LGBTQ+ Studies: a Mini-Collection of Review Articles.

June 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, an uprising of the LGBTQ+ community in New York City that is credited for sparking the gay rights movement in the United States.   

To commemorate the anniversary, we are offering access to four articles that explore health, law, research, and public opinion of the LGBTQ+ community. They are all freely available to read.

“There have been extraordinary changes in public understanding and acceptance of LGBT people and issues, and significant advances have been made in scientific understanding of LGBT youth mental health. At the same time, critical gaps in knowledge continue to prevent the most effective policies, programs, and clinical care from addressing mental health for LGBT young people.” 

Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth, in the 2016 Annual Review of Clinical Psychology

“In a review of courts’ use of social science evidence on same-sex parenting and the immutability of homosexuality, Levit notes ‘a fairly dramatic shift in the past twenty years, [in which] science is becoming an ally to rather than an oppressor of gays and lesbians.’ Levit’s observation receives support from a recent study of citation patterns in social science research on the effect of parents’ sexual orientation on child outcomes.” 

The Role of Social Science Expertise in Same-Sex Marriage Litigation, in the 2017 Annual Review of Law and Social Science

“The prediction that transgender people would fall into the dustbin of history proved to be far off the mark. In the 1980s and 1990s, vibrant activism by transgender and gender nonconforming people around their economic and social marginalization, the medical regulation of their identities, and the legal restrictions on cross-dressing in public that were still on the books in many cities and states gained more visibility.” 

The Development of Transgender Studies in Sociology, in the 2017 Annual Review of Sociology.  

“With television shows such as Ellen and Will & Grace, even people who would not necessarily know an out gay individual have an opportunity to virtually know one. (…) Multiple studies have found that knowing someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is associated with more supportive attitudes. Moreover, the degree of contact matters. People are more likely to have positive views when they have a closer relationship with someone who is gay (Brewer 2007). It is harder to express negative views and discriminate against someone if the person is a close friend or family member.” 

Examining Public Opinion About LGBTQ-Related Issues in the United States and Across Multiple Nations, in the 2019 Annual Review of Sociology.  

Photographing a Black Hole

Using the EHT, scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87, outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon.
Credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

A team of astronomers published the first photograph of a black hole. The “monster,” as they’ve called it, is 40 million kilometers across (about 3 million times the size of Earth), located at the center of a galaxy known as Messier 87, about 500 million trillion kilometers away.

The image was captured by a network of eight telescopes named Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), and assembled with an algorithm developed by young computer scientist Katie Bouman.

Dr. Eliot Quataert is the Director of the Theoretical Astrophysics Center at UC Berkeley and an Editorial Committee Member of the Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophyics. His research focuses in part on black holes and galaxy formation. He spoke to Annual Reviews about this breakthrough.

What do you make of this announcement?

This is an incredibly exciting result. I was expecting something good but was even more amazed and impressed by the results than I had expected to be. It really is a testament to the hard work of hundreds of people over decades that we have been able to take this first real picture of what it looks like close to a black hole.

What new paths for research do you expect this will open?

The observations will continue to get better as the technology improves and new telescopes are added across the Earth, and maybe even in space. This will enable even better pictures of what the gas looks like close to a black hole. Over time, I think this will allow us to develop a better understanding of what is happening not only near the black holes that EHT can observe, but of all black holes across the Universe. This will impact a huge range of problems in astrophysics, from our understanding of how galaxies form and are affected by black holes to our understanding of the warped strong gravity very close to the event horizon of a black hole.

What articles can you recommend for readers who want to learn more about black hole research?

An older one, but famous, is “Black Hole Models for Active Galactic Nuclei,” by Martin J. Rees, in the 1984 Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Two recent ones on the role of black holes in galaxy formation are “The Coevolution of Galaxies and Supermassive Black Holes: Insights from Surveys of the Contemporary Universe,” by Timothy Heckman and Philip Best, and “Coevolution (Or Not) of Supermassive Black Holes and Host Galaxies,” by John Kormendy and Luis Ho, respectively in the 2014 and the 2013 volumes of the same journal.

We’ve made all three of these articles freely available for 30 days.

Annual Reviews appoints Rachel Ehrenberg as Associate Editor for Knowable Magazine

Nonprofit publisher Annual Reviews is pleased to announce that Rachel Ehrenberg has been appointed Associate Editor for Knowable Magazine.

Editor-in-Chief Eva Emerson welcomed her, saying:

“Rachel is a skilled reporter and writer, with a great track record producing accurate, high-quality science journalism. She has been a contributor to Knowable since its launch, writing some of our most notable articles, including What Makes a Tree a Tree? and a story on efforts to improve photosynthesis. We are thrilled to have her join our team.”

– Editor-in-Chief Eva Emerson

A native of Vermont, Rachel studied political science and botany at her home state’s school before obtaining a master’s in evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan. She then switched careers, graduating from the science writing program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Rachel was a staff writer at Science News for several years, where she reported on interdisciplinary sciences and chemistry and wrote the Culture Beaker blog. She was a 2013-2014 Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT and then a freelance journalist focused on the intersection of plants, food and public health.

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Knowable Magazine explores the real-world significance of scholarly research, punctuated with forays into wonder and awe. Review articles written by leading scholars from the nearly 50 Annual Review journals serve as springboards for stories in the online-only magazine. Through in-depth features, explainers, articles, essays, interviews, infographics, slideshows and comics, Knowable Magazine bridges the gap between review articles written by invited experts and the information needs of a broader audience. This journalistic initiative receives generous support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and benefit of society. Please visit the Annual Reviews Press Center to sign up for media-only access to journal content.

Congratulations Xihong Lin on election to the US National Academy of Medicine

One of the founding members of the Editorial Committe of the Annual Review of Statistics and Its Application, Xihong Lin, has been elected to the US National Academy of Medicine.

Xihong Lin is the Henry Pickering Walcott Professor of Biostatistics, professor of statistics, and coordinating director of the Program in Quantitative Genomics at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

She was elected for her “contributions to statistics, genetics, epidemiology, and environmental health through influential and ingenious research in statistical methods and applications in whole-genome sequencing association studies, gene-environment, integrative analysis, and complex observational studies.”

Warmest congratulations from all of us at Annual Reviews.

Andrew W. Lo appointed to Annual Reviews Board of Directors

I am pleased to announce that Andrew W. Lo has joined the Board of Directors at Annual Reviews, effective January 1, 2019. Andrew is the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, director of the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering, a principal investigator at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and an affiliated faculty member of the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He is also an external faculty member of the Santa Fe Institute and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Andrew is the founding and current Co-Editor with Robert C. Merton of the Annual Review of Financial Economics. His current research spans evolutionary models of investor behavior and adaptive markets, systemic risk and financial regulation, quantitative models of financial markets, financial applications of machine-learning techniques and secure multi-party computation, and healthcare finance. His most recent book, Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought, won multiple awards.

Annual Reviews will benefit enormously from Andrew’s expertise in research, economics, and publishing over the coming years. He described his enthusiasm and support for the mission of Annual Reviews during his presentation at the 2008 Financial Crisis: A Ten-Year Review conference in November 2018, which you can watch in the following video.

Board Member, Sharon R. Long wins the Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology

The winner of the 2019 Selman A. Waksman Award, presented to recognize a major advance in the field of microbiology, is Annual Reviews Board MemberSharon R. Long, Stanford University.

Long is a pioneering molecular biologist whose research on the symbiosis between plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria explains how some plants thrive without nitrogen fertilizer, making agriculture and natural environments more sustainable. 

In recognition of the award, we’ve made the PDF of Long’s 1989 Annual Reviews article, entitled Rhizobium Geneticsfreely available to download. Thank you, Sharon, for your ground-breaking research and for your many contributions to Annual Reviews.

Congratulations to Robert C. Kennicutt, Jr., winner of the 2019 NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing.

Congratulations Robert C. Kennicutt, Jr., Professor of Astronomy, University of Arizona; Executive Director of the Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy, Texas A&M, for winning the 2019 National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Reviewing, sponsored by us!

Kennicutt’s influential 1998 review paper, “Star Formation in Galaxies Along the Hubble Sequence,” has become one of the most-cited papers in astrophysics. The paper (PDF freely available to download here) synthesized a broad review of stellar formation, proving a critical intellectual foundation for the field, and also gave birth to two new fields of investigation: the characterization of tracers of star formation rates and the study of the connection between gas and star formation in galaxies.

Kennicutt is also known for the Kennicutt–Schmidt law, which defines a relation between the gas density and star formation rate in a given region, and for his role in constraining the value of the Hubble constant, the unit of measurement that astronomers and astrophysicists use to describe the expansion of the universe. He served as co-leader of the scientific team that definitively measured the expansion of the universe, and continues to research new methods to characterize the evolution of nearby and distant galaxies.   

The award will be presented on Sunday, April 28 at 2:00pm in Washington, D.C., at the NAS Annual Meeting. More information on all the NAS 2019 Award recipients can be found here.

David Zilberman, Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Resource Economics, Wins 2019 Wolf Prize

Congratulations to Annual Review of Resource Economics Co-Editor David Zilberman, of the University of California Berkeley, who won the 2019 Wolf Prize in Agriculture.

“Dr. Zilberman has incorporated biophysical features of agroeconomic systems to develop economic models and econometric decision-making frameworks to answer fundamental agricultural economic and policy questions in several important areas,” the announcement reads.

Read a few of his articles:
Adoption Versus Adaptation, with Emphasis on Climate Change,” in the 2012 Annual Review of Resource Economics.
Pest Management in Food Systems: An Economic Perspective,” in the 2012 Annual Review of Environment and Resources. 
Agricultural Biotechnology: Economics, Environment, Ethics, and the Future,” in the 2013 Annual Review of Environment and Resources.
An Alternative Paradigm for Food Production, Distribution, and Consumption: A Noneconomist’s Perspective,” in the 2015 Annual Review of Resource Economics.

A docent tour of Annual Reviews

Welcome Richard Gallagher, President and Editor-In-Chief of nonprofit publisher Annual Reviews, to our news blog. In the coming months Richard, an immunologist, science editor, and publisher, will contribute occasional posts from a personal and professional perspective here and in Annual Reviews’ Twitter stream (tweets signed RG).

On a recent visit to Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, I spent a fascinating hour being guided around a collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century garments from diverse Jewish communities by a docent (volunteer guide). She brought to life an exhibit that I would otherwise, in my ignorance, have breezed through in minutes.

It got me thinking that a docent tour of some personal favorites of Annual Reviews articles published in 2018 might be of interest. All articles described are freely available to read through the end of February, 2019. I’d be delighted to have suggestions for articles to include in future guides (simply leave a comment on this post or tweet us @AnnualReviews).

Let’s start with a brief article on “Science as a Culinary Art” from the Annual Review of Biomedical Data Science. It presents a vision for transforming medicine based on sharing the responsibility for collecting data and testing ideas among, essentially, everyone. Author Nicholas Tatonetti of Columbia University, New York, likens the process to cooking. “Today alone,” he writes, “billions will form hypotheses about the right combination of spices, temperatures, and wine pairings. Each of these hypotheses will be tested, evaluated for their success, and accepted or rejected, ultimately contributing to the body of human culinary knowledge.” Why can’t the same be done for biomedical research, he asks, with Big Data as the ingredients? It’s a clear and optimistic idea.  

One group that is already contributing a lot of data to the pursuit of health and well-being is people age 100 years and over, the centenarians. A century ago, life expectancy was 50-55 years. Today, in developed countries, it’s up to 87 years for women and 84 for men, and there are some 434,000 100-year-olds alive right now. I suspect that most of us would sign up for a substantial life extension if we knew we’d be healthy enough to enjoy it, so the factors that impact longevity, covered in this Annual Review of Nutrition article on Nutrition and Inflammation by three researchers from Bologna, Italy, are of more than passing interest. I was surprised (read dismayed) to find that regular timing of meals is critical, in part due to effects on the gut microbiome and on sleeping patterns.

Annual Review of Cancer Biology, Circadian Clock’s Cancer Connections.

The importance of maintaining circadian rhythms isn’t just a key characteristic of healthy aging and longevity; another great review in the Annual Review of Cancer Biology, Circadian Clock’s Cancer Connections, traces the link between circadian dysfunction and cancer risk. If your lifestyle is anything like mine, that is, unregulated eating and sleeping patterns and a lot of travel across time zones, a rethink may be required! I wonder when circadian rhythm gurus will start to appear on YouTube – if they haven’t already.

Annual Review of Anthropology, Industrial Meat Production.

Substantially reducing meat consumption was a personal change I made in 2018 that may provide some positive health impact. My decision was made primarily on environmental grounds, but reading an anthropologist’s take on corporate animal agribusiness (Industrial Meat Production in the Annual Review of Anthropology), offers additional reasons. Some of the statistics quoted by Alex Blanchette (Tufts University, Massachusetts) are grimly impressive, including the fact that “[b]etween 1935 and 1995, the time it took to raise a mature chicken decreased by some 60%, and yet the average size of each grown bird swelled by a stunning 65%.” Other facts, such as the existence of packinghouses where 20,000 pigs are killed every day, are simply grim. I challenge you not to find the “deanimalization” of meat to be grotesque. 

Annual Review of Criminology, Gun Markets.

This article on Gun Markets from the Annual Review of Criminology addresses an even greater social ill, gun violence. While the article is focused on the transactions that arm criminals and the sources of their weapons, it also provides an overview of guns in the United States. “Increasingly, people buy guns not to shoot animals or targets but rather to prepare for a time when they might need to shoot or at least threaten another person,” Philip Cook (Duke University, North Carolina) writes. “Half of gun owners say that self-protection is the reason or primary reason they own a gun.” That’s before he turns his attention to criminal use! Cook describes the underground gun market as “thin and balkanized,” depending on personal connections. Depressingly, after assessing regulation changes to impact this market, the best that he can say is that “[t]here is enough evidence of regulatory effectiveness to rule out the extreme version of the futility argument.” Hmm. Meanwhile, in 2018 there were 35 murders within 5 miles of my house, of which 30 were shootings. As an immigrant here in the United States, I find it unfathomable that we are prepared to live (and die) with the current legal, and consequent illegal, gun cultures.

Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, Mycofluidics.

And now for something completely different: mycofluidics, which (of course!) is microfluidics in fungi. Cells are the building block of all forms of life. You can think of them as enormously complex over-stuffed bags of chemistry and biochemistry. There must be rules that bring order, direction, and intent to the chaos, and this enthralling article from the Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics (Mycofluidics) describes one such set of rules: the fluid mechanics and engineering that underlie the growth and dispersal of fungi. For example, Marcus Roper (UCLA, California) and Agnese Seminara (Institut de Physique de Nice, France) describe four different approaches by which fungi can relocate by using explosive movement – remember, fungi lack limbs, fins, or wings – that are quite extraordinary. The illustrations are excellent and their writing is wonderfully descriptive; for example, “The unfurling of a mushroom is a feat of reverse origami.”

Another mind-expanding article covers our new-found ability to explore evolution through the analysis of ancient biomolecules. In Ancient Biomolecules and Evolutionary Inference from the Annual Review of Biochemistry, a distinguished group of European experts describe the preservation of ancient DNA, proteins, and lipids; how they are extracted and analyzed; and the unique processes developed for their sequencing and analysis. The second half of the article sheds new light on everything from the origins of early life forms to the domestication of plants and animals. Analyzing ancient biomolecules “profoundly deepened our understanding of the origin of early life forms, adaptation and extinction processes, and past migrations and admixtures that gave rise to present-day biological diversity, including in our own species,” the authors say. And this is just the beginning; their extensive “Future Directions” section points to even more profound insights to come.

As a keen-but-crummy chess player, I took some pleasure in reading that championship chess, attained by only the most gifted minds, is actually easier than moving the pieces. Dubious? In Toward Robotic Manipulation from the Annual Review of Control, Robotics, and Autonomous Systems, Matthew Mason (Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania) explains that while there are world-champion-level chess computers, they “still need human beings to do the actual moving of the chess pieces.” Manipulation of objects (control of the environment through selective contact) is a routine but extraordinary talent that animals in general, and especially humans, excel at, but that presents an array of challenges to robots. Mason contrasts animals’ manipulative breadth, robustness, and adaptability on the one hand, with specialization and performance advantages on the other gripper. He describes how machine learning will improve robotic manipulation, but it will be a while before a robot team competes in baseball’s World Series. 

Science is a pursuit of excellence that has parallels in art, athletics, cooking, and even comedy. But, while we have ready access to the deepest thoughts and the daily doings of rock stars, football players, chefs, and funnymen, similar treatment of researchers is rare; unfortunately so, because it could help reduce the gap between science and mainstream culture. Many of the Annual Reviews journals do include autobiographical profiles, which present scientists as, well, real people. A case in point is Fred Ausubel’s Tracing My Roots: How I Became a Plant Biologist from the Annual Review of Genetics. Ausubel’s early earnestness, influenced by C.S. Lewis and Zhou Enlai; curiosity; collegiality; and, ultimately, flexibility on what he wanted to study shine through in this description of evolving research on plant-microbe interactions over a 20-year period between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s.

I hope you’ll dip in to some of these articles. None of them are a quick, relaxing read, but they’ll leave you with the natural high that a little insight provides and a positive feeling about humankind’s abilities to explore our external and internal worlds.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society.

Knowable Magazine wins Folio award; receives several honorary mentions

Good news from the Folio Awards: Knowable Magazine has won the Ozzie Award for Design, New Magazine > Consumer/Custom.

The digital-only publication also received honorary mentions in the following categories:

For the full list of winners, see: https://www.foliomag.com/go/2018-eddie-and-ozzie-awards/ 

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Knowable Magazine explores the real-world significance of scholarly research through a journalistic lens. Using plain English and providing necessary context, Knowable Magazine reports on the current state of play across a wide variety of fields, with occasional forays into wonder and awe.

This initiative receives support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.