“Student volunteers get hands-on experience growing and harvesting food using sustainable farming technology.”
How does blood type work? Is mine common? Do I have to worry about a transfusion?
There are many different antigens, or structures, that can be present on the exterior surface of your red blood cells. They’re an important part of your immune system, and antigens generally allow your body to both recognize and respond to cells that are “other”. Not your blood? Trigger immune defenses! Dangerous non-human cells? Trigger immune defenses!
One common set of antigens studied are A & B, carbohydrates encoded for by the A and B versions of this allele, which are co-dominant. The O allele encodes for neither of these antigens, and is a recessive trait. It takes OO to result in an O blood type. A combination of A/B and O alleles results in Type A or Type B blood, respectively. Matching A and B alleles in the same individual is the only way to have type AB blood.
Another common antigen is the Rhesus factor (named after Rhesus monkeys, where this was first discovered). This is a protein antigen, and is either present + or absent – in addition to the other antigens. Remember, these are just two of many antigens that can be present on your red blood cells, and the possibilities when you extend this concept to all cells in all species with innate immune systems is practically endless.
When you compare blood types, this is where the transfusion/transplant question comes into play. Blood type compatibility can also be a potential problem during pregnancy. If an organism’s system is encountering blood (via medical treatment or via the placenta) that contains antigens that aren’t recognizable as belonging to you, it triggers the immune system. Organizations like the Red Cross consider type AB+ to be a universal receiver because those cells already contain (and recognize as safe) all three of the major antigens (A, B, and Rh). Type O- is considered the universal donor because it contains none of those three antigens.
For example, if a person with type A+ blood needs a transfusion because of an injury, it would be relatively easy to find a matching donor. Why? The injured person has the A and Rh antigens, so they can receive any type A blood or any type O blood, + or -, without it being rejected by their immune system.
On the whole, O is most common, followed by A, B, and AB. For the Rh factor, + is more common than – is. Combined, this means that most people have only the Rh antigen on their red blood cells. Answer: The approximate distribution of blood types in the U.S. population is as follows, and this pattern also varies globally based on your ancestry.
Basic blood type is a great playground for mentally studying dominant and co-dominant inheritance patterns using Punnet squares. If a mother has type A blood, what would be her possible genotype(s)? If a father has type O blood, what would be his possible genotype(s)? Is it possible for their child to have type O blood? Type AB blood?
How to teach about flowers… or anything else.
I’m currently enrolled in the online course Online Teaching Certificate, which is about (you guessed it) how to teach… online courses. Ironically relevant repetition aside, it’s being superbly useful to me as an instructor with only ~4 years of formal teaching experience under my belt, because it’s serving as a thorough introduction to the principles underlying good teaching and effective course design.
My day consisted of 1-2 hours of grading before a scheduled phone interview this morning, 5 hours of teaching, at least 3 more hours of grading and prepwork for the remaining 1.5 weeks in the summer semester, and then ~2 hours of work for the online course. In the midst of all of this we’re trying to close on a house by the beginning of July. Oh, and I wrote this blog entry. 🙂
The focus of this week’s lesson was course design, with most of the discussion centered around the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning to design, teach, and evaluate successfully. It’s useful for students to think about these concepts as well, as it’s a helpful way to structure your studying.
You should find yourself constantly returning to those earlier levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy to analyze and evaluate your own work!
featured image: a giant bee in Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, NM (July 2016)
A bit of dramatic writing for you, my handful of followers.
I’ve been writing a lot of Dragon Age fanfiction for a while now, but not much work on Divergent Paths. Meet Hallenon: A strong, reliable mage who lost most of his clan to a tragedy. He is kind but uncompromising, good at keeping secrets but not secretive.
Rating: PG for violence & magic
The Storm Coast calls to Hallenon.
Stark and powerful by the sea, vibrant and uncompromising as it rises inland, it is a place of strength. A storm rages before him, churning the sea as he watches from a high, rocky promontory. Brown hair turns black in the rain, pulled back from his face and plastered to walnut skin. He stands alone, scouts and companions ensconced in tents or on watch beneath windswept trees. It is a Keeper’s job to see, to remember, even when he is among the last of his clan.
Mana flares within his skin as a flash snaps into existence far offshore, splitting the night with its brilliance.
In an instant, the bolt of lightning shatters a tall stone column beyond the cresting waves. Arcs of power skitter across his body in sympathy. Storms have always been as much a source of magic for him as a thinning Veil is for any mage. These are his elements, the wind and the lightning. Hallenon lets loose on his aura and the field of energy flares around him, rippling as the storm continues to rise in strength, encircling him in a veritable cyclone of power.
A deeper explosion sounds from far behind him as a bolt shatters a lone tree standing high on a cliff. Rarely has he seen so violent a storm, even along the Waking Sea. This place has earned its name well, and Hallen closes his eyes to let the rain pound on his upturned face, thoughts drifting to why he is here.
The Inquisition already has a strong foothold on the Storm Coast, conscripting mercenaries and rooting out Venatori cultists for the past several months. Far from safe however, the Inquisitor – his sister Elisara – sent himself and a small group to deal with roving bands of darkspawn that refused to be kept down. She had wisely chosen a group that would neither give him grief as a mage, nor be swept under by the vicious, deadly creatures from the bowels of Thedas. Warden Blackwall is truly the one leading them, both in close combat and in methods of keeping themselves from succumbing to the Blight. Cole’s speed and unusual nature likely make him the least vulnerable of anyone besides the warden himself, and Krem and his small group of Chargers are practical and seasoned – valuable traits for dealing with chaos.
Arms crossed, he stands as an immovable silhouette of power as the storm sweeps inland, quieting to a steady rain.
Dark forms catch his attention on the beach below, creeping out from a cavern to the south. Three are small, hunched and skittering down the stones. Genlocks, from Blackwall’s descriptions. Two are taller, broad-shouldered with larger weapons. Hurlocks, presumably. The dark night seems to hinder them no more than it does himself, and they begin moving along the shoreline.
The cyclone tightens around Hallenon as he draws in the latent power of the storm. Arcs flash across his outstretched fingers as he gathers electricity between his palms. Energy builds, and he draws his hands apart until miniature bolts flash angrily from palm to palm. Rain drips from his brow as he focuses on the largest of the hurlocks, sweeping his right hand high. Muscles tingling as the force races through him, fingers tightening into a fist as he brings it down and—
Even from this distance he sees the creature spasm and fall to its knees, its fellows scrambling from the bolt’s impact on the earth. Winds whirl abruptly in the opposite direction as he rises, left hand spread wide, fingers shedding sparks. Down again, fearless on the edge of the cliff.
The bolt sears through the sky, splitting into arcs of death and pounding the entire group into a faintly smoking ruin.
Hallenon stands, rolling his shoulders. His heavy wool coat steams slightly, drying despite the rain. No more darkspawn creep onto the stretch of shore beneath the storm mage’s gaze.
Courtesy of Solas and Dragon Age: Inquisition
This elf will insult you, patiently teach you, tell you epic stories for hours, steal your heart and call you “ma Vhenan,” walk out without a goodbye, and then shatter your world when you finally see him again after two years.
…Thanks, Bioware. Can we please have him back in the next game too?!
Featured Image: My Inquisitor Elisara Lavellan, a commissioned drawing from Ladylike-Foxes!
Interesting history here about the changes to the US Pledge of Allegiance over the years.
American Christians frequently protest about removing the phrase “Under God” from the pledge, and a variety of groups field objections (on various grounds) to students not being required to say the pledge at all. While symbolically pledging oneself to the country is certainly a show of loyalty, the addition (or removal) of this phrase is most certainly NOT one originating with the Founding Fathers’ beliefs or guidance for this country.
Flag image originally from Brandon Paxton’s post on Facebook.
You made it to Biology II, and you’ve realized it’s a completely different course than Biology I. Uh oh.
I asked all of my Principles of Biology II students this semester to share “Any concerns that you have about the class” after the first day. Here’s a peek at what y’all said, and some help! (I’ll update this later this week after lab students finish the orientation)
Featured image: Science scarf and epic purple shirt – cool things from my mother-in-law and mom, both of whom love that I’m a college professor.
Sugar gliders vs. Flying squirrels
Sugar glider = marsupial, endemic to Australia & New Guinea
Flying squirrels = placental mammal, several genera distributed around the world
We briefly discussed these two organisms in class as an example of analogous traits: both have extended flaps of skin between their fore and hind limbs & use this skin to glide between trees. However, this is not a trait shared by all species in the most recent taxon they share in common (Class Mammalia), indicating that the characteristic is analogous instead of homologous. This is also an example of convergent evolution: The same type of trait developed independently multiple times, because of similar selective pressures on different species.
To see why these two types of organisms are only distantly related, let’s take a look at their taxonomic classification.
For all practical purposes they both function similarly, but their physiological differences & the comparative immaturity of their young at birth are key differences between these two taxa.
The Story: Some time long after the evolutionary divergence between eutherian and metatherian mammals, natural selection in different locations favored the physical and behavioural characteristics that permit both sugar gliders and flying squirrels to glide.
Can you ever answer an unasked question?
Allow yourself to admit that you need more time to answer, instead of stopping questions in their tracks.
Although it might seem most valuable (and good for your ego) to have a ready answer to every question, it’s basically impossible to know everything. By giving an answer that isn’t well-grounded in reality or is blatantly wrong, you actually risk others losing more confidence in your ability to teach, learn, lead, or follow, than if you simply admitted your ignorance. Same principle follows regarding admitting when you’re wrong.
We live in a golden age of information, with thousands – nay, millions – of free resources at our literal fingertips. As a professor, I would rather you learn the skills to find reliable answers than have you blindly follow the swift and volatile statements of the masses. Consider these questions below, along with applying basic principles of information literacy and pseudoscience analysis. (‘Cause I’m a student, that’s why.)
featured image: gold-tipped bottlebrush (Melaleuca polandii) in Armstrong’s International Garden (Feb 2017)
Norse storytellers and lore keepers were known as skalds, and played much the same role as bards. They entertained, learned, shared, critiqued, and generally did anything they could to make themselves indispensable to the warriors that would often become part of their tales.
There is no wisdom in losing the hard-won lessons the past can teach to us. We need only be willing to listen… to the sagas, laws, insults, songs, records, and myths of all peoples.
The artist of both songs is Miracle of Sound.