Mariel Vazquez

Mariel Vazquez is a professor of Microbiology, Mathematics, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Davis. She is an expert on the topology of DNA–  how DNA strands are looped and knotted. She uses mathematical tools to understand it’s tangled structure. Vazquez is the 2012 recipient of the U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and has served on the Advisory Board at the National Institute of Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). She has a passion for simplifying the complex nature of DNA to understandable concepts as demonstrated in this video from Numberphile.

vazquez_Mariel

Professor of Microbiology, Mathematics, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Davis. 

Areas of expertise: Topology of DNA

Location: Davis, CA

Contact Information:

Phone: (415) 205- 7096 (cell)

Email: mariel@math.ucdavis.edu 

Heard on ‘The Shape of DNA- Numberphile’

Source(s) This Week: Dr. Henri Ford and Dr. Purna Kashyap

We’re still hanging out with NPR’s Science Desk this week, and our sources were recommended by Michaeleen Doucleff. Here’s what she said about these experts:

Henri Ford

“Pediatric surgeon and Harvard grad Dr. Henri Ford is chief of surgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. And he’s a great source on neonatal surgery, medical education, inequalities in the U.S. healthcare system and global surgery.

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Ford returned to where he grew up – Port-au-Prince – and literally hit the streets looking for the wounded. When Ford returned to the U.S., he gave up a lucrative offer in Pittsburgh to take his current post in East Los Angeles. Why? He wanted patient diversity. A friend of mine, who worked under Dr. Ford, summed why he should be on the air: “Dr. Ford has a powerful, charismatic voice and his message is from the heart.”

Purna Kashyap

Dr. Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is a fantastic source for discussing the health implications of the microbiome and for diseases connected to the gut and diet, such as diabetes, IBD, celiac disease and food allergies.

What impresses me the most about Dr. Kashyap is his honesty – even when it comes to discussing taboo topics. Last summer I talked to him about the science behind … well, flatulence … and he explained how it’s actually a sign of a healthy microbiome. “A healthy individual can have up to 18 flatulences per day and be perfectly normal,“ he said. “Eating foods that cause gas is the only way for the microbes in the gut to get nutrients.”

Want more experts? Follow us @SourceOfTheWeek and #NPRSource for updates. Want to recommend experts? Email us at sourceoftheweek@npr.org!

This Week’s #NPRSource(s): Dr. Wendy Chung and Dr. Pearl Chiu

We’re moving from the Education Team to the Science Desk this week, with Michaeleen Doucleff editing. Here’s what she had to say about her handpicked sources:

Wendy Chung

Dr. Wendy Chung is about as close to a real-life Dr. House as it comes. Instead of a whiteboard and sardonic tongue, Chung’s secret weapon is DNA. Both a pediatrician and scientist, Chung runs the Clinical Genetics Program at Columbia University. Most recently she’s turned her attention to autism.

Chung is a fantastic source for any story about genetics, heart disease, obesity and autism. She was the original plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that overturned the ability to patent genes, and can speak about bioethics.”

Pearl Chiu, Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, VTCRI, lab, research
Pearl Chiu, Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, VTCRI, lab, research

“I met Dr. Pearl Chiu a few months ago at her office in Virginia Tech. Right away I was impressed by how easily and clearly she talked about complex topics, such as neuroscience, depression and addiction. Many researchers work in these areas, but only a few can discuss the science behind them in simple and engaging ways. Chiu is one of them.

Chiu is a rising star in an emerging area of neuroscience, called neuroeconomics. She and her team study the circuitry in our brain that controls how, when and why we make and change decisions. Chiu is also a good source for discussing PTSD, altruism and prejudice.”

Remember to follow us @SourceoftheWeek and #NPRSource if you’d like updates on the sources we add to our database! Email us at sourceoftheweek@npr.org if you have any recommendations.

Reducing Aggression with the Environment: Dr. Nalini Nadkarni

Nalini Nadkarni

“There are many studies in hospitals that people who look out at trees from their windows significantly get better faster… So why not try that in a place where we’re also trying to reduce stress and fear and aggression?”

– University of Utah Biology Professor Dr. Nalini Nadkarni on her education and rehabilitation work in prisons

#NPRSource This Week: Math Professor Dr. Trachette L. Jackson

Trachette L Jackson

Trachette L. Jackson, Ph.D. is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.

“Everyone pretty much knows how chemotherapy works: you’re injected with a drug and it distributes throughout your body; hopefully it kills cancer cells preferentially, however it also kills normal cells. So, when I go to construct a model of novel chemotherapeutic strategies, I start with those basic things…”

– Dr. Jackson in an excerpt on constructing Cancer Mathematical Modeling

UT Professor Dr. Keisha L. Bentley-Edwards

Keisha Bentley-Edwards

Dr. Keisha L. Bentley-Edwards is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin

“I would say that the general reaction about Ferguson, and more recently Eric Garner, has been just shock, and being stunned, and being confused… especially for those that may be in college who felt, they may have been supported by the system and the feeling that ‘If I do the right thing, then everything is going to be okay,’ and for a lot of these kids, African American kids I’m speaking of specifically right now, they feel very confused by what’s going on, and they wanna know, they wanna talk about these things, but often time they are silenced…”

2014 MacArthur Fellow Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt, Psychology Professor at Stanford University

Dr. Jennifer L. Eberhardt is a 2014 MacArthur Fellow and Associate Professor of Psychology at Stanford University

“…the extent, for Black defendants, to which they were perceived as being stereotypically black, and the defendants who looked or were rated to be more stereotypically black were more than twice as likely to receive a death sentence than those who were rated less stereotypically black.”