The Scout Report -- Volume 27, Number 3

The Scout Report -- Volume 27, Number 3
January 22, 2021
Volume 27, Number 3

General Interest

Theme: Fungi

Tech Tools

Revisited

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General Interest

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Harvard Dataverse
Science

Researchers looking for a reliable data repository may enjoy Harvard Dataverse. The platform is free and open, welcoming researchers from across disciplines (in and beyond Harvard) to share and store data. Contributors have the option of making their data available to the general public or restricted to select groups, though users should note that "metadata is open and findable via search engines, even when the data are restricted." To begin, follow the "Getting Started with the Harvard Data Repository" link on the About page. The introductory video on the About page also provides a quick but comprehensive overview of the platform's benefits and highlights its implementation of the FAIR data principles ("findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable,"). The User Guide (found in the top menu bar) is another great resource for those new to the site. Readers who are not conducting research themselves can still browse the site to see what has been published. The main page organizes data by subject area, allows for personalized searches, and promotes a featured data set. Currently, the site is highlighting its COVID-19 Data Collection. [EMB]

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Coffee and Books Podcast
Language Arts

Launched this past summer, Coffee and Books is the perfect show for bibliophiles to cozy up with this winter. Marc Lamont Hill hosts the show, bringing his expertise as an author, scholar, and bookstore owner. His store, which is part coffeeshop and part bookshop, is named Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books (physically located in Philadelphia). The store's slogan, "Cool People, Dope Books, Great Coffee" matches the energy of the show. The "coffee" part of the podcast is not just charming imagery nor a play on the name of his shop; Hill starts each episode by asking his guests what they are drinking. This provides an unique introduction to each personality before diving into their work. Then, the podcast takes the shape of a virtual book club, as Hill engages guests in conversations about reading, writing, and social commentary. For example, episodes have included a lively review of former President Barack Obama's memoir (see the November 23, 2020 episode) and a discussion on abolitionist teaching and Black joy with professor and writer Bettina Love (see the October 19, 2020 episode). A new installment drops each week, so readers should check their preferred podcast platform often for the latest. [EMB]

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She Changed the World: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers
Social studies

North Carolina's Department of Natural and Cultural Resources created "She Changed the World" to both celebrate the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment and acknowledge ongoing struggles for equity today. The exhibition takes many forms, but users will likely want to begin with the embedded slideshow (found under "Online Exhibit"), which details the women's suffrage movement and ratification process, while also highlighting some failures of movement. For example, many branches of the movement excluded women of color, and even after the 19th Amendment's ratification, many women of color were barred from voting. Activists like Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown and Ella Baker led the charge for voting rights through a racial justice lens, culminating with the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 (prohibiting racial discrimination in voting practices). Many other parts of the traveling exhibition are also viewable online. This includes "She Changed the World: A Health Perspective," which discusses gender identity, autonomy, and wellness. Plus, educators will find a guide with more than 40 pages of classroom activities, and North Carolina residents can learn more about the "She Changed the World" oral history project. To share responses to the exhibition, or view additional online content, readers can use the hashtags #SheChangedtheWorld and #NCHerstory on their social media networks. [EMB]

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Pitt Rivers Museum
Social studies

This virtual tour of Oxford University's Pitt Rivers Museum is perfect for those who would like a look at one of the locations featured in the current HBO series based on Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials." Viewers can browse two floors of the Museum and explore vitrines that contain artifacts such as boat models, textiles, and ceramics. The "Help" button in the lower right corner provides detailed navigation instructions. Readers should be aware that the virtual tour allows users to zoom in on artifacts but does limit the ability to link back to the main Museum website (which is worth a visit, too). Established in 1884, Pitt Rivers is a leading destination for anthropology, ethnography, and archaeology enthusiasts. The Museum is currently undertaking a program of decolonization in recognition of the fact that colonial collecting practices of the period were violent and inequitable. Visitors can learn more about these efforts by following the "Committed to Change" link (under Changes to the Collections on the Collections Overview page of the main Pitt Rivers website). [DS]

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Breakthrough Toolkit
Health

Jim Allison: Breakthrough tells the story of Allison, the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine winning scientist, and his "stubborn [and] visionary quest to find a cure for cancer." While the general public will need access to select streaming services (such as Amazon Prime Video or PBS Passport) to view the film, educators can fill out a short form to gain free access. In addition to the film, educator's can implement the Educator Toolkit. This is a great classroom resource to engage students in discussions about science and perseverance; as biology professor Maia Larios-Saiz, PhD notes, "this film will inspire your students and foster discussion not only about the science behind immunotherapy against cancer, but also about the process of science as a human endeavor and how dreaming big and working hard pays off in the end." The toolkit splits the film into three segments (Introduction to Cancer, The Immune System, and From Discovery to Rollout) with a unique lesson plan for each, allowing it to be easily divided between class periods. Plus, educators have access to bonus materials including a glossary, summary worksheet (that doubles as both a movie guide and "pop quiz"), discussion guide, and activities that profile various STEM career paths. The toolkit is sponsored by Dragonfly Therapeutics and Skyhawk Therapeutics. [EMB]

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Theme: Fungi

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Fungal Diversity Survey
Science

The Fungal Diversity Survey coins the nickname "FunDiS," and for good reason. The group uplifts the uniqueness of the fungi kingdom, while also finding fun ways to engage citizen scientists in efforts to protect fungal ecosystems. Readers who are interested in getting involved should begin by browsing the Our Programs page, located under the Get Started tab. Here, visitors can learn about different levels of involvement before moving on to the Join a Project page to dive into the work. For a full list of all projects and locations, check out Project List (found under Sequence, FunDiS Projects, Project List). Other site highlights include the iNaturalist Database (under Observe) and Conservation Program (under Protect). Regardless of fungal expertise or scientific interests, the Resources section (and especially the Blog) likely has something of interest. After all, the fungal community interacts with many other disciplines, as exemplified by a November 2020 blog post, "Creating art from nature." The Fungal Diversity Survey is powered by its Board of Directors, volunteers, working group members, and liaisons, with support from other mycology organizations and partners. [EMB]

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Mycology and Citizen Science with William Padilla-Brown
Science

William Padilla-Brown wears many hats as "a mycologist, teacher, and social permaculture practitioner." On this episode of The Permaculture Podcast (a show that has spent the last decade connecting listeners to experts on diverse niches within natural ecosystems), Padilla-Brown discusses what sparked his interest in mycology and what the future holds for his various projects. He credits his agricultural curiosity to spending more time in nature and noticing so many different types of wild mushrooms. This led him to a permaculture apprenticeship, where he was surprised by the lack of expertise on wild mushroom cultivation. Inspired to learn more about the process so that he could share it with others, he began down the mycology career path. Now, he is a celebrated mycologist, speaker, and founder of MycoSymbiotics (a festival that brings together mycologists, artists, and more). On the podcast, Padilla-Brown explores a range of topics such as suburban sustainability (see the December 13, 2020 episodes) and natural disasters (see the November 7, 2020 episode). Padilla-Brown hopes that recent months of social distancing have offered a unique opportunity for listeners to "look outside, even in their own backyards, and see how much nature has really provided for us." [EMB]

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Rust Fungi of Southern Africa
Science

Rust disease, a plant disease caused by various species of fungi, is commonly spotted by its unique brown-hued spore pattern. Readers curious about the plant pathogens that cause the disease may enjoy this comprehensive key. Globally, thousands of species of rust fungi exist. More than 500 of these species hail from South Africa, giving the area a unique lens into rust fungi classification and identification. The key is both collaborative and on-going, inviting users to contribute specimens and resources, with a focus on adding additional taxa as available. Users may also enjoy the Identify a Rust Fungus tool, which provides various filters to narrow down different specimens one might encounter. The project is a collaboration between the Forestry Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (University of Pretoria, South Africa), the Department of Agriculture and Forestry (Queensland Government, Australia), and the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (University of Queensland, Australia). The key is authored by Dr. Alistair McTaggart (University of Pretoria) and Dr. Dean Beasley (Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ecosciences Precinct) with additional contributions from other scholars. [EMB]

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Fungimap
Science

Bringing together both professional and amature mycologists, Fungimap records the geographic "distribution of fungal species over time around Australia." Readers may wish to begin by checking out the informational pages under the About Fungi tab, including the Glossary of Useful Terms page. The site's Blog (accessible via the Categories drop-down menu on the right-hand panel) covers topics ranging from the discovery of new species (see the January 1, 2020 post) to the impacts of natural disasters on Australian fungi (see the January 23, 2020 post). Aesthetically inclined visitors will also want to check out the Galleries tab, which contains a set of photo collections from naturalists. In 2019, the organization began creating "a new edition of Fungi Down Under," their mycological map of Australia. More information on this project is available on the FDU2 Maps page (under Fungi Down Under), including links to the test maps created by University of Melbourne postgraduate student August Hao. Australian readers who want to join in on the fungi fun can learn about contributing to the organization's database on the Record page. Fungimap is directed by microbiologist Roz Hart and receives support from Atlas of Living Australia and the Australasian Mycological Society, among other organizations. [EMB]

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The Fungal Mating Game: A Simple Demonstration of the Genetic Regulation of Fungal Mating Compatibility
Science

Here is a fun(gi) fact: "Some fungi have more than 20,000 'sexes.'" While the genetics behind fungal mating can be quite complex, Lisa J. Vaillancourt (University of Kentucky, Lexington) created this game to distill some of the basics for mycology students. Educators will only need to gather a few decks of cards, the exact amount dependent on class size, to bring the activity to life. Instructions are provided for three different activities, reflective of bipolar mating and tetrapolar mating (with two species models). Vaillancourt also provides a results section with some key takeaways students should gain from the activity. This game was posted on the American Phytopathological Society's (APS) website, and readers interested in additional tools and activities from APS will want to check out their Education section. Here, teachers will find case studies, lab exercises, and lesson plans, among other resources. [EMB]

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Tech Tools

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Goxel
Arts

Goxel is a 3D drawing program that uses "Voxels" (short for "Volumetric Pixels," or cubes) to describe scenes. Most other 3D editing software (such as Blender) represents scenes as meshes of 2D triangles. Voxel-style art appears in a number of video games, most prominently Minecraft. In the Gallery section of the site, users can locate a number of examples that were created with Goxel. The Web Version link provides an in-browser version of Goxel that users can try out before installing the software on their computers. At the bottom of the Goxel front page, users will find a video where artist Thibault Simar builds a 3D castle in Goxel. The Download section of the site provides installers for Windows and macOS computers, as well as links to iOS and Android versions. [CRH]

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BRL-CAD
Science

BRL-CAD is a computer aided design system. It was originally created in 1979 at the U.S. Army Ballistic Research Laboratory to perform simulation and analysis of "combat vehicle systems and environments." It retains an emphasis on engineering analysis but has grown to become a general purpose system for both Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D modeling workflows. BRL-CAD follows the UNIX design philosophy of providing small, composable tools that can be combined as the user sees fit to support their workflow. Rather than providing a single monolithic application that seeks to solve every problem, BRL-CAD offers a set of purpose-built tools that exchange data in a set of common file formats. In the Gallery section of the BRL-CAD site users can locate examples created with the software. The Docs section includes both detailed reference materials and a variety of tutorials. The Download section of the site offers installers for Windows, macOS, Linux, and a variety of UNIX systems. [CRH]

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Revisited

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Mushroom Observer
Science

Join fellow citizen mycologists on their mission to fill in mushroom research gaps (notably, more than 95 percent of the world's fungi species remain unknown to science) by returning to this feature from the 02-28-2020 Scout Report.

Mushroom Observer exists to record observations about mushrooms, help people identify mushrooms they are not familiar with, and expand the community around the scientific exploration of mushrooms (mycology). The site functions as a sharing space for mushroom experts and enthusiasts alike. Not only can users enjoy the existing content, but they can create a free account to add their own contributions. As of this write-up, the site has over 40,000 members who have contributed more than one million images and more than 400,000 observations. Users may want to start on the How to Use page, which provides tips for navigating and adding content, as well as a Concepts Glossary that defines terms users will encounter as they explore and contribute to the site. The site is searchable using the query bar at the top left, or by clicking on the Advanced Search (where they can filter by result type, add restrictions by location, and more). Visitors can also navigate using the menu on the left-hand side. The Indexes section has a plethora of tools, including a Glossary page (that contains definitions, many with pictures, of hundreds of mycology terms) and the Institutional Fungaria list (showcasing fungi collections around the world). [EMB]

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