Flying Colors: The seeker reveals the hidden world through the eyes of butterflies

This article is republished from Conversation Under Creative Commons Licence. Read the The original articlewhich was published on July 2, 2019.

Adriana Briscoe is an award-winning scientist and professor of evolutionary biology The evolution of vision in butterflies and how they see color. Briscoe is currently working on her first book, a memoir about What Else? butterflies. A descendant of Mexican immigrants who fled the Mexican Revolution at the turn of the century and settled in San Bernardino, California, Briscoe advocated hiring more Latino teachers of the sciences. Below is an edited version of an interview with her explaining her work, her roots, and why the United States needs more Latino STEM teachers.

I won prize Once for outstanding search. What characterizes your research or teaching?

I am fascinated by the sensory world of animals, which is both similar and different from ours. Butterflies can migrate using Ultraviolet polarized lightIt is a property of sunlight that we cannot see, by sensing the Earth’s magnetic fields. They can also see colors that we cannot see. I often wonder, why is the natural world so colorful? Are all color patterns meaningful to the animals that carry them? Or are some of the colors meant to help animals adapt to their thermal environment? I take a multidisciplinary approach to the study of animal coloration and vision.

What is the most interesting science you have done in the past five years?

Butterflies can’t tell us directly what colors they recognize, so I trained them To show me what colors they can see. People can train a butterfly to fly toward a colored light if you reward it with sugar water. After several rounds of training, if a hungry butterfly is given a choice between two colored lights, it will most likely go toward the light associated with sugar water. Seeing the butterfly you trained fly towards the right light is a little exciting. Their behavior tells you something about their sensory world – what colors matter to them and what don’t, what colors they can see and what they can’t. Some butterflies see red and green, while others see only red and green Are red-green color blindLike some people.

What prompted you to enroll in teaching?

I come from a family of Mexican American teachers. Growing up, I heard stories of how my grandmother and mother had to struggle with their education. In 1937, my maternal grandmother, Consuelo Lozano, was the daughter of Mexican immigrants The only spanish woman He attended Colton High School in San Bernardino County, California for graduation. Two years later, I married my grandfather, who dropped out of high school to pick oranges during the Great Depression.

During World War II my grandmother Aircraft inspected at San Bernardino Military Airport. My mother, Loretta Mejia, was the only one with a Spanish name A woman from San Bernardino County, the largest county In the United States, to graduate from the University of California, Riverside in 1965, which at that time had more than 3,100 students.

From ages six to nine, I watched my grandmother, who had gone back to school to earn her teaching degree in her sixties, homeschooled with other student teachers. These women were part of The largest group of bilingual teachers To graduate simultaneously in the United States, my mother and grandmother became bilingual elementary school teachers. Watching my mother prepare lessons to help children learn how to read night after night filled me with a deep respect for the work teachers do.

You talked about the need to government work To attract more Latinos to teach science. Why do we need government intervention to make this happen?

Many Latinos in the United States live in lower-income communities like the city where I grew up. Food insecurity popular among university students. Government intervention is particularly needed to increase the number of STEM workers and teachers. Most students cannot afford to work as unpaid interns in laboratories, yet gaining laboratory experience is key to becoming a scientist. Doing science and teaching science are expensive projects. For every $100,000 I spend on students, I should get a $150,000 grant for indirect costs.

We need more highly trained teachers and training is expensive. I was able to become a scientist because by the time I applied to college, my formerly working-class parents had raised their economic status through education and were able to pay my undergraduate tuition at Stanford. When it came time to enter graduate school, private institutions such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Ford Foundation paid for my research, and the National Science Foundation in the United States paid for my research.

As Glenda Flores points out in her award-winning book,Latina teachers“Affirmative action policies primarily benefit white women and have led to an increase in the proportion of white women in professions such as medicine and law. Teaching and nursing, professions formerly held by white women, are becoming more open to Latino teachers and teachers of color. The number of Latino teachers is on the rise. the increase in california, 20.2% Almost every K-12 teacher is Latino, although how many were born in the United States is not entirely clear. My research with Dylan Rainbow indicates that the percentage of Latino science and math teachers in California public schools is currently 3%And it’s a number that we clearly need to work on.

written by Adriana Briscoeprofessor of biology, University of California, Irvine.

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