The biology of coronaviruses: From the lab to the spotlight

The recent coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19, has been swift, but according to microbiology professor Susan Weiss, it didn’t come out of nowhere. Coronaviruses have been around for a long time, and new strains have transformed and may continue to emerge.

Penn Today Staff

Fruit fly love songs

Yun Ding, assistant professor of biology, studies the courtship behavior of fruit flies to learn how genes and brains evolve to change animal behaviors.

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In the News

The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus vs. flu: Which virus is deadlier?

Neil Fishman of the Perelman School of Medicine weighed in on the novel coronavirus and how it differs from the flu. “I think what we’re seeing with Covid-19 is what influenza would look like without a vaccine,” he said.



Study finds kittens bond with their human caregivers like babies do

Carlo Siracusa of the School of Veterinary Medicine advised readers to keep in mind that while babies and kittens are similar, they’re not analogous; scientific findings about one may not hold true for the other. “We should be open-minded about the idea that there are other variables [at play],” he said.


A squid’s eye view

Alison Sweeney of the School of Arts and Sciences discussed the complex structure of squids’ eyes, which have special lenses that allow for crisp vision in dark water. “The resolution of their eyes is approaching that of humans, their retinas are much more sensitive than ours are to light, and if you dig into the nitty-gritty of how nature figured it out, I’m forever blown away at the level of nuance to get it to work.”


WBUR Boston

What Puerto Rico’s monkeys post-Maria teach us about survival

PIK Professor Michael Platt joined a conversation about surviving trauma and Puerto Rico’s “monkey island.”


Philadelphia Inquirer

5 questions: Is your body clock important?

Carsten Skarke of the Perelman School of Medicine offered a primer on chronobiology and how our body clocks might affect medical treatments. “The big hope is that we can find a way to synchronize the time of treatment with the molecular time of the patient.”



Do mosquitoes feel the effects of alcohol

Tanya Dapkey of the School of Arts and Sciences said it’s unlikely that mosquitoes feed on inebriated humans to get drunk themselves. However, she said, the fact that “alcohol makes us more attractive to them is an interesting question to me.”