Science and Technology

Staff / Missouri Department of Conservation

The White House released a new climate change report Tuesday. It predicts threats to agriculture including severe weather, more pests and greater demands for water and energy. Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports.

Staff / Missouri Department of Conservation

The Missouri Department of Conservation is searching for help to track the state's turtle population. Interested biology enthusiasts would help trap and release turtles in the water at the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area south of Columbia. The department needs between two and three dozen people who don't mind getting messy in the name of science.

Eagle Bluffs manager Vic Bogosian says the information gathered during these turtle round ups are crucial to ensuring the continued well-being of the animals.

Bridgit Bowden / KBIA

  Food waste is something we all produce, but don’t like to think about. That’s why several large universities in Missouri are turning food waste from dining halls into compost.

Unlocking prairie secrets from a sod house

May 1, 2014
Jackie Sojicko / Harvest Public Media


Ecologists in Nebraska are trying to find out what the Great Plains looked like when homesteaders settled there in the 19th century. To do that, they’re working with a team of archaeologists and historians dissecting a sod house, a house built out of bricks cut from dirt.

Larry Estes has had a sod house in his backyard in Gates, Neb., for as long as he can remember. He never really thought anything about it until a year ago when a repairman asked him about it.

Jacob McCleland / Harvest Public Media


Water experts in the Midwest are worried about Asian carp. They say the invasive fish are taking over U.S. waterways -- the Mississippi River and its tributaries like the Illinois and Missouri Rivers, where they out compete native fish.

But as Jacob McCleland reports for Harvest Public Media, river watchers at their wits end have found new hope. And it lies on dinner tables in China.

Monarch butterflies are in trouble. The latest estimates show their numbers have dropped dramatically at their wintering grounds in Mexico.

Marissane Lewis-Stump / KBIA

When we think of plants, intelligence is usually not the first thing that comes to mind. But maybe plants are more than a decorative feature to our dining room table.

KBIA’s Marissanne Lewis-Thompson checked in with a monthly science conversation series in Columbia. This month’s topic: the secret lives of plants.

Training the brain to learn a new dominant hand

Apr 17, 2014
Jacob Jones / KBIA

University of Missouri researchers are starting to uncover details about how the brain adapts to the loss or impairment of an individual's dominant hand. Dr. Scott Frey with MU's Department of Psychological Sciences has been working with amputation and stroke patients and his research may hold the secret to training the brain and the body to use a non-dominant hand. I recently say down with Frey to learn more: 

Can you give me a little background information as to what got you started with this research?

Intelligent plants? Researcher unravels mysteries of plant life

Apr 17, 2014
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson / KBIA

When we think of plants, intelligence is usually not the first thing that comes to mind. But maybe plants are more than a decorative feature to our dining room table.

On a recent Tuesday night, the sounds of restaurant chatter, music and the aroma of food fill Columbia’s Broadway Brewery. But in the middle of the crowd, on a wooden stool sits an ordinary green plant.

Sara Pang / KBIA

Dr. Robert Gallo is the biomedical researcher who unearthed HIV as the cause of AIDS and was the first to identify a human retrovirus known to cause human cancer. Gallo’s discoveries don’t just stop there; his current research includes finding a prevention for the disease despite the challenges.

With all the bickering taking place in Congress about what to do or what not to do about climate change, you might think federal agencies wouldn't be dealing with it either.

Some studies being done at the University of Missouri may shed some light on how stroke victims learn to regain control of an impaired hand, or even learn how to use their opposite hand. 


In January the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) “net neutrality” regulations.

The Patient Care Tower Expansion at University Hospital was finished in March of 2013.  The eight-story, $190 million building earned the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The morning I met Elaine Rich, she was sitting at the kitchen table of her small town home in suburban Maryland trying to estimate refugee flows in Syria.

It wasn't the only question she was considering; there were others:

Will North Korea launch a new multistage missile before May 10, 2014?

Will Russian armed forces enter Kharkiv, Ukraine, by May 10? Rich's answers to these questions would eventually be evaluated by the intelligence community, but she didn't feel much pressure because this wasn't her full-time gig.

Gary Grigsby / KBIA News

You've probably read the headlines about the drought in California.  It got me to thinking about what many of us probably take for granted, our water supply.

Scientists have spotted a new dwarf planet at the edge of our solar system. It's a kind of pink ice ball that's way out there, far beyond Pluto.

Astronomers used to think this region of space was a no man's land. But the new findings suggest that it holds many small worlds — and there are even hints of an unseen planet bigger than Earth.

The internet age has brought to us the ability to get large amounts of information, from across the globe, delivered to our fingertips within seconds. This access provides us with a powerful amount of interconnectedness, and information (not to mention entertainment!). But how should this access and interconnectedness be distributed? Should it be available to everyone equally, or should big companies - like Netflix and Amazon - be restricted because of the amount of data they are streaming? What does all of this mean for the economy, democracy and those of us just trying to stream movies at home?

Internet connection
Sean MacEntee/Flickr Creative Commons

Intersection on Monday will focus on the issue of Internet (or "net") neutrality — a tussle at the crossroads of law and technology that could end up affecting Americans' wallets.

To prepare you for the show, we've pulled together a short explanation of the topic, including a timeline of key dates.

What is net neutrality?

Bridgit Bowden / KBIA

The University of Missouri invited Gerald Friedman, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, to speak to students and local Columbia residents earlier last week.  The lecture was hosted by the MU Truman School of Public Affairs as the Monroe-Paine annual lecture event.  Friedman’s lecture focused on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and the future possibility of a single payer healthcare system.

Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media


Unmanned aerial vehicles aren’t just for spies or for the battlefield. Farmers all over the country think drones can give them a leg up, too.

Bridgit Bowden / KBIA

TV’s Bill Nye the science guy spoke at the University of Missouri Columbia last week as a part of the Life Sciences and Society Symposium.

Jesse Auditorium was packed on Saturday morning with people ready to learn about science. Tickets to the event were free, but ran out within 30 minutes of the box office opening. That’s more than 1700 tickets.

Jack Schultz is the director of MU’s Bond Life Sciences Center, and oversaw the event. He said  they weren’t initially expecting such a huge turnout.

Meredith Turk / KBIA

Deep in the heart of the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri a battles rages over the use of a National Park, The Ozark National Scenic Riverways. This National Park is visited by millions each year and was the first federally protected river system, established in 1964.

Carole Mitchell / Flickr

In Ste. Genevieve County, Mo., about 100 residents gathered for a town hall meeting in 2013 to discuss a new frac sand mine in their backyard. Officials from the county, state and mining company attended to answer questions residents might have.

Neighbors peppered the panel with questions: How will the mine’s sand dust be regulated? How will you prevent it from getting into our lungs? How will the traffic and explosions affect my health, my property and the ecosystem? Concerns about breathing in the microscopic sand particles, which could lead to silicosis in the lungs, abounded.

Jane Hardy, who lives about 1000 feet from the mine, said she wasn’t satisfied with the answers.

Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

For nearly a year now, hog farmers have been battling a virus. It’s deadly to newly born piglets and farmers are scrambling to protect their herds. With fewer pigs comes less pork. Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports.

Local biotech startup receives $200,000 investment

Mar 13, 2014
Amylovesyah / Flickr

Local biotech startup Animal Health Specialties has announced it is receiving an investment of more than $200,000 from Columbia-based investment group Centennial Investors.

MU welcomes author Rebecca Skloot

Mar 11, 2014
rebecca skloot
Melody Myers / KBIA

The University of Missouri welcomed Rebecca Skloot on Monday night at Jesse Auditorium as part of the university’s Decoding Science: Life Sciences and Society Symposium. Skloot spoke about her book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and the lessons learned from doing research and writing the book.

New research out of Washington University has found that giving women free birth control does not increase risky sexual behavior.

The analysis included 7,751 St. Louis-area women between the ages of 14 and 45.

It was part of an even larger effort called the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, whose goal is to promote the use of long-term contraceptive methods like intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Most climate models paint a bleak picture for the Great Plains a century from now. Scientists say it’ll be warmer, and the air will be more rich with carbon dioxide. To what degree is still unclear. But even small fluctuations in climate throw farmland ecosystems out of whack. A new study shows certain invasive plant species will not only be able to withstand climate change, but thrive. Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon has more.

Shibu Jose is the director of the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri Columbia.