Biology

Mapping words to color

Researchers led by postdoc Colin Twomey and professor Joshua Plotkin developed an algorithm that can infer the communicative needs different linguistic communities place on colors.

Katherine Unger Baillie



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In the News


Philadelphia Inquirer

Prizewinning photo by Penn biologist called metaphor for ‘spiraling crisis’ in the ocean

Kristen Brown, a postdoc in the lab of Katie Barott at the School of Arts & Sciences, won a contest with a photo she took while researching coral reefs.

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Psychology Today

Hyenas inherit their moms’ social connections

Erol Akçay of the School of Arts & Sciences and former postdoc Amiyaal Ilany discussed their research on hyena’s social networks. “We show that a simple process—social inheritance—is important to understanding network structure and dynamics,” said Akçay.

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Quanta Magazine

’Social’ mitochondria, whispering between cells, influence health

James Eberwine of the Perelman School of Medicine spoke about how mitochondria interact, communicate, and mutate. “If we understand how the mitochondria are acting together, and we learn how to manipulate it,” he said, “we’re going to gain so much more insight into biology.”

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Scientific American

What monkeys can teach humans about resilience after disaster

PIK Professor Michael Platt and Camille Testard, a Ph.D. student in the Perelman School of Medicine, spoke about their research on how rhesus macaques in Puerto Rico adapted in the wake of Hurricane Maria. “We see this massive surge in the time they spend in proximity to other partners, and their social tolerance increasing toward many different partners,” said Testard. “We saw active building of relationships with individuals that they didn’t really interact with before.”

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The Atlantic

How female frogs tune out useless, noisy males

Amritha Mallikarjun, a postdoc in the School of Veterinary Medicine, weighed in on a study that found that female frog lungs can not only amplify the mating calls of male frogs but also muffle noises from other species. “It seems incredibly smart,” she said. “They’re taking sounds that aren’t interesting and trying to reduce them.”

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Popular Science

Like humans, naked mole-rats have regional accents

Robert Seyfarth of the School of Arts & Sciences weighed in on a new study that found naked mole-rat colonies have unique vocal signatures. “Mole-rats have this incredible society,” he said. “It looks like their vocal communication, and the way their brain organizes vocalizations, has evolved to fit the demands of that society.”

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