The Weekly Scientist – The other other Jenner

BEDA 2018, The Monthly Scientist

Hello and welcome to the second of four weekly scientists. Last week I spoke about the wonders of vaccination and Louis Pasteur’s discoveries. I thought for this week I would go along the same theme and introduce you to the father of immunology!

Edward Jenner

edward-jenner

Born: May 17, 1749

Died: Jan 26, 1823 (at age 73) in Berkeley, Gloucestershire

Noted for: The creation of vaccination and being the father of immunology and the creation of the smallpox vaccine.

Why scientist of the week?

As I said last week vaccinations have saved countless lives and are an essential part of modern day medicine. Edward Jenner worked in small rural community where most patients were farmers who owned cattle. During this time, smallpox was a common illness and among the major causes of death. In 1788, a smallpox epidemic hit Gloucestershire. During the outbreak, Edward Jenner observed that some patients who were working with the cattle and had also had contacted cowpox never got affected by the smallpox virus. In May of 1796, Jenner was  given an opportunity when one young milkmaid came to see with some blister-like sores on both hands. Jenner was able to identify that the young lady had caught cowpox due to the fact that she handled cows every day. He extracted some liquid from sores of the patient with cowpox. He later used this liquid on a young healthy man. To Jenner’s relief, the young man never caught smallpox, unlike other people. This then led to the smallpox vaccine.  In 1798, after several other successful tests, Jenner finally published his findings in a publication called An Inquiry into Causes plus the Effects of Variolae Vaccine. He called his idea “vaccination,” from vaccinia, which is a Latin word for cowpox. After so much ridicule, other doctors finally found out that the vaccination really worked and by 1800, a large number of them were using it.

So all in all thanks to Jenner’s discoveries and the immunology work done today many diseases are being wiped out around the world.

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Alfred Wallace

Miscellaneous, The Monthly Scientist

Last year I wrote a series called the monthly scientist. It was one of my favourite series to write so for this spotlight Thursday I thought I’d cast the spotlight on an incredible scientist!

Alfred Wallace

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Born: 8 January 1823

Died: 7 November 1913

Noted for: Being a naturalist and explorer

Why scientist of BEDA?

What most people don’t know is that Darwin did not work alone on the theory of evolution through natural selection. Wallace actually curated the theory on his own, he then published a joint paper with Darwin which then prompted Darwins origin of species. He is also credited as being the father of biogeography and many other theories including warning colouration in animals and the Wallace effect. This interest in the environment came from his social activism. As he was one of the first prominent scientists to raise concerns over the environmental impact of human activity. Unlike many of his peers he wasn’t from a rich background and his trips across the globe were paid for in the sale of the specimens he collected and his publications. Altogether he was a fascinating man whose insights were vital to our understanding of the world.

“If this is not done, future ages will certainly look back upon us as a people so immersed in the pursuit of wealth as to be blind to higher considerations.”

 

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The 2016 Business Meeting

Miscellaneous

Around this time last year I reflected back on 2015 on ThatBiologist, to be honest it seems like I was only writing that blog last week! Nevertheless here we are again. This year has seen a huge amount of growth for my little spot on the internet and also for me as a scicommer (science communicator). This year I’ve written way more blog posts than ever before and for that I am incredibly proud. I’ve written some really great series (well in my opinion). Such as the monthly scientist, the shark tank and I started Becoming A Master. So like last year I thought I would tell you my three most popular blogs from this year and then my three favourites.

Three Most Popular

I’m very happy to announce my most popular blog of this year (in terms of specific views) was Sleeping Beauty and The Pin Prick Coma. Fairyology was a silly idea I had and I’m so glad its been so well recieved.

In second place its another Fairyology. This one is Snow White: Could An Apple Kill? That blog post was fantastic to write because I got to go back to an old assignment and bring it to life again. I’m happy to let you know that there will be plenty more fairyologys coming!

In third place is an episode of BAM. The Little Things blog post was a great one to write mostly because I spent time researching peoples opinions and talking to different people. It was also inspired by an evening that made me incredibly grateful to be able to do what I do!

My Three Favourites

My favourites are in no particular order because they were so hard to pick in the first place. Nevertheless my first favourite is An Offer You Can’t RefuseThis platform does give me a great position to be able to say what I want to an audience that cares. So this piece about vaccination was important to me and I always like combining popular media with science.

In second place it is none other than Meeting Pickle. It was such a special day being able to get so close to penguins. Pickle was also such a charmer and I loved writing about how special he is.

In third place its my blog post for ThatBiologist does Halloween. I missed writing more about my favourite holiday of the year but this piece about how to make a zombie was pretty cool. I think next year I might just have to do another week of them!

In total I’ve written 99 blog posts this year which is crazy! I’ve doubled my views from that of last year and there’s only more good stuff to come. Next year I have lots more to give and I will tell you all about that in January. I’m so excited to keep on writing and sharing the world of Biology with you. If you’ve read any of my blogs or if this is your first one, thank you. This blog has given me lots of opportunites and I can only thank you for reading! I’m now going to go and have my annual christmas break but I will be back in 2017 with lots more to give.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

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The Monthly Scientist: Miss December

The Monthly Scientist

Hello and welcome to the last monthly scientist! It’s been by far and away my favourite series to write this year and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them.

Gertrude Elion

elion_postcard

Born: 23 January 1918

Died: 21 February 1999

Noted for: Research into pharmaceuticals in the treatment of cancer.

Why scientist of the month?

Elion was born in New York City to immigrant parents. She was motivated by her grandfathers death from Cancer into the world of biochemistry. Although she struggled to find work as many companies would not hire women as chemists. She then went back to New York University and obtained her degree and masters. She was hired by GlaxoSmithKline and inspired another scientist Dr Hitchings. Elion and her team developed drugs to combat leukemia, herpes and AIDS. They also discovered treatments to reduce the body’s rejection of foreign tissue in kidney transplants between unrelated donors. In all, Elion developed 45 patents in medicine and was awarded 23 honorary degrees. Her work in the development in medicine is undoubtedly something that I am thankful for.

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The Monthly Scientist: Mr November

The Monthly Scientist

Imagine you’re going to have to have surgery in 1800, say for example your leg has a nasty wound and the only way forward is to amputate. Now surgery back then could have easily meant the end of your life. Not necessarily through the surgery itself but it would have been more than likely you would have developed an infection. Nasty ones at that, all that started to change with this months scientist:

Dr Joseph Lister

hommedia

Born: 5, April 1827

Died: 10, February 1912

Noted for: Pioneering antiseptic techniques in surgery

Why scientist of the month?

I’ll be honest, I’m really glad that medicine has come on as much as it has. One of the most important advances in medicine has been the antiseptic technique. This basically means that microbes that cause infections are tried to be kept to an absolute minimum. This is partly down to Lister, he was a surgeon that believed (correctly) microbes carried in the air that caused diseases to be spread in wards. People who had been operated on were especially vulnerable as their bodies were weak and their skin had been cut open so that germs could get into the body with more ease.

So he came up with a method to try and combat this. Everything had to be thoroughly cleaned in his surgeries including the wound itself. Then he went further by devising a machine that pumped out a fine mist of carbolic acid into the air around an operation. Using this method the number of patients that died in his surgeries greatly reduced. Like going from a 45% death rate to 15%! This gradually became common practice and then further advancements were made in the antiseptic technique to get us where we are today.

So I personally would like to thank Joseph Lister for making surgery far safer than in the 1800s!

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The Monthly Scientist: Miss October

The Monthly Scientist

This months scientist is recognised for the discovery of nuclear fission although never officially. She was also the first female professor at the university of Berlin. This outstanding scientist is of course:

Miss Lise Meitner

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Born: 7, November, 1878 – Austria

Died: 27, October, 1968 – Cambridge, UK.

Noted for: Discovery of nuclear fission.

Why scientist of the month?

In 1901, Meitner enrolled at the University of Vienna (they finally let women in in 1899) and studied physics under the renowned Ludwig Boltzmann. She received a doctorate in physics in 1906, the second woman to do so. She sent a letter to Curie to see if she could work with her in Paris but there was no room. So she then went to Berlin to study under Otto Hahn and Max Planck in 1907. Meitner worked very closely with Hahn for nearly thirty years at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry in Berlin. They both collaborated and studied radioactivity because of her physics knowledge and his chemistry expertise. Together, they discovered the protactinium isotope in 1918. She discovered the Auger Effect, which is the emission process of electrons, in 1922. In 1926, she became a full physics professor at the University of Berlin, the first women to accomplish this in Germany. There, she commenced the nuclear physics research program which ultimately led to her co-discovery, in 1939, of nuclear fission however she was not credited for this in the end.

She has to run from Nazi Germany and away from Hahn. She moved to Stockholm and then to the UK to live out her retirement. She received a total of twenty-one other scientific awards and honours in her life. As well as having an element named after, she was a pioneer in women in STEM subjects being taken seriously. What a lady!

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The Monthly Scientist: Mr September

The Monthly Scientist

The end of September already! Hope you’ve been all having a fantastic a year, it’s certainly rattling on through! On to who we’re celebrating today, without this guy we might be miles behind in the field of genetics, it is of course Mr Mendel.

Gregor Mendel

gregor_mendel_monk

Born: July 20, 1822

Died: January 6, 1884

Noted for: Father of genetics

Why scientist of the month?

Mendel was an Austrian Monk, who used the plants growing in his gardens founded the science of genetics. As part of his work particularly the pea plant he identified many of the rules of heredity. These rules determine how traits are passed through generations of living things. With this Mendelian genetics was founded, this includes that living things pass traits to the next generation by something which remains unchanged in successive generations of an organism – we now call this ‘something’ genes. These genetics identified recessive and dominant traits which pass from parents to offspring and most importantly it established that traits pass from parents to their offspring in a mathematically predictable way. Mendel’s work only made a big impact in 1900, 16 years after his death, and 34 years after he first published it. All of this work was done by just one person is understandably extraordinary and without this work we might be miles behind where we are now in understanding how genetics work.

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The Monthly Scientist: Miss August

The Monthly Scientist

Hello, this year is disappearing so fast! Today we’re celebrating a fantastic scientist, without her research we might not know as much about cancer as we do today. Of course today we are honouring…

Marie Curie

ImageGen

Born: 7 November 1867 in Warsaw, Poland

Died: 4 July 1934, age 66.

Noted for: First research into the treatment of tumours with radiation and the discovery of radium and polonium.

Why scientist of the month?

Curie began life as a teacher but her scientific career started when she moved to Paris and met her future husband Pierre Curie. In July 1898, the Curies announced the discovery of a new chemical element, polonium. At the end of the year, they announced the discovery of another, radium.

Pierre died in 1906 and Marie took over his teaching post, becoming the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne. The Curie’s research was crucial in the development of x-rays in surgery. During World War One Curie helped to equip ambulances with x-ray equipment, which she herself drove to the front lines.

If all that wasn’t enough she is also the only person who has ever won Nobel Prizes in both physics and chemistry. As well as her research into the treatment of tumours with radiation was essential to what we know about cancer and how we treat it now.

Yet again, Curie is among the wonderful scientists that know how to perfectly turn a phrase so to conclude this is my favourite Marie Curie quote.

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale.”

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The Monthly Scientist: Mr July

The Monthly Scientist

This month in the 6 in 60 series we’ve been talking all about the wonderful world of bacteria, catch up here if you’ve missed any. Therefore I thought it was only right to give this man the monthly scientist.

Dr Theodor Escherich

200px-Escherich,_Theodor

Born: 29 November 1857

Died: 15 February 1911

Noted for: Discovering the E Coli bacteria.

Why scientist of the month?

Escherich was a German-Austrian paediatrician and he believed that some of the illnesses that the children he treated were suffering from came from bacteria. From there he began to research the bacteria growing inside the human colon and there he found E. Coli. Although he first called it “bacterium coli commune”, his discovery in 1885 led to more discoveries in the world of microbiology. He also linked his discovery to gastroenteritis and infant diarrhoea. This was incredibly important in the world of public health. From this discovery and the work of other microbiologists antibiotics have been created and there is now a better understanding of how important bacteria really are.

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The Monthly Scientist: Miss June

The Monthly Scientist

Is it really July already! The year seems to be flying by and I’m racing towards moving to London to start my masters degree! But plenty more blogs to write before that comes around.

Miss Lynn Margulis

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Born: 5 March 1938

Died: 22 November 2011

Noted for: American evolutionary theorist, particularly for the theory of symbiogenisis.

Why scientist of the month?

Symbiosis is a fantastic word don’t you think? Well we have to thank (at least in part) Margulis for such a word. Her life’s work was centred on the idea of organisms in association with each other. The relationship could be beneficial to one or more of the organisms but it could also be unfavourable. The scientific community in the 1980s were highly sceptical of this idea. Most were more agreed to the Darwin “survival of the fittest” way of looking things even though the two ideas do work in harmony.

Her main work was on the endosymbiotic theory. This theory is about the origin of eukaryotic cells (cells with a nucleus). To condense the theory somewhat it suggests that mitochondria and chloroplasts were once there own independent bacteria. Then they merged with other cells to become the eukaryotic cell we know and love today. At the time many thought that the theory was completely wacky but now its widely accepted.

She also worked on another hypothesis called the Gaia hypothesis. This proposes that Earth can be viewed as one singular self regulating organism. It goes on to say that everything on Earth relies on each and that the life forms actively regulate the Earth to maintain conditions best for them.

By now you might realise that I like to conclude these on a quote from the scientist 220px-Lynn_Margulisthemselves, honestly there were so many from this lady that I found it hard to pick one. Nevertheless to conclude here is my favourite quote from Margulis:

“Life on earth is such a good story you cannot afford to miss the beginning… Beneath our superficial differences we are all of us walking communities of bacteria. The world shimmers, a pointillist landscape made of tiny living beings.”

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