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Debbie Mickle

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Articles by Debbie Mickle

Can Hot Peppers Be Used for Pest Control?

For those trying to maintain a nice yard, you know pests can totally be an issue, right? Well the same thing applies for big scale projects, like grassland restoration. For example, planting seeds to revive a region’s flora is significantly more difficult if local critters are eating up the seeds before they have a chance to grow. Non-toxic approaches are obviously not ideal, so looking for a natural alternative led scientists to a hot new idea, using peppers!

Gaming Used to Understand Hybrid Intelligence

Have you ever thought about what makes certain people special as a gamer? Is their mind super sharp - is that what helps them ace certain types of games? Now, think about which skills computers perform better than humans, and vice versa. What happens when you combine the two to solve problems? University of Virginia grad, Janet Rafner has found her place studying these questions at the Denmark-based research group, ScienceAtHome.

How Is Climate Change Impacting Sharks?

It’s Shark Week, an entire week devoted to one of the Earth’s most misunderstood and magnificent animals. While sharks have captured the imagination of millions as a dangerous and ferocious hunter, there’s much more to these fish than what horror movies show us. Sharks, like all other animals, are simply trying to live their lives and survive in the wild and are feeling the same stresses as other creatures. Human encroachment, overfishing, and even climate change impacts.

What Makes a Wetland, a Wetland?

Pamela Braff, a PhD candidate and wetlands ecologist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Center for Coastal Resources Management studies the interactions between wetland plants and their physical environment. As a part of her dissertation research, she focuses on the vulnerability of non-tidal wetlands to climate change—specifically how climate change may impact wetland hydrology (the movement of water to and from wetlands).

Augmented Reality Revolutionizes Surgery and Data Visualization for VCU Researchers

The practical uses for augmented reality — which superimposes digital information onto real world surroundings — seem endless. Technologists have envisioned futuristic applications such as glasses that allow wearers to visualize turn-by-turn navigation in real time and immersive gaming headsets.

Doubt, Uncertainty, and Definitely a Good Time

With humor and insight, Neuroscientist Dr. Stuart Firestein gave a short talk in Richmond, Virginia on ignorance and uncertainty. He explored the essential role doubt has in the pursuit of knowledge. He examined how failure refines questions, creates paths forward, and that scientists’ communication of them would contribute to improving the public’s understanding of the scientific process which is less “scientific process” more like “farting around in the dark”.

Science of the Winter Olympics: For Biathletes, It’s All About Balance

Monika Hojnisz will be one to watch this year in the biathlon. A combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, the biathlon requires athletes to go quickly from maximum intensity (fast skiing on rough terrain) to calm focus (shooting at multiple small targets 50 meters away). Many athletes are built for endurance, but biathletes also need plenty of strength to do the whole course of hills with an eight-pound rifle on their back.