Penn State researchers make Discover Magazine's top 100

December 16, 2008

University Park, Pa. — Several Penn State researchers are highlighted in Discover Magazine’s "Top 100 Stories of 2008" in the current January 2009 issue.

The stories are being unveiled online throughout the month of December. The list can be found at: online.

No. 36: How evolution is taught in U.S. public schools

No. 36 is the Penn State survey of how evolution is taught in U.S. public schools, conducted by Penn State political science researchers Eric Plutzer and Michael Berkman and graduate student Julianna Pacheco.

In the first nationally representative survey of teachers concerning the teaching of evolution, the researchers show that one in eight high school biology teachers presents creationism as a scientifically valid alternative to Darwinian evolution. While this number does not reflect public demand, it does represent a disconnect between legal rulings, scientific consensus and classroom education.

The Discover Magazine story is at

The Penn State story is at

No. 44: Colony Collapse Disorder

No. 44 is the mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), an affliction affecting honeybees and threatening pollinator services and the crops that rely on them.

Dennis vanEngelsdorp, acting state apiarist for Pennsylvania and senior extension associate at Penn State, is a lead investigator. A 2007 study by a team of entomologists and infectious disease researchers found a strong correlation between the occupancy of CCD and a virus, Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IVAP).

Penn State has been a major player in the investigation of CCD and continues monitoring bee colonies, suggesting potential mitigations and searching for a solution. Some industries — almond trees and other fruit trees — rely heavily on honeybees to produce crops.

The Discover Magazine story is at

The Penn State story is at

No. 85: New species of hobbit-sized hominids


No. 85 is a continuing debate about the existence of a new species of hobbit-sized hominids, initially found in 2004. Two follow-up studies in 2008 have supported the new species theory, but Robert Eckhardt, professor of developmental genetics and evolutionary morphology at Penn State, argued that the hominids were humans with developmental abnormality.

He notes that DNA isolated from the remains matches that of homo sapiens — modern humans — and that no study has ruled out the possibility that the "hobbit" is a developmentally abnormal human.

The Discover Magazine brief is at

The Penn State story is at

  • Top 100 Stories of 2008

    IMAGE: Discover Magazine
Last Updated November 18, 2010