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Sophia Friesen

Developmental Biology

University of California, Berkeley

“A camel is a horse built by committee.” This quote, by the designer of the Mini car, illustrates the challenges of teamwork. Especially when communication is limited, groups of humans often struggle to reach a collective goal. But when groups of cells in a developing body - whether camel, horse, or other - make decisions about growth and division, they’re able to reach collective outcomes with remarkable accuracy. In my graduate research, I study how cells communicate with each other to grow, divide, and ultimately produce an organ of the right size and shape. I’m also interested in improving human communication through better science education and outreach.

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Extinction risks in a rapidly warming planet depend on previous slow temperature swings

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Considering "climate memory" changes the risk calculation as much as an organism's geographic range or abundance

An array of bacteria and fungi help leafcutter ants break down toxic leaves

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The ants and the microbes work as a team to digest rainforest vegetation