SCIENCE

Dr. Nettie Maria Stevens
Carnegie Institution of Washington / Creative Commons

A pivotal but unheralded scientist is getting a building named after her at Westfield State University on Friday.

More than a hundred years ago, Westfield alum Nettie Stevens was studying beetle chromosomes when she noticed a critical difference between males and females.

"She noticed that one chromosome was smaller than the other, and because of that research, we were able to then apply that to the human genome as well," said Westfield biology professor Jennifer Hanselman.

DNA double helix.
Mehmet Pinarci / CREATIVE COMMONS

Scientists want to know why some people exposed to trauma develop PTSD and some don't. A new Harvard University study suggests genetics play a role.

A timber rattlesnake in Berkshire County, Masachusetts.
Patrick Randall / Creative Commons

The proposal to create a protected habitat for timber rattlesnakes on an island in the Quabbin Reservoir is suspended, but still on the table. That's according to Joseph Larson, the chair of the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board.

Larson said in a Thursday interview that the board's vote this week was based on a review committee's recommendation to instead examine all the rattlesnake populations from greater Boston to the Connecticut River Valley and the Berkshires.

"That's probably what we should have done in the first place," Larson said.

Biologist Patricia Brennan examines an orca whale penis in her lab at Mount Holyoke College.
Karen Brown / NEPR

The national March for Science on April 22 – and satellite events around New England – mark a departure for many scientists. Until recently, they did not consider political activism part of their job.

Pediatrician John Snyder is organizing a science march in Amherst, Massachusetts, to coincide with the national event.
File Photo / Masslive

In an effort to promote science and oppose funding cuts, science supporters in New England are hosting rallies Saturday, April 22, in collaboration with a national science march in Washington DC. 

As a national advocate for childhood vaccines, pediatrician John Snyder is no stranger to science skeptics.

Snyder thought it made sense to organize a march in Amherst, Massachusetts, a college town nestled among research institutions. 

The former toll booth at Exit 8 of the Massachusetts Turnpike in Palmer.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

What made The Short List this week?

Unsung Women Who Pushed The Bounds In Space

Mar 8, 2017
Visiting the space center as invited guests of STS-63 Pilot Eileen Collins in 1995 are seven members of the Mercury 13 (from left): Gene Nora Jessen, Wally Funk, Jerrie Cobb, Jerri Truhill, Sarah Ratley, Myrtle Cagle and Bernice Steadman.
NASA / Creative Commons

The toy company LEGO recently announced it would release a new line of plastic figures immortalizing the women of NASA. The new NASA set will feature astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, as well as computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, astronomer Nancy Grace Roman — and mathematician Katherine Johnson of Hidden Figures fame. Commentator and author Martha Ackmann says, as laudable as the Lego’s move is, she’s got some advice.

Keep going.