Melissa Chernick

45 posts · 16,099 views

Ecologist, ecotoxicology neophyte, procrastinator, water polo-ist, beer snob, underfunded shopoholic, crazy cat lady, undocumented cinephile, and novice blogger extraordinaire.

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  • March 14, 2014
  • 03:32 PM
  • 145 views

The Charge of the Crazy Ant: Chemical Warfare Between Invading Species

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

I’ll be the first to admit that I've been a little blog-negligent lately. Even when all of the ice and snow we've gotten here on the East Coast forced me to stay inside I just binge watched shows on Netflix instead. I’m not sure what brought me out of my procrastination funk and compelled me to do a little reading and writing. If you've been following the Facebook page then you've been getting a lot of yummy sciency tidbits, but it’s time for me to get back on the hard science wagon. I thi........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2014
  • 09:54 PM
  • 145 views

Fun with Fundulus: The Evolution of Pollution Resistance in Killifish

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

In honor of Mr. Charlie Darwin’s birthday I thought I would read an evolution paper. Put that together with the turn my career has taken into ecotoxicology (and the associated steep learning curve), I was steered towards a study about adapting to pollution.Let me start by introducing you to today’s study organism: The mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) is a species of non-migratory killifish found along the Atlantic coast of North America. They can be found in the brackish waters of tidal cre........ Read more »

  • January 27, 2014
  • 12:04 PM
  • 193 views

Pinpointing the Pollen: Honeybees and a Host Jumping Virus

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Lately I've been revisiting some of my past topics and continuing the story with new research. Such is the case today. A relatively popular post of mine from 2010 called The Buzz on the Bees described a study from that year by Jerry Bromenshenk et al. investigating Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD describes the mysterious, sudden and serious die-off seen honeybee (Apis mellifera) colonies across the U.S. It is characterized by sudden colony death with a lack of adult bees in front of the........ Read more »

  • January 15, 2014
  • 12:26 PM
  • 139 views

You've Got Red On You: Improving Z-Day Models

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Yesterday I updated and expanded a long-ago post of mine called "Mmmm...Brains!: Using Mathematics To Save Us On Z-Day."This post summarized a book chapter in 2009 by Philip Munz, Ioan Hudea, Jo Imad, and Robert Smith? called "When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modeling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection." This work was interesting because it combined basic biological assumptions and epidemic modeling with the rise and spread of zombies. Now, Caitlyn Witkowski of Bryant University and Brian........ Read more »

Caitlyn Witkowski, & Brian Blais. (2013) Bayesian Analysis of Epidemics - Zombies, Infuenza, and other Diseases. arXiv.org, 1-16. info:other/

  • December 26, 2013
  • 12:17 PM
  • 221 views

What's Vitamin D, Precious?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

The latest installment of The Hobbit trilogy has come to theaters. In honor of Bilbo's return to the screen I thought I would do a post about some Middle Earth science.A new article by Joseph and Nicholas Hopkinson, published in The Medical Journal of Australia, asks an interesting question: Why do bad guys always lose? The villain might score some small victories in the beginning, the good guys will stumble along the way, but ultimately the hero will achieve victory in the end. It is a striking........ Read more »

Joseph A Hopkinson, & Nicholas S Hopkinson. (2013) The hobbit — an unexpected deficiency. The Medical Journal of Australia, 805-806. DOI: 10.5694/mja13.10218  

Rathish Nair, & Arun Maseeh. (2012) Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. J Pharmacol Pharmacother, 3(2), 118-126. DOI: 10.4103/0976-500X.95506  

  • November 25, 2013
  • 12:23 PM
  • 226 views

Going to the Movies: The Seat Choice Dilemma (Part 3)

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Welcome to Part 3, the final step in our science-tastic trip to the movie theater. I’d suggest checking out Part 1 and Part 2 as so far, you've purchased your expensive ticket, wondered at high concession prices, agonized over which size popcorn to buy, and learned how that choice will ultimately determine how much you will eat. Now you are ready to go find a seat for the show! You pick up your concessions from the counter, figure out how to carry them in such a way as to not spill anything a........ Read more »

  • November 13, 2013
  • 10:26 AM
  • 225 views

Going to the Movies: The Story of a Popcorn Pit (Part 2)

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Welcome to Part 2 of my journey to the movie theater. This will make sense if you haven’t read Part 1, but to enjoy the full impact of this visite du cinéma, I suggest you read both. If ya just don’t wanna then here’s a summary: (1) movie tickets are expensive, (2) as far as I can tell, nobody has really done a direct study of why, (3) economists try to explain why all movies cost the same through their “uniform pricing for differentiated goods” theory, (4) as it turns out, variable o........ Read more »

  • November 3, 2013
  • 02:17 PM
  • 259 views

Going to the Movies: The Story of a Money Pit (Part 1)

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

I love movies. Love to sit and watch them at home. Love to have movie nights with my friends. Love going to see them at the theater. On that last one, I think we can all agree on one thing: movie theaters are money pits. Essentially you just walk up to their front door and start throwing all of your money at them. You bitch and moan but you accept it. You knew before you ever left your house that you were going to spend an exorbitant amount of cash for a load of calories and an unknown experienc........ Read more »

Sherwin Rosen, & Andrew M. Rosenfield. (1997) Ticket Pricing. The Journal of Law and Economics, 351-376. info:/

Barak Y. Orbach, & Liran Einav. (2001) Uniform prices for differentiated goods: The case of the movie-theater industry. Harvard Law , Olin Discussion Paper 337(Harvard University, Cambridge, MA). DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.290813  

Pascal Courty. (2011) Unpriced quality. Economics Letters, 111(1), 13-15. DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2010.12.009  

  • October 14, 2013
  • 10:17 AM
  • 203 views

Socialite in the Dark: Do Eyes Really Matter When It Comes To Schooling?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

It has been a while since I've visited the topic of blind fish. I know, I know! What took me so long, right? Well, I was browsing for fish papers, ‘cause I take care of lab fish now (I’m working my way up to Fish Whisperer status), and I came across a paper in Current Biology about the schooling behavior of cavefish, specifically the effects of eyesight loss on this behavior.There are two main types of social “collective behavior” in fish: shoaling and schooling. Shoals are defined exclu........ Read more »

Johanna E. Kowalko, Nicolas Rohner, Santiago B. Rompani, Brant K. Peterson, Tess A. Linden, Masato Yoshizawa, Emily H. Kay, Jesse Weber, Hopi E. Hoekstra, William R. Jeffery.... (2013) Loss of Schooling Behavior in Cavefish through Sight-Dependent and Sight-Independent Mechanisms. Current Biology, 1874-1883. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.07.056  

Alison M. Bell. (2013) Evolution: Skipping School. Current Biology, 23(19). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.08.022  

  • September 30, 2013
  • 01:47 PM
  • 369 views

Larks vs. Night-Owls: What Your Sleep Patterns Say About You

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Ugh, Monday morning really kicked my butt. Even my strong coffee failed to wake me up completely. Of course, I drag-ass most mornings, being almost useless before 10 a.m. On the flip side, I have always been wonderfully alert and productive after 7 p.m. A night owl I am, and this seems like a good topic for discussion. What determines your circadian rhythms and what does that mean for your personality?A circadian rhythm is an endogenous, near 24 hour cycle in the process of living organisms (pl........ Read more »

  • September 12, 2013
  • 02:23 PM
  • 324 views

Dealing with Drought: How Do Plants Cope?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Have you noticed how often drought has been in the news lately? You don’t have to be a scientist to know that drought is bad. But, if you’re a plant, how bad is bad? I mean, you’re a plant; it isn't like you can pick up your roots and go looking for the nearest water source. You must have ways to cope, strategies that will let you survive until water arrives. A new paper in Tree Physiology caught my eye today that examines how plants handle drought in our changing climate.We know that drou........ Read more »

  • August 19, 2013
  • 09:23 PM
  • 314 views

Eating and Evolution: Are Prey Preferences Causing the Evolution of Killer Whales?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

When I was an undergrad, a lowly freshman who just knew she wanted to study biology, I took an internship at SeaWorld Orlando. I was excited that I got to participate in a real research project doing actual sciency stuff. The project was on the nursing behaviors of captive baby killer whales. Really cool right? Little did I know that actual science is composed of hours upon hours of tedious observation and documentation (2:00pm – melon bumping, 3:00pm – melon bumping, 4:00pm – melon bumpin........ Read more »

Foote, Andrew D., Newton, Jason Newton, Ávila-Arcos, María C., Kampmann, Marie-Louise, Samaniego, Jose A., Post, Klaas, Rosing-Asvid, Aqqalu, Sinding, Mikkel-Holger S., & Gilbert, M. Thomas P. (2013) Tracking niche variation over millennial timescales in sympatric killer whale lineages. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences, 280(1768), 20131481. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.1481  

  • August 1, 2013
  • 05:08 PM
  • 336 views

Heavy Metals in Fish: Toxicity and Tolerance

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Today I found an interesting paper that fits right in to my new job in the field of aquatic ecotoxicology. As the name suggests, this field is a combination of ecology and toxicology that deals with the nature, effects, and interactions of harmful substances in the environment. In my case, it is aquatic, freshwater systems in particular. The paper I came across looks at the effects of metal contamination and tolerance in freshwater fish.Metal contamination is something that occurs worldwide. A n........ Read more »

  • July 2, 2013
  • 02:35 PM
  • 470 views

The Boob-Resource Hypothesis: Why Is Bigger Better?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

It has been quite a while since I've made an entry in to the "Groundbreaking science - men like boobs" category.  In the past, I've made the following statement on this topic: "Men like big breasts, therefore women evolve larger breasts. It's an evolutionarily solid argument, assuming of course that male preference exerts any pressure on the evolution of female secondary sexual characteristics." Indeed, evidence is mounting that humans have a great propensity to rely on their perceptions of........ Read more »

  • June 7, 2013
  • 03:18 PM
  • 390 views

The Halting of the Hot Jupiter

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

We haven’t talked about exoplanets for a while, and we should ‘cause they are pretty badass. Through various podcasts and the like, I've been hearing some really cool things about NASA’s Kepler Mission and all of neat astronomical bodies it’s been finding. So I decided to browse around the NASA and JPL websites to see what new coolness has been discovered recently.NASA’s Kepler Mission was launched in 2009. It was built to detect potentially life-supporting planets around other stars........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2013
  • 03:38 PM
  • 277 views

Staying Sticky, a Frog's Journey

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Climbing is good. It allows for gaining access to habitats that would otherwise be unavailable. And while this access is important (otherwise, why climb in the first place?), equally important is not falling to a gruesome death. This means that your method of adhesion to the surface you are climbing needs to be effective. For example, on rough surfaces, friction pads and claws work rather well. Smooth surfaces and overhangs offer a bit more of a challenge. If you want to climb one of these surfa........ Read more »

  • April 26, 2013
  • 01:53 PM
  • 302 views

The Curious Case of the Earworm (Part 2)

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

In Part 1 of this topic, we explored the reasons why we like certain songs. But what transforms that likable melody into an earworm? Or is likability even a contributing factor? We took the biochemical/neurological route in Part 1, so now we’re gonna go all psychology for this one with a paper published in 2011 in Psychology of Music.Let’s get some terminology out of the way first. We all have internally-directed thought (all that stuff you think to yourself), and we also experience spontane........ Read more »

Hyman, I., Burland, N., Duskin, H., Cook, M., Roy, C., McGrath, J., & Roundhill, R. (2013) Going Gaga: Investigating, Creating, and Manipulating the Song Stuck in My Head. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27(2), 204-215. DOI: 10.1002/acp.2897  

  • April 19, 2013
  • 03:16 PM
  • 280 views

The Curious Case of the Earworm (Part 1)

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

I have had “Thrift Shop” stuck in my head for what seems like days.Yes, it is always on the radio, and yes, I usually listen to it when it is playing. Don't judge me. But why (*Stella scream* wwhhhhyyyyy!) has it established a permanent residence in my brain? I’m going to use a few studies to make the case that it isn’t my fault; I’m led around by my biochemistry. Basically, I’m blaming it on my neurons.Hmmm…where to start. Let’s try to figure out why we like a song (or music in ........ Read more »

  • April 12, 2013
  • 04:21 PM
  • 257 views

Om Nom Nom: The Links Between Plant Diversity and Herbivory

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

I usually start a post with the reason why a particular article caught my eye. Today, I’m not sure why my eyeballs glommed on to this paper, but they did. As it turns out, they have a pretty good taste in articles. Who knew?An early view paper from the Journal of Ecology looks at how the large herbivores of the African savanna affect the diversity and community structure of plants. More and more studies these days are taking a phylogenetic approach to community ecology questions. That is, they........ Read more »

Kowiyou Yessoufou, T. Jonathan Davies, Olivier Maurin, Maria Kuzmina, Hanno Schaefer, Michelle van der Bank, & Vincent Savolainen. (2013) Large herbivores favour species diversity but have mixed impacts on phylogenetic community structure in an African savanna ecosystem. Journal of Ecology. info:/10.1111/1365-2745.12059

  • March 29, 2013
  • 07:15 PM
  • 532 views

Getting to the Roots (and Fungi) of Carbon Sequestration

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

This week, I found a paper that I’m calling the best of both worlds. Well, for me at least. This paper combines my past (and lingering) interest in island biogeography with a current interest in climate change and carbon storage.If you have been reading my blog long enough then you already know my love of islands. They are just so darn useful. In the past, I have focused on oceanic islands, but lake islands are also really neat. These types of islands typically form when lower lying land........ Read more »

Clemmensen, K., Bahr, A., Ovaskainen, O., Dahlberg, A., Ekblad, A., Wallander, H., Stenlid, J., Finlay, R., Wardle, D., & Lindahl, B. (2013) Roots and Associated Fungi Drive Long-Term Carbon Sequestration in Boreal Forest. Science, 339(6127), 1615-1618. DOI: 10.1126/science.1231923  

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