Cynthia Coleman


FDA OKs Maggots for Medicine

Maggots—the offspring of flies—are making their way to the modern medicine chest, according to this month’s Scientific American. The wee young of flies—larvae—munch on dead skin, cleaning bacteria from wounds.Science writer Carrie Arnold notes the FDA approved medical use of maggots in 2004, in part because some antibiotics have lost efficacy as drug-resistant strains of bacteria populate communities.I found half-a-dozen studies where researchers reported benefits of using grubs that eat decaying flesh on living patients....more

Science Censored

Imagine you could cure a disease but the government refused to allow you to study the data.That’s what happened at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) according to the latest issue of Scientific American. The CDC hires scientists and doctors to study a range of issues from flesh-eating bacteria to tuberculosis, and staff gather evidence on what harms you—morbidity—and what kills you—mortality. ...more

Like a Bullet in the Chamber

Some poor sod is having a bad PR day. Turns out Nike’s advertising campaign featuring Oscar Pistorius likens the athlete to a bullet in the chamber.Problem is Pistorius has been accused of releasing four real bullets from the chamber of a 9 mm pistol and killing his girlfriend. ...more

Girls don't need science

Guilty.  The provocative headline is intended to draw you into my blog because, yes, girls do need science.  I’m guilty of a fib.  But when I was a girl I truly thought I should forget science.  Who needs it?  Rather than studying, I spent my time in junior high school applying lip gloss and shortening my skirts. In science class I passed notes to my pals and rarely opened the book.  I was more interested in boys than science.  ...more

Girls don't need math

What can you say to attract undergraduate college students to a course in science communication? When I explain to new acquaintances that my work revolves around science communication, their eyes glaze over. Boredom sets in. So how can I persuade students? My Indian relatives advise me to speak from the heart and tell a story when I’m attempting to convince folks that science is scintillating. That math is sexy. But I haven’t always felt that way. ...more

Thanksgiving though a Native Lens

I’m not crazy about occasions we invent as an excuse to sell greeting cards or buy a floral bouquet. So I don’t celebrate Grandparents Day or Arbor Day.Many such events were created as an opportunity for news coverage: I know because I earn my living critiquing popular culture.If you can harness your idea to, say, Valentine’s Day, then you’re guaranteed a captive audience primed for the latest pitch.But now that we’re in the thick of Native American Heritage Month (November) I wonder how I might loosen the bonds of my cynicism....more

Confronting Christopher Columbus

Monday ushers in Columbus Day, an event that irritates indigenous folks in North America. Particularly vexing is the well-worn trope that Columbus “discovered” the continent.   Christopher Columbus offers a convenient target for our wrath but I can think of many other individuals who have caused grief among tribal people. Columbus and the Indian Maiden by Constantino Brumidi, Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons...more
Samuel Morton classified people according to skull size in the 19th Century, placing American ...more

Rocking Self Esteem

In my field we think about the role of self-esteem and self-efficacy when it comes to behavior. How we think about whether we’re equipped to accomplish a task influences if we attempt something new. In the wake of New Year resolutions I was wondering out loud about the influence of self-efficacy when a friend said an apt metaphor to describe this attribute would be a rock. Self-esteem as rock. She said, think of it as solid, dense and immutable. ...more

Technological Tyro

As far as technological savoir faire is concerned, I squat a long distance from the apex of knowledge.Most of my friends and colleagues long ago bought smart phones and would be considered Early Adopters by communication scholars. There are a few holdouts (including fellow professors) who refuse to buy a cell phone.The Portland culture respects and honors many low-tech approaches to daily living. You see folks cycling on beat-up bikes, kids cut their own hair and fellow denizens actually use the library for books, magazines and movies....more

Applying science to life

The current edition of Newsweek is chock-full of stories that will make you happier and healthier.Or not.The writers have fallen victim to the false reasoning that you can apply scientific results to your own particular case.Just because researchers find that, in some circumstances, drinking red wine is associated with fewer heart problems, you can therefore assume that you personally will benefit from drinking red wine.That’s faulty scientific reasoning....more