Conifer study illustrates twists of evolution

: An apparently advantageous mechanism of conifer pollination has nevertheless been disappearing over millions of years, a new study finds. The mechanism works well, but because it depends on three traits related only loosely, the vagaries of evolution have led to its demise in many species. It its wake, however, a diversity of new traits and functions has emerged.

Dull glow of forest yields orbital tracking of photosynthesis

Researchers have found a tight correlation between ground-based measurements of forest-canopy photosynthesis and traces of fluorescence detected in low-Earth orbit, enabling continuous measurement of forest health on a global scale.
The 247th Commencement

Brown to confer six honorary degrees

During its 247th Commencement Sunday afternoon, May 24, 2015, Brown University will confer honorary doctorates on Robert A. Corrigan, president emeritus of San Francisco State University; Louise Lamphere, distinguished professor emerita of anthropology at the University of New Mexico; David E. McKinney, civic leader and former IBM executive; Tracee Ellis Ross, actress and performance artist; Susan Solomon, atmospheric chemist; and Kathryn D. Sullivan, astronaut and geoscientist.

A new wrinkle for cell culture

Researchers at Brown University have developed an advanced technique for cell culturing that uses sheets of wrinkled graphene to mimic the complex 3-D environment inside the body.

Brown scientists bid farewell to MESSENGER

Its mission accomplished and its fuel spent, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft fell from Mercury orbit Thursday afternoon — “a phenomenally successful mission by any measure.”
Human needs meet nature

Researchers assess sustainability in Baja fisheries

The waters of Baja California Sur are both ecosystems and fisheries where human needs meet nature. In a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers assessed the capacity to achieve sustainability by applying a framework that accounts for both ecological and human dimensions of environmental stewardship.

Tapeworm drug shows promise against MRSA

Researchers based at Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital show in a new study that a drug already approved to fight tapeworms in people, effectively treated MRSA superbugs in lab cultures and in infected nematode worms. The scientists are pursuing further testing with hope that the findings will lead to new treatments for deadly MRSA infections.
The 247th Commencement

Bailhe, Johnson to deliver 2015 senior orations

With individual motivation to work for social justice, senior orators Michelle Bailhe and Lucas Johnson didn’t sit idly by at Brown. In their four years they worked in Rhode Island prisons and schools to learn how to effect change. That experience, as well as their lives on campus, will inform their 2015 senior orations titled “I Don’t Know” and “School Spirit.”

Study describes brain circuitry for selecting among sensations

In Neuron, Brown University neuroscientists show how cells in the brain’s cortex can either stifle or enhance sensory information incoming from the thalamus, thereby allowing it to focus on just some of the many sensory inputs it might choose to consider.
Biologically inspired engineering

Sea sponge anchors are natural models of strength

The Venus’ flower basket sea sponge has hair-like appendages that hold it in place on the sea floor. Research led by Brown University engineers shows that the internal structure of those fibers is fine-tuned for strength. The findings from this natural system could inform the engineering of load-bearing structural members.