Posts tagged with "Virginia Tech"

Shooting down a bad idea: Hoodies with bullet holes spark viral backlash

September 19, 2019

A New York City-based clothing company has introduced school shooting hoodies that have bullet holes in them and feature the names of four schools at which major mass shooting have occurred—among them, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and Virginia Tech, ABC News reports.

The new fashion line was shown by the brand Bstroy during New York Fashion Week—and instantly generated fierce criticism on social media and in fashion blogs.

Bstroy, a self-described “neo-native” post-apocalypse streetwear brand, according to Paper Magazine, has been slammed with comments—of all types—after showcasing its Spring 2020 menswear collection, called “Samsara,” in a series of posts on Instagram.

“Under what scenario could somebody think this was a good idea? This has me so upset. If any of my followers no [sic] anybody involved with this clothing line, please ask them to stop it immediately,” tweeted Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed on February 14, 2018, by Nikolas Cruz in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas

A memorial page for Vicki Soto, one of the teachers killed in the December 14,2012, Sandy Hook shooting responded directly to the Instagram post of the Sandy Hook hoodie saying “As a Sandy Hook family, what you are doing here is absolutely disgusting, hurtful, wrong and disrespectful. You’ll never know what our family went through after Vicki died protecting her students. Our pain is not to be used for your fashion.”

“This is disgusting,” actress Alyssa Milano simply tweeted, according to ABC.

The network news outlet reported that one of the company’s founders, Brick Owens, responded to the critics by releasing a statement on Instagram. “Sometimes life can be painfully ironic,” the statement read. Like the irony of dying violently in a place you consider to be a safe, controlled environment, like school. We are reminded all the time of life’s fragility, shortness, and unpredictability yet we are also reminded of its infinite potential. It is this push and pull that creates the circular motion that is the cycle of life. Nirvana is the goal we hope to reach through meditation and healthy practices that counter our destructive habits. Samsara is the cycle we must transcend to reach Nirvana.”

We are making violent statements,” the other founder of Bstroy, Dieter “Du” Grams told The New York Times in a profile that was published last week. “That’s for you to know who we are, so we can have a voice in the market. But eventually that voice will say things that everyone can wear.”

ABC noted, “While the vast majority of responses to the clothing line were negative, there were some who thought the company was doing their best to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence in America.”

“I hope all the people in the comments that are upset, are upset enough to talk to their elected officials about serious gun control measures,” said Instagram user @magnetic_poles.

Bstory has not immediately responded to ABC News’ request for comment on Wednesday morning.

Research contact: @ABC

You won’t be a hit with mosquitoes, if you swat back

July 6, 2018

Do you ever feel as if you have been singled out in a crowd—the only one to return home from outdoor activities with itchy, red welts rising all over your body? Well, we hate to say so, but it’s true: Mosquitos remember the taste and smell of human blood, according to researchers at the Frain Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech, and they often pick on people whose blood tastes the sweetest to them.

That’s the bad news. The good news, based on a recent study, is that, if you swat determinedly at the mosquitoes around you, they will remember the unpleasant sensation—and stay away from you in the future.

Indeed, the Virginia Tech study—published last January in the journal Current Biology—found that the pesky insects have much larger and longer memories than we could have imagined. The researchers found that mosquitoes can learn rapidly and remember the smells of the tastiest hosts. Dopamine is a key mediator of this process. Mosquitoes use this information and incorporate it with other stimuli to develop preferences for a particular vertebrate host species, and, within that population, certain individuals

However, the study also proved that even if an individual is deemed delicious-smelling, a mosquito’s preference can shift if that person’s smell is associated with an unpleasant sensation. Hosts who swat at mosquitoes or perform other defensive behaviors may be abandoned, no matter how sweet.

Clément Vinauger, an assistant professor of Biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; and Chloé Lahondère, a research assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry, demonstrated that mosquitoes exhibit a trait known as aversive learning by training female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to associate odors (including human body odors) with unpleasant shocks and vibrations.

Twenty-four hours later, the same mosquitoes were assessed in a Y-maze olfactometer in which they had to fly upwind and choose between the once-preferred human body odor and a control odor. The mosquitoes avoided the human body odor—suggesting that they had been successfully trained.

By taking a multidisciplinary approach and using cutting-edge techniques, including CRISPR gene editing and RNA interference (RNAi), the scientists also were able to identify that dopamine is a key mediator of aversive learning in mosquitoes.

They targeted specific parts of the brain involved in olfactory integration by fitting mosquitoes with helmets that allowed for brain activity recordings and observations. By placing mosquitoes in an insect flight simulator and exposing the mosquitoes to various smells, including human body odors, the scientists observed how the insects, trained or not, reacted. What they saw is that the neural activity in the brain region where olfactory information is processed was modulated by dopamine in such a way that odors were easier to discriminate, and potentially learn, by the mosquitoes.

“Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing exactly what attracts a mosquito to a particular human. Individuals are made up of unique molecular cocktails that include combinations of more than 400 chemicals,” said Lahondère.  “However, we now know that mosquitoes are able to learn odors emitted by their host and avoid those that were more defensive.”

“Understanding these mechanisms of mosquito learning and preferences may provide new tools for mosquito control,” said Vinauger. “For example, we could target mosquitoes’ ability to learn and either impair it or exploit it to our advantage.”

Research contact: vinauger@vt.edu