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Georgetown Professor Featured on Scientific American Podcast

Image: An Isabella tiger moth in its caterpillar stage. Credit: Wirestock/Getty Images

Georgetown University Professor Martha Weiss was recently featured on the Scientific American’s “Science, Quickly” podcast to talk about how woolly bear caterpillars survive freezing temperatures. In the podcast, Professor Weiss explained that woolly bears are able to survive the winter by turning into “popsicles.” The caterpillars produce a special type of sugar that acts as an antifreeze, lowering the freezing point within their cells. They also pump water out of their cells, so that their cell membranes won’t be damaged when ice crystals form.  When the weather warms up in the spring, the caterpillar’s cells thaw out and the caterpillar is able to resume its normal activities.

Professor Weiss is also an expert on plant-insect interactions. Her work has focused on insect learning and memory, and she is currently investigating the indirect ecological effects of periodical cicada emergences. ofessor Weiss is a highly respected scientist who has made significant contributions to our understanding of the natural world.

We are proud to have Professor Weiss as a member of the Georgetown University community.