Virtual reality (VR) blocks a person’s experience of the real physical world around them. Imagine wearing a blindfold that also covers your ears and treats you to sights, sounds, and experiences created by technicians, designers, software, and hardware. Virtual Experience Designer Matt Brennan, whose degrees are in informatics and architecture, recreates works of art and buildings. He travels to places like Rome and Paris to photograph museum pieces, churches, and town halls and then creates VR adventures that allow other people to see the art he photographed in three dimensions, as though they’re standing next to it and walking around… Learn more
An animal’s nervous system uses chemicals called neurotransmitters to communicate all sorts of information. How hot, cold, or sharp is that thing you’re touching and what should you do about that? What parts of your body hurt at any given time? How do you feel about that thing your friend just said? Your brain and spinal cord and the nerves running between them and the rest of your body help you answer questions like these. Neurochemist Jill Venton, an Analytical Chemist, studies neurotransmitters like dopamine. When do our brains create more dopamine? How can we measure the chemicals present in… Learn more
What’s that made of??? You might wonder this about a delicious (or disgusting) food you’re eating, the materials toys, buildings, or machines are made of, or parts of plants or animals. Analytical chemists help find precise, molecular answers to that question. They use cool tools and what they know about chemistry to figure out exactly what things are made of. Analytical Chemist Jill Venton, a neuroscientist, studies the chemicals at work in our brains. She and her team of scientists also create tiny structures to help them measure the neurotransmitters in animals’ brains. Chemist William C. Johnson creates paper capable… Learn more
Sea levels are rising and droughts, fires, and major storms are having effects around the globe. With changes in Earth’s climate and biodiversity (the different species of plants, animals, and other forms of life) affecting human safety, many ecologists and other scientists, computer technologists and engineers are working hard. Their collaborative efforts use information from the present and even distant past to create and update computer models that predict future change. Global Change Ecologist Xi Yang uses drones and other high-tech tools to gather information about trees and their survival rates under different conditions. Earth System and Computer Scientist Charles… Learn more
Geologists study Earth and its history. Our planet is mainly made up of rocks and water, both of which are important in the work of a glacial geologist. Glaciers form when unmelted snow becomes increasingly dense over hundreds of years. They can become parts of ice sheets, huge collections of glacial land ice that cover more than 50,000 square kilometers (over 20,000 square miles). Glacial Geologist Lauren Miller Simkins studies ancient glaciers and ice sheets. Knowing more about how ice behaved on Earth’s surface in the past can help us better understand what it’s doing now and what we can… Learn more
Ecosystem Biologists are ecologists who study the ways that elements and compounds move through the air, water, and soil. They ask questions like “What causes acid rain? How does it affect forests?” and “How does nitrogen flow through rivers?” Earth System Scientist Noel Gurwick tracks different forms of nitrogen released by fertilizers used on fields as they move through the soil, water, and air. He also studies microbes and the roots of plants growing near springs and rivers.
Zookeepers take care of their animals by acting as nutritionists, behavioral specialists, and, of course, zoologists. They have to know how to keep their animals well-fed, happy, and healthy. Director of Animal Resources and Zoologist Anne Knapp is in charge of the nutritional needs of hundreds of animals at Zoo New England, which runs the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts. She calculates the amount of food that each animal needs, develops enrichment plans to help the animals fulfill their needs at the zoo, and makes plans for safe rescues for any animal that… Learn more
Physical chemists study energy, molecular structures, and other behaviors and characteristics of matter on a tiny scale. Their work has many applications, from medical technology to energy storage, air conditioning, refrigeration, and heat. “Physical chemistry is a wonderful sort of union of physics and chemistry,” says Physical Chemist Barbara Hopf Offenhartz. She studied the structure and behavior of molecules of vitamin B12 and hemoglobin, both of which play key roles in respiration (the system that turns oxygen and sugar into the energy that helps your body stay healthy). The work Offenhartz did helped produce today’s sophisticated instruments for using light… Learn more
Chemists are architects on a tiny scale. They design and build molecules, structures composed of atoms. By precisely combining chemicals and sometimes using catalysts (molecules that help a chemical reaction happen more quickly), chemists create materials suited to all sorts of different uses, from gasoline to carbon fiber to life-saving medicines. They also investigate the molecular structure of different types of already-existing matter. Analytical Chemist William C. Johnson works in the paper industry, helping create cartons that can hold liquids without leaking and other useful products. He uses chemistry to analyze the effects of different molecules on the surface of… Learn more
Some people who study science, computer technology, engineering, or math in college and beyond use their degrees in the arts. Photographer David Goldes, trained as a molecular geneticist at Harvard, majored in biology and chemistry at the Buffalo campus of the State University of New York. He went on to photograph science-informed activity, from the behavior of magnetized pins to thousands of volts of electricity passing through a graphite circuit. Mechanical Engineer Julia Lintern improves cars and planes and teaches programming. She also designs puppets and clothing.