Science Seat: Saving the birds
The California condor is a rare and endangered species.
May 3rd, 2013
11:37 AM ET

Science Seat: Saving the birds

Editor's note: The Science Seat is a feature in which CNN Light Years sits down with movers and shakers from different areas of scientific exploration. This is the 10th installment.

By Matthew Rehbein, CNN

For more than 30 years, Susan Haig’s mission has been to ensure that endangered bird species don’t become extinct.

Haig’s professional achievements are beyond impressive:  She is a supervisory research wildlife ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, a full-time professor at Oregon State University and president of the American Ornithologists’ Union, the largest professional society of ornithologists in the world.

Her current work seeks to find the best methods to preserve specific bird populations — often, populations that are endangered — with a combination of lab-based genetic research and field-based behavioral study. She also examines the effects of climate change and other environmental stressors on water birds and the places they live.

Haig’s efforts to reintroduce the California condor in the Pacific Northwest are detailed in her upcoming book “The California Condor in the Pacific Northwest,” which she cowrote with Jesse D’Elia, one of her Ph.D. students. The book comes out next month.

CNN Light Years caught up with Haig last week to talk about how we protect endangered species — especially in the face of climate change — and even how we might one day bring some back from extinction. Here is an edited transcript of our interview.

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Filed under: Climate • On Earth • Science Seat
The Science Seat: Why asteroids don’t surprise us anymore
Don Yeomans studies asteroids at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
February 15th, 2013
04:38 PM ET

The Science Seat: Why asteroids don’t surprise us anymore

By Matthew Rehbein, CNN

A lot of scientists dream of making a discovery that will make an impact. Planetary scientist Don Yeomans is not one of them.

Yeomans manages the Near-Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which means he spends his days monitoring the thousands of asteroids and comets swirling around the solar system, making sure that none of the bigger ones are on a collision course with Earth. He and his team play a “Men in Black” type of role, constantly finding, assessing and ruling out threats to the planet from outer space.

The importance of Yeomans’ work was especially in the spotlight Friday, when an asteroid about half the length of a football field passed relatively close to Earth - closer than many of our orbiting communications satellites - going roughly eight times as fast as a speeding bullet.

Yeomans and his team were among those who helped forecast this event. He assured us that it would not hit, and it looks like he was right.

CNN Light Years recently spoke with him about his work and how it might impact - not literally - humankind’s efforts in space in the future. Below is an edited transcript of this interview, conducted via e-mail.

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Filed under: In Space • Science Seat
What's special about nanotechnology
Rizia Bardhan studies nanotechnology at Vanderbilt University.
January 25th, 2013
05:37 PM ET

What's special about nanotechnology

By Matthew Rehbein, CNN

At 29, Rizia Bardhan is already making her mark on one of the scientific community’s most exciting and fastest-growing disciplines: nanotechnology. Researchers in this field are innovating on scales that seem impossibly small: One nanometer is just a fraction of the width of a human hair.

Last year Forbes listed Bardhan among its notable “30 Under 30 in Science & Innovation” for her work in nanotechnology. Bardhan accepted an assistant professor position at Vanderbilt University last August.

Bardhan spoke with CNN about her research in nanotechnology and about the tremendous advancements that are possible with it in the fields of medicine and energy. Here is an edited transcript:

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Filed under: On Earth • Science Friday • Voices

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