Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society Multimedia

Being able to translate a very technical and scientific research topic into a digestible, visual, and short multimedia piece can be very complicated. While maintaining accuracy, one must also translate it for that specific audience’s consumption. That was the biggest take-away and skill I learned while working at American Scientist magazine as well as teaching myself needed software in order to be as successful as possible at it, such as Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro. See below for a few of my samples published online at American Scientist:

Videos, Audio and Animations:

And Then They Were Gone: Egypt’s Disappearing Wildlife (April 2015)
(This animation accompanied an article in an issue of American Scientist)

“Using fossils and depictions in ancient art, Justin Yeakel and his colleagues reconstructed the food web of larger-bodies mammals over the past 11,000 years in Egypt. As the climate became more arid and human population densities increased, the mammalian food web of Egypt lost its redundancy as more animals became locally extinct. Most notably, midsized herbivores—such as gazelles and antelope that link to the most carnivores—declined. Animals that are herbivores are outlined in green; carnivores are red.

The food web today is much more unstable, meaning any one extinction could lead to more domino-effect extinctions, than the rich assemblage during the African Humid Period, where we begin.

To keep this conceptual schematic elegant, we made a few simplifications: The order of the extinctions is not exact, though the assemblages shown at the three time steps is correct, and a few of the species present at some point over the time frame covered were left out due to limited space.”

Before It’s Too Late: Rescuing Honeybees with Science (July 2014)

The disappearance of honeybees continues to make headlines in the news and science journals, but are their numbers still dwindling, and if so, what are the causes?

Dr. Jack Bishop, a researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a hobby beekeeper, and treasurer of Sigma Xi’s Research Triangle Park Chapter, discusses the external influences that are linked to bee-population decline, as well as ways to help honeybees thrive. From his experience as a bee geneticist for many years, he explains why such research is important to saving honeybees and should receive more attention. One area of focus is genetic selection to make honeybees more resistant to a devastating parasite, the Varroa destructor mite.

In addition, Dr. Bishop discusses the ways people can help keep honeybees healthy, such as planting a variety of flowering plants and vegetables and avoiding the use of pesticides at certain times. He gives a behind-the-scene view of his own honeybee hives and explains why hobby beekeepers are important to saving the honeybee.

Diving in the World of Biosonar (January 2015)
(This animation accompanied an article in an issue of American Scientist)

Some animals use additional senses to see the world differently than humans. One such sense is called biological sonar. Biological sonar is when an animal releases a series of sounds that may not be audible to humans and waits for the echoes to return. Toothed whales, which includes porpoises, are one of two types of animals that use biological sonar to sense and navigate through their environment (the other being bats).

These clicks are one of the most high-pitched signals produced by any animal. The time between the released clicks and the returning echo tells the porpoise the distance and location of the nearby object.

The porpoise’s way of sensing its surroundings is disrupted by noises emitted by pile driving, seismic explosions, and ships, just to name a few. Understanding how they detect their underwater world can help protect them.

Ready or Not, Here Come Drones (February 2015)

The automation of tasks at work and at home is just around the corner, including driving cars, piloting planes, delivering packages, and transporting weapons. Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, are rapidly evolving to meet both society’s and the military’s needs in automation and better efficiency.

Dr. Missy Cummings, an associate professor at Duke University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and the director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab, is at the forefront of drone technologies. During her time as one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy, Cummings observed that computers could take off and land a plane more precisely than humans. Because of this breakthrough and her fascination with this growing technology, she made a career change and began human–drone interaction research.

Despite their promise, people have wide ranging opinions about drones, with privacy issues at the forefront of their concerns. On the other hand, these automated devices are becoming the norm for many work and social environments, such as deactivating a nuclear reactor in case of a meltdown. They can react quicker and more effectively than humans in certain situations, increasing safety.

Dr. Cummings discusses her research and her predictions of continuing interactions between humans and computers.

Waddling in Their Footsteps (April 2014)

“Penguins are 10 times older than humans and have been here for a very, very long time,” said Daniel Ksepka, Ph.D., a North Carolina State University research assistant professor. Dr. Ksepka researches the evolution of penguins and how they came to inhabit the African continent.

Because penguins have been around for over 60 million years, their fossil record is extensive. Fossils that Dr. Ksepka and his colleagues have discovered provide clues about migration patterns and the diversity of penguin species.

Dr. Ksepka goes into more depth about how his research is piecing together the evolutionary puzzle of penguins and other related bird species.

See more of multimedia projects I produced/helped produce at my American Scientist author page.