February 02, 2009
Mongabay.com announces new series of interviews with young scientists
The world of science stands at a crossroads: more and more global issues are dependent on quality research and the indefatigable scientists who perform it. The global challenges of climate change, extinction, energy, overpopulation, pollution, and food and water shortages are dependent on the fact-finding of scientists. These issues affect billions of people and the majority of the world’s species and ecosystems, making the future of our children dependent on the science of today and tomorrow.
Therefore, we believe it is imperative to report not only on the work of high-level researchers with decades in the field, but also the younger scientists who are just now departing on an exciting and, at times, difficult road. It is these younger scientists who will shape the ideas and debates in decades to come.
In many places science faces an uphill battle. Skepticism of scientific theories, from evolution to climate change, is rampant in much of contemporary society. Such skepticism—sometimes leading to outright disdain—only makes its proponents more dubious toward science in general. In some places scientists are no longer revered, but viewed as distant and even arrogant.
However, change is occurring. More and more policy makers from Southeast Asia to Latin America to Europe have accepted the reality and importance of tackling global warming. And scientists in the United States have recently become re-energized with the election of Barack Obama. Just last week, President Obama emphasized the importance of science in his administration and his willingness to work for effective international agreements on climate change.
"The days of Washington dragging its heels are over," he said, alluding to the Bush administration’s infamous unwillingness to confront climate change. "My administration will not deny facts; we will be guided by them.”
Mongabay.com hopes this series will be a part of these new trends by bringing the importance of science--and those who have devoted their lives to practicing it--to today’s public. We believe that by recognizing a group that rarely receives attention—the world’s ‘young scientists’—we can contribute positively to these up-and-coming scientists’ work while bringing their exciting and fascinating stories to a wider audience.
Finally, Mongabay.com believes this series will be a great resource for students who are pursuing a degree in science or contemplating doing so. While rewarding, a career in science is also highly demanding. We hope that the advice from our already successful interviewees and their inspiring work will prove invaluable for students, current and future.
Saving leatherback turtles in South America’s smallest country, Suriname: An interview with Liz McHuron
(01/27/2009) After a year studying marine biology at Moss Landing Marine Labs, Liz McHuron headed off to the little-known nation of Suriname to monitor leatherback sea turtles. Her responsibilities included implementing a conservation strategy for a particular beach, moving leatherback nests in danger of flooding, and educating volunteer workers on the biology, behavior, and conservation efforts of the world's largest, and most unique, marine turtle. I visited McHuron during her time at the beach of Galibi in Suriname; she proved to be the sort of scientist who refused to be deterred: breathtaking humidity or downpours, fer-de-lances on the beach or jaguars, Liz was always on the move, always working to aid the critically-endangered leatherbacks while studying them with the thoroughness inherit in a born scientist.
Detecting poisons in nectar is an odour-ous task for honeybees
(04/24/2008) Though many spring flowers have bright advertisements offering sweet rewards to honeybees, some common flowers have not-so-sweet or even toxic nectars. Why plants would try to poison the honeybees they wish to attract is a scientific mystery. The honeybee, which accounts for the pollination of at least 1/3 of the world's crop plants, may encounter such poisoned nectar in common crop and garden plants such as Rhododendrons and almond trees.