Science Café series moves online 

BAR HARBOR  MDI Biological Laboratory has moved quickly to ensure that their popular Science Café series is still available for the public to enjoy, despite restrictions on in-person gatherings. For the month of June, the cafés will be hosted online.  

Cafés will be a mix of real-time presentations and pre-recorded video lectures. All sessions will be made available on MDI Biological Laboratory’s YouTube channel.  

On June 8 the café will feature MDI Biological Laboratory faculty member, Jarod Rollins, Ph.D. The rate at which we age is determined by the expression of our genes. One critical part of gene expression is the activity of the ribosome, the molecular machine that produces protein in our cells. The Rollins Laboratory quantifies ribosomal activity using a technique called polysome profiling. This tool is used to understand how gene expression changes with age and with anti-aging treatments like dietary restriction. In his Science Café presentation, Rollins will explore the connection between aging and protein translation and demonstrate polysome profiling from within the lab. 

On June 22, Ana Navas-Acien will give a presentation titled “Arsenic exposure and cardiovascular disease: what is the evidence in U.S. populations?” The talk will summarize the epidemiologic evidence on the association between arsenic exposure and cardiovascular disease in several populations in the United States. Navas-Acien’s work also investigates the health effects of other environmental exposures, such as tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes, air pollution and other metals, their interactions with genetic and epigenetic variants and effective interventions for reducing voluntary exposures.  

Understanding the health effects of arsenic is of particular importance in Maine where there is high dependency on well water and a prevalence of high arsenic levels. An MDI Biological Laboratory-led study found that 15 percent of homes tested (out of 1,200 samples tested to date) exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) maximum safety of 10 parts per billion. The study, “All About Arsenic” is a science literacy project that includes teachers and students from 12 Maine schools collecting and analyzing samples from well water in their community. The project is funded by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA).  

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