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A teosinte plant growing in a corn field on the Stanford University campus, courtesy of Yongxian Lu.

Determining how one species becomes distinct from another has been a subject of fascination dating back to Charles Darwin. New research led by Carnegie’s Matthew Evans and published in Nature Communications elucidates the mechanism that keeps maize distinct from its ancient ancestor grass, teosinte.

Plant cells under microscope. Shutterstock.

Palo Alto, CA—Photosynthesis makes our atmosphere oxygen-rich and forms the bedrock of our food supply.

The Office of the President has selected two new Carnegie Venture Grants. Peter Driscoll of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism and Sally June Tracy of the Geophysical Laboratory were awarded a venture grant for their proposal Carbon-rich Super-Earths: Constraining Internal Structure from Dynamic Compression Experiments. Plant Biology’s Sue Rhee and Global Ecology’s Joe Berry and Jen Johnson were awarded a Venture Grant for their project Thermo-adaptation of Photosynthesis in Extremophilic Desert Plants.

The Carnegie Institution for Science Board of Trustees unanimously elected former president and chief executive officer of chip maker Intel Corporation, Craig Barrett, as Chairman of the Carnegie Board of Trustees. David Thompson, former president and chief executive officer of the global aerospace and defense company Orbital ATK, was unanimously elected as Vice Chair.

This cartoon courtesy of Anthony Piro illustrates three possibilities for the origin of the mysterious hydrogen emissions from the Type IA supernova called ASASSN-18tb that were observed by the Carnegie astronomers.

Detection of a supernova with an unusual chemical signature by a team of astronomers led by Carnegie’s Juna Kollmeier—and including Carnegie’s Nidia Morrell, Anthony Piro, Mark Phillips, and Josh Simon—may hold the key to solving the longstanding mystery that is the source of these violent explosions. Observations taken by the Magellan telescopes at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile were crucial to detecting the emission of hydrogen that makes this supernova, called ASASSN-18tb, so distinctive.   

On April 26, 2019, the American Philosophical Society (APS) awarded former Carnegie fellow and current trustee Sandra Faber the 2018 Magellanic Premium medal. The APS also awarded trustee Mary-Claire King the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Science.

Artist’s impression of the surface of the planet Proxima b courtesy of ESO/M. Kornmesser.

Which of Earth’s features were essential for the origin and sustenance of life? And how do scientists identify those features on other worlds? A team of Carnegie investigators with array of expertise ranging from geochemistry to planetary science to astronomy published this week in Science an essay urging the research community to recognize the vital importance of a planet’s interior dynamics in creating an environment that’s hospitable for life.

Steve Farber photo by Navid Marvi, courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science

This week Carnegie’s Steve Farber will be recognized by New England Biolabs Inc. with its Passion in Science Award in the category of Mentorship and Advocacy. Farber co-founded a non-profit STEM education program called BioEYES, which gives K-12 students hands-on experience studying the life cycles of zebrafish. Participants learn about genetics and the cardiovascular system. They also bolster their science literacy with first-hand experience asking questions and designing experiments to probe for answers.  

Images of diamonds from Sierra Leone with sulfur-containing mineral inclusions courtesy of the Gemological Institute of America

Earth is the only tectonically active, rocky planet that we know, so understanding the geology of how our continents formed is a crucial part of discerning what makes Earth habitable. New research from Carnegie, the Gemological Institute of America, and the University of Alberta uses diamonds to reveal how some of the planet's continents remain stable, which was essential for life to arise. 

An image of the algal blooms in Lake Erie taken in July 2015. NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Changes in temperature and precipitation have already impacted the amount of nitrogen introduced into U.S. waterways, according to new research from a team of three Carnegie ecologists. This can lead to toxin-producing algal blooms or low-oxygen dead zones called hypoxia, such as the water-quality impairments in lake and coastal regions across the U.S. that have received extensive news coverage over the past several summers.

LaPaz Icefield 02342 seen here in thin section under polarized light courtesy of  Carles Moyano-Cambero.

An ancient sliver of the building blocks from which comets formed was discovered encased inside a meteorite like an insect in amber by a Carnegie-led research team. The finding, published by Nature Astronomy, could offer clues to the formation and evolution of our Solar System.

Artist's conception of HD 21749c, the first Earth-sized planet found by NASA's Transiting Exoplanets Survey Satellite (TESS) by Robin Dienel courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science

A nearby system hosts the first Earth-sized planet discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanets Survey Satellite, as well as a warm sub-Neptune-sized world. This milestone sets the path for finding smaller planets around even smaller stars, and those planets may potentially be habitable.

Anemone. California, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photographer: Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR.

Tiny fragments of plastic in the ocean are consumed by sea anemones along with their food, and bleached anemones retain these microfibers longer than healthy ones, according to new research from Carnegie’s Manoela Romanó de Orte, Sophie Clowez, and Ken Caldeira. Their work is the first-ever investigation of the interactions between plastic microfibers and sea anemones, which are closely related to corals and can help scientists understand how coral reef ecosystems are affected by the millions of tons of plastic contaminating the world’s oceans.

Michael Diamreyan with Yixian Zheng, Frederick Tan, and Minjie Hu courtesy of Navid Marvi, Carnegie Embryology.

Michael Diamreyan, a Johns Hopkins University undergraduate biophysics student with a Carnegie connection, has been awarded two prestigious research grants to further his independent investigations.  He is a member of Carnegie Embryology Director Yixian Zheng’s laboratory team, in collaboration with the department’s bioinformatician, Frederick Tan.

Chlamydomonas

The creation of new library of mutants of the single-celled photosynthetic green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii enabled a Carnegie- and Princeton University-led team of plant scientists to identify more than 300 genes that are potentially required for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants, algae, and some bacteria convert energy from sunlight into carbohydrates—filling our planet’s atmosphere with oxygen as a byproduct.

Carolyn Beaumont, a senior at the Potomac School, in McLean VA,  won 5th place in the prestigious 78th Regeneron Science Talent Search. During the summer of 2018, Carolyn worked with Geophysical Laboratory staff members George Cody and Bjorn Mysen on a project to shed light on the molecular details of how water interacts with silicate melts.

Of what is the universe made?  Recent observations suggest surprising results.

Cosmological observations show that on the largest scales accessible to our telescopes, the universe is very uniform, and the same laws of physics