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Public Scholarship in the Time of HIV/AIDS

How we can use public scholarship to address how inequalities thrive in our bodies, communities, and institutions?

As we approach National HIV Testing Day on June 27, communities throughout the country will gather to raise awareness of HIV and provide testing services. In Detroit, for example, local organizations such as Gospel Against AIDS, the Michigan Health Department, and Walgreens pharmacy will collaborate to coordinate activities and service provision, particularly for underserved communities disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS (see posters below). This collective effort to join forces to fight against the epidemic invites us to consider the roles of scholars and higher education in leveraging knowledge to improve the health and well being of communities.

The views expressed in this post are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Rackham Graduate School or the University of Michigan.

On the Trail of the Ghost Planet

Billions of miles from the sun, a relatively small object could have big implications. A new paper led by one Rackham researcher argues that the inclined orbit of this object might just be the key to finding Planet Nine.

At this very moment in the outermost region of the solar system, in a distant ring of dwarf planets and icy detritus known as the Kuiper Belt, there’s an object that isn’t acting quite right. Its name, 2015 BP519, is not all that exciting. But the nature of its orbit, which is inclined 54 degrees relative to the plane of the rest of our solar system, most certainly is.

Juliette Becker (M.S. ’16), a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Astronomy, has been conducting research that indicates an explanation for this unusual behavior could be the presence of a yet-undetected ninth planet. And a big one, at that. Becker was the lead author on a recent paper in the Astronomical Journal that explores this prospect.

The Hidden Cost of Energy Poverty

More than 14 million Americans are behind on their energy bills. One Rackham researcher looks at how this dynamic breaks unevenly along race and class lines while exploring options for how to address it.

For millions of Americans, it isn’t enough to have a roof over their heads. They struggle to find the means to adequately heat or cool the places they call home, and that—particularly in households with elderly family members or small children—leaves them vulnerable and facing a choice most of us are never forced to deal with: not a choice between levels of comfort, but one between paying the utility bill or putting food on the table. A combination of low income, inefficient homes, and rising energy costs has left them “energy insecure”—or “energy poor.”