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TWiM 85 Letters

Tom writes:

Hi TWIM, TWIV and TWIP Argonauts,

Your three wonderful podcasts are the nutrient media for growing my scientific knowledge. I have been downloading them from ITunes for a couple of years, and although as a mere amateur I sometimes struggle to keep up with the content, I've never listened to a single one that did not teach me something significant that I can understand. The work load to keep up is heavy, but I've never fallen behind more than a few weeks (well, I"m a couple months behind on TWIP). I even listen to them for an hour or so at night before I fall asleep, and the mellifluous guidance of Dr. Racaniello helps me knit up the ravelled sleeve.

This morning while on the treadmill at the gym, I listened to another, very different kind of science podcast: the UK Guardian's This Week In Science, for June 20, 2014:http://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2014/jun/20/science-weekly-podcast-longitude-prize-2014. It was entirely devoted to a very interesting discussion of the six possible challenges for the 2014 UK Longitude Prize (celebrating 300 years since the original prize for the invention of the chronometer to determine longitude at sea), including one that was based on the rise of worldwide antimicrobial resistance, so familiar to your listeners. The public was asked to vote to select one of the six possible challenges for the 10,000,000 pound sterling prize, and yesterday the result was announced. The voters picked the challenge to create a cheap, accurate, rapid and easy-to-use point of care test kit for bacterial infections.

I was particularly interested in the discussion between the UK's Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies and Dr. Emily Grossman, educator, broadcaster and expert in molecular biology. It seems that finding a cheap, quick and easy way for GP's and other medical practitioners in out of the way places, like desert communities, is needed to enable them to on the site determine whether an illness is viral or bacterial. This would allow them to stop treating with antibiotics, which continuous and increasing use, of course contributes to the resistance problem. I understand there has been some recent progress in developing a better laboratory test for this purpose, but the quick, cheap, easy black box is still elusive.

I thought you might be interested in this, and maybe some of your listeners, too. I should think there may be a potential winner of the prize among them. So far as I know, competition is not limited to UK persons, and I think there is going to be a five year period allowed for entry and submission of a solution. I hadn't been aware of this prize, and it seems a great way to encourage and stimulate discovery and innovation outside of the academic and corporate institutions.

Thank you again for the great work all of you do to make the world a little more scientifically literate.

The weather in Sausalito, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, at 3:00 p.m. is typical for our summers: Wind from the west, gusting at 20 knots; clear, with fog ready to roll in over the hills behind us; temperature in the seventies Fahrenheit; barometer 29.92; humidity 55%. In one word, spectacular.

Robin writes:

Mentees

"One of the mentees of my former graduate student"
(Tammy Wagner
UNC Wilmington NC)

Mentor - protege.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/_/dict.aspx?word=protege

Scrubs

A separate distinctive colour should be reserved for surgical scrubs. No entry or exit from restricted areas wearing scrubs should be permitted. Each area requiring scrubs should use a distinctive colour and enforce the same policy. No distinctive coloured scrubs should be permitted in areas that do not require them.

This needs to be enforced through federal regulations. Many horsespittles will be reluctant to annoy their surgeons, the geese that lay so many of the golden eggs for them.

John writes:

Dear pH-balanced hosts:

It was 22 C in the air, but more importantly the pH was 10 under my feet.(*) I was at the shore of Mono Lake wondering why thermophile acidophile extremophiles get all the publicity. See TWiV 195 "They did it in the hot tub", for example.

What sort of microbes live in cool to cold alkaline lakes?

I know algae grows there, because that is the larval diet of the alkali flies that breed in huge numbers. Unfortunately I was too early for peak fly season.

* According to published figures. I didn't measure, and when I last measured pH of a lake I don't recall the equipment going to 10.

vr: https://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Alkaline_Lake lists microbes found in such lakes

Jim writes:

I'm biased towards single-topic discussions because they provide hooks, and are easier to file and retrieve from a blog that is now a living encyclopedia book with the amazing and imaginative tile of "Podcast Encyclopedia." I've stuffed a few TWIV, TWIM and TWIP's into titles that pointed at a key topic, then let listeners discover the related material. All of your episodes, including UrbanAg, are astounding non-fiction, with too many hooks to use as a title and because of that I leave them out.... Probably just lazy.

My solution is to suggest single-topic podcasts; easy to say, of course.

Just thought I'd make the pitch for single-mindedness in case anyone wants to suggest another approach.

Also wanted to ask about all the presentations at each ASM conference and how some have better attendance. Does high attendance suggest importance? If so, is there a way to list or get the topics (links, refs) for each? Might be useful notes for a podcast.

9k people. Must be a madhouse. What a challenge for a robotics class: create a group of drones you could disperse for simultaneous attendance at all the presentations you want to cover...

Regards,

Jim
Smithfield, V

PS I just wrote and asked about popularity of talks at the conference, but it looks like you can see that from the live archive, so disregard that... However, none of them can be downloaded, so I wrote the ASM contact and put a vote in for making things downloadable.


Don writes:

Dear TWiMers,

I listened with interest to your discussion of the ASM annual meeting.

As a food microbiologist I feel compelled to point out that an expert panel recommends not-rewashing bagged salad (http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/234-851.pdf). Of course as microbiologists you may be better than the general public about cross-contamination in the kitchen ;)

If you ever want to chat with a food microbiologist on the podcast I'm available. I co-host a microbial food safety podcast here: foodsafetytalk.com.

I also have a strong ASM connection. I've been an editor for Applied and Environmental Microbiology for almost 10 years and I was elected a AAM fellow this year, although I had to leave the annual meeting before the induction ceremony because I'm also the President of the International Association for Food Protection and we had a board meeting that week.

- Don

=====================================
Donald W. Schaffner, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor and Extension Specialist

Food Science Building, Room 207
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
65 Dudley Road
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8520

 

 

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