Deborah Devis

Deborah Devis

Dr Deborah Devis is a science journalist at The Royal Institution of Australia.

  • New, recyclable bone cell

    Newly discovered bone cell named after Power Ranger

    A new bone cell discovery suggests that even cells make an effort to recycle. A team of researchers, led by Michel...

    February 26, 2021
  • Are theists more moral than atheists?

    Is morality just for believers? Probably not.

    A team of researchers led by Tomas Ståhl of the University of Illinois, USA, found that both atheist and theist moral...

    February 25, 2021
  • Carbon storage stars

    Mangrove forests get top sequestering marks.

    Mangrove forests could be the key to reducing carbon, according to a new study. Researchers studying mangrove for...

    February 25, 2021
  • High times at New Years

    Traces of designer drugs found in Australia wastewater.

    Australians may be partying harder than previously thought, according to our water. Researchers from the Universit...

    February 24, 2021
  • Cosmic neutrino blast

    Tidal disruption event gives birth to travelling neutrino.

    A little bit more is now known about the cosmos, thanks to research involving a neutrino space odyssey, a black hole ...

    February 23, 2021
  • Root problem in compact soil

    Plants growing in tough soil respond to hormones, not barriers.

    When soil is tough and compact enough to make using a shovel difficult, roots are going to have trouble too, but not ...

    February 22, 2021
  • Netflix and gill: TV for fish

    A UV fish TV reveals how fish see.

    If you are a fish and want to watch TV, this might be the invention for you. Researchers from the University of Qu...

    February 19, 2021
  • Twisty molecular elevator

    The shape of the glutamate transporter is revealed.

    How do brain cells talk to each other? With machines, of course. A team, led by Ichia Chen of the University of Sy...

    February 18, 2021
  • Koala teeth map history

    Adelaide’s past as told by koala teeth.

    If you want to know how Adelaide, South Australia, was settled by Europeans, you may need to look at rat and koala te...

    February 18, 2021
  • Good games

    Feeling sad? Play Animal Crossing to cheer up!

    Get your islands ready and prepare your plant army because, contrary to popular belief, video games really could brin...

    February 17, 2021
  • Cadmium overload

    Soil changes mean more toxins in food.

    Not everything in soil is good, and some trace elements – like cadmium – can be picked up by plants and transferred t...

    February 17, 2021
  • Why are reports of sexual assault delayed?

    Machine learning reveals trends in under-reporting of sexual assault.

    Reporting sexual assault is a very sensitive and nuanced matter, and identifying at-risk groups may illuminate areas ...

    February 16, 2021
  • Rewind: Where the women are

    Nine studies led by women from the past few months.

    Each 11 February is the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and to celebrate, today we’ve gathered ...

    February 11, 2021
  • Old fish, new genes

    The coelacanth got genes from horizontal transfer.

    Thought to be extinct for 65 million years, a surprise coelacanth (pronounced see-luh-kanth) was captured in 1938 and...

    February 11, 2021
  • Hearts stopped young

    Deaths from cardiac disease aren’t just an oldies’ problem.

    Sometimes, the heart just stops for no perceivable reason. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a prevalent hidden killer, ...

    February 10, 2021
  • Forget-me-not neurons

    Our brains are hardwired with visual working memory.

    How do you know where something is when you can no longer see it?  Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of...

    February 9, 2021
  • Bad hormones

    Synthetic progesterone linked to brain tumours.

    Prolonged use of hormones may have long-term consequences for women. A team of researchers led by Alain Weill from...

    February 4, 2021
  • Spidey crane

    Tangle-web spiders use pulleys to subdue big prey.

    If spiders aren’t scary enough, tangle-web spiders can catch really, really big prey with their crane-like pulley-sys...

    February 3, 2021
  • Tau tangles brains

    Toxic leakage of an otherwise useful cell protein leads to Alzheimer’s.

    As if Alzheimer’s wasn’t vicious enough, researchers have found the wrong type of breakthrough – a brutal process whe...

    February 3, 2021
  • Snakey sine waves

    The physics of sidewinder snake movement.

    Physicists have long studied the unique movement of snakes, and now they have proof that there’s more to snakeskin th...

    February 3, 2021
  • Rex relative, dog-sized

    Cute discovery sheds light on life of baby tyrannosaurs.

    A terrifying tyrannosaur – a cousin of T. rex – may have started its life about the size of a border collie. Artis...

    January 29, 2021
  • Women’s hearts: not just a girly thing

    Experts in women’s health and wellbeing call for recognition of unique experience.

    Shock news for women around the globe: your cardiovascular symptoms are not vaguely the equivalent of men’s and ought...

    January 28, 2021
  • Safe Country

    A new paper shows that indigenous lands have a significant role to play in protecting endangered wildlife. The paper,...

    January 25, 2021
  • Mozzies off moggies

    Catnip chemical attracts cats and appears to repel mosquitoes.

    Seen your cat rolling around in catnip (Nepeta cataria) or silver vine (Actinidia polygama)? Your furry friend might ...

    January 22, 2021
  • Silicone memory?

    Metamaterial can be reprogrammed with different properties.

    If you need a material that can literally be changed to suit you over time, look no further. Metamaterials – meani...

    January 21, 2021
  • Fold here for success

    DNA origami might be the answer for making superconducting nanomaterials.

    DNA is a clever molecule that folds easily, so it can be used to act as scaffolds for nanomaterials. This involves lo...

    January 20, 2021
  • Butterfly turn-off, flower turn-on

    Chemical scent plays a remarkably different role for insects and plants.

    Seems that some smelly butterflies don’t get a lot of action, thanks to an anti-aphrodisiac. A new study, led by K...

    January 20, 2021
  • Pipe dream

    Access to water a win in many ways for Zambian women.

    Those of us in the developed world tend to take our privileges for granted: it’s exactly what drove the Internet meme...

    January 19, 2021
  • Useless evolution

    Some evolutionary changes have no particular reason or benefit.

    It’s easy to focus on the big picture when one thinks of evolution: how organisms adapt and change over the march of ...

    January 18, 2021
  • School of fishy little robots

    Fish-like Bluebots use LED lights and cameras to swarm like the real thing.

    Why have a school of fish when you can have a school of robots? This is a question recently answered by a team of ...

    January 15, 2021
  • Animal magnetism is real

    Snakes repel venom via a magnet-like mechanism.

    Franz Mesmer might have been on to something when he described animal magnetism as an invisible force possessed by al...

    January 15, 2021
  • ASD and suicide risk

    Tailoring prevention for the neurodivergent.

    A nation-wide study of people aged 10 years and over diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Denmark has lin...

    January 14, 2021
  • Odd jobs: paleodermatologist

    Looking skin deep can provide new discoveries, at least in this vanguard field of research.

    All manner of unusual jobs exist in science, but perhaps one of the most remarkable is the expertise of Phil Bell, of...

    January 14, 2021
  • Down with the (antibiotic) resistance!

    Phages force problem bacteria to expose themselves to antibiotics.

    How do you stop a superbug from fighting an antibiotic? Try giving it another enemy. Acinetobacter baumannii is a ...

    January 13, 2021
  • Not-so-identical twins

    Monozygotic – “identical” – twins have small genome differences.

    Identical twins have long been touted as an incredible resource for genetics because they’re “genetically identical”....

    January 12, 2021
  • Eating out: care needed

    Risk of HPV-related throat cancer is higher with multiple oral-sex partners.

    Seems we need to take care when going down, because the frequency of oral sex might increase the risk of human papill...

    January 11, 2021
  • Land of the Long White Drought

    La Niña brings rain to Australia, drought to New Zealand.

    Lush, temperate rainforests, flowing rivers and abundant glaciers are just part of New Zealand’s (Aotearoa) charm. Bu...

    January 8, 2021
  • Infertility time-bomb

    Mother’s pre-pregnancy weight can affect son’s reproductive health.

    Infertility is a heartbreaking experience that carries a huge emotional toll, and the reasons for it remain elusive o...

    January 7, 2021
  • Prostate breakthrough

    Researchers find possible prostate cancer blocker.

    As well as being common and commonly lethal, prostate cancers are also pretty cunning, with an ability to resist horm...

    January 6, 2021
  • The brain knows when we’re feeling lonely

    Neural signatures show how our imaginations respond.

    Loneliness isn’t just a feeling; it appears to deeply affect our brain networks. When nobody is around, our imaginati...

    December 18, 2020
  • Gardeners may have one gene to thank

    Study pinpoints the cause of flower diversity.

    The huge variety of flowers we know has made them seem very complex, but there may be a relatively simple reason why ...

    December 12, 2020
  • Scientists brave enough to grow a spine

    Stem cells self-organise into trunk-like structures.

    Growing an embryo outside the body may not be that far away. German scientists report that they have successfully ...

    December 11, 2020
  • Human egg cells are imperfect too often

    Failure to recombine surprisingly common, study finds.

    The events that happen before life begins can go wrong surprisingly often. An important one is meiosis, where cell...

    December 11, 2020
  • Delving into domestic donkeys’ past

    Genome study reveals some clever breeding.

    Donkeys have been helping humans for millennia, but our knowledge of their origins has previously been limited to arc...

    December 9, 2020
  • Natural selection and the pressure to evolve

    There’s a lot to learn when a gene turns green.

    Some genes might not mind a bit of extra pressure when it comes to evolution. A Swiss team led by Andreas Wagner o...

    December 8, 2020
  • How on Earth did you get like that?

    Study explores the blending of complex animal patterns.

    A little mathematics has shown how animals get their extraordinary patterns. Previous studies have revealed how an...

    December 4, 2020
  • The protein that walks, folds and rests

    New images provide insights into muscle disorders.

    The myosin protein is well known for walking, but now it seems it also sleeps. 3D visualisation of: top, the shutd...

    December 3, 2020
  • How to pick the best microalgae

    New system assesses potential for biofuel production.

    The fuel of the future may be produced by microalgae – but which microalgae? We know these microorganisms use sunl...

    December 2, 2020
  • Does that reef smell good?

    Chemicals in gases may be an indicator of coral health.

    Gassy corals make a happy reef, it seems, but these gases may be lost if the water gets too hot. Animals release g...

    December 1, 2020
  • Naming that plant just got easier

    Researchers streamline the list of known vascular species.

    A major difficulty in plant research is the sheer abundance of names.  Most databases contain multiple or archaic ...

    November 27, 2020
  • Wheat and barley are incredibly diverse

    Scientists begin building an encyclopedia of their genes.

    The grains we use for bread and beer have thousands of years of history. Now, researchers are one step closer to unde...

    November 26, 2020
  • The evolution of an aggressive tumour

    Genomic study may help save the Tasmanian Devil.

    Australia’s iconic Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is particularly prone to a cancer that spreads through biti...

    November 26, 2020
  • Where to look for bees of different types

    Hint: think temperate zones and more to the north.

    There’s a lot more to bees than you might think, because there’s a lot of them. Around 20,000 different species, in f...

    November 20, 2020
  • Genes help some coral cope with low oxygen

    Researchers study varied stress susceptibility on reefs.

    Low oxygen levels in the ocean prevent coral from respiring properly and could be as much of a threat to the world’s ...

    November 18, 2020
  • The shape of colour

    Patterns in the brain are specific to what you see.

    The age-old question of whether we all see colour the same may now have an answer. Researchers at the National Eye...

    November 17, 2020
  • A cheat sheet to help know your neurons

    Researchers develop new way to sort and classify them.

    Not all neurons are equal, so researcher are building a “cheat sheet” to clarify things. In the largest categorisa...

    November 13, 2020
  • Diversity is a key to survival for mammals

    Genome study identifies important positions in the DNA.

    Mammals most at risk of extinction have low genetic diversity in some regions of DNA, according to a new genomic anal...

    November 12, 2020
  • Bird genome project really takes off

    We now know a lot more about the avian tree of life.

    Bird lovers can now rejoice in exploring the genomes of nearly all bird families. About 40% of the newly sequenced...

    November 12, 2020
  • Some (coral) like it hot

    New CRISPR technique isolates heat tolerance gene.

    Warming oceans are bad news for coral, but an improved CRISPR-Cas9 technique has revealed a “heat shield” gene that c...

    November 11, 2020
  • Microbiota catalogue just got bigger

    Thousands of new species discovered using DNA.

    Scientists have deciphered 12,566 new species of microbiotas from DNA samples, expanding the diversity of bacteria an...

    November 10, 2020
  • How the gut protects the brain

    Defence antibodies learn from the intestine.

    The gut is well known for being the first line of defence against infection, but it seems it also protects our most i...

    November 5, 2020
  • Where humans go, dogs follow

    Genome sequencing reveals our shared history.

    “Man’s best friend” is the phrase most often wheeled out to describe dogs’ thousands of years as a human companion an...

    October 30, 2020
  • A great African gene migration

    New variants reveal patterns of human movement.

    Exploring a huge number of genes has helped uncover migration of early humans and the evolution of disease-resistant ...

    October 29, 2020
  • Brains plan for action, not limbs

    Same region controls reaching by hand or foot.

    The brain isn’t going out on a limb when choosing to grasp things. Instead, new research shows, there is an overar...

    October 28, 2020
  • Big brains, big math scores

    Genes could be the reason you’re a natural – or not.

    A gene called ROBO1 helps brain development, which can also lead to higher math scores, according to new German resea...

    October 23, 2020
  • Healthy bacteria thrive in gut before birth

    Microbiota help healthy foetuses grow.

    Micro-organisms in the gut microbiome begin growing in foetuses as early as five months, new research shows. In a ...

    October 20, 2020
  • Honeybee ID is a gut feeling

    They recognise each other thanks to similar microbiomes.

    Bee sisters are genetically closer than human sisters, so it’s easy to assume this is why they recognise each other. ...

    October 16, 2020
  • How tardigrades survive in India

    Study suggests they have a fluorescent UV shield.

    Tardigrades have always been known for their toughness, but now it seems they might be able to share a superpower. ...

    October 15, 2020

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