Pseudo science and bias information

Fake news is everywhere. Science-related pseudo facts have taken over the gossip sites and social media. And we are only at the beginning of an uphill battle to set the record straight. In this contribution, Melissa Hoover, shares her investigation on how people’s response to fake news makes it easier for such inaccurate stories to propagate at a rate that is way more important than fact-based news. Continue reading here.

2-year postdoctoral position at DTU in computational chemistry

A 2-year postdoctoral position is available at DTU Chemistry starting from January, 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter, in the research group of Professor Kasper Planeta Kepp.

The project involves the study of the large protein complex γ-secretase, whose presenilin 1 subunit is the most significant genetic risk factor of familial early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Many pharmaceutical companies are developing medicine targeting this protein, which produces the infamous peptide Aβ. In 2016 and 2017 we developed the most complete structural and dynamic models of this protein in the membrane using multi-template modelling of available experimental data and extensive molecular dynamics simulation. This has revealed three major conformation states of the protein, the open, semi-open, and closed state, which we plan to target selectively with a new generation of conformation-sensitive medicine using our structures as basis. The project is thus at the forefront of current Alzheimer research and has a distinct competitive advantage by the use of explicit conformation states to direct the drug design.

Responsibilities and tasks

Your work will mainly focus on:

  • Building complete molecular models of substrate complexes with γ-secretase and Notch
  • Performing extensive molecular dynamics studies.
  • Perform chemoinformatic analysis of structure –function relations, including QSAR.
  • Carrying out docking simulations of a large variety of historic and new γ-secretase modulators, including new types specifically targeting the pathogenic conformation state.
  • Drafting manuscripts describing project results.
  • Up to 3½ weeks/year of teaching obligations (group supervision, some minor course teaching) as part of a training towards an academic career

we require the following:

  • Candidates should have a PhD degree in computational chemistry or similar.
  • Strong experience with protein modeling, including molecular dynamics using Gromacs, Desmond, or related programs
  • Good programming and scripting skills.
  • Several first-author papers in good international journals.
  • Independence and good communication skills in English.
  • A strong desire to work in science and continue an academic career.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and an academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and terms of employment
The position includes an internationally competitive salary and pension package, vacation allowance, and Danish state-paid health care, and the position is for 24 months, with possible extension thereafter.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Kasper Planeta Kepp, tel.: +45 4525 2409.

Application procedure
Please submit your online application no later than 1 November 2017 (Local time). Apply online at

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link “Apply online”, fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • Application (cover letter)
  • CV
  • Diploma (MSc/PhD)
  • List of publications

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.
All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, disability, race, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 5,800 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society; and our 11,000 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies

“With the right ingredients, life seems to form very quickly” Mark Harrison

The origin of life started much earlier than scientists thought. The 19th of October 2015,  a research supporting that our planet’s first form of life was originated at least 4.1 billion years ago was published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That means 300 million years earlier than previous research suggested, shortly after, almost instantaneously, the planet formed (4.54 billion years ago) and prior to the massive bombardment of the inner solar system that formed the moon’s large craters (3.9 billion years ago).

Scientists had long believed the Earth was dry and desolate during that time period. However, the new research, carried out in UCLA, showed that the planet was probably much more like it is today than previously thought. Simple life appears to have formed quickly and it would evolve to photosynthesize after many millions of years.

The scientists identified and revealed primary inclusions in a mineral, namely dark specks contained in zircons, that were analyzed with Raman spectroscopy. The zircons had a specific ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-13 that indicates the presence of photosynthetic life. The graphite is older than the zircon containing it, being the latter 4.1 billion-years old.

Video: Dark specks contained in zircons.

Read more here

From waste to precious metals

Just as a modern version of the fairy tale The Ugly Duckling, a group of FEFU (Far Eastern Federal University) scientists have developed a method to take care of combustible stone’s waste and turn it into precious metals. As explain in rbth science and technology, ash waste is no longer considered a problem that occupies vast areas and pollute the environment, but a cost-effective mine for processing the platinum group metals and other valuable components.

This work falls within the scope of EURELCO (European Enhance Landfill Mining), which promotes research on conditioning and integrated valorisation of a landfilled waste stream, using innovative transformation technologies.

“Fireproof” trees to prevent the spread of wildfires

The cypress trees shown in image resisted a fire that had devastated 20,000 hectares around Andilla (Spain) in July 2012. All around the 9,000-m2 area of cypresses, including pine, oak, holm oak, juniper and gorse trees; had been consumed by the flames, whereas, only 12 cyppresses burnt (1.26% out of more than 940 of mediterranean cyppresses in total).

After three years of research, a study about the use of cypresses as a screen against fire was published in the Journal of Environmental Management.*
The high resistance of the cypresses to ignition has raised the possibility of using this species in fighting forest fires. Especially noteworthy is the behaviour of the tops of the trees which, despite the fact that the trees are packed close together, the fire did not advance through the higher branches and on the top of that, the flames barely caused the drying out.

“La naturaleza tiene la respuesta a muchos de los problemas que enfrentamos” B. Moya.

* Della Rocca, G; Hernando, C; Madrigal, J; Danti, R; Moya, J; Guijarro, M; Pecchioli, A; Moya, B. 2015. Possible land management uses of common cypress to reduce wildfire initiation risk: a laboratory study.
JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Vol: 159, 68-77 pp, DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.05.020
Published: AUG 15 2015