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Dr. Ayala Sela

In-house Scientific Editor

About Ayala

Ayala’s interest in science started at a young age, with exposure to both popular-science and science-fiction. Her curiosity and enthusiasm for the natural sciences resulted in degrees in both chemical engineering and molecular biology, and a firm belief that the advancement of humanity depends on our ability to share, discuss and understand novel ideas. With great power comes great responsibility, and Ayala believes it is the responsibility of scientists to show the beauty and strength of science to the public. Still looking for the science-fiction novel hidden within her, she looks to science communication as a way to share new concepts, tools and discoveries with curious people from all walks of life.

Ayala is the editor of 19 Breaks:

I know you are calling me! – Fickle cats know their own names

It is a common belief that most domestic cats do not respond to their names, unlike domestic dogs. But with careful behavioral experiments, it becomes clear that cats can recognize their own names from other words and other cats’ names, even when they do not show obvious social response to being called.

Jan 19, 2021 | 3.5 min read
What makes us different - chance in brain development and its consequences for individuality

Why are we all different? By comparing brain anatomy we uncovered anatomical difference in the brain of individuals, resulting from chance processes during development. We show that these differences are linked to changes in behavioral responses. Therefore, next to nature and nurture, also chance shapes individuality.

Jan 14, 2021 | 3 min read
Sneaking Giants: how humpback whales avoid scattering their fish prey

Why do speedy, agile anchovies fall prey to humpback whales, when they are able to escape faster predators? This study explained this phenomenon using field, lab and modelling studies. By controlling their speed and precisely timing the opening of their massive mouth, humpbacks are able to sneak up on fish schools without scattering them.

Jan 13, 2021 | 3.5 min read
Genes coordinating selfishness and altruism between parents and offspring

The social bond between parent and offspring balances selfishness and altruism. We investigated how genes control these behaviors in European earwigs, and found 1600 genes associated with parenting, and two genes coordinating selfishness and altruism. Our results suggest that internal reward and communication, encoded by these genes, help maintain parent-offspring interactions.

Jan 11, 2021 | 4 min read
How small warm-blooded feathered flying dinosaurs came to be

How warm-blooded birds and mammals evolved from cold-blooded ancestors remains a major question in paleontology and evolutionary biology. A heat transfer model suggest that shrinking in size while boosting metabolism is the most efficient evolutionary trajectory on energetic grounds, which seems to explain the reduction in size detected in theropod dinosaurs as they evolved into birds.

Jan 7, 2021 | 3.5 min read
Machine adapting to its environment

We developed a nanoscale device that can mimic human brain cells for vision, by combining two promising nanomaterials, graphene and perovskite quantum dots. This is a baby step towards developing brain-like computers, which can simultaneously process and memorize information. In the future, this invention will enable us to develop machines that can better adapt to their environment.

Jan 6, 2021 | 3 min read