Life Sciences

What is this thing called life? Biologists are life's detectives, discovering how life works and what makes animals, plants and microbes "alive." Organisms don't remain the same forever. Without change, life on Earth would stagnate. Species are in a constant dance with their environment. When an environment changes, the species that live within must change too, evolving to better adapt in order to survive. The end result is the diversity of life we see around us.

The Flint water crisis: Engineering researchers find answers for alarmed residents

In 2015, engineering researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) helped to uncover the dangerously high lead levels in Flint water, and listened to a community in distress. Through a NSF Rapid Response grant awarded to Virginia Tech civil engineering professor Marc Edwards, researchers received federal funding to collect data on the chemical content of residents' drinking water, providing vital insight into one of the worst human-made, engineering disasters in recent U.S. history.

Urban heat island: Improving data for sustainable cities

This video is part of "Changes and Choices in the Yahara," a mini-documentary series showcasing the major research implications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate project, a five-year research endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation.

Groundwater and agriculture: tapping the hidden benefits

This video is part of "Changes and Choices in the Yahara," a mini-documentary series showcasing the major research implications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate project, a five-year research endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation.

Water, food & energy

Scientists and engineers, including Greg Characklis at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are studying the connections between water, food and energy in the human water cycle to develop new, sustainable ways of meeting our water needs.

Drinking water

Safe, clean drinking water is a fundamental human need. Orlando Coronell at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is developing improved membrane technology to purify drinking water more effectively and efficiently.

Agriculture

Soil salinization prevents crops from taking up water and nutrients due to an excess of salt in the soil. Meagan Mauter at Carnegie Mellon University is developing technology to monitor salinity levels to allow farmers to make better watering decisions.

Why fungi rule the world

Assistant professor of biology at Boston University, Jennifer Talbot, studies a group of organisms called mycorrhizal fungi, which infect the root tips of over 90 percent of plant families on Earth--in a good way.

NSF Science Now: Episode 49

In this week's episode we learn about a new app for bird watchers, girls and stereotypes, beluga whale migration and, finally, the discovery of a 250-million-year-old shark-like fish. Check it out!

Are we a sixth extinction?

Stanford University Earth professor Jon Payne puts modern extinction in context by comparing them with Earth's five previous mass extinctions.

NSF Science Now: Episode 48

In this week's episode, we learn about a new wall-jumping robot, using sensor-integrated blocks to better identify developmental disabilities, creatures with camouflage, a new procedure to detect exposure to dangerous nuclear materials and, finally, the discovery of the oldest known fossil tumor.

Swinging hips help turtles take greater strides

Turtles have a reputation. "They're slow, they're clumsy and the shell just gets in the way of everything," said Richard Blob, a biologist at Clemson University who specializes in studying how animals have evolved to move the way they do. But, Blob adds quickly, "I don't think that's the case anymore." Fueling the pokey reputation is a long-held belief that a turtle can't move its pelvis or hips. Until recently, however, nobody has been able to see under, or through, a turtle's shell to confirm that notion.