New antibiotic found in human nose

You may have heard about drugs disappearing into people’s noses. But at a meeting here this week and in a new paper, scientists presented the opposite: A new antibiotic that has, quite literally, emerged from the human nose. The compound is produced by one species of nose-dwelling bacterium to kill another microbe, which kills thousands of people every year.

The study is “yet another demonstration that we should look to nature for solutions to the problems nature throws at us,” says Andrew Read, an evolutionary biologist at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, who was not involved with the work.

Any new antibiotic is welcome because the world is running out of these life-saving drugs. But the researchers behind the new finding believe that studying the microbial warfare going on inside our bodies may lead to not just one, but a whole slew of novel drugs. “We’ve found a new concept of finding antibiotics,” Andreas Peschel, a bacteriologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, said on Tuesday at the EuroScience Open Forum, a biennial science and policy meeting. “We have preliminiary evidence at least in the nose that there is a rich source of many others, and I’m sure that we will find new drugs there.”

Anxious to return to the Nice list, Penn State selects Santa Claus as its next president

As the ramifications of the Sandusky football scandal continue to play out, The Pennsylvania State University is putting its faith in an iconic figure to lead it on the long, difficult march back to respectability. At a news conference Monday morning in State College, Pa., Penn State will formally introduce its 18th president—Kris Kringle, a.k.a. Santa Claus.

“Some may see this as a surprising choice, but St. Nick is exactly what we need right now,” says Penn State Board of Trustees Chairman Steve Garban. “As we continue to deal with all that has transpired, we need to accelerate the healing process. Santa is the embodiment of hope and joy and goodwill. I can think of no one better in this role. His reputation is impeccable. And his qualifications are impressive.”

While no one knows Santa’s exact age, he’s believed to be hundreds of years old. And he hasn’t spent all that time merely overseeing his Workshop. Santa possesses a keen, inquisitive mind combined with a voracious appetite for reading and learning. Over the centuries, he has earned advanced degrees in dozens of disciplines. Among them are doctorates in child and family studies, international relations, logistics, marketing, organizational management and psychology.

And he’s no stranger to the administrative side of academia. Santa is the longtime chancellor of the University of the North Pole (from which he will take a leave of absence to assume the Penn State position). He is also president emeritus of Kringle College (which he founded) and is a distinguished visiting professor at Northern Lights University, the Upper Siberia Institute and the Community College of the Arctic Circle.

Equally important, given concerns about academic-athletic balance at Penn State, is Santa’s experience in overseeing big-time athletic programs. He has been commissioner of the annual Reindeer Games for many years and serves on the advisory boards of the Iditarod, the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics and the Canadian Curling Association. He also holds season tickets to the NHL’s Calgary Flames.

“I and others believe collegiate athletics will benefit from his sugar plum savvy,” says NCAA President Mark Emmert. “We feel he would be an insightful voice, and we hope he will consider an invitation to join our Executive Committee.”

Santa won’t assume office until mid-January, enabling him to complete his Christmas obligations and post-holiday production changeover. He will take over from Penn State’s acting president, Rodney Erickson, who has guided the university since Nov. 9, when the previous president, Graham Spanier, was fired. Erickson will move to a senior leadership position.

Once Santa arrives at State College after the New Year, he will spend most of his time on campus or traveling the world to meet with alumni, current and prospective donors, and world leaders.

“This is the first instance that Kris has accepted this type of very visible responsibility outside the Arctic Circle,” says Ernie Elf, Santa’s chief of staff. “He is usually not so readily available, but given the special circumstances at Penn State he believes it’s important to be out in public more, walking the campus, meeting the students and trying to grow the Nice list.”

During his typical crunch time, December, Santa will work exclusively out of his North Pole office, for obvious reasons. “It’s a very minor accommodation,” says Penn State’s Garban. “In no way do we want to affect Santa’s life’s work bringing joy to children and adults across the globe. And, frankly, the timing couldn’t be better—when he most needs to be at the Workshop, our fall semester is winding down as students take their finals and get ready for Santa to visit their homes.”

Initially, Mrs. Claus will be joining Santa in State College as he gets acclimated, according to Ernie Elf. Later, she will split her time between the campus and their home at the North Pole, directly overseeing the family business.

Santa’s reindeer will accompany the couple to Penn State and, as customary, will stay with Santa year round. “Over the winter, I understand they enjoy being outside most of the time,” Garban says. “From spring through mid fall, they’ll spend more of their time indoors in specially constructed, climate-controlled lodgings. They’re not accustomed to especially warm weather.”

In addition to being loyal companions, the reindeer are Santa’s principle means of transportation. And that’s not going to change. “Where Santa goes, Rudolph et al go,” Ernie Elf says. “He has no pretenses. He likes to drive himself.“

Santa Claus: If ever a place needed his magic, it’s Penn State.

The Pennsylvania State University.

Beaver stadium and the rest of Penn State is truly beautiful. I recently visited the university to see my best friend who is a freshmen. Up until that point, the only views I had on Penn State were based of opinions and the occasional exciting story that my friend expressed to me. I don’t believe it took me more then five minutes to realize I was in love with this establishment. The atmosphere is unworldly, so much positive energy and a sense of family that one almost feels over whelmed. You really do catch the drift fairly quickly that this university as everything in the world to offer you, something I do not see at my school. I cannot say I envy the student body of Penn State for attending such a remarkable school for anyone with a strong will and sense of direction in an outstanding career field could quite possibly go here. Maybe one day I’ll see myself walking those very academic buildings and dorms but for now I must work my way there and I can proudly say it is worth the wait. 


An open letter to all non-Penn Staters:

Dear sir or madam,

Today I woke up before 9AM on a Saturday to watch a Penn State football game.  You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not.  Here is why.

I am a Penn Stater.  This may not mean much to you, but to me it defines much of my identity, as well as my personality.  I am a Nittany Lion whose blood runs blue and white, through and through.  You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not.  Here is why.

When I was a newborn, I left the hospital in a Penn State onesie.  When I was 2, I got my first Penn State cheerleader uniform, and I owned at least two others as I grew and needed bigger sizes.  You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not.  Here is why.

When I was 8, I was looking at what instrument I wanted to play for band, and my parents steered me toward the trombone.  Why is this, you may ask?  Because, according to my parents, it was easier to make the Penn State Marching Blue Band on trombone rather than clarinet, my second choice.  You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not.  Here is why.

During 9th grade, I wore a grey, Nike Penn State sweatshirt for almost every single day of school (see photo below).  When it was hot, I pushed the sleeves up rather than take the sweatshirt off.  When it was cold, I wore two sweatshirts, with the Penn State one on top.  I only took it off to sleep, and to wash it once a week.  It is stained, smelly, and way too small for me now, but I still have it in my closet at my parents’ house.  You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not.  Here is why.

The infamous PSU hoodie of 9th grade.

When I was a junior, I applied to three schools.  Penn State ($50 application fee), West Chester (free application), and Drexel (free application).  I got into all three schools, and West Chester and Drexel offered me hefty scholarships to attend their institutions.  Penn State, on the other hand, offered menial financial support.  Where did I end up going to college?  Penn State, of course!  You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not.  Here is why.

I spent 5 years in college at Penn State.  I received two degrees and a minor while I was there, and I made hundreds of friends that I will never forget.  I made memories that I will cherish forever, many of which I have immortalized through pictures on social media.  I have a deep passion for my alma mater, and I will watch every possible Penn State game that I can until I am no longer a coherent member of society.  I will do my best to attend at least one home game each season, as long as it is feasible, and eventually I hope to obtain season tickets.  You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not.  Here is why.

In the future, I hope to share my experience and passion for PSU with my children, all the while hoping that they choose to follow the family tradition of becoming a temporary resident of Happy Valley.  I will buy them Penn State onesies, cheerleader/football player costumes, and shakers.  They will have at least 1 Nittany Lion stuffed animal and taste at least 3 flavors of Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream before their 5th birthdays.  You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not.  Here is why.

It’s not crazy because Penn State is not just a school to me.  It’s not just a football team, a college, a marching band, or a group of people.  I’ve literally been a Penn Stater since birth.  Penn State is a deeply ingrained part of my life that has helped to shape me into the person I am today.  It is where my parents met.  It’s where my in-laws met.  It’s where I met my husband.  It is where my earliest memories with my family are, grabbing the traditional homecoming family photo at the Lion Shrine.  It is where I felt like I was part of a hundred year family tradition of musical excellence through the Blue Band (great grandfather, grandmother, parents, cousins, uncles, the list goes on and on).  Penn State is where I learned how to be a better friend, a better student, a better wife, a better human.  Penn State is what unifies me with an absurdly large group of alumni that I encounter all over the country.  It’s where I became a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, which has allowed me to find my first new friend group in our new residence.  It’s where I got to stand with thousands of other students against pediatric cancer, child abuse, and intolerance.  Penn State is literally almost everything to me.

So when I hear the “WE ARE!” chant on campus, in the stadium, in Walmart (which happens pretty often, actually), or even on the TV during games, it means so much more to me than a pump up cheer.  It means that there are other people that feel this strong pull to the same incredible feeling that I have.  That we literally arePenn State.  That without the people responding to that cheer, my life would be completely different.

So, yeah.  I may look crazy sporting my blue and white literally everywhere I go ( swear I have more blue in my wardrobe than any other color and have enough Penn State attire to clothe a small family for at least a month without doing laundry).  I may sound crazy defending my school regardless of what new drama befalls our highly public institution.  And, yes, I still love PSU every day, even with all of our blunders.  Penn Staters are my family, in more ways than one, and I will continue to express my love and loyalty for dear old state.

“For the glory of Old State,

For her founders strong and great,

For the future that we wait,

Raise the song, raise the song.

Sing our love and loyalty,

Sing our hopes that bright and free,

Rest, O Mother Dear, with thee,

All with thee, all with thee.

When we stood at childhoods gate,

Shapless in the hands of fate,

Thou didst mold us Dear Old State,

Dear Old State, Dear Old State.

May no act of ours bring shame,

To one heart that loves thy name,

May our lives but swell thy fame,

Dear Old State, Dear Old State.”



Joe Paterno

Yesterday Penn State University lost it’s heart when we learned the news of Joe Paterno’s passing.

Unfortunately though, people don’t want to respect the dead, but would rather speak ill off him, because of a mistake made on his part.

I just want to say a few things about the people that hate on him:

  • No matter how much we like to think so, Joe Paterno was as much of a human being as the rest of us. He was not a super-human incapable of making mistakes.
  • Think of his age. He was 85 years old. When he was growing up, it was very non-gay friendly, and many of the elderly do not believe that men can get raped - especially by other men.

Don’t hate on those of us within the Penn State community mourning his death. He was a father, a husband, a grandfather, a humanitarian, and an educator. He wanted students to join him in his ambition of reading so much that he donated millions of dollars to build another library. Even three weeks ago, despite the horrible way they fired him, he still donated another $100,000.

He coached football, but he cared for everyone. He loved Penn State as much as he loved his family, because to him we were his family, and to us he was our adopted father.

Please respect us and our family while we mourn this loss, and keep your venom elsewhere.

Call for research participants: Gender Diverse Parents

Are you a gender diverse (non-cisgender) parent?  Would you be willing to answer some confidential questions about your life and about your family? 

The purpose of this study is to examine the many ways families headed by gender diverse parents have been created, explore how families function, and learn about the relationship between partners. 

The study consists of an online survey and will take approximately 20-40 minutes of your time.  To qualify for the study you have to identify as non-cisgender/trans*/gender non-conforming/gender diverse parent and have a least one child of any age, this child can be biological, adopted, foster, step, etc.  This study has been approved by the Pennsylvania State University IRB #00005115.

If you and/or your partner are interested in participating or want further information please contact Samantha Tornello (Principal Investigator) via email or at the study’s website  I will send you a web link that you can use to access the study.

Thank you for your interest and I hope to hear about your family soon!


Samantha Tornello, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology &
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Pennsylvania State University-Altoona
Office: (814) 949-5351
Fax: (814) 949-5161

Looks like a super informative and affirming research project. And…

<<< Signal boost! >>>
Bizarre giant galaxy found in quiet corner of the universe
A galaxy 'built in reverse' with youngest stars on the inside.

Scientists have been taken by surprise to discover that a galaxy they thought was tiny and conventional is, in fact, enormous and bizarre – and quite unlike anything they have seen before.

At about 718,000 light-years across, UGC 1382 is more than seven times wider than the Milky Way – 10 times larger than was previously thought. But that isn’t the strange part.

Whereas most galaxies have the oldest stars closer to the centre, this one is the reverse.

“The centre of UGC 1382 is actually younger than the spiral disc surrounding it,” says Mark Seibert of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, in California.

“It’s old on the outside and young on the inside. This is like finding a tree whose inner growth rings are younger than the outer rings.”

Seibert and Lea Hagen of Pennsylvania State University found the galaxy by accident while they were looking for stars forming in run-of-the-mill elliptical galaxies – of which they thought UGC 1382 was one.

But when they started looking more closely at images in ultraviolet light through data from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), they were amazed to see a vast expanse of stars that shouldn’t have been there.

“We saw spiral arms extending far outside this galaxy, which no one had noticed before, and which elliptical galaxies should not have,” said Hagen, lead author of a study to be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

In optical light, UGC 1382 appears to be a simple elliptical galaxy (left). When astronomers incorporated ultraviolet and deep optical data (centre) they began to see spiral arms, and when that was combined with a view of low-density hydrogen gas (shown in green at right), scientists discovered that UGC 1382 is gigantic.


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