MCDONALD: Trying to GAIN an edge on ‘superbugs’

April 3, 2012
During a hockey game last Saturday, the Boston Bruins defenseman, Dennis Seidenberg, took a skate blade to his leg, slicing it open. By Thursday, the cut was infected, sidelining Seidenberg, who was now on a course of antibiotics. Three days later, Seidenberg was good as new, even scoring a goal in a win over the »

MCDONALD: Google, please help improve the mean

February 28, 2012
The data revolution is coming. While online marketing is getting fat off trillions of cookies, biology is exploding with DNA sequences, sports teams are selecting players who are undervalued by traditional metrics and public health researchers are mining queries to Google and posts on Facebook and Twitter to follow and predict disease outbreaks. Even disciplines »

MCDONALD: Negative data is still data

January 31, 2012
I am exceedingly good at failing. Even though I’m getting my Ph.D. in one of the best immunology departments in the world, the common thread running through my graduate school career has not been success, but failure. I’m not an anomaly, however. I am simply a scientist. For those of you who haven’t tried research, »

McDonald: Sounding off on the Cloud

April 6, 2011
Just over a week ago, announced its foray into the music streaming business with its new Cloud Music Player. While it’s true that the Amazon rainforest is almost always cloud covered, the name of the new player is more of a reference to the underpinning technology: Cloud computing. Cloud computing is not quite as »

McDonald: Girls, get gaming

March 2, 2011
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Kay S. Hymowitz decries the slacker-slob male prototype she claims is increasingly common in society. In the provocatively titled “Where Have The Good Men Gone?”, Hymowitz believes she has identified a cultural trend afflicting today’s young men: they “hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid »

McDonald: For AIDS, celebs sacrifice cyber life

December 1, 2010
Checking your tweets and Facebook news feed this morning, you may have noticed your favorite celebrities were unusually silent. Or perhaps eerily silent. That’s because numerous plugged-in celebrities, from Elijah Wood to Lady Gaga, have donated their lives — or at least their online presence — for one day, or until grieving fans reach the »

McDonald: Highlighting inhibits creative thinking

October 20, 2010
Print is dead. Or so I hear from my Kindle-toting friends. As someone who has yet to jump on the e-reader bandwagon, I’m quick to point out that although technically paper is dead tree, I can read my expired plant matter long after their fancy devices burn through their batteries. But this isn’t a rant »

McDonald and Sadanand: Clinical trials, point-counterpoint

September 29, 2010
As difficult as it may be to deny a drug to a desperate patient, controlled trials are the backbone of clinical science: We need them to answer the basic question of whether a drug works, and for which patients. Trials are not primarily designed to help the patients who participate in them, nor should they »

McDonald: Freshmen, it’s OK not to think sometimes

September 1, 2010
Schoolchildren everywhere (and maybe even some unlucky Yale undergraduates) will soon be penning some version of the “What I did on summer vacation” essay. For accuracy, I should probably say “typing.” And maybe I should define “vacation,” too. In fact, the ability to recall one’s adventures may very well reflect the writer’s “vacation” from said »

McDonald: Yalies must go beyond recycling

April 8, 2010
You’ve heard it ad nauseum: reduce, reuse and recycle. And yet, before you toss this paper (in the recycling bin, of course), consider Yale’s performance this year in the 10-week intercollegiate competition, RecycleMania. Sound familiar? In a column two months ago, Laura Wellman ’12 noted our lackluster standing (181st out of 267 schools) and implored »


March 3, 2010
Since the 1960s bisphenol A, or BPA, has been used to manufacture hard plastics ranging from an infant’s milk bottle and a child’s first sippy cup to every college student’s favorite Nalgene. Studies have suggested that over 90 percent of people have BPA — which can leach out of plastic into foods — in their »

Climate science stands on its own weight

February 3, 2010
Like many Americans, I witnessed our 44th president deliver his first State of the Union address last week, expecting to hear the usual remarks about the recession and, given Obama’s reputation as an orator, maybe at most a moment or two of eloquence. As a graduate student in biology, I was pleased but not surprised »