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Concussions have been hot news recently. Jeanne Marie Laskas’ 2015 book on traumatic brain damage in U.S. football players was soon followed by a film of the same name, “Concussion,” starring Will Smith. Needless to say, while the medical community – and many parents – show signs of taking the problem seriously, the National Football League hasn’t exactly embraced the new findings. Let’s face it: Anything that challenges the machismo and big money of U.S. football has its work cut out for it.

But sports-related concussions aren’t unique to American football players – or even to boxers, whose brain trauma from repeated blows to the head was first described in 1929. Shift north 30 miles, just across the U.S.-Canadian border to Vancouver, BC. Here, at the University of British Columbia’s MRI Research Centre, neuroscientists are studying brain trauma. This being Canada, it’s no surprise that their focus is ice hockey players. Somewhat more surprising, one of their leading MRI researchers is an Austrian physicist, Dr. Alexander Rauscher.

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Where would you look for a high-energy Austrian scientist with a passion for genetics and microbiology – more specifically, a passion for botanical stem-cell mutants, rainforest fieldwork, and Cretan orchids?

Perhaps the University of Vienna? Sure. Rainforest of the Austrians in Costa Rica? Natürlich! Cold Spring Harbor Lab’s DNA Learning Center West in Long Island, NY? Ideal place for her. Inner-city New York City schools? Hmmm … can you run that one by me again?

Yes, you heard correctly. Christine Marizzi, PhD, has undertaken professional projects in all of the above. But her work with middle school, high school, and college students throughout the NYC area has become one of the most fulfilling aspects of her scientific career.

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People in the Spotlight: Austrian Scientist of the Year 2014, Space Scientist Wolfgang Baumjohann

Space: the final frontier!

In science fiction mankind has been travelling and exploring the stars for decades. Something that has yet to be achieved in real life. Nevertheless scientists keep on reaching for this goal, pushing the boundaries of exploration. They are driven by the wish to find out how the universe works and intend to increase our understanding of the great unknown. One of these scientists is Wolfgang Baumjohann, director and professor at the Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Science, who has been named Austrian Scientist of the Year 2014 this January.

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