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Maydianne Andrade named among Popular Science "Brilliant 10"

Maydianne Andrade

Sitting under a spider web at 2 a.m. with a poisonous spider inches from your face may not be for everyone, but it’s just another day at the office for Maydianne Andrade, whose research into the cannibalistic mating ritual of redback spiders offers new insights into mate choice and sperm competition. 

In the October 2005 issue of Popular Science magazine, Andrade, a Zoologist at the University of Toronto Scarborough(UTSC), is named as one of the most extraordinary, dynamic, innovative and promising young scientists in North America.

"I was very surprised to hear I had been selected for recognition by  Popular Science. I have been impressed with the work of others who have  been selected in the past, and am pleased and honoured to be included  among them," says Andrade. 

She says public engagement in science is very important.  "I hope  this type of yearly 'list' will excite the interest of the public in  little-known, intriguing areas of research."

“These are the true celebrities of our time,” says Popular Science executive editor, Emily Laber-Warren.  “Their contributions enhance our lives and stretch our imaginations.”

The final 10 (four women and six men) were selected based on recommendations from editors of scientific publications, academics administrators and award-granting organizations.

Other scientists named among the "Brilliant 10" for 2005 are:

Amy Barger, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Unlocking the history of the universe is just another day’s work for 34 year-old Amy Barger.  Not too long ago Barger discovered a previously unknown population of quasars.  Next, Barger discovered black holes in relatively nearby galaxies, which means that they were active much more recently than was previously thought. 

John Crocker, University of Pennsylvania

John Crocker has spent much of his career probing, as he likes to put it, “gooey, snotty stuff” –or in non-scientific terms: living cells.  Crocker is attempting to get a better understanding of how cells sense and respond to their surroundings.  For example: muscle cells in the uterus triggering labor when stretched by a growing fetus.  His findings could influence fields as disparate as cancer detection and tissue engineering.

Sebastian Thrun, Stanford University

Outfitted with lasers, radar, cameras, GPS, and most importantly, breakthrough road-finding and obstacle-recognition software, Sebastian Thrun is attempting to create the world’s first fully autonomous car.  It’s Thrun’s belief that more precise robot driving could lead to fewer accidents.  Someday, we may all travel that way.

Kevin Eggan, Harvard University

You could visit Kevin Eggan, if only his office were marked.  And you could call him, if only his phone number were listed.  And one day he might be able to cure Parkinson’s disease, if only his research gets funding.  So it goes when you’re involved in stem cell research.  There is no moral consensus on when life begins, Eggan observes, “but there is a moral, religious and philosophical consensus around the world to help sick people.”

Nathan Wolfe, Johns Hopkins University

Most scientists who study emerging viruses toil in labs.  Nathan Wolfe befriends hunters in rural Cameroon and tags along for day-long treks through the jungle in pursuit of wild animals to learn how hunters are exposed to disease.  Gathering blood samples on these hunts allows Wolfe to track the origin of viruses (such as HIV and Ebola) originating from human-animal contact, with an ultimate goal of predicting where emerging diseases could occur and preventing them from occurring in the first place.

Hope Jahren, Johns Hopkins University

How did a lush forest once flourish a snowball’s toss from the North Pole?  This is a question for Hope Jahren, a master at prying loose secrets about the earth’s climatic history from plant fossils.  Jahren’s studies on the Eocene epoch (a potentially instructive period from 57 million to 36 million years ago – when a global heat wave melted most of the planet’s ice cover), could yield valuable insights into global warming. 

Doug James, Carnegie Mellon University

Many scientists put things together, but Stanford’s Doug James smashes them together.  An expert on simulating collisions, James’ work could lead to applications like real-time virtual surgery as well as more realistic special effects in films and computer games.

Maryam Mirzakhani, Princeton University

Winning the International Math Olympiad in high school (twice), Mirzakhani works to pin down the characteristics of unusual geometric forms.  Few practical applications currently exist for Mirzakhani’s research, but if the universe turns out to be governed by hyperbolic geometry, her work would help define its precise shape and volume.

Alexis Templeton, University of Colorado at Boulder

A mile beneath the ocean’s surface is where you might find Alexis Templeton.  Crammed in a five-foot-wide submersible, Templeton explores red-hot undersea volcanoes to study weird metal-munching bacteria for a better understanding of where life is possible.

For more information on UTSC's Department of Life Sciences, or Andrade's research, please visit:

http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~lifesci/




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