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Joe L. Martinez Jr. (1944-2020)

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Joe Louis Martinez Jr. died on 29 August at the age of 76. In addition to making extraordinary contributions to the fields of neurobiology and Chicano psychology, Joe was a tireless advocate of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences. He established professional development programs for individuals from underrepresented groups and provided lifelong mentoring as they pursued careers in science and academia. Joe was passionately devoted to expanding opportunities in the sciences well before diversity became a visible goal for scientific organizations and academic institutions.

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on 1 August 1944, Joe received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of San Diego in 1966; his master’s in experimental psychology from New Mexico Highlands University in 1968; and his Ph.D. in physiological psychology from the University of Delaware in 1971. His faculty career began in 1972 at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), shortly after the campus was established. He later completed postdocs in the laboratory of neurobiologist James McGaugh at the University of California, Irvine, and with neurobiologist Floyd Bloom at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California.

The University of California, Berkeley, recruited Joe in 1982, and he served as a professor as well as the area head of biopsychology and faculty assistant to the vice chancellor for affirmative action. As the highest-ranking Hispanic faculty member in the University of California system, Joe used his voice to help others from underrepresented groups. However, he felt that he could have a greater impact on diversity in the sciences by helping to build a university with a high concentration of Hispanic students, so in 1995 he moved to the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA). He began as a professor of biology and went on to assume a range of leadership roles, including director of the Cajal Neuroscience Institute. At UTSA, he worked with colleagues to obtain nearly $18 million in funding for neuroscience research and education. In 2012, he moved to the University of Illinois at Chicago where he served as professor and psychology department head until his retirement in 2016. At each institution, he embraced the opportunity to provide guidance and mentoring to innumerable students, faculty, and staff.

In 1976, upon realizing that the psychological health and well-being of Hispanics was being overlooked at CSUSB, Joe organized the First Symposium on Chicano Psychology. The following year, he edited Chicano Psychology, a book highlighting papers from the conference, which established him as a founder of the field of Chicano psychology. The book, rereleased in 1984, remains essential reading for both researchers and health care providers. Joe’s work in this area continues to influence thought on bilingual education and culturally sensitive mental health services.

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PHOTO: THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT SAN ANTONIO

Despite the success of his psychology work, Joe yearned to return to the lab. His preclinical research on the neurobiology of learning and memory had begun at the behavioral level, exploring the neurobiological substrates of learning and memory, and had moved into electrophysiological, neurochemical, and molecular mechanisms. He was at the forefront of demonstrating that drugs and neurotransmitters have the ability to modulate memory processes by acting on targets outside as well as inside the brain. He contributed to the finding that endogenous opioids are involved in learning and memory. His work also showed that long-term potentiation (LTP) is associative in nature, thereby helping to establish LTP as a potential physiological basis for associative learning.

Joe’s relentless dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion by mentoring scientists around the country in career training programs made him stand out in the field. Committed to offering extraordinary professional development to students from underrepresented backgrounds, he was constantly seeking funding and developing programs in career awareness, lifelong mentorship, and professional networking. He cofounded the American Psychological Association’s Diversity Program in Neuroscience and the Summer Program in Neuroscience, Excellence and Success (SPINES) at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Through these programs, for more than 20 years, he guided nearly 300 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to careers in neuroscience and academia. He was also a founding member of the National Hispanic Science Network (NHSN), which is dedicated to improving the health equity of Hispanics by increasing interdisciplinary translational research and fostering the development of Hispanic scientists. Through the NHSN, Joe influenced the careers of hundreds more young scientists.

Students would often walk away from a pleasant conversation with Joe, only to realize later that he had shared a profound and inspiring message, as well as guidance that would serve them for years or decades to come. We all appreciated his low-key, understated approach to mentoring. K.A.T. met Joe in the 1980s, A.Q.-H. trained as an undergraduate researcher in Joe’s laboratory in the early 1990s, and K.J.T. began as a postdoctoral fellow on Joe’s research team in the late 1990s. Each of us remembers Joe fondly, not only for his mentorship and the opportunities he created for us, but also for his kind heart, extraordinary intellect, and his inspiring friendship. Joe made us all feel like family.

Joe was an elected fellow of multiple scientific societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, the publisher of Science). He was on the editorial board of 10 different psychology and neuroscience journals and held senior editorial positions for several others. Joe’s accomplishments have been recognized with several prestigious awards, including the AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award in 1994. An extraordinary scientist, mentor, and activist, Joe was devoted to scientific excellence and to providing guidance and opportunities to others. His quiet yet strong presence will not be forgotten.

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Too bright to breed

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Night light from coastal cities overpowers natural signals for coral spawning from neighboring reefs.

PHOTO: NOKURO/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Most coral species reproduce through broadcast spawning. For such a strategy to be successful, coordination has had to evolve such that gametes across clones are released simultaneously. Over millennia, lunar cycles have facilitated this coordination, but the recent development of bright artificial light has led to an overpowering of these natural signals. Ayalon et al. tested for the direct impact of different kinds of artificial light on different species of corals. The authors found that multiple lighting types, including cold and warm light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, led to loss of synchrony and spawning failure. Further, coastal maps of artificial lighting globally suggest that it threatens to interfere with coral reproduction worldwide and that the deployment of LED lights, the blue light of which penetrates deeper into the water column, is likely to make the situation even worse.

Curr. Biol. 10.1016/j.cub.2020.10.039 (2020).

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SpaceX launches Starlink app and provides pricing and service info to early beta testers

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SpaceX has debuted an official app for its Starlink satellite broadband internet service, for both iOS and Android devices. The Starlink app allows users to manage their connection – but to take part you’ll have to be part of the official beta program, and the initial public rollout of that is only just about to begin, according to emails SpaceX sent to potential beta testers this week.

The Starlink app provides guidance on how to install the Starlink receiver dish, as well as connection status (including signal quality), a device overview for seeing what’s connected to your network, and a speed test tool. It’s similar to other mobile apps for managing home wifi connections and routers. Meanwhile, the emails to potential testers that CNBC obtained detail what users can expect in terms of pricing, speeds and latency.

The initial Starlink public beta test is called the “Better than Nothing Beta Program,” SpaceX confirms in their app description, and will be rolled out across the U.S. and Canada before the end of the year – which matches up with earlier stated timelines. As per the name, SpaceX is hoping to set expectations for early customers, with speeds users can expect ranging from between 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s, and latency of 20ms to 40ms according to the customer emails, with some periods including no connectivity at all. Even with expectations set low, if those values prove accurate, it should be a big improvement for users in some hard-to-reach areas where service is currently costly, unreliable and operating at roughly dial-up equivalent speeds.

Image Credits: SpaceX

In terms of pricing, SpaceX says in the emails that the cost for participants in this beta program will be $99 per moth, plus a one-time cost of $499 initially to pay for the hardware, which includes the mounting kit and receiver dish, as well as a router with wifi networking capabilities.

The goal eventually is offer reliably, low-latency broadband that provides consistent connection by handing off connectivity between a large constellation of small satellites circling the globe in low Earth orbit. Already, SpaceX has nearly 1,000 of those launched, but it hopes to launch many thousands more before it reaches global coverage and offers general availability of its services.

SpaceX has already announced some initial commercial partnerships and pilot programs for Starlink, too, including a team-up with Microsoft to connect that company’s mobile Azure data centers, and a project with an East Texas school board to connect the local community.

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Erratum for the Report “Meta-analysis reveals declines in terrestrial but increases in freshwater insect abundances” by R. Van Klink, D. E. Bowler, K. B. Gongalsky, A. B. Swengel, A. Gentile, J. M. Chase

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S. Rennie, J. Adamson, R. Anderson, C. Andrews, J. Bater, N. Bayfield, K. Beaton, D. Beaumont, S. Benham, V. Bowmaker, C. Britt, R. Brooker, D. Brooks, J. Brunt, G. Common, R. Cooper, S. Corbett, N. Critchley, P. Dennis, J. Dick, B. Dodd, N. Dodd, N. Donovan, J. Easter, M. Flexen, A. Gardiner, D. Hamilton, P. Hargreaves, M. Hatton-Ellis, M. Howe, J. Kahl, M. Lane, S. Langan, D. Lloyd, B. McCarney, Y. McElarney, C. McKenna, S. McMillan, F. Milne, L. Milne, M. Morecroft, M. Murphy, A. Nelson, H. Nicholson, D. Pallett, D. Parry, I. Pearce, G. Pozsgai, A. Riley, R. Rose, S. Schafer, T. Scott, L. Sherrin, C. Shortall, R. Smith, P. Smith, R. Tait, C. Taylor, M. Taylor, M. Thurlow, A. Turner, K. Tyson, H. Watson, M. Whittaker, I. Woiwod, C. Wood, UK Environmental Change Network (ECN) Moth Data: 1992-2015, NERC Environmental Information Data Centre (2018); .

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