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My First Radio Interview About Teaching, Research, and Microbial Supremacy...

09/26/2014
The great folks at "The People Behind the Science" interviewed me over Skype in late July, and the interview has just been released as a podcast. I discuss my path through science, my thoughts on teaching, research at undergraduate institution, and how to motivate and inspire students to strive, ...

Catching Up, Part I: Meeting with Former Research Students at ASM in Boston in May.

09/02/2014
In this post, I meet up with six of my former undergraduate students at the General Meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in Boston last May. We had a great dinner where we could catch up on challenges and cheer each other on. I am very proud ...

Summer Research, Undergraduate Students, Lab Themed Desserts, and Bdellovibrio!

07/31/2014
In this blog post, I discuss our Summer Research Program's "Lab Themed Dessert" competion, for which one of my students created a cake "sculpture" of Bdellovibrio attacking and invading E. coli. It was tasty, informative, and fun! My student clearly thought about Bdellovibrio a LOT during the creation ...

Getting a Knit Bacteriophage From a Former Student!

07/25/2014
A former student dropped by my lab this morning, and brought me a gift: a knit bacteriophage! Many times, as educators, we hear what we haven't done well, or could do better. Sometimes, like today, we get a priceless "thank you" from a former student.

Have a Happy Bioluminescent Fourth of July!

07/04/2014
In this post from my Microbiology/Education blog, I wish everyone a lovely day of food, fellowship, and fireworks. My laboratory brings you our own "fireworks" through bioluminescence!

Freshman Biology Creative Projects!

05/10/2014
I have found that students become involved, energized, and enthusiastic when I give them opportunities to explore topics in my classes using their own creative approaches and interests. So this semester, in my Biology 111 course at the University of Puget Sound, I found that students explored freshman biology ...

Where Biology and Art Work Together in the Classroom

05/09/2014
In this blog entry, I describe how working with the artist Katie McKissick ("Beatrice the Biologist") helped improve my freshman biology course. The intersection of biology and art benefits both!

Happy Birthday to a Microbial Hero™---Moselio Schaechter!

04/26/2014
Until we have "action figures" of scientists, I do what I can to recognize scientists that have had a large and lasting influence on my academic career. In this blog post, I praise Dr. Moselio Schaechter for his clear and insightful approaches to microbiology. His enthusiasm, breadth of interest, ...

Remembering Carl Woese: A Memorial Issue of RNA Biology

04/24/2014
The journal "RNA Biology" just published a memorial issue dedicated to the late, great Carl Woese. The entire issue is open access. I have a small contribution, but the entire issue is filled with great science, wonderful memories, and a fine celebration of a scientist who changed the ...

Teaching Freshmen about Transformation, Drug Resistance, and Gene Regulation!

04/22/2014
In this blog post, I describe how I use the commonly available pGLO plasmid to teach freshman students basic concepts about transformation, receptor recognition, drug resistance mechanisms, and gene regulation. Oh, and fluorescence via GFP!

Microbiology and Peep Science at Easter?

04/21/2014
Easter in the United States has become a holiday pretty much about high fructose corn syrup. To that end, here is a description of "Peep Science," using those sugary creatures that inhabit this time of year. In addition is a video that links "Peep Science" and microbiology! ...

Former Research Students and Their Success Stories, Part I!

04/19/2014
As an educator and researcher at a small liberal arts institution, my success is measured (to me) in watching former students from my classroom and laboratory go on to do great things after graduation. Here, I share some great information about (and by) a former student of mine, Franny ...

Ice Nucleation Bacteria, Twitter, and Me!

02/25/2014
In this post from my microbiology/education blog, I discuss a post on Boing Boing recently that used a video I had made of ice nucleation bacteria. Ice nucleation bacteria are very interesting of course, and I link to the Boing Boing post. In addition, I provide an additional ...

On a Cellular Level, We Are ALL Overachievers!

02/19/2014
In this blog post, I show a science-cartoon by the great "Beatrice the Biologist" that illustrates an important point in my freshman introductory cell and molecular biology course: no matter how tired we might be, we are incredibly busy on a cellular level! Beatrice is a fine artist who ...

A Bacterial Bioluminescent Valentine's Day

02/14/2014
In this short post, I celebrate Valentine's Day with words of light---using bioluminescent bacteria!

Using Wordcloud-Reponses to Discover How Students Perceive Concepts in the Classroom

02/01/2014
In this blog, I share some "first word that comes to mind" responses of my freshman biology class to the words "germ," "bacteria," "cell," and "DNA." The way that we perceive an idea or concept definitely impacts our relationship with it. Thus, finding out what students think, coming ...

Creative "Extra Credit" Projects in Microbiology!

01/18/2014
In this blog entry, I explore how students can use their creativity to learn microbiology in innovative and often artistic ways. It makes learning more personal!

Merry Microbial Holidays!

12/24/2013
Wishing every single microbial enthusiast and their families the merriest of microbial holidays! And how better than with bioluminescent ornaments on a Luxmas Tree!

Remembering a Microbial Hero™: The Late, Great Abigail Salyers.

12/08/2013
Here I remember a person who a great deal of influence on my views about microbiology in the classroom, and the laboratory: the late Abigail Salyers. RIP, Abigail.

Some "Rules" for Academia and Research

12/07/2013
In this blog post, I describe some "rules for academics" as well as my own "rules for research." I hope that readers find them useful and perhaps a bit humorous.

A Microbial Hallowe'en---2013!

11/05/2013
Here is some Hallowe'en themed fun involving microbiology and this October holiday. There are images of bioluminescence, and a microbially themed student costume party. I find that giving students a chance to be creative pays off in many pedagogical ways.

Dispatches from the Teaching Front, Part 1: Student Self-Evaluation

08/28/2013
Based on a Twitter conversation with two microbiology educators, I share a story of how (through a survey) I encourage students to look deeply at their study strategies and promote "ownership" in their classroom experience.

Social Media, Course Syllabi, and Blowing Off Steam...

08/24/2013
In this post from my blog, I discuss the recent interest in snarky-funny academic hashtags on Twitter, such as #overlyhonestsyllabi. Just like students, educators need to blow off some steam (especially as classes approach!). But it is also important to remember our educational goals, and match rare snark-fests ...

Graduation, Richard Feynman, and Career Choices...

05/30/2013
In this blog post, I discuss how students begin to find their "path" to a career that they will love in science. I aIso write about the late, great Richard Feynman.

ASMCUE, Citizen Science, and a Surprise!

05/27/2013
In this blog entry, I discuss a talk I attended at ASMCUE about "Citizen Science" and how some of my own work appeared in that talk! It is a vital that we scientists explain not just what we do, but why it is so fascinating to us...by involving the ...

Mothers' Day, Marcus Aurelius, and Microbiology.

05/12/2013
On this Mothers' Day, I reflect on the role my late mother had on my own decision to become a scientist. We all owe are mothers a great deal, and not just for the mitochondria! So hurray for mothers everywhere!

Freshmen, Extra Credit, and Different Ways of Learning

05/09/2013
In this blog post, I show how students in my freshman "introduction to cell and molecular biology" course used "creativity"-based approaches to better understand concepts in the course---as they prepare for their upcoming final exam. I believe that this kind of approach truly helps with student ownership, outcomes, and ...

Marine Microbiology, Twitter Friends, and Shrunken Coffee Cups

05/05/2013
In this blog entry, I discuss how marine microbiology is fascinating to students, as well as the topic leading me (via social media) to other marine microbiologists. One of those marine microbiologists made me a "shrunken coffee cup" (shrunken due to being carried below a kilometer of depth on ...

Illustrating Some Simple Microbiological Concepts: Transformation, Antibiotic Resistance, and GFP.

04/27/2013
In this blog post, I describe a simple "colony transformation" experiment I have done with my freshman students, illustrating transformation, antibiotic resistance, and GFP. The visual aspects help drive home the points effectivel.

Student Creativity and Student Study Guides

04/21/2013
In this blog entry, I discuss the perennial problem for educators: helping students find study strategies that help them reach their educational goals. I have found that student-generated study material is most helpful...and is sometimes quite artistic!

The Beginner's Mind in Learning...

04/19/2013
In my newest blog post, I discuss how taking a "beginner's mind" approach leads to creativity, real learning, and enthusiasm. I tie together Suzuki's "Beginner's Mind" concept with Elio Schaechter's "Talmudic Questions," and give an example from one of my first seminars.

A Hiatus, but Back to Blogging: Living in Academia and Some "Rules for Research."

03/27/2013
Here is a short post about life in academia (with some rules) and some "rules" I have developed in teaching undergraduate students about Life in the Lab!

Teaching Students to See Through "Microbial Eyes."

01/17/2013
A piece that I wrote for Elio Schaechter's "Small Things Considered" appeared today. I tried to show what my students last semester "got" out of the course, and the challenges of a "one microbiology course" curriculum. My answer: more micro, earlier, in other classes!

Dr. Francis Su's View on "Grace" in Teaching---A MUST Read!

01/14/2013
Dr, Francis Su is a mathematician at Harvey Mudd College in Southern California. Last week, he was honored with the prestigious Haimo Teaching Award of the Mathematics Association of America at the Join Math Meetings in San Diego. His acceptance speech is inspiring to any educator and any ...

A Football Game Promo and Microbial Literacy?

01/04/2013
A former microbiology student sent me this link to a promotional spot from a football game. There is a microbiological blooper involved, suggesting that we all need to work harder to promote Microbial Literacy...even on the football field!

Missing Carl Woese---RIP!

12/31/2012
I comment a bit, as an educator, about the loss of Carl Woese. Not only the importance of his discoveries, but how he went about his work, remains of great value.

Happy Microbial Holidays to All!

12/22/2012
A quick demonstration of how my Microbial Mania can impact the holiday season!

Student Centered Learning, Part I: Nanobiographies

12/13/2012
Students learn in many different ways than simply taking tests. In my Microbiology course, I have students write a length term paper (a "Microbiography"). As part of this process, students create one page "summaries" of their microbial topic, which I call "Nanobiographies." In this blog post, you ...

Microbiology, Art, and Pedagogy

11/26/2012
In this blog entry, I discuss some recent work at the intersection of art and microbiology. I go on to show how this intersection can be useful in the classroom.

A Microbial Hallowe'en, Part II

11/04/2012
Here I try to bring microbiology into Hallowe'en with costumes in class, and some bioluminescent microbial art of famous microbiologists!

A Microbial Hallowe'en, Part I

10/30/2012
My mathematician wife "painted" onto a marine nutrient plate using a bioluminescent bacterium---as you can see, she loves Einstein. And I love microbiology. Hence the intersection!

Humor, the Honeybadger, and Microbiology!

10/01/2012
A short post from my microbiological blog describing a bit of humorous "microbial art."

A short-short science fiction story about microbes...

09/28/2012
From my microbiology-associated blog, where I discuss teaching and research in microbiology at a small liberal arts institution.

What do Freshmen Know About Microbiology?

05/26/2012
We believe that college students need more microbiology, earlier in their first year biology curriculum. Thus, we interviewed first year biology students regarding some basic concepts in microbiology. We see this as a "call to arms": more microbiology, earlier in the curriculum!

A Bioluminescent Microbial Holiday Season!

12/21/2011
For a holiday card, my wife and I made a Christmas Tree with bioluminescent ornaments. The video shows how the tree looks in natural light, and then by its own light. The bacterium is Photobacterium leiognathi, isolated by Ned Ruby and Eric Stabb in Hawai'i. This is another ...
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