May/June Tip Sheet: Science & Technology

Tip sheets highlight timely news and events at Washington University in St. Louis. For more information on any of the stories below or for assistance in arranging interviews, please see the contact information listed with each story.

Building a better respirator in the age of SARSEngineer devises lighter, more comfortable breathing mask

An example of a common respirator
Lewis the robotic photographer

May and June are prom, graduation and wedding months, times when the family camera gets a steaming workout. Computer scientists at Washington University in St. Louis can take that camera out of your designated photographer’s hands and perch it atop Lewis, the world’s first robotic photographer.

‘Genetic interconnections all over the globe’Evolutionary biologist: race in humans a social, not biological, concept

Alan Templeton

The notion of race in humans is completely a social concept without any biological basis, according to a biologist at Washington University in St. Louis. There are not enough genetic differences between groups of people to say that there are sub-lineages (races) of humans, said Alan R. Templeton, Ph.D., professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. On the other hand, there are different races in many other species, including chimpanzees, our closest evolutionary relatives. Templeton was part of a recent St. Louis panel discussion that previewed the first episode of the National Public Television’s “Race: The Power of an Allusion” series running nationally on May 4, 11, and 18 (check local stations for times).

More science, less fearPlant biologist says to assess genetically modified agriculture by scientific models

soybean crops
Eighty percent of the United States soybean crop is genetically modified (GM).

The clear, cold logic of science is the only approach that can take the hysteria out of the hot debate over genetically modified (GM) crops, says a biologist at Washington University in St. Louis. Barbara Schaal, Ph.D., Washington University professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, told an international gathering of biotechnology researchers at Washington University that GM crops need more close scrutiny and less fear.

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