Institute for the Science of Origins

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ISO Fellow Gary Wnek and Colleagues Land $5.5M NSF PIRE Grant

Biomimicry, the practice of looking to Nature for design and engineering inspiration, famously delivered things like velcro and wind turbines. The grant authors estimate that these and other biomimetic concepts will account for $1.2 trillion in global economic development, yet the process of lifting ideas from Nature for application in human endeavours is far from straightforward- it requires the development and education of a diverse, globally-engaged, U.S. science and engineering workforce who can speak across national and academic borders to drive basic innovation and invention – something our ISO Fellow and Case colleagues now will have a hand in shaping.

Join Dr. Princehouse on a Tanzania Adventure

Visit Olduvai Gorge with a paleoanthropologist -cradle of humankind, where Louis and Mary Leakey unearthed the first Homo habilis and Australopithecus boisei skulls. Learn from local Maasai people who welcome you to their village and help you understand their culture and traditions. Witness the profusion of wildlife that reflects the diversity of habitats found in Ngorongoro Crater: savannas, forests, marshlands, salt pans and a freshwater lake. With abundant grass and a permanent water supply, the crater supports herds of grazing animals that, in turn, attract lion, leopard and cheetah. For more information, contact Michelle Miller at the Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program at 216.368.8745 or

ISO Fellow Isaiah Nengo: Triumph in Kenya

There’s been big news from ISO Fellow Isaiah Nengo: In their August Nature publication, he and his team describe a new infant cranium from the African Miocene, shedding light on important aspects ape evolution. The evolutionary history of extant hominoids (humans and apes) remains poorly understood, and the African fossil record tells us little to nothing about cranial evolution in this time- until now. Read as Nengo reports the most complete fossil ape cranium yet described, recovered from the 13million-year-old Middle Miocene site of Napudet, Kenya!

ISO Welcomes new Majors and Fellows to the 2017-18 Academic Year

ISO welcomes our new and returning ISO Fellows and Origins majors! We begin the year with over 100 fellows and a dozen majors who are preparing to meet the challenges that Science in the 21st Century promises through engaging in Origins’ broad, interdisciplinary vision and curriculum, which embraces the CWRU College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Medicine, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Ideastream public TV and radio, and other partners. Learn more about majoring in Origins.

New Bolivian Marsupials from the Middle Miocene

ISO Fellow Dr. Darin Croft and colleagues Russell K. Engelman and Federico Anaya have just published a description of some new South American marsupials from middle-Miocene Bolivia, including two new species of Palaeothentes, P. serratus and P. relictus, hailing from approximately 13 million years ago. Engaging in what amounts to a bit of paleo-dentistry, Croft and his colleagues analyze fossil tooth shape and construction in their quest for information regarding the animals’ eating habits, lifestyle, and genetic evolution, and, ultimately, extinction.

Neutrino Experiment ICARUS visits Cleveland

In one of the first documented cases of a neutrino experiment coming to visit ISO scientists (instead of the other way around), the ICARUS experiment arrived July 5th in the Port of Cleveland, having set sail from Antwerp, Belgium, aboard the Spliethoff container ship, Frieda. It’s on its way to Fermilab in Batavia, IL, where it will become part of a three-detector suite searching for a hypothesized 4th type of neutrino that interacts only with gravity, which could rewrite physicists’ understanding of the particles making up our universe.

Some Assembly Required: The Ingredients of Life

ISO fellow Dr. Nita Sahai is asking tough Origins questions, and has been rallying people from across disciplinary boundaries to answer them. “Where do we come from?” opens her ISO:Origins Science Scholars talk, “The Origins of Life: From Geochemistry to Biochemistry”, “What is our relationship to nature? To the Earth? To the stars? To animals and plants?” For Sahai and her colleagues, the answers are imbedded in the fundamental physical-chemical interactions that got life going, and the answers lead to predicting the origins of cellular life not just on Earth, but on other planets.

How the Leopard got his…Microbiome (and Humans can, too)

A vast fraction of study in evolutionary biology has been focused on the evolution and development of outwardly-expressed survival adaptations: spots, horns, bone structures, and more have received much attention. However, ISO fellow Dr. Jameson Voss and his colleagues believe this may be an incomplete picture of evolution of an organism, and are pushing scientists to think beyond the spots and the feathers and include the microbiome in the constellation of factors driving the evolution of life on Earth.

Icelandic Interlude 2018

Join ISO Director and cosmologist, Dr. Glenn Starkman, for an informative escape to exotic Iceland. Explore the culture of Reykjavik, the Great Geysir, glaciers, magnificent waterfalls and ice-caps, enjoy steamy hot springs, world-class spas, magnificent malls, and art museums by day whilst awaiting one of the most spectacular electromagnetic shows nature has to offer, the Aurora Borealis, by night. Trip 1 (Jan 19-23, 2018) is already sold out. Trip 2 (Jan 26-30, 2018) has limited space remaining. Contact Michelle Miller at 216-368-8745 or to sign up.

Nanoscience Targets Cancer

ISO Fellow Giuseppe Strangi’s research is making it possible to target individual cancer cells without drugs.
He has recently published his new method to manipulate tiny gold beads less than the wavelength of light. …Read more.

Room Temperature Insulin

Iso Fellow Michael Weiss is chair of the Department of Biochemistry at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and professor of medicine in the Endocrine Division.  Dr. Weiss’s research is enhancing the care of patients with diabetes mellitus through the development of novel ultra-stable and receptor-isoform-specific analogs of insulin. …Read more.

2018 Pyrenees Tour to France

Discover the past and present of human art and culture, wild and domestic animals, and the geography they are adapted to in this small, private tour. Join a fascinating group of people for the shorter or longer version of the tour!  …Read more.

Page last modified: August 1, 2017