Risky tales: Talking with Seth Shostak at Big Picture Science

October 21, 2014

I had a roller coaster of an interview with Seth Shostak (Director of the Center for SETI Research and host of Big Picture Science) last week on risk and black swan events. I was poised to talk about rare but high impact events like a mega-eruption at Yellowstone National Park, or a ...

This is Environmental Health Science

October 17, 2014

We’ve just posted a new video about the University of Michigan Environmental Health Science department that I’m quite pleased with. It’s aimed at students who may be interested in pursuing a graduate degree in the environmental health sciences (and perhaps don’t know this yet!), but it’s also a great 30,000 foot introduction ...

Building trust between academics and journalists

October 13, 2014

As an academic, speaking with reporters can be nerve wracking.  The gut-wrench is palpable as you click on the article that follows, unsure of whether the person you spoke with has got it right, or created a train wreck with your name splattered all over it. Building trust Over the years, I’ve learnt ...

Ebola virus: Insights from University of Michigan Experts

October 12, 2014

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been posting articles on the ebola outbreak from University of Michigan experts. As concern continues to grow over the outbreak, we’ve collected these together on the Risk Science Center Ebola Virus Topic Page, and will continue to add to this as new articles are posted. Current articles include ...

Could playing sports on artificial turf be bad for your health?

October 11, 2014

Most artificial turf these days incorporates rubber granules formed from recycled tires. They make an effective and environmentally friendly playing surface. But can the substances they contain also be bad for the health of players? A major report from NBC News this week examined possible associations between these granules and cancer cases amongst sports ...

(Some of the) most engaged research scientists on Twitter

October 6, 2014

Science Magazine has just released an update of it’s list of Twitter’s most popular researchers – now expanded to “100 of the most followed scientists on the social media platform”.  Having played around with the data, here’s an alternative listing, based on the Engagement Index (E-Index) – a measure I ...

Nano silver and ebola: Show us the data, or remove claims (FDA)

October 5, 2014

On September 23, the Food and Drug Administration sent Rima Laibow and Ralph Fucetola at the Natural Solutions Foundation a warning letter claiming that their allegedly nano (colloidal) silver based “Dr. Rima Recommends™ The Silver Solution” product violates the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDC Act). Earlier in September, I wrote about Rima Laibow’s ...

Info on ebola risks from the University of Michigan

October 5, 2014

The University of Michigan School of Public Health has posted a number of resources on the current ebola outbreak on its website, including a series of interviews with experts on risks and concerns.  These are well worth checking out for clear and informed information on health risks associated with the outbreak. For more information ...

Color My Poop Beautiful – now on video

October 2, 2014

Back in August, I gave a talk on colored poop and other “tales of technological derring do” at the Ann Arbor We Make Health Fest.  Videos and photos from the day are now available over on the Health By Design website. Here’s my talk – it draws on three stories from synthetic ...

Interactively visualizing major health risks

September 27, 2014

Visualizing risk, NHS style It maybe because I hang out too much in the US these days, but I’ve only just come across this rather excellent  Atlas of Risk from the UK National Health Service: Visualizing causes of death The Atlas uses a highly intuitive visualization approach to exploring information on health risks. ...

So you want to write better science blog posts …

September 23, 2014

Anyone can blog about science.  But it takes effort and diligence to blog well. When I was teaching the Mind The Science Gap blogging course at the University of Michigan, it became clear early on that, no matter how enthusiastic or knowledgeable you are, there are some basic guidelines that can help make the difference between a ...

Linking press releases to papers: How do universities compare?

September 15, 2014

Following up on my previous analysis of university news releases and whether they link to the papers they highlight, I’ve extended extend the analysis to 30 of the top universities in the US as ranked by US News and World Report. Here are the rankings, based on an assessment of the ten latest news ...

Less than 60% of university news releases link to the papers they cover

September 15, 2014

In an analysis of recent news releases from the top ten US universities, only 59% of them provided links to the peer review paper they were written about.  Over 30% did not cite the paper.  And less than 10% of the releases used DOI links to the peer reviewed paper. ...

MMR Vaccines and Autism: Bringing clarity to the CDC Whistleblower Story

September 12, 2014

Anyone following the Twitter #vaccinesNOVA hashtag on the evening of Wednesday September 10 would have seen their stream seemingly overwhelmed by the #CDCWhistleblower hashtag. Wednesday was when NOVA’s documentary Vaccines – Calling The Shots aired, and the #vaccinesNOVA hashtag was intended to enable a national discussion between parents, medical professionals and others on ...

Creating Poster Presentations that Tell Stories

September 11, 2014

This Friday my class of second year Environmental Health Science Master of Public Health students are going to get my admittedly quirky annual lecture on crating poster presentations.  Quirky, because I’m a little obsessive about the importance of story telling in posters, whether you are presenting research data or describing what ...

Why aren’t we more scared of measles?

September 10, 2014

Measles is one of the leading causes of death amongst children worldwide.  In 2012, an estimated 122,000 people died of the disease according to the World Health Organization – equivalent to 14 deaths every hour.  Yet talk to parents about this highly infectious disease, and the response is often a resounding “meh”. ...

Using nano silver to treat Ebola – is it misguided?

September 9, 2014

Update Oct 2: With concern over ebola in the US growing, I’m seeing a number of websites advocating the use of colloidal or nano silver as an effective preventative or cure.  Just to be clear – there is no research that suggests ingesting colloidal silver is any more effective than ...

University of Michigan, polio, and NOVA’s new documentary on vaccines

September 7, 2014

On April 12 1955, the world was informed that the Salk polio vaccine was up to 90% effective in preventing paralytic polio.  At the time, it was hailed as one of the most anticipated announcements in medical history, and led to the overcoming of one of the most feared infectious ...

Fumed silica: Another nano material we need to worry about?

September 3, 2014

Pick up a jar of chili powder, and the chances are it will contain a small amount of fumed silica – an engineered nanomaterial that’s been around for over half a century.  The material – which is formed from microscopically small particles of amorphous silicon dioxide – has long been ...

The human side of vaccines and risk

August 31, 2014

Leading up to the new NOVA Special on vaccines (Vaccines – Calling The Shots, airing September 10th, 9:00 PM on PBS), the University of Michigan Risk Science Center be reposting a series of pieces that tackle some of the issues around vaccination, acceptance, anxiety and risk. Each week day between September 2 and September ...