nonfiction writer and novelist Peter C. Brown. 

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Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton has announced the creation of new four-year fellowships in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, made possible by a generous gift from William H. Danforth. Danforth hopes the new fellowships will attract highly motivated students to this field of study and foster a culture of intellectual entrepreneurship focused on research and innovation in plant sciences.MORE

Did domesticating a plant typically take a few hundred or many thousands of years? Genetic studies often indicate that domestication traits have a fairly simple genetic basis, which should facilitate their rapid evolution under selection. On the other hand, recent archeological studies of crop domestication have suggested a relatively slow spread and fixation of domestication traits. An article in "The Modern View of Domestication," a special issue of PNAS, tries to resolve the discrepancy.

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A review of recent research on the domestication of large herbivores for "The Modern View of Domestication," a special feature of PNAS, suggests that neither intentional breeding nor genetic isolation were as significant as traditionally thought. 

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Scientists often use things in nature as a model to make new things, such as using birds as models for airplanes. One WUSTL engineer is using a basic cell as a model to make genetically engineered bacteria that would produce biofuel or pharmaceuticals. Tae Seok Moon, PhD, has received a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation for his project, “Engineering Biological Robustness through Synthetic Control.”

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Susan Killenberg McGinn
Exec. Dir. of University News Service
(314) 935-5254
smcginn@wustl.edu
Diana Lutz
Senior Science Editor
(314) 935-5272
dlutz@wustl.edu